My Favorite Anime Featuring Otherworldly Characters

One of the staples of anime and manga is stories featuring otherworldly characters (demons, spirits, etc.) or being set in otherworldly settings. This time, my monthly list is focusing on my five favorite anime featuring otherworldly characters. However, this is not a Top 5 list. Instead, this list will have the anime listed in alphabetical order.

Gingitsune, Messenger Fox of the Gods

The series focuses on a high school girl named Makoto Saeki. She lives at a shrine with her father, Tatsuo. Her father is the priest, and her mother had been a shrine maiden. Makoto’s mother died when she was four years old. Makoto is able to see Gintaro, the fox spirit who is the shrine’s herald; however, at the beginning of the series she is the only one who can see him. While Makoto’s father may be the priest at the shrine, he married into the family and as such cannot see Gintaro. In the fourth episode, a boy named Satoru Kamio comes to the shrine to live with Makoto and her father. Like Makoto, Satoru also has the sight, which allows him to see heralds.

To me, one of the strengths of Gingitsune: Messenger Fox of the Gods is how the series was willing to delve into Japanese religion and culture. This makes sense, since the main character lives in a shrine. As a Westerner, I enjoyed learning about these aspects that I probably wouldn’t find out much about otherwise. This series is able to provide that kind of education for a viewer, but it’s still an enjoyable and entertaining viewing experience. It doesn’t feel like you’re being “hit over the head” with it.

I found the characters of the series to be engaging, and I also found myself drawn into the drama that the show presented in many of its episodes.

Inari, Kokon, Koi Iroha

The protagonist of the series is Inari, a middle school student who has a hard time expressing what she feels to her friends. She has a crush on a boy in her class named Koji Tanbabashi. Inari also loves going to an Inari shrine that is near her home, and she goes through it as a shortcut one day when she’s running late for school. As she runs through, she finds what she thinks is a dog that is scared and stuck on a riverbank. Inari saves the animal, but ends up being late for school.

Inari causes something embarrassing to happen to Tanbabashi during gym class, and he keeps running away from her whenever she tries to get close to him to apologize. Later, she overhears Tanbabashi and Sumizone, a girl in her class, talking about a letter she gave him. Inari assumes it’s a love confession letter, and she runs off, crying.

When Inari arrives at the shrine, she calls out for the gods to help her. A couple of foxes appear and lead her to Uka, the resident god of the Inari shrine. Uka thanks Inari for rescuing her familiar that morning and says she will grant one of Inari’s wishes. After a moment, Inari blurts out that she wants to be Sumizome. Inari looks just like Sumizome, but her personality hasn’t changed. After spending some time as Sumizome and being around Tanbabashi, she realizes she hasn’t truly changed at all. When Inari returns to the shrine, the two foxes take her back to Uka… but Inari is told that Uka cannot return her to her normal form, because a god granting multiple wishes for a single human would violate the rules of the Celestial Plains. However, Uka is able to give Inari a portion of her power, which is the ability to transform into other people. Uka also gives Kon, the fox that Inari rescued, to serve as Inari’s familiar.

Over the course of the series, it’s revealed that it turns out Inari can do more than change into other people; she can also unconsciously use her divine power to make her hopes come true. As the story goes on, Inari becomes friends with Sumizome, and she also becomes closer to Uka. She also gains the strength to be able to tell her friends what she thinks.

I have to admit that at the end of the first episode, I wasn’t entirely sure if I was going to like the series, but I kept watching in order to give it a chance. I’m glad I did, because I ended up enjoying the series more than I thought I would.

In the final episode, I appreciated the fact that it demonstrated just how much Inari has grown as a character over the course of the series. In a lot of ways, when Inari returned Uka’s divine power at the end of Episode 10, it symbolizes that Inari had grown up and no longer needs the “crutch” that she thought the power was giving her.

Inuyasha

The story of Inuyasha begins in feudal Japan, where a half-demon named Inuyasha steals the Jewel of Four Souls. This is an artifact that can increase a person or demon’s power enormously. However, Inuyasha is stopped by a priestess named Kikyo, who shoots a sacred arrow at him. The arrow seals Inuyasha indefinitely to the sacred tree. Kikyo, however, is mortally wounded. Before she dies, she asks her younger sister Kaede to burn the jewel with her body.

In modern Tokyo, a middle school girl named Kagome Higurashi lives at an old shrine, where her grandfather is the caretaker. One morning, as she’s about to head off to school, Kagome goes into the well house to retrieve her cat. While she’s in the well house, a centipede demon reaches up through the well and pulls Kagome down into it.

