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.