Not everything is action and explosions, romance and drama, or even comedy and wit. Sometimes, with our busy, busy lives, noses eternally to the grindstone, it’s ok to just take a little time out for ourselves and relax. Indeed, it is necessary to do more than just keep breathing: we need to find some way to enjoy life.
That is more or less the point, and appeal, of The Helpful Fox Senko-san. (the grammar nazi in me desperately wants to put a comma after “fox”) It’s a supernatural slice of life that pretty much forgoes all of the usual tropes of storytelling, and yet despite this, or perhaps because of this, it is very nice and soothing to watch.
It’s about the daily life of Kuroto Nakano, a Japanese salaryman who has been living a most unhappy life, filled with stress and built entirely around work, such that he just works, eats, sleeps, and otherwise just continues on in an utterly joyless existence. He walks around with a black cloud of despair clinging to him like a life-sucking leech.
Then comes Senko.
Kuroto returns home one night, after another long, grueling, unappreciated day, the latest in a long, long series of such days, and finds a girl with a fluffy fox tail and ears in his apartment, making him dinner. She is a demigod fox-girl, eight hundred years old, and she’s there to “pamper” him, meaning to look after and help him, and sweep that dark cloud away. This she does because she wants to, she cares about him, and has actually watched over him for a very long time, because she owes a debt to his family for a kindness his ancestor once paid to her in a time of need.
Kuroto’s life doesn’t necessarily change that much, after Senko enters into it, but the caring and light she brings with her definitely improve his life substantially. Before long, he’s eating better and healthier, resting better, living in a cleaner, more comfortable home, doing more fun things, socializing more (his neighbor becomes a friend), and smiling much more than he used to. In short, though his troubles do not go away, the quality of his life is significantly improved. Senko does so much for him, making him feel cared about, helping him relax. It can be a bit repetitive to see him fall into sublime bliss every time she tends to him, but she has a gentle, soothing touch. And he gets to enjoy her fluffy, fluffy tail!
That’s something of a recurring joke, and very endearing to witness.
Not to say that nothing interesting happens. If that were the case, it would be boring. There are new things they try, and friends who spice things up, and difficulties to overcome – it was adorable to see Senko trying to figure out modern technology – but it didn’t undo itself by becoming overly dramatic. And, I have to say, it was rather refreshing to see a show that didn’t rely on cheap gimmicks, spectacle, or fan service to keep its audience. Indeed, they built a relationship between Kuroto and Senko that, for once, was entirely warm and affectionate without venturing into either the waters of romance or utilizing any “ecchi” content at all. Indeed, Senko’s friends, also demigod fox-girls, came into the scenario obviously expecting that sort of attention from Kuroto, but the limit to his physical desires was, well… their fluffy tails!
Hey, people love the fluff! 🙂
There was one quiet tension that was resolved firmly but without much fanfare. It was the question of how long this happiness could last, how long Senko could stay with Kuroto. It was always inevitable that they would part ways, sooner or later. If Senko does not ever choose to leave, then it is fixed: she will see Kuroto die, and be left to mourn for uncounted centuries. But she is not so naive as to not realize this. Knowing this, comprehending it, she chooses to stay with Kuroto anyway, when the question is brought up. She will stay with him as long as she can, and that will be that.
In short, I suppose The Helpful Fox Senko-san is simply about finding some joy in life, rather than just surviving until you die, and holding on to that joy for as long as you can, the way that adults do: with eyes wide open. It is calm, peaceful, soothing, and a happy, pleasant way to spend a few hours.
Rating: 8 stars out of 10.