Kagome discovers that she has traveled back in time to feudal Japan. As she explores her surroundings, she sees Inuyasha sealed to the sacred tree. Nearby villagers find Kagome, seize her, and take her to the village. The village elder is Kaede, and she recognizes Kagome as the reincarnation of Kikyo after discovering that the Jewel of Four Souls is inside Kagome’s body.

The centipede demon attacks again, and Kagome is forced to release Inuyasha from the seal. After defeating the demon, Inuyasha attempts to take the jewel from Kagome. Kagome is able to subdue Inuyasha with magical prayer beads that were given to her by Kaede.

The jewel attracts the attention of more demons. While battling with a carrion crow demon, Kagome accidentally shatters the jewel into numerous shards; the shards spread across Japan. Inuyasha and Kagome must team together to locate and recover all the missing shards. During their journey, they encounter and join forces with a little fox demon named Shippo, a cursed and lecherous monk named Miroku, and a demon slayer named Sango.

Inuyasha begins with a very interesting concept, and Takahashi was able to create a cast of main characters that viewers come to care about. The series also utilizes the perfect mix of drama and humor. It really is no wonder why the Inuyasha anime series has continued to endure over the years and why it can still attract people to watch it over a decade after its initial release.

Kamisama Kiss

The protagonist is a high school girl named Nanami Momozono. Her father racks up big gambling debts and is unable to pay off the loan sharks. One day he runs off, leaving Nanami on her own. As Nanami discovers her father’s disappearance, she is told that she is being evicted from the apartment because her father was unable to pay his debts. She finds herself homeless and spending the night on a park bench.

While in the park, she “rescues” a man named Mikage from a dog. After Nanami shares her story with him, Mikage draws up a map to his home and tells her she can stay there. He gives her a kiss on the forehead before he leaves.

It turns out Mikage’s home is a run-down shrine. She learns Mikage was the land god, and that he has been away from the shrine for 20 years. Onikiri and Kotetsu, the two shrine attendants, realize she has Mikage’s mark on her forehead (which she got from the kiss he gave her there). The mark shows that she is now the new land god. The two attendants say that Nanami can stay at the shrine. Tomoe, a cynical and mocking fox demon who serves as the land god’s familiar, refuses to acknowledge Nanami and leaves the shrine.

When Onikiri and Kotetsu take Nanami to the demon realm to try to convince Tomoe to come back, Nanami is attacked by a hag. Tomoe comes to watch Nanami suffer. However, she learns how to seal a contract with him in order to force him to be her familiar; this is accomplished through a kiss. She manages to catch Tomoe off guard and kisses him; he is now bound into a contract with Nanami.

During the two seasons of the anime, Nanami finds herself trying to navigate between being a high school student and being a land god who has the ability to see and communicate with yokai. Not only that, but Nanami also finds herself falling in love with Tomoe. Of course, it’s not just Tomoe’s gruff exterior, his past, and the belief that humans and yokai shouldn’t be romantically involved that serve as obstacles for a relationship between these two characters. There are other potential love interests for Nanami that are introduced into the story, such as Mizuki, another familiar that she acquires.

Unfortunately, the manga wasn’t completed when the second season of the Kamisama Kiss was produced, so the story doesn’t end in the anime. However, the anime did a great job of adapting the manga source material that existed at the time. It would be nice to see a third season of the anime, so the remaining volumes of the Kamisama Kiss manga can be animated, but I don’t know how likely this would ever be.

Noragami

Noragami is about a minor god named Yato, who doesn’t have a single shrine. One day, he spray paints on a wall that he will help people in exchange for a 5-yen offering. He’s trying to save up money in order to build his own shrine. While he’s doing a job, a girl named Hiyori pushes him out of the way of a bus. She is hit by the bus, and now Hiyori is a living Phantom. She’s still alive, but her spirit has a tendency to separate itself from her body at unexpected times.

Yato has lost his Regalia, a spirit that serves as a weapon for a god. He finds a new spirit to use as his new Regalia, which he names Yukine. Yukine tries putting on a “good boy” act around Hiyori, but it turns out he’s not very pure of heart. Each time Yukine has a bad thought, Yato is affected. It gets so bad that Yato is covered in a blight, and it takes three Regalia in order to perform an ablution ceremony on Yukine in order to save Yato from the blight.

During the series, we are also introduced by Kofuku and her Regalia, Daikoku. They become tenuous allies with Yato and Hiyori. There’s also Bishamon, who has a grudge against Yato for killing one of her Regalia in the past. However, Bishamon’s Regalia, Kazuma, owes Yato a great debt.

There’s also “Nora,” one of Yato’s former Regalia. She keeps offering herself to be used by him, but he refuses.

