Gingitsune: Messenger Fox of the Gods
Directed by: Shin Misawa
Series Composition by: Hiroshi Yamaguchi
Voice cast: Hisako Kanemoto, Shinichiro Miki, Ami Koshimizu, Ayumi Fujimura, Chinatsu Akasaki, Hirofumi Nojima, Kazuhiko Inoue, Kensho Ono, Tomokazu Seki, Tomokazu Sugita, Toshihiko Seki
Air Dates: Sundays, 12:30 p.m. CST
Currently streaming on Crunchyroll
Okay, confession time: I love slice-of-life anime. I have a big soft spot for this particular sub-genre, and when I first started watching Gingitsune: Messenger Fox of the Gods, I fell in love right away. Currently simulcasting on Crunchyroll every Sunday afternoon, the series is directed by Shin Misawa, whose previous work includes such series as 801 T.T.S. Airbats and the television version of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. The series is produced by anime studio Diomedea, whose diverse list of production chores include Hidamari Sketch, Aria the Scarlet Ammo, and Fairy Tail, among many others.
The series is based on a manga created by artist Sayori Ochiai and tells the story of the day-to-day life of Makoto Saeki, who is the fifteenth successor of her family’s Inari shrine. The shrine has been in existence since the early years of the Edo period, roughly dating from the early 17th century. Makoto’s mother died while she was still a little girl, and it is at her mother’s funeral that she first meets the series’ other main protagonist, the shrine’s guardian “kitsune,” or fox herald, Gintaro.
Makoto’s father, while officially the shrine’s head priest, married into the family, so he’s not the actual successor, and that means that he cannot see Gintaro. Nevertheless, he’s a good man and a good father to Makoto, who is now in high school, and just trying to figure out what she wants to do in life. Each episode revolves around her and Gintaro helping various friends and others who visit the shrine with problems that they have. Gintaro has the gift of being able to see briefly into the future and find the location of things and animals, and occasionally uses these gifts to help.
A little explanation is in order here: typically, Inari shrines have two fox heralds, but in this series, the other fox herald has left the shrine, leaving Gintaro to manage alone. Over the years he’s become very lonely, but doesn’t want to admit it, least of all to Makoto, whom he’s also terribly fond of, in spite of himself. He comes across as lazy and gruff, but in a pinch, he’s an honorable spirit with a pure heart and kindly motives.
This series is more than just great entertainment, though. Peppered throughout each episode are small lessons in Japanese culture. In one episode, a lesson in how one enters and leaves a shrine is also used to convey the idea of human beings learning how to compromise with each other, a lesson that people in a certain nation’s capital city would do well to take a refresher course in. In addition, each episode ends with a brief factoid about Shinto shrines in Japan, in general, and Inari shrines in particular. For instance, this writer was not aware that shrine gates serve as a barrier between the sacred ground of the gods and the world of humans, and that shrine gates are painted in many different colors. In another episode, we learn that when you ring the bell at a shrine, you follow by paying your respects twice, clapping twice, praying, then paying your respects a final time.
Although it’s only in its fifth episode, I have really come to embrace this series, and I hope that upon reading this review, you will give it a chance and see if you enjoy it as much as I have. Gingitsune: Messenger Fox of the Gods is one of those slice-of-life anime series that not only has something to teach, but it makes this reviewer curious and hungry to know more. That’s what any good story should do to begin with. Highly recommended.