Once again, I can only offer no defense of Gingitsune, only the same explanation I gave last week – this sort of thing either works for you or it doesn’t. And for me, this series is totally working. This is slice-of-life in its purest form, a true weekly snapshot of seikatsu in small-town Japan. It has cute characters but it doesn’t fetishize and obsess over them, and the sense of mono no aware is strong enough to make the taste of the drink bittersweet instead of saccharine. It won’t sell like those saccharine shows that obsess over moe, but this is the ideal of the form in anime terms as far as I’m concerned.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Gingitsune has Miki Shinichirou in a role he was born to play. Honestly, the moment when Gintarou imagined what would have happened if he hadn’t gone chasing after Haru and Miki offered a picture-perfect “Beh!” would have been enough to make the episode for me. Line deliveries like that can’t be taught – just listen to Miki-san here or Inoue Kazuhiko in Natsume Yuujinchou and you’ll get a master class in emotive voice acting and pure economy. I also loved Gintarou’s derisive laugh when Haru’s sweet tooth was revealed, and his voice-over for the preview: “You want to know more about Inari Shrines? Look it up yourself.”
As for Haru, I have to admit that she’s grown on me. She’s an annoying character who’s actually supposed to be annoying, and I think that makes a difference. She’s also pretty funny a good chunk of the time, and her interactions with Gintarou are highly entertaining. I think Makoto’s suggestion that the Shrine have a kitsune no yomeiri of its very own is pretty far-fetched, mind you, but the two of them fit together like puzzle pieces, somehow. As for that fox’s wedding notion, it’s just Gingitsune slipping in another fun bit of cultural mythology – in Japan (as well as Nepal) sunshowers are often referred to by that term.
Another focus of the episode was the dietary preferences of kitsune. We already know Gintarou’s preference, of course, but Haru – after mocking his tastes as being strange for a fox – claims she likes fried tofu. Gin derisively opines that she just eats whatever’s put in front of her (they don’t call it inari zushi for nothing) but the ever-helpful Tatsuo decides she might like to try some kitsune udon (but forgets the hot water). Satoru overhears and reveals Haru’s dirty little secret – she actually likes kurimu-pan. She has good taste – Makoto likes it too, and so do I – but I suppose it is a bit embarrassing for a fox youkai to admit to such a thing.
Tatsuo remains a sort of placid eye of kindness at the center of the series. Even Gintarou recognizes that Tatsuo is special – he’s the only one who gets a free pass for screwing up the offerings. No doubt Tatsuo is an idealized take on both the local priest and father archetypes, but that doesn’t make him any less likeable as a character. He shows his true colors once again when the local shougakusei get a little too exuberant in their boys vs. girls roughousing, – quick to reassure and forgive when they come back to apologize and make an offering of mikan (having been frightened into doing so by Obaa-san, threatening cursing and/or devouring). Yes, Tatsuo is definitely special – but did I get a vibe that he might just actually be able to see the Heralds after all? Haru certainly had the same thought – and it’s either that, or he’s gotten awfully good at predicting her movements…