Admittedly, I kind of had a rocky relationship with the first Noragami anime, especially when the ending was so ambiguous. However, I’m glad I have the second season, Noragami Aragoto a chance, because it had two strong story arcs in it. Both arcs had very compelling emotional aspects to them, which made the viewer care about the characters and what was happening to them. At the end of the second season, though, it was clear that the story wasn’t over yet. I hope that at some point in the future, there will be a third anime season for Noragami.

Additional lists:

Crunchyroll Adds Even More Anime Titles to Its Streaming Catalog

Crunchyroll has announced that it has added the following anime titles to its streaming catalog:

  • Kiddy Grade – available to users in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.
  • Inari Kon Kon – available to users in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Iceland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Netherlands.
  • Oh! Edo Rocket – available to users in the United States and Canada.
  • D-Frag! – available to users in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Iceland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and the Netherlands.
  • Solty Rei – available to users in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

Source: ANN

2014 In Review: Winter 2014 Season

Over the next few days, I’ll be publishing posts looking back at 2014. This first post takes a look back at the shows that I started watching during the Winter 2014 season. This post will also include series that I started watching in the Fall 2013 season that were still running with Winter 2014 started.

Log Horizon: This is a series that started during the Fall 2013 season and carried over into Winter 2014. This was a series that I admit to not being sure about when it first started in October 2013, but fortunately, I stuck with it and was rewarded with a series that made itself stand out from other anime series about characters who get stuck in a video game. I fell in love with this series by the time it finished airing in March 2014, and was overjoyed when the end of the final episode announced that there would be a second season that would begin airing in Fall 2014. I spent a lot of the year eagerly anticipating the second season because the first season had built such a strong foundation for the characters and their story.

Noragami: Noragami ended up being a mixed bag for me. I enjoyed the first four episodes, but then with Episode Five, I started feeling like the series wasn’t as strong as it was when it first started. My opinion improved a bit with Episode Six, and it kept improving through Episode 11. However, I was never entirely sure how I felt about Episode 12, because I couldn’t tell if it was meant to be a series finale or a season finale. As of this writing, there has been no word about a second season for Noragami, so I have to believe this was meant as a series finale. Unfortunately, there were enough loose ends that were left hanging which made it an unsatisfying note to end a series on. The manga for Noragami started being published during 2014, so I may need to start reading it at some point and see if it might improve my opinion of the series.

Tokyo Ravens: This is a series that started during the Fall 2013 season and carried over into Winter 2014. When I first watched this series, I thought it had a slow start. However, enough elements were established in the first episode to interest me enough to come back to see more. With the second episode, I felt it was a little heavy on the “info dumping” side, but I was still willing to come back because the story that was developing showed a lot of promise. By the time I hit Episode Five, I found myself genuinely interested in Tokyo Ravens and decided that I’d see it through until the end. I ended up being interested in Tokyo Ravens for most of its 24 episode run. Unfortunately, I started becoming a little disappointed in the series after a particular plot twist in Episode 23. I also ended up feeling rather let down and disappointed with how the final episode ended. FUNimation Entertainment, who had streamed the series as a simulcast, has recently announced that it has acquired the home video rights for Tokyo Ravens. Unfortunately, I have no plans to purchase their release to add it to my anime home video library because of my disappointment with the final two episodes of the series.

D-Frag!: This is an anime I watched because the previews made it look like it’d be really hilarious. While there was humor in the first episode, there wasn’t as much as I had expected. And from the humor that I did see in the episode, I saw the potential for the series to rely on the same gags every week; unfortunately, I ended up being right with that assumption. And the gags that the series relied so heavily upon weren’t terribly funny the first time they showed up, and they wore out their welcome rather quickly. With Episode Two, I saw that maybe D-Frag! had potential with its story, but sadly, that potential never materialized. It also didn’t help that the series already started feeling stagnant by Episode Four. When I reached the halfway point, I decided I’d stick it out, but that the second half of the series really couldn’t go fast enough for my taste. The final episode didn’t feel like an episode to end a series on. Nothing has been resolved at all, and little to no progress had been made on the loose threads that were out there. I found this to be an unsatisfying ending for a series that had worn out its welcome for me several episodes earlier. And the final episode was the worst of the drudgery that I saw for that show. After that episode ended, all I could think was, “Thank God D-Frag! is over!”

Yowamushi Pedal: This is a series that started during the Fall 2013 season and carried over into Winter 2014. After watching the first episode, I thought I could see some potential in the series. Even though I’m not a fan of cycling, I found myself getting hooked on Yowamushi Pedal the more I watched of it. I especially found myself being riveted to the action that takes place during the racing scenes. I also liked how the characters developed over the course of the series. The main focus of the first half was on developing the members of the Sohoku team, with occasional development on members of the other two teams. However, the development for the other two teams tended to take place during the Inter-High race. The main selling point of this series to me ended up being the characters and the development they go through. While the pacing of Yowamushi Pedal was pretty typical for a shonen sports anime, it’s something I got used to with each race that appeared in the series. I was happy to hear that there would be a second season for the series in Fall 2014, especially since this season ended before the winner of the second day of the Inter-High was determined.

