Thursday, April 3, 2014

Inari, Kon Kon, Koi Iroha Review

Year: 2014
Studio: Production IMS
Genre: comedy, romance, supernatural

To cut to the chase, Inari Kon Kon is a not a great show whichever way I look at it. Although not a complete waste of talent, it takes a stumble in more than one arena. I didn't have a lot of expectation going in, mostly because I don't have the greatest affinity with romcoms in general, so I'm not going to complain about how big of a disappointment it has proven to be. I did, however, expect the narrative to hold up a little better. Actually, now that I think about it, I'm not even sure romcom is the main point here given how the show ended with practically no closure on any of the heavily hinted relationships.

The friendship between Inari and Uka is what drives the plot forward, but the amount of contrivance in the character development undermines the intended emotional impact. My biggest gripe is with Inari sapping Uka's power but neither of them confronted the problem until it almost got out of hand. All it takes is a heart-to-heart talk. In order not to not worry Inari, Uka let herself deteriorate to a fatal state – I fail to see how that makes any logical sense. It may seem noble and altruistic, but it's just silly and bad writing on closer inspection. Dumbing down the characters does not make for good drama. And truthfully, when a show spends half of its screen time dancing around an unnecessary conflict, it's hardly surprising the end didn't pack a punch. 

At times I wasn't even sure what Inari Kon Kon hopes to accomplish with its plot. It jumps all over the page without really gaining momentum anywhere. The treatment of the subplots is heavy-handed. Take Touka and Uka-sama for instance, their budding romance would've made an interesting case if it actually went somewhere, instead of getting pushed into the limelight whenever the series feels like it without any consideration of where it might place within the grand scheme of things. The Uka/Inari dilemma, which to be honest didn't seem all that urgent for the better part of the story, comes into play in a major way during finale. I don't know about others, but it felt rushed and very abrupt as if the show just remembered it was supposed to have a central conflict.

Even in its most shining moments, Inari Kon Kon is short of brilliance. But as I said, I don't think it's a complete waste of time. I liked somethings about it, such as when Inari decides to confess to Kouji in person after losing the letter. It's an ironic and also somewhat agonizing situation where while wearing someone else's face, she was finally able to speak her mind. I also appreciate the added dimension to the group dynamic with Sumezome clearly crushing on Keiko. It's very rare to see a show exploring homosexuality with a serious intention. It was definitely the more curious aspect of the story even if it didn't have an opportunity to evolve into something more revealing. The comedic timing is also pretty spot on for most of its run and I really got a good laugh out of Inari's awkward moments brought upon by her transformation.

At the end of the day, Inari Kon Kon is a character driven show that tends to be exceedingly saccharine for its own good. And it was going to take more than shallow drama to make me care about the characters. Romcom isn't known to dig deep into the psyche, but at one point, good romcom knows how to be relatable and real enough to engage the audience on a emotionally deeper plane. Irani Kon Kon has its moments of sincerity and it would have been a much better show if the writer didn't try so hard to make the characters likeable. It's shame because it's actually underpinned by wonderful production value and sensational music scores. A show has to earn its status through hard work and Inari Kon Kon took the easy route out narratively.

Overall: 6.5/10 

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