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Kanokon Impression: Yikes

Kanokon is the umpteenth entry in the so-beaten-to-death-you’re-hitting-a-zombie “pansy guy with crazy super girlfriend” genre. Somewhat surprisingly, it’s actually a bit memorable. Not so surprisingly, it’s memorable because it ratchets the fanservice and in-your-face come-ons to that far from full-on hentai anime. Pretty much Dokuro-chan without the murder, except it’s not a parody.

I suppose it’s kind of inevitable. The more times you see a cute, ridiculously-busty girl jumping all over a way-too-cute, underdeveloped guy who tries to avoid her affection, the farther you have to take it to get your series noticed. I’m willing to wager, though, that Kanokon is pretty much as far as you can go and not get a big ol’ adults only rating slapped on it. Actually, depending on the audience, it already might qualify—you wonder what channel this was showing on, and what, if anything, they won’t allow. (Oh, technically there’s no nudity past some partly exposed rear-ends, but it’d probably seem cleaner if they were just old-fashioned naked.)

Then again, I do have to give a sort of backhanded credit to a series of the sort in which the first kiss comes before the first commercial break (really before the first scene, since it starts partway in then flashes back a bit), and is full-on, drooling, tongue-down-throat face-sucking to boot—couldn’t get farther from the overt-yet-oddly-prudish behavior in a similar cliche. The female lead’s predictably-foiled attempts to deflower the boyish protagonist are no less blunt, and she manages to get way farther than most. Heck, depending on your definition, he’s no longer a virgin due entirely to proximity to something that lewd. Gotta love lines like “Let’s trust in instinct and genetics and go for it!” She talks even more explicit than that once she gets going.

(Side-note non-sequitur: There’s a common visual style during more serious kisses in which the medium-to-close camera angle cuts off everything above about nose-level, and I’ve always wondered whether this hiding of the eyes is an attempt to add artistry and a sense of shyness to the act, or if it’s a form of fetishization, subtly putting focus entirely on locked lips rather than two people as wholes.)

The other side-thing in the series is that Chizuru and a few other students are actually animal spirits passing for humans (also gives an excuse to have her transform from a black-haired normal girl to a blonde fox-girl for bonus moe points). There’s some passably amusing stuff with the school administration (who’re aware of this, and overlook all manner of havoc as a result), and it will presumably develop into the main point of drama, though as of about halfway that’s amounted to very little, and nothing at all of any substance or quality.

Permanently-blushing Kouta, for his part, isn’t too bad as “targets of unwanted affection” go; he’s not so neutered and hormonally challenged that he’s completely immune to absurdly busty somewhat older girls (he’s an underdeveloped 1st year, she’s an overdeveloped 2nd or 3rd, though actually much older I suppose) quite literally throwing themselves at him—he tends to eventually give in, at least once she’s got him half-naked and pinned to the ground (leaving something else to interrupt, of course). She’s also so nuts and over-the-top that you can sort of understand his reluctance—he doesn’t flee from her, he just doesn’t like to be groped and loudly propositioned in broad daylight on the way to school with a large audience. That his classmates have dubbed him Great King Eros as a result helps, too. The moderate-but-not-enough-to-be-creepy age/size/maturity difference helps more—almost enough to believe he’s not quite ready to get that physical (and in contrast to the more normal boys in his class it’s clear he is just undersized—apparently he is a bit behind in the hormone department).

That he gets to be a split-personality fox-boy when she possesses him (and becomes doubly badass as part of the bargain) is another reason to have him looking rather… un-masculine. When she’s controlling him and doing the talking, it seems a lot less weird than it would if her voice were coming out of a big, beefy dude.

As of the halfway point the main challenge for the series is how to keep Chizuru from succeeding (barely). Since Kouta’s willpower and lack of libido isn’t enough, it’s left to external forces, mainly her competition: A wolf-girl cut so shamelessly from the “flat, emotionless” mold it’s kind of embarrassing (that’s flat both in terms of personality and literally, a point which the bickering girls belabor endlessly). On the plus side, despite having no personality whatsoever, she’s every bit as blunt and forward as Chizuru, making for occasionally-amusing contrast, particularly a sequence where she cluelessly runs through the shy everygirl routine by the book, delivering all the generic lines deadpan while everyone around wonders what’s wrong with her.

In addition to the fetish slot, it’s also got to be cheap to hire a voice actress for that role: “Don’t emote, don’t act, just read all the lines like you don’t care.”  Heck, I could do that if I could pull off a falsetto.

Speaking of fetishes, the series is gradually working its way up, via flimsy excuses (though with Chizuru doing the thinking, the excuses are flimsy even within the story). Tells you something when the male lead finally gets angry at the female one, and instead of feeling bad she insists on a good bare-bottom spanking as punishment. Which actually happens. Hello, Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Yep, that scene pretty much sums up the series. Still, the characters are ok, there is the faintest hint of affection under the fanservice deluge, the art is above-average (interesting aside: it uses gradients on some of the animation cels—don’t see that often), the animation is better than you’d expect (though blatantly cops out with stills on the action scenes—I suppose better than ugly ones), and I kind of wonder just how far it’ll go. Far less painful than Popotan, to be sure, and unlike that series the buckets of fetishy fanservice are character-appropriate and far, far less creepy. I expect it to devolve into annoying drama that it has nowhere near enough characterization to support by the end, and if my curiosity gets the better of my taste I suppose I’ll find out at some point.