Hamatora: After watching the first episode of Hamatora, I felt that the series showed a bit of promise. However, I was little turned off by the character of Hajime, because it appeared her gluttony was going to be a major source of humor for the series. It turns out we learn later on why Hajime is such a glutton, and it also turned out that there was more in the way of humor than just Hajime’s gluttony. It was ultimately the second episode that sold me on Hamatora. I enjoyed seeing the various mysteries that came Hamatora’s way, and how several of the episodes were able to take what appeared to be two unrelated plots and find a way to weave the two together rather successfully by the end. Overall, I enjoyed the series except for Episode Five and Episode Eight. But when I saw that there was a cliffhanger ending and that there would be another season of Hamatora coming in the future, I was looking forward to seeing more episodes in order to find out how the story continued from the cliffhanger.

Nagi no Asukara: This is a series that started during the Fall 2013 season and carried over into Winter 2014. I have to admit that after watching the first episode, I had some mixed feelings. On the one hand, I kind of liked the story, although I was finding Hikari to be a bit on the annoying side. However, I was having problems with using my willing suspension of disbelief about people being able to live underwater. It turns out that the concept of Ena, which allows them to breathe underwater, hadn’t been properly introduced by the end of the first episode. I decided to continue watching the series, and went into the second episode using my willing suspension of disbelief and focusing on the storytelling. It’s a decision I’m glad I made, because I found myself being more impressed with the series and becoming genuinely interested in the characters and their stories. I’d become so riveted with the series that when the first half reached its climax with the Ofunehiki, I was a little frustrated that I had to wait two weeks in order to find out what happened. When the second half of the series started, I have to admit that it was a bit of an adjustment to get used to the fact that a five year timeskip had happened between the two episodes and that some of the cast members were noticeably older. I appreciated how there was a focus on the confusion for both those who returned from the surface after a five-year hibernation and those who stayed on the surface and aged five years. There’s a lot of raw emotion that’s prevalent in the second half of the series, but I found these emotions and reactions to be believable. I have to admit that for the most part, I had basically predicted what directions the various relationships would go in. However, I still found the conclusion of the series to be satisfying and enjoyable.

Samurai Flamenco: This is a series that started during the Fall 2013 season and carried over into Winter 2014. At the end of the first episode, I thought that between the animation and the storytelling, there seemed to be enough there to keep my interest and make me want to come back week after week to watch more of Samurai Flamenco. I have to admit that when the King Torture arc was introduced and caused the major tonal shift for the series, I wasn’t entirely sure that I liked it. It didn’t help that it was also at that point that the animation quality went down noticeably, and that “off model” shots started becoming more prevalent and noticeable. By the end of the King Torture, arc, though, I had become so accustomed to the change in tone that I started enjoying the series a bit more again. Overall, though, I did enjoy Samurai Flamenco when all was said and done.

Magical Warfare: After watching the first episode, I thought the series had some potential. After the second episode, I thought it plodded a bit due all of the exposition included, but I still thought that the overall concept still showed promise. At the end of Episode Three, I said that while Magical Warfare wasn’t one of my favorite series of Winter 2014, I couldn’t say that it was the worst one I was watching, either. By the end of Episode Four, I was already at a point where I wasn’t looking forward to watching the series week after week. As the series continued to progress, I became frustrated with how the series was paced, the fact that the villains weren’t very well defined by the halfway point of the series, and how the character development wasn’t where it needed to be for me to truly care about these characters. The final episode was a major letdown, due to how little was explained for what was happening throughout it. The ending of the final episode was so vague that the viewer was left having to make a lot of assumptions just to figure out what the heck was going on. Honestly, the way Magical Warfare ended was just so vague and bizarre that it makes the ending of Neon Genesis Evangelion seem like it makes sense. And considering the reputation the ending of Neon Genesis Evangelion has, that’ss really saying something. All in all, I have to say that Magical Warfare ended up being a steaming pile of poo and I think it was easily one of the worst series I watched during 2014.

Strike the Blood: This is a series that started during the Fall 2013 season and carried over into Winter 2014. I have to admit that I wasn’t entirely sure about Strike the Blood after watching the first episode, but I decided to give it a chance and continue watching it. After watching the second episode, though, I was more impressed with the series than I thought I’d be. The cliffhanger ending for Episode Three ultimately sold me on the series. As the series progressed through the various story arcs, more characters were introduced. Most of them seemed to have an importance to the series, although there were a couple of characters who were only truly important for one or two story arcs, and then basically all but vanished from the series. After making it through all 24 episodes of Strike the Blood, I have to say that overall, I was satisfied with how the series progressed and ultimately came to its conclusion. It was a series I came to look forward to watching.

