First Impression: The Helpful Fox Senko-san (stardf29)

Since TWWK already did a First Impression post for this show (which you can check out if you want a synopsis), I’ll mainly be angling my impressions as someone who is familiar with the source manga. (Full disclosure: the source manga is not yet licensed in English and I’m reading it via scanlations. Trust me, if the manga ever gets licensed I’d buy them in a heartbeat.)

The original mangaka, Rimukoro, mentioned that he first came up with the manga when he was exhausted and felt like he wanted a “loli nojya kitsune girl” to take care of him (“nojya” is an archaic way of ending Japanese sentences generally associated with older people like grandmothers). As such, he tried to find a manga with that setup, but could not find one, so he wrote one himself. (He even calls it “an obvious fetish manga”, for what that’s worth.) I think this should give an idea for what kind of show this will be; an iyashikei (healing) show that is more concerned about being cute, fluffy, and relaxing than having any sort of serious plot.

That said, there is an underlying theme at work here that is worth noting: the emotional toll of overworking. This is especially relevant in (but by no means limited to) Japanese office work culture where working to exhaustion is expected and encouraged; this story seems to be written to comfort those caught in this culture. Connected to that is the idea of accepting the care of others, something people can have a hard time doing either out of pride or out of feeling like they need to repay the other person. Even the tail-fluffing, for its… sensual portrayal in-show, can be seen as representative of physical intimacy that many people lack in their lives, even in its most innocent forms. (And yes, the tail-fluffing is a big enough part of their relationship going forward that you might as well consider it a PG-rated replacement for marital intimacy… later portrayals in the manga aren’t as sensual, though.) All of this gives this show an extra human element that does give it some more depth to its fluff.

The fact that Senko is a deitical being–a “demigod”, according to the subs–means there may even be some faith elements in this show. In fact, one of my favorite moments in this first episode is when Nakano says he feels bad about not being able to repay Senko for all she did for him, and she replies that no amount of good deeds can be worth a demigod’s care, so he should just accept her care without reservation. That is actually a surprisingly good reflection of God’s grace, and how no amount of good works can pay Him back for what He does for us, so rather than working for His acceptance, we should simply accept His love. Granted, I wouldn’t consider this story to be a treasure trove of hidden Christian meanings by any means; explicitly relevant moments like that are rare. Still, it is an element that is there and may bring just a tiny bit more for those who continue with this show.

As a final note as someone familiar with the manga: the first episode actually contained a number of scenes not in the manga, particularly the flashbacks to Nakano’s past. It’s a nice extra touch and helps with the overall healing tone of the show while adding some extra value for manga readers.

The Helpful Fox Senko-san is streaming on Funimation.


2 thoughts on “First Impression: The Helpful Fox Senko-san (stardf29)

  1. So I read TWWK’s “impression” post and it only seemed to me like he really didn’t want to write anything but some higher power was forcing him to. Odd for a self-publishing platform like this blog. Then I thought that maybe somebody who enjoys this kind of show like star should write one, and here we go.

    I got the same impression in that the impossibility of earning divine grace part was what stuck out the most to me in the initial episode. Especially so since I can’t wrap my head around where it came from – it is such an anti-Shinto idea. You can most certainly anger Shinto gods or get on their good side – the episode even brings up shrine offerings within this context. But you can’t easily explain it away with a Buddhist outlook either because of how Senko light-heartedly quips that gods are fickle either way. I’ll be keeping my eye on how the series treats it spiritual themes later.

    I think I read one chapter of the manga back when this was announced, and I feel the initial anime episode is the stronger one. To me a big difference was how the manga flat out informs you through a textbox that the MC is a fluff-maniac, getting the exposition out of the way in an unceremonious way (fitting of the humble origins of the manga’s original concept). But the anime avoids that bit of exposition and offers that flashback instead, painting a memory of warmth and associating it with the presence of a fluffy cat and a kindly grandmother, which is a more identifiable way to establish the MC’s preferences and thoughts.

    Here’s hoping that Senko not only relieves some of the MC’s stress, but also helps him fight back, if only a bit, in his corporate setting. What’s going on in the guy’s life is evidently not healthy, you can see he does not share in the workaholic ethos on a personal level, and merely treating the symptoms without curing the root of the disease here does not seem like a truly meaningful path.

  2. I can’t speak for TWWK about why he chose to watch and write about this show, but I do appreciate views on these kinds of shows from people who aren’t inherently fans of such shows. Clearly, at this point my reputation as a fan of cute slice-of-life shows has been well-established, but I think perspectives from others give a better picture of how well any given such show might appeal to the greater anime audience.

    I definitely agree that the anime improved on the manga’s first chapter. It definitely gives me good hope that Doga Kobo will do an excellent job with this adaptation.

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