Here’s my tip for the day: if you’re someone who suffers from chronic back problems, don’t tweak your back with a seven-bagger sneeze (I never sneeze singles, though seven is high even for me) and then, an hour later, cough while tying your shoe. As anyone with back issues can tell you sneezes are the work of the devil, but the timing on that cough has left me effectively immobile and unable to sit for more than two minutes without seizing up like a wooden board. I’ll type as much as I can but my thoughts are going to be a little briefer than usual until this calms down a bit.
With that, on to Inari Konkon, which certainly projected a very different tone this week than it had previously. Most of that was due to the influence of the two Oni-san characters, Inari’s Touka – who we’ve already met – and Uka’s Ootoshi-no-kami (Koyasu Takehito). And with their arrival as major players this episode is a whole lot less obsessively cute than last week’s, but altogether more zany and even slightly edgy.
Only time will tell if that’s a mode that works for this series, but so far I’d say the screwball comedy is a mixed bag. The show is definitely trying too hard with some of it – the distorted faces, the sound effects, the wacky music – it all feels like it dropped in from another series. On the other hand, I like the strange dynamic between Touka and Uka-sama. As for “Toshi”, he’s a power brocon of the first order, with all that implies plot-wise. He enters the scene scoping out Inari at school, trying to find out about the girl who “stole” some of his beloved sister’s power. He transforms first into a male middle-schooler, than into Inari herself – which forces her to transform into the Vice-principal. It’s like a little To LOVE-Ru mixed in with your Konkon. Also joining the cast is Ooimiyanome-no-kami (Mikami Shiori) – call her Miya-chan – one of the five “pillar” Inari Kami, who takes on the role of Inari’s guide in the Celestial Plains.
I’m still on the fence about that side of the series, and about Toshi himself. But I like the stuff with Touka a lot better, overbearing as he is. He could clearly see Uka even before Inari could (perhaps implying he has even stronger spiritual powers) and to top that off, he’s a chuunibyou. It doesn’t take a genius to see that offers a certain natural connection to Uka, who’s a bit of an otome and hooked on 2D herself – and indeed, despite his suspicion of her the two of them do sort of bond over the Wii in Touka’s bedroom. It seems that Touka’s feelings towards his sister are (thankfully) strictly protective rather than siscon, and we even get some hints about possible sparks between he and Uka. She certainly enjoys her time gaming with him, and even asks if she might come back again (he says he’ll think about it). Needless to say, any development on this front is going to complicate things in a big way.
Complicating all this is the revelation, courtesy of Miya (in hindsight, an unsurprising one) that whenever Inari uses some of the power Uka loaned her, Uka grows weaker. This has Amaratsu-sama and the gang in the Celestial Plains trying to figure out a way – so far fruitlessly – to take that power out of Inari and put it back in Uka. This would apparently allow Inari to remain in her own form, but take away her ability to see Uka and the fox spirits. How all this works I don’t really know – nor do I know why Touka could see Uka in the first place and whether it’s his childlike fantasy life that’s kept him from losing that ability. What’s clear, though, is that Uka feels out of place in the world of the Gods – where her brother constantly macks on her and legions of losers try and marry her to get at her “first tier” powers – and more comfortable with her 2D men (whom she’s convinced are an accurate sampling of what human males are like).
Where does all this leave us? Well, I wouldn’t say I’m on the fence – I like this series, it airs on a slow day in a bad season and I’ll certainly cover it. But we’re definitely not firing on all cylinders yet, and with only seven more episodes to go there are limits to how far Inari Konkon can go with this premise and these characters. We’ve really seen three different shows in three episodes – the wistful Shinto homage, the innocent and hyper-kawaii romance and now the broad and somewhat mainstream comedy. That makes it hard to guess exactly what we’re going to get from this series next, but the fact that I’m still interested in finding out is a good sign.