Wizard Barristers: At the end of the first episode, I thought that Wizard Barristers showed a lot of promise. As the series went on, the story kept me interested in what was going on and made me want to come back and watch week after week. My least favorite part of the series was the animal familiars, because for the most part, they didn’t seem to truly add anything to the series. By the time I reached the final episode, I was overall rather satisfied with how the series progressed. My biggest disappointment with the series was the fact that we don’t learn what happened to Cecil’s mother. The viewer was left with the responsibility of assuming what happens.

Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha: I have to admit that at the end of the first episode, I wasn’t entirely sure if I was going to like Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha. However, I decided to keep watching to see if the story would improve. After finishing Episode Two, my opinion of the series started becoming more favorable. As the episodes went on, I continued to enjoy the series more and more. I’m so glad I didn’t let my initial unsure impression keep me away from this series. Overall, I thought the series was good, although the last couple of episodes felt a bit rushed compared to the other episodes; I have to say that Episode 10 had more issues with being rushed than Episode Nine did. The action in the first half of Episode 10 felt stretched out, and then the story in the second half ended up feeling rushed. In the final episode, I appreciated the fact that it demonstrated just how much Inari has grown as a character over the course of the series. In a lot of ways, when Inari returned Uka’s divine power at the end of Episode 10, it symbolizes that Inari had grown up and no longer needs the “crutch” that she thought the power was giving her. In a lot of respects, though, there is some vagueness at the end of the final episode. Do Inari and Koji ever end up together? Is Touka still able to see Uka even though Inari no longer can? It appears that the manga series is still ongoing in Japan, so that might explain why the ending of the anime is a bit ambiguous.

Additional 2014 In Review posts:

FUNimation Acquires Home Video Rights for Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha

FUNimation Entertainment has announced that the company will be releasing the Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha television anime series on home video in 2015. However, the series will be released with only the Japanese audio with English subtitles.

As of this time, no formats have been announced for this release.

Source: The Fandom Post

Anime Spotlight: Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha

Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha is an anime based on a manga series by Morohe Yoshia. The anime is produced by Production IMS and is directed by Toru Takahashi. The 10-episode series aired on Japanese television from January 15-March 19, 2014. As of this writing, FUNimation Entertainment holds the North American rights for the series.

Inari is a middle school girl who has a hard time expressing what she feels to her friends; at the beginning of the series, she could also be a little clumsy. She has a crush on a boy in her class named Koji Tanbabashi.

Inari also loves going to an Inari shrine that is near her home, and she goes through it as a shortcut one day when she’s running late for school. As she runs through, she finds what she thinks is a dog that is scared and stuck on a riverbank. Inari saves the animal but ends up being late for school.

Inari causes something embarrassing to happen to Tanbabashi during gym class, and he keeps running away from her whenever she tries to get close to him to apologize. Later, she overhears Tanbabashi and Sumizone, a girl in her class, talking about a letter she gave him. Inari assumes it’s a love confession letter, and she runs off, crying.

When Inari arrives at the shrine, she calls out for the gods to help her. A couple of foxes appear and lead her to Uka, the resident god of the Inari shrine. Uka thanks Inari for rescuing her familiar that morning and says she will grant one of Inari’s wishes. After a moment, Inari blurts out that she wants to be Sumizome. Inari looks just like Sumizome, but her personality hasn’t changed. After spending some time as Sumizome and being around Tanbabashi, she realizes she hasn’t truly changed at all.

Inari returns to the shrine and cries. The two foxes take her back to Uka, but Inari is told that Uka cannot return her to her normal form, because a god granting multiple wishes for a single human would violate the rules of the Celestial Plains. However, Uka gives Inari a portion of her power, which is the ability to transform into other people. Uka also gives Kon, the fox that Inari rescued, to serve as her familiar.

Over the course of the series, it’s revealed that Inari can do more than change into other people. She can also unconsciously use her divine power to make her hopes come true.

As the series goes on, Inari becomes friends with Sumizome, and she also becomes closer to Uka. Inari even gains the strength to be able to tell her friends what she thinks.

Inari’s older brother, Touka, also becomes involved in the story. The story reaches its climax when it’s revealed that the more Inari uses the divine power, it’ll cause Uka to fade away.

I admit that at the end of the first episode, I wasn’t entirely sure if I was going to like Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha. However, I decided to keep watching to see if the story would improve. After finishing episode two, my opinion of the series started becoming more favorable. As the episodes went on, I continued to enjoy the series more and more; I’m so glad I didn’t let my initial unsure impression keep me away from this series.

