This is a show whose single sentence description made me feel kind of dirty for enjoying it as much as I did. Starring a prepubescent looking fox girl, who is constantly reassuring the audience that she is well over 800 years old, show up to “pamper” some adult man really hits home where all those FBI memes come from.
It was honestly a bit of a hurdle for me to cross when I first started watching this show. However, The Helpful Fox Senko-San continuously did a clever job of hanging a lantern on the most collar tugging aspect of the show’s whole dynamic. It goes as far as to make a joke about the main character (Nakano) getting arrested for having her around in the very first episode.
Like many of these kinds of anime, It ends up being pretty different than the original premise might lead you to believe. The easy assumption to make when watching any anime is that there’s going to be some kind of mild perversion to some aspect of the characters. Senko-San, thankfully, subverts this by being one of the most wholesome and good shows I’ve seen.
At it’s core, this show really seems like a form of propaganda. One that is desperately trying to show its single, otaku audience just how attractive marriage, or a civil partnership can be. Seeing as how I’ve been lead to believe that single men staying single is a current cultural issue in Japan right now.
Although this is very much an idealised version of a relationship from a very male-centric perspective. But honestly, It’s really effective. The relationship between Nakano and Senko is incredibly sweet. In spite of Senko constantly referring to herself as both his wife and mother. Which raises another red flag at the apparent mental maturity of men watching this kind of show.
What are you looking at me like that for?
Their relationship really does seem like it leans more in the direction of mother than wife though through their interactions. Which, again, leans into the more wholesome aspects of the show. The whole crux of the series is that Nakano is working himself to an early grave, through either exhaustion or suicide, so Senko shows up and “pampers” him to help him remember how to love life again.
At several points, their interactions do get kinda questionable (bathing together for example), but it’s through Nakano’s apparently total lack of a sex drive and his obsession with cuddling Senko’s fox tail as though it were a teddy bear that stops it from being anything but a source of comedy.
And after a certain point, Senko’s outward appearance stopping being an point of contention. Unless of course the show was making light of it. It might be in part that I watched the dub and Senko is voiced as an adult woman, with very adult mannerisms.
By this point, I just started to watch the show for what I felt its intention was: to just make me feel happy. The extreme tenderness and kindness with which Senko treats Nakano is palpable. Making him so blissful and relaxed that it slithers outside of the screen and got its feel-good vibes into me just from watching it. Just seeing Nakano melt into happiness made me happy too.
For the majority of the series, it goes on like this. Jumping between Nakano’s floating into clouds of relaxation and some goofy misunderstanding featuring Nakano’s neighbour. Which I enjoyed. It’s just to bad the series felt like it needed to add a little false drama towards the end of the 12 episode run.
The addition of further fox spirits was one I felt a little mixed on. The first of which is Shiro, who unlike Senko is a little bratty, selfish and immature despite the advanced age of all the fox people. Nothing she does it outright malicious, but she ends up filling the role of a daughter stand-in for the pair. Thus I didn’t really mind her too much, as she ends up hanging around with the clueless neighbour more than getting between Senko and Nakano.
It’s when the character of Yozora shows up that it started to lose me. Unlike the other two, Yozora has a seductive appearance, despite being three foot nothing, with boobs all over the place at all times. Additionally, she likes to tease Nakano and Senko. Which doesn’t really ever go anywhere thanks to Nakano’s utter lack of any perversion in his mind whatsoever.
With her introduction though, she throws little false conflict into the final few episodes of the series. Implying to Nakano that he could do something to cause him to lose Senko. Something that does weigh on his mind right up until the last episode where Senko is nowhere to be found, thus causing Nakano to begin a desperate search for her.
In doesn’t amount to a whole lot in the end though, as she was doing the equivalent of visiting her mom and all the drama was completely unfounded.
I get the show wanted to do something a little more dramatic for its season finale. But adding the harem show-like elements really detracted from the strengths of the show. And even glancing over the manga after the fact, I realised that none of these events seemed to happen there. With their picnic under the cherry blossoms being a more of an everyday visit than a romantic style series finale event.
In spite of feeling like I was being taken for a ride towards the end of the series, Senko-San is a really nice show that shows a super idealised version of a Japanese marriage. But the characters are so sweet and the show does such a good job of helping the audience feel the bliss and relaxation of the Nakano that any cynical shade I throw in its direction ultimately falls flat. It’s nice, wholesome fun that I find I might end up missing as we move into the next season.