What’s it about? In a world where Spirits and Humans coexist and can fall in love with each other, many Spirits see their human loved ones die before them due to the Spirits’ much longer life expectancy. Even when that human is reborn, the previous memories of their past life is erased from their memory. However, it is said among Spirits that a certain “service” is spreading. This “service” is provided by the “Fox Spirit Matchmakers” who can revive the lost memories of their former lover. When a Spirit loses their lover, they can purchase the service of the Fox Spirit Matchmakers to attempt to restore their former lover’s memories, and continue their love story together. This story follows a young Fox Spirit Matchmaker who tries her best to restore lost memories and spread love.
Source: Anime News Network
This summary gives you the impression that Fox Spirit Matchmaker is a sweet, straightforward show with a consistent formula. In actuality, Fox Spirit Matchmaker is a bit of a mess.
We start off with a mature fox spirit who is apparently very powerful and some kind of elite. She’s definitely not the main character. Why she might have been front and centre in the cold open is truly a mystery.
Anyway. Mature fox spirit with “incredible good looks” crosses paths with younger fox spirit Suusu, telling her that considering she lacks both good looks and intelligence she should just go and get married. Suusu objects; she wants to be a great matchmaker, not the matched.
However, she falls down a manhole within a minute of this conversation and is quite comfortable with a guy cheating her out of her pocket money for the foreseeable future, so she’s not exactly the feminist inspiration you might be hoping for. Suusu is young, naive, and apparently doomed destined to marry 16-year-old Gessho.
Gessho is selfish and manipulative, and walks all over Suusu as soon as he meets her. I really hope she’s not actually stuck with him, and that she’s not quite as incompetent as she seems in this episode. Her determination to do well is endearing, and she deserves better.
Gessho has some power and is considered important by the Unification League, which keeps the balance between humans and spirits. However, this has cost him privacy and independence, so he has been running from whatever responsibilities the League wants him to take on.
This nature of this power and these responsibilities isn’t terribly clear, because nothing in Fox Spirit Matchmaker is terribly clear. It gets even blurrier as the second half of the episode chaotically introduces a bunch of new characters, with zany violence and – just for good measure – a sprinkling of fatphobia.
The whole effect is convoluted, incoherent and generally unengaging. However, there are some world elements that could be intriguing, such as the hierarchy and social mobility of the fox spirit society and the regulated coexistence of humans and spirits. Also, Gessho is at his best when he sees Suusu doubting herself and steps up to protect her, so maybe he’s not quite as bad as he seems.
Actually, “Maybe not quite as bad as it seems” is a fair review for Fox Spirit Matchmaker. The writing isn’t as tight as it needs to be for an ensemble cast of this size in a world propped up by this much scaffolding, but anime first episodes are often bad to the point of being unrepresentative. There are absolutely still ways it could come together from here to make a fun and satisfying story. I just don’t have a whole lot of faith that the skill to do that this is actually what will happen. This might be because the opening credits suggest that the story is going to get a lot weirder and woollier from here.