Overall, I thought the series is good, although I thought the last couple of episodes felt a bit rushed compared to the others. But I have to say that episode 10 had more issues with being rushed than episode nine did. The action in the first half of episode 10 felt stretched out, and then the story in the second half ended up feeling rushed.

In the final episode, I appreciated the fact that it demonstrated just how much Inari has grown as a character over the course of the series. In a lot of ways, when Inari returned Uka’s divine power at the end of episode 10, it symbolizes that Inari had grown up and no longer needs the “crutch” that she thought the power was giving her.

In a lot of respects, though, there is some vagueness at the end of the final episode. Do Inari and Koji ever end up together? Is Touka still able to see Uka even though Inari no longer can? It appears that the manga series was still ongoing in Japan at the time the anime was produced, so that might explain why the ending of the anime is a bit ambiguous.

Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha is a sweet series and it has a strong “coming-of-age” component when it comes to Inari. If you enjoy anime series that feature shrines, such as Gingitsune: Messenger Fox of the Gods, then you might enjoy Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha. However, if you do decide to check this series out, be aware that the ending of the series is a little rushed and a bit ambiguous. Even with the issues I have with the end of the series, I would still recommend it.

Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha: Episode 10 – “Inari, Konkon, ABCs of Love”

Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha focuses on a middle school named Inari, and she’s in love with her classmate, Kouji Tanbabashi. One day, she overhears Kouji and a popular girl named Sumizome, and it sounds like they’re talking about a love confession letter from Kouji to Sumizome. Upset, Inari runs to a nearby Inari shrine that she’s loved and visited since she was a child. Uka, the resident god of the shrine, grants Inari’s wish, which is to be Sumizome. After physically turning into her but still having her own personality, she wants to return to normal. While Uka can’t return Inari to normal, she is able to give her a portion of her power, which is the ability to transform into other people. Uka also gives Kon, the fox that Inari rescued, to serve as her familiar.

Nearly the first two minutes of episode 10 is spent recapping what happened near the end of episode nine. After this, we see all the various spirit foxes leading Inari to the Celestial Plains and to where Uka is being held captive. At the same time, Uka’s brother Otoshi is using his sword to cut down the ropes in front of the boulders that seal off the cave’s entrance. As Otoshi is about to head toward the cave, the group of spirit foxes knocks him down onto the ground and runs over him.

When Inari reaches the cave, she works at trying to make them budge so she can get inside. The group of spirit foxes, Kon, and even Otoshi join her and work together. After some effort, they manage to make an opening big enough to be able to talk to Uka. When Uka apologizes to Inari for not being able to protect her because she’s fading away, Inari says she’s not giving up. Inari and the others work at moving the rocks some more, and the gap is opened enough where Inari’s top half can easily slip in. Uka’s two foxes help push her the rest of the way in.

Uka and Inari talk in the cave, and Inari gets upset with Uka for not telling her about the fact that she’s fading away. Uka explains that she didn’t want Inari to worry, and then Uka gently reminds Inari that Inari never told her the divine power surging out of her. After Inari admits that she had withheld that information for the same reason Uka hadn’t mentioned the fading away, Inari realizes how much of a hypocrite she was being.

Inari then tells Uka that her divine power helped her get closer to Tanbabashi as well as helped her to be able to tell her friends what’s on her mind. Uka tells her the divine power had nothing to do with it; it was all Inari’s doing. After that, Inari returns Uka’s divine power. Afterward, Inari is returned to the shrine in a daze, where she finds her friends and Tanbabashi waiting for her.

I think what I liked best about this episode was the fact that it demonstrated just how much Inari has grown as a character over the course of the series. In a lot of ways, returning Uka’s divine power symbolizes that Inari had grown up and no longer needs the “crutch” that she thought the power was giving her.

As I watched this episode, though, it felt like the first half was being stretched out a bit, and the second half felt a little on the rushed side. It almost felt as if there wasn’t enough left of the story to fill the entire runtime, but it also needed a little more than half of the episode to get through. I thought the length of some of the scenes in the first half could have been cut without hurting anything, and that time be used in the second half to help keep it from feeling quite so rushed.

The only definite thing at the end is the fact that Inari can no longer see Uka. It’s not made clear whether or not Touka can still see her, though. Also, the audience can infer that Inari and Tanbabashi ended up together as a couple, but again, nothing blatant had been stated. I read that there’s supposed to be an OVA episode this summer, so perhaps some of my questions may be answered in it.

Overall, I enjoyed Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha. However, I have to admit to being slightly disappointed by the ending and how rushed it felt. After having a lot of time being spent earlier in the series to build up the story, the ending just whizzes by. Even with that complaint, I still found this to be a sweet series and a good “coming-of-age” story for Inari.

