What They Say:
Inari is a sweet and shy middle school girl with a HUGE crush on Tanbabashi, one of the cutest guys in her grade. But she’s not smooth enough to tell him how she feels, and every time she tries things just keep getting worse! That is, until one day she saves an injured fox struggling on a riverbank. To Inari’s surprise, the fox turns out to be the familiar of Uka, a beautiful goddess. As thanks, Uka grants Inari the power to shape-shift, and Inari uses her newfound powers to attempt to win over Tanbabashi. Unfortunately, love isn’t as simple as changing forms, and to make matters worse, the spirit world is none too pleased about Inari’s divine powers!
The audio presentation for this release is still a rare one from FUNimation as we get only the original Japanese language track. It’s done up in stereo using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The mix is one that’s a bit light as you might expect with its being a very dialogue driven piece but it knows how to use the ambient sounds of the locations to add some nice life to it. Whether in the city, the shrine or out in the woods, there’s a nice, subtle, immersive feeling to the mix as a whole that may not be readily apparent at first. The show doesn’t have much in the way of traditional action, but it ramps things up a couple times here and there with some big moments to give it some splash. It’s all fairly standard forward soundstage material but it’s well handled and adds a nice subtle richness to the show as a whole.
Originally airing in 2014, the transfer for this TV series plus OVA is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. Animated by Production IMS, the transfer captures the beauty of this series wonderfully. While it works off of real world settings for the background and applies color filters to it, the result is something that has such pop and vibrancy that you can’t help but to fall in love with it. It’s the kind of show where every paused screen feels like it warrants wallpaper or a print on the wall. The color design is striking throughout and it balances it with some really good character animation that’s fluid as it moves throughout the scenes. Though it’s a dialogue oriented show there’s plenty of movement throughout it and it keeps things hopping nicely with what the cast is up to. The detail in the character designs is fairly average overall, though some like Uka get a bit more attention, but it’s the backgrounds and the nature effects in the foreground that really won me over with its visual design here.
The packaging design for this release is nice as we get both formats included in one standard sized Blu-ray case that also includes a really nice o-card slipcover with it. The front cover is broken into four quadrants for four of the main characters, though it doesn’t bring all of them to the forefront, and it has a nice layer of color and design to it. With the logo in the middle it feels like the cover should have more pop with the color to it, but since it goes with an illustration style it definitely has a really neat feeling about it. The back cover has a nice soft image of some of the fox spirits along the roof edge of the shrine while a strip of shots along the right adds some nice color and an idea of what the show looks like. The rest is the usual material with a decent breakdown of the premise and a clean look at the extras included as well as the technical specs that are all laid out clearly and accurately. While there are no show related extras to be had with inserts, we do get a reversible cover that has a great white background image with Inari and Tabadashi together that’s just full of teenage love.
The menu design for this release has a nice little touch or two that works nicely to give it some welcome color. While the majority of it is given over to some decent panning shots of locations and characters that dominates the screen, the navigation along the lower left has the right kind of feeling. The colorful logo is attached to the top of it, complete with cloud and fox imagery, and that blends well into the orange of the navigation block itself. We get a small but standard set of selections minus the language option so it’s pretty easy to navigate and little to do here beyond episode selection and playing with the extras. it all works smoothly and easily and we had no problems at the top level or during playback with the pop-up menu.
The extras for this release are pretty nice, though it’s certainly feels weird not having a couple of English language commentaries here since there was no dub production for it. The release birings us the familiar as we get the clean opening and closing sequences as well as a look at some of the original pre-broadcast promos and various collections. The fun unique extras that we get here are the nine Pub Fox Theater pieces in which they run about a minute each and have the two foxes in a pub making jokes and puns while an occasional character or two makes an appearance. They’re dorky little extras but they should make you grin overall.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga by Morohe Yoshida , Inari Kon Kon Iroha is a ten episode anime series with an additional OVA. Animated by Production IMS, it debuted in the winter 2014 anime season and was simulcast by FUNimation at the time. With it being a slightly shorter series and one with a very small niche overall as a slice of life show with a supernatural element, it’s no surprise that the series didn’t get a dub. It would have made for a pretty pleasant experience though. The original manga was a recent one, beginning back in 2010, and it just finished up this year in Young Ace magazine after ten compiled volumes.
