The Helpful Fox Senko-San Episodes 1 & 2May 29, 2019
Welcome, one and all, to a new weekly review series for me. Here, I’m going to be watching The Helpful Fox Senko-San, aka Sewayaki Kitsune no Senko-san. Now, this one has been simulcasting on Crunchyroll for a few weeks now, so I’m a little behind. In order to catch up, I’m going to be doing two episodes per week until I’m either up to date or have dropped the series.
So, the first episode, I’m going to pamper him to his heart’s content! gives us a full intro to the themes of the show. In terms of characters, the only two we spend any real time with are the main protagonists, Nakano and Senko. Nakano is pretty much an exaggerated version of what most office workers feel like at some point: he’s overworked, feels undervalued, and he’s in a perpetual state of stress. In a nutshell, he should be easily relatable for anyone who has ever been in that environment. That makes him nice and easy to want to get behind.
Meanwhile, Senko is an 800-year-old kitsune that looks like a young girl. She – and two other kitsune – have been watching Nakano for a long time, and have noticed the dark fog that’s building around him. While seemingly invisible to humans, that isn’t metaphorical either, as his aura essentially affects those he comes physically close to. As a result, the kitsune decide to take pity on him and lend a hand. Senko volunteers to go down to Earth and do so, and so begins their adventure together.
To that end, Senko moves herself into his apartment and starts trying to take away some of the things that burden him. In this episode, that means making sure he comes home to a warm meal and helping him relax a little before bed. The end result is that, by the end of the episode, his black smoke aura has faded away.
Anime does kemonomimi characters very well, and Senko is really no exception here, thanks to its attention to little things. The sheer amount of expression the show gets out of body language with her animal ears/tail is wonderful, not to mention totally adorable. That ranges from happy little flicks to an uncomfortable wiggling of the feet when Nakano strokes her tail.
We also have some genuinely funny humour here, thanks to Nakano’s reactions to his situation. When he first finds Senko at home and starts worrying about being arrested for forcing a child to wear costumes and cook for him for example. The short scene was a little over the top, but it really made me laugh. Senko isn’t a slouch in this department either though, with her trickery and emotional blackmail not only being amusing but also fitting with how Japanese people generally view kitsune spirits.
There’s a little nudge towards a potentially bigger arc too. Nakano has a few moments where he thinks back to his childhood with his Grandma. One such trip down memory lane sees him remember when a kitsune helped him when he was lost. Between the similarity in Senko and the shape of the shadowed spirit, and that Senko was the first of the three kitsune to ask for the job, I think we can see where this is going.
I think that Nakano’s focus on the idea that, despite her age, she looks like a little girl has been interesting so far. Rather than slip into fetishization, he comes across as genuinely having an issue with being taken care of by someone who appears to be a child. That was a nice touch, and one I appreciated. That being said, the tail stroking scene did feel like it was heading into lewd territory, so we’ll see if that changes over the series.
Episode two, Don’t be shy, now! is more of the same. We get straight into the animal expression territory with Senko’s ears drooping sadly when Nakano says he’s used to not sleeping enough. That was one of my favourite parts of episode one, so that made me smile.
Where this one shines above the first episode is that we do get some character progression. Nakano may be back to his run-down self at the start of the episode, but Senko soon notices that he has a lot of things around his apartment. The idea is that, while the world has worn him down, he at least once felt like he’d have a happy life. We also pushed the past connection between the two forward, as Nakano remembers another time with a kitsune spirit that looked like Senko, and outright asks her if they’ve met before. Senko doesn’t give the game away just yet though, and simply says that it’s possible, but she can’t remember every child she meets. I rather suspect she does indeed remember him.
Senko meanwhile has a focus now and wants to find ways to slow Nakano down as a means to get around his stubbornness. We also learn that she is a self-proclaimed master of ear cleaning, a fact that Nakano amusingly points out is a weird claim. The slight lewd edge creeps in again, twice this time. The first is during a moment when Nakano gets to stroke Senko’s ears. This is much the same as the tail scene from the first episode. The second time is when Nakano is trying to sleep. He feels bad about Senko sleeping on the floor and offers her a futon, but she misinterprets this as wanting to share a bed with her and climbs in with him. Nakano is flustered by this, but she pulls him into her chest and wraps her tail around him, relaxing him. It’s not quite the same feel as the stroking scenes, but you could certainly interpret it in a more adult way than it appears.
Both episodes feature a peppy opening and closing theme. The melody is catchy in both instances, and it’s all very charming. I particularly loved the imagery of the fox tails in the rice cookers. They also both feature Super Senko Time. These are POV shorts based on moments in the episode, where we get to experience Senko’s care. In the first instance, she makes us some houjicha tea and explains how to brew it. In the second, she cleans our ears. They’re a little strange to watch, but they fit with the overall feel of the show so it’s all good. So far, the voice cast has also been really good too.
As it stands, the first two episodes have been fun. They were easy to watch, and have enough adorable moments to keep me smiling. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens when we get a proper introduction to Nakano’s manga artist neighbor. We’ve only seen her in passing so far, but she’s appeared enough to clearly be someone who will feature more prominently. I also expect the other two foxes to turn up at some point.
So, those were my thoughts. But what about yourselves? Did you enjoy these episodes? Do you agree or disagree with any of my observations? Let me know in the comments below.
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