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Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha: Episode 9 – “Fox, Twilight, Milky Way”

Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha focuses on a middle school named Inari, and she’s in love with her classmate, Kouji Tanbabashi. One day, she overhears Kouji and a popular girl named Sumizome, and it sounds like they’re talking about a love confession letter from Kouji to Sumizome. Upset, Inari runs to a nearby Inari shrine that she’s loved and visited since she was a child. Uka, the resident god of the shrine, grants Inari’s wish, which is to be Sumizome. After physically turning into her but still having her own personality, she wants to return to normal. While Uka can’t return Inari to normal, she is able to give her a portion of her power, which is the ability to transform into other people. Uka also gives Kon, the fox that Inari rescued, to serve as her familiar.

The episode is set in November, and Inari discovers that Uka has not returned from Izumo; unbeknownst to her, Uka has been shut up in the Heavenly Cave by Amaterasu so Uka can do some soul searching.

Meanwhile, Momoyama, the girl who asked Inari to deliver her love confession letter to Tanbabashi, learns from him that he never got the letter. Momoyama is depressed that he never saw the letter, and her friend, Kangetsu, takes it upon herself to punish Inari.

During a class trip to clean the shrine, Kangetsu tells the other girls to ignore Inari and her friends. When Inari learns what’s going on, she and Maru go to confront Kangetsu. There’s a heated argument, which ends with Kangetsu pushing Maru down. This causes Inari to let loose her divine power to the point that it causes an earthquake. Uka manages to muster enough strength to use her power to send a spirit to Inari to calm her down.

Afterward, Inari is able to make things right with both Momoyama and Kangetsu, but Touka suddenly appears and drags Inari off. Miya also arrives from the Celestial Plains, and she tells them that Uka is fading away. Miya and Touka both explain to Inari what’s been happening to Uka when Inari uses her power. The end of the episode sees Inari trying to get to Uka in order to talk to her.

I have to say that Kangetsu having the other girls ignore Inari and her friends came across as very realistic, since this is a rather common tactic used my middle school girls when they’re mad at someone. During Inari’s confrontation with her, Kangetsu and the two girls with her also make snide remarks about Inari and Sumizome. It’s at that point when Maru tries sticking up for the two of them, and is knocked down by Kangetsu. It was kind of scary, though, when the divine power was surging out of Inari and she said that she hated Kangetsu and the girls she was with. Those aren’t words you would expect to come out of Inari’s mouth. I was glad to see this situation be resolved in a realistic manner as well.

As I watched this episode, I was really getting the impression that the story is heading to its climax. But last I had heard, there were supposed to be 12 episodes, so I was like, how can this stretch for three more episodes? But doing some quick research quickly revealed that there’s only 10 episodes, with an OVA scheduled to come out Summer 2014.

It’s so hard for me to believe that I only have one more episode of Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha left to watch. I’ve really enjoyed this series, and I will definitely miss it after I watch episode 10 next week.

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Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha: Episode 8 – “Izumo, Arranged Dates, Kerfuffle”

Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha focuses on a middle school named Inari, and she’s in love with her classmate, Kouji Tanbabashi. One day, she overhears Kouji and a popular girl named Sumizome, and it sounds like they’re talking about a love confession letter from Kouji to Sumizome. Upset, Inari runs to a nearby Inari shrine that she’s loved and visited since she was a child. Uka, the resident god of the shrine, grants Inari’s wish, which is to be Sumizome. After physically turning into her but still having her own personality, she wants to return to normal. While Uka can’t return Inari to normal, she is able to give her a portion of her power, which is the ability to transform into other people. Uka also gives Kon, the fox that Inari rescued, to serve as her familiar.

Episode eight sees Touka and Inari going to Izumo to find Uka, because Touka wants answers from her about the power that she has given Inari. They find Uka, who is being dragged by her mother to her arranged dates. Unfortunately, Touka is unable to talk to Uka, and Toshi is made to escort the two humans around until dinner. While talking with Toshi, they learn that Uka is being forced into the arranged dates and potential marriage because of their mother’s rivalry with Kushinada-Hime. This angers Inari, and she decides she’s going to find a way to stop this from happening. Touka, meanwhile, wants nothing to do with it.

When Inari and Toshi arrive at the dating venue, Toshi is suddenly whisked away by a bird; this leaves Inari to go through with a plan alone. After Uka leaves for a break, Inari decides to use her power to transform into Uka. Kon tells Inari that she can only transform into other humans, but she’s able to do it after she taps more power from Uka. Uka collapses. Inari, disguised as Uka, tries to sabotage the arranged dates, but only succeeds in angering Uka’s mother. Uka’s mother decides that this is due to Inari and Touka’s influence, and she orders the gods to find the humans and apprehend them.

