I did enjoy this anime a lot more than I thought I would. To be honest, it was a fairly random pick to kill time, but ended up being quite good.
Purpose: Very Good. In all, a “quiet” anime without flashiness or heavy drama. It was a story about consequences within a middle school drama framework. Thus, the lessons were more foundational – going from being just a child to being an adolescent. At first blush, it appeared to be a simple love story, however the romance was actually a smaller part of the overall purpose. In all, this was the story of two characters learning and growing up.
Characters: Very Good. The characters had a very practical, more real feel. They weren’t over the top and weren’t caricatures of personality traits you often see. However, they were unique and distinctive enough that they complemented each other. Through their concerns and fears, we saw a good deal of growth to the characters – learning practical lessons. As these characters interacted, we saw a great deal of human genuineness that present throughout.
World: Very Good. The world provided an interesting backdrop to the story. It added extra supernatural elements that were a vehicle for character growth. It was an important part of the plot itself and helped weave the storylines together. It’s always interesting to see different interpretations and takes on Japanese folklore – sometimes they would give a different take from what was expected and other times they would keep it a little more traditional. In both cases, it seemed consistent with what the world became.
As an aside, the foxes that were present in the anime were Zenko (善狐), servants of the goddess Inari. The Zenko are generally guardians and serve to ward off evil. Though not present in this anime, the Zenko are contrasted with Yako (野狐), foxes that aren’t servants of Inari. In folklore, the Yako tend to be more mischievous and can even be malicious.
Plot: Very Good. What is really interesting here was that the divine powers weren’t used as a “get out of jail free” card. Rather, it was the source of more trouble, misunderstandings, and insight. The insight was both into the characters and into the world. The powers were a good plot device for the characters to learn the lessons they needed for growth and were an important driving force towards the ultimate resolution. These were good examples of solid plot points because they marked noticeable differences in the characters’ overall trajectory – they served to provide good situations to learn from.
Storytelling: Excellent. They handled the two separate stories quite well, using them to work off each other. There were a handful of really memorable scenes. The storytelling used the quieter aspect of the anime to convey very sweet, very genuine moments. Of particular note is the presentation and maintenance of emotion in the stronger scenes. As a counterpoint, humor was used to both highlight the drama and give some more awkward, human moments. This resulted in storytelling that was never done in such a way as to be too serious, but presented so that it didn’t detract from what was going on. Often, the humor would be a bit of a “rest-break” between some dramatic parts, serving, in some cases, as a dose of reality.
Pace: Good. The pace was a bit mixed. In the beginning, they didn’t dwell too long on plot points that other anime usually get bogged down in. This provided a good, solid pace for what was happening early. The middle of the anime slowed a bit, but was still relatively solid in how everything was presented. The last two episodes were a little bit of a pace “hiccup” – it felt that there wasn’t quite enough content for two episodes, so it was stretched out. Consequently, a bit of the drama lost its impact at the end.