You know, even though I’ve read the manga, it wasn’t until I watched the anime that I realized the depressing undertones this series actually has. Oh well, cute fox mom/wife ahoy nanoja and all that.
The kitsune are a divine order of demigod spirits that serve to help humanity during hard times. On one particular case involving an overworked salaryman by the name of Kuroto Nakano, the spirited Senko nominates herself as to be his caretaker to help wipe away the stress and negative emotions that plague this lonely man’s life.
With each episode based around roughly two episodes of the manga, Senko-san is a series built around the general schtick of seeing Nakano go about his daily life being pampered by and taken care of by this eight hundred year old fox through various means after work. Episodes consist of the characters having a nice home-cooked meal or spending some time off either at home or somewhere outside, almost always wrapped around a story set in the slice of life genre with fluffing Senko’s tail typically being the show’s running gag as the allure of a cute foxgirl’s tail is too much for one man to handle.
Because of this, Senko-san doesn’t really stray too far in its storytelling and is one of those series’s that’s good for a nice bit of unwinding, as there’s hardly any episode drama and the pleasant ease of its overwhelming slice of life elements is the kind of comfort and tone the show sets out and exceeds in. Pacing’s pretty casual as a result and I think it’s definitely worth watching for the more casual audience. The one ‘anime-only’ detail I find uncomfortable happens after the credits and actually gives the show a dark undertone especially in relation to Japanese culture.
After the credits roll and just before the next episode preview, the show takes a few minutes in a first person POV perspective where Senko welcomes the viewer home, treats them to dinner, all while pausing briefly every so often as if she’s waiting for a response with appropriate screen shakes for ‘yes’ and ‘no’. It’s intended to put the viewer in the shoes of Nakano and be pampered by Senko which, given the current status of Japanese salary workers and the declining birth rates due to various factors, paints a really grim picture on who this series, especially these scenes, are intended for. I am not a fan of this and I honestly think it spoils the show’s good points with what I believe to be a cultural dysfunction in the home country. But that’s just my take of the matter.
The titular Senko is an eight hundred year old Kitsune who enjoys being the homemaker, enjoying all manners of chores such as cooking and cleaning. In essence, the perfect housewife in a small foxgirl package with the tic of ‘Nanoja’ tacked on to every sentence she says. Due to the content of the series, there’s not really a lot of depth to Senko or the rest of the cast for that matter, so she pretty much stays static throughout. The only real complexity has to deal with some backstory that Senko has in regards to Nakano’s family line, a footnote that’s only rarely taken into consideration, which I find to be a shame because it’s clear the backstory has a lot more than meets the eye. Nonetheless, I still find her to be enjoyable because she is ultimately what gives the series its casual and warm tone and atmosphere.
Kuroto Nakano conversely serves as the target of Senko’s pampering, spending a majority of the series undergoing a massive character change in atmosphere on account of his constant reactions towards Senko’s aggressively warm and homely actions, rivaled only by his love for soft and warm fox tails. He’s kind of the series’s version of a payoff since his happiness and head clarity are the reason why Senko is taking care of him in the first place. His depth is even less than what Senko has, only having maybe one scene in regards to the time they met before in the past. But for a slice of life series, that’s not really a major concern though I wish there was more detail put into that.
The rest of the cast is filled by Shiro and Sora, Senko’s friend and boss respectively, and Kouenji, a mangaka who’s also Nakano’s neighbor. This frighteningly small cast largely fills up the second half of the series where the show focuses more on social activities with others rather than just ones in the home, and they all pretty much stay static throughout the series’s runtime. Shiro is the haughty and confident kitsune with a love for Senko’s cooking and Kouenji’s a mangaka who runs on fumes, deadlines, and an anime about a magical girl kitsune named Yoko. The only unfortunate cast member is Sora who gets hardly any screentime (even in the manga) despite being the supposed boss of Senko and such. I just wish there was more of her because the teasingly seductive nature in kitsune lore is really only touched on by her and it’s clear her age has brought about wisdom not known by many of her contemporaries.
Doga Kobo pretty much only knows how to do one thing and that’s ‘cute’. Senko-san is pretty standard by the company’s usual standards and modern anime, so there’s not much to note beyond the bright colors and the cute designs similar to that of the original manga. There isn’t much animation since hardly anything heavy drawing-wise happens over the course of the series, and in place of that, we get consistency and few animation errors as far as I can see. It’s cute, it’s charming, not really much else to say honestly.
Because the series makes such a massive effort to run the gag of fluffing the tails of adorable foxgirls, both the OP and ED are conveniently named “Koyoi mofumofu!!” and “Moffumoffu DE Yoi no Ja yo” in order to continue that theming. Both are sung by Senko’s VA with Shiro’s acting as a backup for OP and honestly I don’t find a lot to note about them beyond: catchy. They’re both really cute songs all about fluffing, and that’s pretty much all they are. Catchy lyrics, cheerful melodies, fits the show, fits the overall tone, but that’s about all I can really say.
I’m pretty sure there was a weird switch in my head that flipped the moment I heard that this series was getting an adaptation. I’ve been a fan of this series since the series’s infancy for the manga, and I was extremely happy and surprised to see this series get an anime adaptation as soon as it did. So really I don’t have many complaints about the series because I still enjoyed the content adapted from the manga to its fullest now that it was in animated form.
Aside from the uncomfortable aftercredits scenes involving the viewer in the shoes of Nakano, I honestly expected Senko’s VA to be a bit scratchier or ‘older’ in my head since she’s commonly referred to be more like an old woman instead of a cute, modern housewife. It’s a weird thing to complain about I know, but it’s how I always imagined her talking in my head, so having her sound like a cute younger girl in animation threw me for a loop. They still manage to execute the ‘old woman’ joke a few times with some success, but part of me is a bit disappointed with the casting in the end even if it doesn’t really ruin the experience all that much. There’s also the lack of Sora and the kind of sadistic antics she gets up to behind the scenes in contrast to the show’s usually happy exterior, but that’s more of a criticism for the series as a whole rather than just the anime.
As for recommendations, I think Senko-san is a good series if you’re looking for something to relax to. It’s not something that’s outlandish or does anything innovative beyond ‘cute fox mom/wife’ (which is her actual self-proclaimed role in the show), but it does give this pleasant homely feel that a lot of slice of life beyond a few rare shows like Sweetness and Lightning don’t really do. So if you want something to unwind to, I highly suggest this one. Just my suggestion though, cut off the episode the moment the credits start rolling. You really don’t want to see what comes after that.