Japan has a strong affinity with its Shinto origins and there are countless temples or shrines dotted across the country where people go to pray to the temple’s deity or deities which reside there. It brings people together, acts as a place of solace for some and generally acts a beautiful addition to any cityscape. You wonder if there’s more to the picturesque scenery and if the deities that are praised there actually live there and acknowledge the love and adoration they get. With Inari, Kon Kon we don’t get that, we get more. We get a sweet tale of a schoolgirl, her love for her local shrine and the goddess that loves her back.
Inari is a schoolgirl with a crush on a guy named Kouji, a skilled basketball player and someone she has admired from afar since they started going to school together. However the class beauty Akemi is seemingly the winner of his affections and Inari is left distraught and despondent. Despite this she tries her best and with the help of her friends, she plucks up the courage to ask for help during gym class. It doesn’t go well though. Due to her clumsy nature, it ends up with Kouji’s pants being pulled down in front of everyone. He is understandably embarrassed and he avoids Inari for the rest of the day leaving her heartbroken. She returns to the shrine she adores and spends nearly every day at; to the point of concerning her family. Earlier that day, before the incident happened, she aided a stranded dog who was stuck on a riverbank. We see that she’s a gentle soul and someone attuned with animals and generally a good person. Her cries are heard and her world is opened up to the deities which reside at the temple. She is greeted by Uka [the Shinto goddess of agriculture and sometimes tied with Inari or fox spirits] and is granted a wish for her undying devotion to the shrine.
I will stop here with the plot because I don’t want to spoil it too much; suffice to say this show is wonderful. The piece, as a whole, is stunning. It radiates pure charm and love from every pore. Each character feels multi-faceted and carefully pieced together with plenty of thought and precision. Inari in herself may not be the smartest or most adept person out there but she has a lot of love to give; Uka is someone who can help her fully believe in herself and become the person she deserves to be. All the foxes surrounding Uka in her private dwelling are also so very cute. They act like her minions and aid her with everything from watching over the patrons of the shrine, a guide in the dark to even being a TV. Yes, a TV. When I saw that scene of Uka playing a dating sim on a not-PS2, I did a double take and laughed out loud – it was such an unexpected juxtaposition of elegant divinity indulging in mod-cons. It gave me a sense that Inari, Kon Kon is a show with tons of personality. Uka in herself is brilliant. She’s loving, poised, helpful and even funny. She’s the complete package and a lot more approachable than a god might normally be perceived to be. She is indiscriminate – she treats Inari as if she were her own, even giving her some of her own power when things go south as a token of apology. The power to transform into any other living human.
When you get deeper into the show, there’s more to discover. The plot could easily have been simply a catalogue of adventures that Uka and Inari have together but instead we get moments of peril and threat in the form of other gods, Inari’s own brother who has a mistrust of gods and even Inari’s own quirks. Your emotions are quickly invested in the universe and you feel like you’ve invested wisely. It’s so pretty. The visuals, the character designs, the plot, the music – everything. My only concern is that the show could become safe; not venturing much further in terms of edginess. There are plenty of subplots that could rock the main story and add even more dynamism. If it can do that, then the show will be a winner; if not, then it’s not a MAJOR disaster. It’ll just mean that the show is merely good. It deserves to be GREAT; because it is.
Inari, Kon Kon is simply a must-see. There are more action-based shows out there as well as those which have more going on, but that doesn’t matter in this case. Inari’s quest for inner confidence is a compelling and artfully rendered drama with a hint of divinity, loads of charm, a dash of comedy and a lot of heart.
Inari, Kon Kon is available to stream on Funimation’s website.
RATING: CONTINUE [A contender for best of the season.]
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