Every time I’ve started to wonder about Inari Konkon it’s done something to convince me it’s a keeper, and every time I’ve been convinced it’s done something to make me doubt it. Inconsistency is a staple of the majority of anime, of course, but it does seem as if it’s been more pronounced with this series so far – it’s starting to resemble the original Star Trek movies and that whole odds and evens thing they had going on.
Blame Hunter X Hunter and its game-changing masterpiece of an episode if you like, but this ep really did nothing for me. While Inari Konkon is obviously not attempting to be anything like H x H there might be a sliver of truth to the notion that it’s hard to care much about mediocrity in the wake of greatness. Still – I was happy enough with the work Tonari no Seki-kun and WCW did this week, so I think the much bigger issue is the episode itself.
In a sense this was just a bit too much of a “Tamayura episode” for lack of a better term. I don’t dislike that show and I didn’t dislike this episode, but there is a slippery slope with shows that fetishize little girls who think the universe revolves around their dramas by acting like they agree with them. There’s also a slippery slope with shows that really emphasize moe for its own sake, and this one has struggled with that a couple of times already. Like Tamayaura, Inari Konkon can definitely be too cute for its own good, and it certainly was this week.
If there’s a saving grace here, it’s that there’s some tonal variety with the cast. We have a girl with body issues that isn’t a topic of mockery for it, and there’s a strong undercurrent of same-sex attraction among all the main girls except Inari that isn’t played up as otaku-bait like yuri usually is, but rather treated with some dignity. That’s good, but I just can’t bring myself to care about 22 minutes of four girls acting cute and mooning over their problems. They’re not bad people – kids naturally think their problems are the most important thing in the universe. I just don’t want to want an entire episode focused on them.
In sum – we need less posing, less navel-gazing and more mysticism. Take the Shinto out of Inari Konkon and it begins to look unsettlingly generic, as this episode shows. As I said last week I don’t think this show is at its best when it’s really pushing the plot frantically, but I also noted that it’s cute enough that it works better when it isn’t trying so hard to be cute. About the only interesting thing that happened, really, was at the very end of the episode when Sumizome wished that she were Inari and all hell broke loose. Hopefully that’s a sign that next week the series will return to its roots, and given that it’s already half-over I certainly hope so – more than any other series this season, Inari Konkon can’t afford to fritter away its time.