The premise of the series is pretty simple, which makes execution key to selling it. The show revolves around Inari, a middle school student who has a crush on another student in her grade named Koji Tanbabashi. We don’t really learn anything about either of them that makes them compelling as middle school students, such as interests or the like, but we get the sense that they’re good kids overall and living good lives. For Inari, she’s hiding her interest as best as she can, but all of that starts to change when she ends up rescuing a fox pup that she thought was a little dog. It turns out said pup is actually a fox spirit named Kon that’s part of the shrine god that leaves nearby named Uka-no-Mitama-no-Kami. Uka takes an instant liking to Inari as Inari has regularly visited the shrine for years, and offers to give her a little bit of her own power as a reward.
That little taste of power allows Inari to change herself to look like any other human that she knows, which means some confusion ahead for both her and others. It’s actually an ability that’s not applied rather liberally, much to my surprise, and instead becomes something used more sparingly overall. But whenever it’s used it ends up causing problems in the short and long term. One instance has her taking on the appearance of another girl that wanted Inari to give Tanbabashi a love letter, one that Inari had lost. She’s intent on seeing it through, but it’s just a weird situation overall that comes back to bite her in a big way. Another instance has her taking on the look of one of Tanbabashi’s male classmates and she ends up going to his house when he had missed school. Under the guise of bringing over homework, she gets to spend time in his room and with his family. The awkward is definitely there in general, especially with Tanbabashi’s expected “dirty” magazine, but it’s also just awkward to see her basically sneaking into his life.
What the show wants to do for the most part is spend time moving through this special part of Inari’s life as she deals from being someone with just one or two friends to having a few more and dealing with that supernatural touch to it. Her time with Uka is pretty fun overall as Uka has a closer tie to humans simply because she’s a secret otaku that loves games and shows. There’s a really nice playfulness from Uka that’s combined with a maternal side that’s cute to watch and you sympathize with her as time goes on and we see some of her struggles with the other gods that want her back on the Celestial Plane, married and more. The gods themselves are the least interesting part of the show once you get past Uka though, but they’re a smaller part overall and that helps. The time spent between Uka and Inari is really special though as the two have a wonderful kind of semi-secret friendship since nobody else except her brother is able to see her.
Inari’s brother Touka is a curious one overall because he’s very protective of Inari when it comes to Uka and sees her as just a threat to his sister. It’s the kind of engagement that the two have where you really feel like there’s this whole other series that happened prior to this when Touka was younger and had dealings with Uka. There’s also some nice sexual chemistry between the two that comes up, which is not played to in a big way, but you could see it going there easily. Touka and Inari also manage to work pretty well together which makes for some fun sequences since she’s trying to make sure he’s not aware of what’s going on while he’s doing his own best to ensure that she doesn’t realize that he can see Uka for awhile either. It’s not a big cat and mouse game but it has its moments.
The strongest focus that the show takes as it goes on is the relationship between Inari and her friends that grows slowly but surely. While she’s been friends with Sanjo since she was young, she also is friends with Chika, someone with some yuri-ish tastes that makes her isolated from others. Inari’s tendency to go after strays is apparent here and there’s a good bond that forms. The complicated element to this group comes in the form of Akemi, a fellow classmate that’s pretty much the popular and pretty girl. Inari knows that Tanbabashi is interested in her because “everyone” is, so there’s some jealousies that plays into it. Especially when Inari takes on her appearance for awhile and realizes how difficult she does have it. The bond these two grow is my favorite of this show as they have that moment where they both realize they’re jealous of the other and projecting, especially when Inari realizes that Akemi is far more interested in Sanjo – and that gets Chika’s yuri radar working over time. It’s not an area that’s explored much, but just getting a simple layer of interest there without much in the way of judgment from the core cast is nice to see.
Inari, Kon Kon, Iroha is not a series that will change the world. But it’s a series that excels at its particular slice of life area and makes for a really enjoyable time overall. The characters are light when it comes to depth of said character, but watching them go through this small phase of growing up, dealing with jealousies and envy and a touch of supernatural along the way makes for some good episodes. It’s also a show that’s wonderfully colored and animated overall, making it feel very distinctive and rich. The slice of life genre can be a tough sell sometimes and it’s not a surprise that we got a subtitled-only release here, but if you’re a fan of these types of shows you cannot go wrong with this one. It’s a very charming little show all around.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Pub Fox Theater episodes 1-9, Textless Opening and Closing, Commercial Collection, Promotional Video
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: July 28th, 2015
Running Time: 250 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.