While he’s on the run, Touka finds Uka collapsed on the ground. During a conversation, he learns that if Inari keeps using that divine power, then Uka’s divinity will move into Inari and turn her into a god. If this happens, then Uka will fade away. This is actually a very tender scene, and Touka does something rather unexpected: he grabs her in a hug. He claims that he did because he feels guilty about Uka letting herself have these attacks because of his sister; however, it’s pretty clear to the audience that it was more than that.

Inari ends up getting help from an unexpected ally and is able to bring Uka’s arranged dates to an end. However, after Inari and Touka leave Izumo, the audience learns there are unintended consequences…

What happens to Uka at the end of episode eight will definitely have some ramifications for the remainder of the series. There’s a scene with Inari after Uka has been handed down a consequence from Amaterasu for getting too close to humans that almost made me cry. Inari is making all these plans for the time she’ll be spending with Uka, and yet the audience knows from what they saw prior to that scene that those plans won’t be happening.

I was riveted throughout the entirety of episode eight, and I’m really interested to see what’ll happen in episode nine and how Inari will react when she discovers what’s happened to Uka.

I can’t believe we’re down to the last few episodes of Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha. I’ve gotten to the point where I look forward to watching this on Wednesdays, and it’s going to be weird not watching this series after the season is finished.

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Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha: Episode 7 – “Maiden, Aflutter, Madder Red”

Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha focuses on a middle school named Inari, and she’s in love with her classmate, Kouji Tanbabashi. One day, she overhears Kouji and a popular girl named Sumizome, and it sounds like they’re talking about a love confession letter from Kouji to Sumizome. Upset, Inari runs to a nearby Inari shrine that she’s loved and visited since she was a child. Uka, the resident god of the shrine, grants Inari’s wish, which is to be Sumizome. After physically turning into her but still having her own personality, she wants to return to normal. While Uka can’t return Inari to normal, she is able to give her a portion of her power, which is the ability to transform into other people. Uka also gives Kon, the fox that Inari rescued, to serve as her familiar.

Episode seven places a lot of focus on Inari and Tanbabashi. It’s time for their school to put on their Cultural Festival, and their class has decided to put on a play. They’re determining parts by drawing them out of a box. When Inari goes up, Tanbabashi has already gotten the role of the prince. She wishes she could choose the slip that would make her Tanbabashi’s love interest, and she does. At first, she’s overjoyed. However, after Kon slips that Inari subconsciously used her divine power to pull the card she wanted, Inari believes that she cheated, and it really affects her performance during rehearsals.

Early on in the episode, Inari sees that Uka’s brother has disguised himself as a good-looking middle schooler again, and she gives him a hard time. Tanbabashi and a couple of his friends see this, and again jump to the wrong conclusion that Inari is going out with Ohtoshi. This also helps to make things awkward during the rehearsals for the play.

And if that wasn’t enough, a girl from another classroom asks Inari to deliver a love confession note to Tanbabashi, since Inari has been rather close to him recently. Later in the episode, we see Inari subconsciously use her divine power to get rid of the note, and Inari feels even worse. She decides to transform into the girl and confess the girl’s feelings to Tanbabashi; as she’s about to head on her way, Tanbabashi suddenly appears, looking for Inari after learning from her friends that Inari doesn’t have a boyfriend.

This episode also sees Uka receiving a letter from her mother, saying Uka will be making the dating rounds when she returns to Izumo in October with all the other gods, or else her mother will be burning some of Uka’s things. Uka really doesn’t want to do it, and she finds herself thinking about Touka. The two of them get into an argument, and near the end of the episode, Touka finds himself thinking about Uka. To the audience, it’s obvious they like each other, but neither one is willing to admit it to themselves or to the other. But with what Touka overhears right at the end of the episode, his feelings for Uka could change…

This episode also sees Tanbabashi come to the realization that he may actually be in love with Inari. However, Inari has no idea that he’s come to this realization, so I suspect their interactions going forward may be a bit on the awkward side.

Episode seven is very pivotal for making progress in regards to potential romantic couples. At this point, it looks rather promising that Inari and Tanbabashi could end up together by the end of the series. But for Uka and Touka, however, it’s looking less likely for this pairing to materialize after what happens at the end of this episode. I hope I’m wrong, though, because I do like the two of them together.

I’m glad I continued watching Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha after not being entirely sure about it at the end of the first episode. It’s really become a sweet series to watch, and I’ve appreciated seeing how the characters have evolved. Not only does the character progression not feel forced, but the progression that has taken place has helped to make me care about the characters more.

There’s only a few more episodes of Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha left, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the series will ultimately end.

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