As I write this, I have just finished wrapping the last of my Christmas presents and prepare for a seven day sting leading right up until Christmas Eve morning at work. It also marks what might be the latest I’ve ever actually left writing these top ten lists in the years I’ve been writing them for this site.
The thing is, there is so much stuff just now finishing or, that I want to get caught up on that I had no choice but to leave it this late. Release schedules wait for no man and his personal timekeeping. Getting to the point though, this following show meant a lot to me this year, and I’ve been looking forward to talking about it again.
#8: The Helpful Fox Senko-san
Originally aired 10th April to 26th June | 12 Episodes | Based on the Manga written by Rimukoro | Slice of Life, Comedy, Supernatural
I went through a particularly rough personal patch this year, one of the things that got me through those few months was a show that caught me out of nowhere, particularly with how warm and wholesome it was. Having no ulterior motives other than to make the main character, and by extension its audience feel warm, comfortable and wanted.
The premise of the show sees Nakano; a desperately overworked salary man, come home to find a 800 year old fox spirit in his apartment. The titular Senko looks enough like a little girl that it’d be easy for an uncultured westerner like myself to be creeped out by this whole premise, of this “young girl” “pampering” a fully grown man.
But honestly, the show does a great job of hanging a lantern on that particular issue right off the bat. Making jokes and then assuring it’s audience there is absolutely nothing untoward going on between the two in this series. In fact, how nice and wholesome the show was the biggest reason I ended up enjoying it as much as I did.
Nakano and Senko’s relationship is really sweet. Despite the fact that everyone around them treating them like husband and wife, Senko mothers Nakano much more than that, treating him like a child who can’t properly look after himself. Which is the whole point of the show.
Nakano’s lifestyle is driving him into an early grave, either from exhaustion, or an implied suicide. Something I can personally identify with. (The overwork and exhaustion part, not the suicide part, just to be clear) Senko shows up to purely pamper him, to treat him well and make him feel relaxed and cared for. Which mostly boils down to him having something to look forward to when it gets home from work.
Seeing the tenderness and happiness Nakano seems to experience from relatively simple acts of kindness is palpable, and made me feel happier by proxy. I never really saw myself enjoying the slice of life genre this time a few years ago, but it’s quickly becoming one of my favourite genres to curl up and feel good about watching.
Watching these idealised versions of people living a relatively mundane life feels like some kind of strange propaganda, but if it works, it works. The one downside to the show for me is how it starts to build up some false conflict for the final episodes of the series. Introducing additional fox spirits that seem to whisper to Nakanoin sinister tones, that he should relish Senko while he has her, because she could leave at any time.
Then taking a relatively minor event from the manga and blowing up into some big old misunderstanding that doesn’t especially pay off in my eyes. There are a lot of parallels between this show, and Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, which I went back and watched a few weeks ago, this kind of series finale amongst them.
In the end, the pure and wholesome relationship between Senko and Nakano in which the pair managed to ooze their therapeutically calming activities outside of the screen and give me 20 minutes of happiness myself once a week really meant a lot to me this year, and I need to appreciate Senko-san for doing that for me alone.