Based on the manga by Sayori Ochiai, Gingitsune is a charming shojo
(girl’s) series whose tone may remind some viewers of Cardcaptor Sakura.
For 15 generations, Makoto Saeki’s family has maintained the
Inari shrine to the agricultural god Ukanomitama. Makoto lives there with her
widowed father, a well-meaning, slightly befuddled man. Because her bloodline
makes her the heiress to the shrine, teen-age Makoto has “the gift:” She can
see and converse with Gintarou, the resident fox-spirit who is a herald of the
gods. Heralds traditionally live and work in in pairs, but his partner left
many years ago. Gintarou is later joined by Haru, a much younger female fox
spirit brought to Inari by Makoto’s friend Satoru. Makoto’s father, who married into the family,
can’t see Gintarou or Haru, but accepts that they’re present.
Gintarou functions as a sort of substitute father/big
brother to Makoto. He’s gruff, cranky and lazy, but his façade of indifference can’t
disguise his affection for her. The warmth of that bond sets him apart from Tomoe,
the orchidaceous fox-spirit in Kamisama
Kiss, who’s tricked into bonding with the heroine Nanami.
Makoto usually acts like a typical anime heroine: She’s perennially
late for classes at Shinto West Public High. She gets impatient with her father,
and she’s enthusiastic about food and shopping. But Makoto lacks the brashness
that often passes for self-affirmation and strength in Western heroines. She
has a genuinely kind heart, but is often unsure of herself. She learns and
gains confidence as the series progresses, turning to Gintarou for advice. He
may not be the most helpful counselor, but he serves as an effective sounding
With a little help from Gintarou, Makoto succeeds in making
peace between two quarreling classmates: brash Yumi Ikegami and uptight honor
student Hiwako Funabashi. They quickly become inseparable friends.
The animation is often very limited in Gingitsune, and the designs are less than inspired. Gintarou has a scarred
fox’s head stuck onto a burly human body. He looks like a macho delegate to a Furries
convention. The charm of the series comes from the writing, rather than the
The filmmakers draw heavily on Japanese traditions: Makoto
and her father enact various ceremonies. Makoto tells Yumi that she should bow
twice and clap twice before offering a prayer at the shrine (but doesn’t
explain that the sound ensures you’ve gotten the gods’ attention).
ran for one season—12 episodes—and the series feels like it ends prematurely. Makoto
realizes she wants to become shrine maiden, continuing the family tradition and
following the example of her mother, who died many years earlier. But many other
questions are left unanswered: Is Makoto destined to marry Satoru? Will Hiwako succeed
in getting closer to her distant politician father or her elegant mother, who
teaches the tea ceremony? Still, in an era of unnecessary sequels, it’s a
pleasant change to finish a series and want more.
Gingitsune: Messenger Fox of the God: Complete Collection
Sentai: $59.98 Blu-ray, in Japanese with English subtitles