5 Responses to “Kanokon Impression: Yikes”

  1. Ghostwriter Says:

    Whoa! To be honest,I hope someone isn’t thinking about bringing this anime to this country. This would be a case of my reaction and your reaction to this anime would be pretty similar. I don’t care if the creators of this series decided to set this in America or felt that they would have to bring in an American character to add some variety. I read similar reviews to this series on another website and they say pretty much the same things you’re saying.
    Just pray that no company in this country gets the idea to bring this series to this country. Or if they were foolish enough to do so that it would sell poorly. I don’t care if they dub it or just have subtitles on it. This series would probably still stink on ice and I think few over here would want to watch it or invest any real time with it. Again,let’s hope that this series isn’t brought over here. There are probably tons of really good anime that deserve to be shown here. By the looks of things,this one doesn’t.

  2. Ghostwriter Says:

    I want to clarify a couple of things first. Yesterday,I did a little research on “Kanokan” and both Anime News Network in their 2008 Spring Anime Preview and THEM Anime Reviews reviewed the same series you did. And,in all the reviews I found,not one of them was a good one. They all hated this series. In fact,the reviewer at THEM Anime Reviews went so far as to say that the male lead in this series was raped by the female lead. I’m not sure how you would feel about it,but I think that he was being sexually harassed by this girl.
    I don’t think that this series should be brought to this country and any company that licenses it should be subjected to an intense letter writing campaign. Failing that,nobody should buy it if for some insane reason,it were dubbed and/or subbed and put on DVD. And I don’t believe that even if they had an American character in there as a straight man would help this series at all. Pray that some company here doesn’t decide to bring “Kanokan” to America.

  3. Marc Says:

    I don’t think that this series should be brought to this country and any company that licenses it should be subjected to an intense letter writing campaign.

    Now that’s just silly. The series is base, stupid, and intellectually offensive, but getting that worked up over it is like complaining about church bingo being gambling when you live in Las Vegas. I can think of a dozen things far, far more offensive on just about any level without even trying. (Say, Popotan, which has already seen US release, or Kite, likewise, or the entire tentacle porn genre.)

    Also, calling what happens to Kouta rape is both inaccurate and devalues the term. He’s not an entirely willing participant, but he’s also nowhere near that unwilling, and even if you did decide to factor out fantasy and humor and be overly technical about it there are much better known series with much less-wanted come-ons that nobody complains about. Say, Tenchi Muyo, with Washu’s ongoing passes at Tenchi. (Speaking of which, what does it even count as when God molests you?)

    Incidentally, the point at which Kanokon just gives up and jumps into full-on light hentai is episode 9. Yikes indeed.

  4. Ghostwriter Says:

    I need to make a correction here. It wasn’t me that said that what was happening to this Kouta kid was rape,it was the reviewer at THEM that said it. If you had read my later response it said “In fact,the reviewer at THEM Anime Reviews said that the male lead was raped by the female lead.” I was saying what the reviewer at THEM said it,not me. He was the one who used the term,not me. Also,read the review for yourself. Just go to the THEM Anime Reviews website and read the review of the series for yourself.
    Outside of that you made some good points but again I said that I hope that “Kanokon” doesn’t come here. You said that a number of series like it have made their way here. To be perfectly clear,I didn’t watch them and I don’t plan to,either. There are a number of interesting anime series that I want to come here. One of them is a “Pokemon”-like series called “Legendz.” It’s set in New York and I wish that someone would license it and bring it here. I also watched “Tenchi Muyo” when it was on “Toonami” on Cartoon Network. That series at least tried to make us care about the characters. The way you describe “Kanokon,”it has characters that you basically wish would just take a cold shower.

    To be honest,my reaction would be similar to yours if I saw this series. To use your phase “Yikes,”would not just be apt,but appropriate. I agree with your impression of this series and the two of us should pray that it never sees the light of day here in this country,ok? Hollywood makes enough dreck all on it’s own. We don’t need to import it from a foreign land.

  5. Marc Says:

    I understood exactly what you were saying; sorry I wasn’t being clear that I was making two entirely unrelated comments there.

    My comment about the rape, or lack thereof, was to clarify that what the THEM reviewer said was wrong (though I admit not by all that wide of a margin).

    The other comment was directed at you, and I maintain that Kanokon should be down near the bottom of any list of things to get worked enough up about to care one way or the other whether it gets licensed for US release, let alone start a letter-writing campaign.

    Incidentally, and a review will at some point reflect this (it’s a lot easier to write reviews of junk than good stuff, and it’s that much harder when you’ve got some mix of the two), the Kanokon OAVs are incongruently good. Oh, still all kinds of dirty, and not going to win any awards, but I actually caught myself enjoying the second one.