What’s it about? Nakano Kuroto’s soul is infected by darkness from the stress of daily life. Fortunately for him, he has some heavenly help on his side; namely, the fox god Senko-san, who’s arrived to make his life a little easier.
I do believe that Doga Kobo has learned a thing or two from the fine folks over in the video game industry: if you burst out of the gate with something completely outrageous and then walk it back, the less extreme line-crossing looks downright wholesome by comparison. Bing bang boom, you’re drowning in moolah. Except instead of microtransactions, it’s pedophilia.
Here’s the thing. In a lot of ways, this premiere is a lot of fun. It’s Doga Kobo, so it’s no surprise that the visuals are good. They’re soft and soothing, cute but not cloying, and all but drowning in sparkles. It’s top-tier talent that’s been completely wasted over the last few seasons.
More impressively, Nakano is a high-quality protagonist given the genre. He’s ground down by working long hours at his programming job, but doesn’t take it out on those around him or rant about not getting what he “deserves”; he seems like he was a nice kid; and he even double-checks on consent before touching Senko’s tail (more on that in a minute).
He reminded me a lot of Kobayashi from Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, actually. Despite my general distaste for the “magical girlfriend” genre, I found myself relaxing to the idea of spending time with a protagonist-kun who wasn’t loudly espousing MRA ideals once-removed.
…Huh. This bar-lowering technique might go deeper than I’d realized.
Senko is a lot of fun, too. She has elements of wish-fulfillment homemaking and tsundere flustering, but they’re toned down enough to keep her from feeling like a moe cutout. More importantly, she’s kind of a little shit, already adept at pushing Nakano’s buttons to get him to go along with what she wants. But not, like, in a creepy way. Like, like it’s for eating dinner. Don’t—
See, this is the problem. Every time I would begin to settle into the gentle atmosphere, I would be interrupted by a shrill noise, perhaps of the kind not meant to be detectable by human ears. Some kind of…whistle. For dogs, mayhaps.
Therein lies the problem with an otherwise sweet and soothing premiere: this is not Doga Kobo taking a break from pedo anime. This is Doga Kobo doing material that knows how to hide the creepy shit just enough to fly under the radar.
My hopes of Senko and Nakano forming a familial bond started to go down in flames when I noticed the copious images of Senko blushing in the opening theme. And I took some time to roll my eyes when Nakano panicked that people would “get the wrong idea” if they saw a little girl in his apartment. (Pro tip: if you have to dedicate a full minute to why your show TOTALLY ISN’T LIKE THE CRIME THAT PEOPLE GET ARRESTED FOR, maybe you already know you fucked up.)
Once the nice consensual moment of Nakano asking to touch Senko’s tail turned into him unwittingly fluffing her to sparkly orgasm, the unfamiliar sensation of hope had already choked to death in my withered little heart.
I lie, of course. I’m old, so the hope was violently shot to death the minute Senko looked directly into the camera and said the phrase “I’m actually 800 years old.” At that point my soul left my body, tragically resigned to what was going on here.
No, this is probably not a series where Nakano is going to molest the nice fox god taking care of him. We might not even see her naked, if there’s any kind of loving God in the universe (though there is another character with ultra-cleavage, if that’s your major concern at this point).
But Senko-san is still meant to appeal to an audience wishing that an underage-looking girl would fill a caretaker/girlfriend role for them. Senko declares Nakano “her type” (which, as always, smacks of “she came on to me, officer!”)l she’s framed in that particular dutch-angle shot of a visual novel love interest; and, lest we forget, she has an orgasm in the first episode from the adult man touching her.
My only remaining question: “Is this still a dogwhistle when the post-credits scene is a series of POV shots of Senko directly pampering and talking sweetly to the viewer in exactly the same way she did to Nakano, completely erasing the distance between us and the dude she declared ‘her type’?”
Anyway, forgive me if I don’t mark this as a sign of Doga Kobo pivoting from the new niche they’ve made the decision to corner. It’s a shame, because there’s a really sweet domestic comedy buried in here. But a five-star meal loses its appeal when there’s a pissed-off tarantula hawk hovering over the plate.
Some people might not be bothered by the creepy dogwhistles and can still enjoy the nice stuff here, and that’s fine. But I’ve got better things to do with my Wednesdays.