Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha Ep. 5: Sad shoujos at the beach

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Well, you’ve done it now, Inari. It wasn’t even your power to begin with! You can’t just go passing it around like a blunt!

Episode summary: Inari and her three friends go on a vacation to the beach. Things try to get pretty heavy when Maru refuses to be friends with Akemi, and Akemi reveals that she’s jealous of Inari’s close friendship with Keiko. In the end, it looks like our heroine attempts to hand off her divine powers to the troubled Akemi, which is just about the dumbest thing Inari could’ve done.

Thoughts:

• The joke faces in this anime are not bad:

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Not bad at all.

• I didn’t know gods had dating services.

• Oh man, even Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha has a beach episode. Well, I can at least count on this show to keep the fanservice to the minimum, right? Right?!

• What the hell was Touka talking about here anyway?

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• Akemi thinks Inari’s parents are wonderful because they have the free time to take Inari and her friends on wonderful family vacations. Y’see, Akemi’s parents are always busy with work, work, and more work. What a pity! Oh dear, here we go again. What am I exasperated about, you ask? Anime — and Asian live dramas to a certain extent — has this tendency to act as if career-oriented parents are selfish. Just you wait… it’ll turn out that Akemi has some crippling issue born out of her parents’ unintentional neglect. Yes, not having your parents around as much as you’d like must totally suck, but we don’t know the whole story. We don’t know why Akemi’s parents feel the need to be away all the time. All we see is a sad shoujo. So y’know, forgive me if I don’t feel like picking up my pitchfork in righteous indignation just quite yet. And that’s just the thing: we don’t get to see the whole story from either side. We certainly do get to see Inari’s family when they are happy — when everything is going oh so swell — but do you honestly think a family where the main breadwinner is a mangaka never runs into any sort of financial worries or troubles? Now who’s being naive?

• Aw c’mon:

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You’re middle schoolers. I’d say hold onto that small bit of innocence for as long as you possibly can. No, I’m not talking about sexual innocence. Rather, I’m talking about a young girl’s innocence from the objectifying gaze. The world does a good enough job policing women’s bodies already. As a child, you’re somewhat safe from that… so don’t start shaming yourself already, y’know? Pretty soon, people are going to start doing it for you, so what are you in a hurry for?

• So Akemi and Keiko… is this lesbianism or is it fetishism? What do I mean by this? Well, what we’ve got here is the easily frightened Akemi who squeals as soon as a guy even touches her shoulder. Then to contrast her behavior, we have the tough, tomboyish Keiko who immediately tells the guy off… but not before grabbing his wrist to show him she means business. So we have the familiar relationship dynamic once again where one person is dominant, i.e. the knight in shining armor, and the other is submissive, i.e. the troubled maiden who needs saving. And y’know, it’s such a tired dynamic too. The thing is though… most heterosexual couples in fiction aren’t even this stereotypical anymore. How often do you see a guy fend off multiple creeps attempting to hit on his girlfriend? Nowadays, that trope will often be turned on its head. Nowadays, if you try to act all alpha male in defense of your girlfriend, she’ll get mad at you: “Uh, I could’ve taken care of myself. You’re my partner, not my father.” So as you can see, we’ve come a long way in terms of viewing and understanding gender roles. You only ever see this trope play itself out normally in trashy stories like what you’d find in a harem anime.

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Don’t get me wrong. Obviously, I’m going to offer my support to my girlfriend whenever she needs help; it’s a partnership for a reason. But at the same, I understand that she’s an independent woman who can handle her own problems. She’s not my child; she’s not even a child anymore. She doesn’t need me to be her white knight. But whenever I see mainstream same sex couples in anime, it’s like we’re back to square one! There’s a dominant partner and a submissive partner. It’s almost like we don’t really care how relationships actually work in the 21st century. It’s as if we only want to see two people of the same sex hook up, and putting them into a stereotypical relationship dynamic is the path of least resistance to getting that “money shot,” i.e. that dokidoki moment where they stare into each other’s eyes, mentally preparing themselves for a kiss. And maybe it’s just me… but I think that’s fucked up. Having Akemi and Keiko act out antiquated gender roles, especially when they’re both of the same gender, is patently ridiculous.

• “Her emotions are… sparkling.” Man, remember the last time something sparkled in anime? It wasn’t pretty, I’ll tell you what.

• But honestly, Uka’s ability to feel Inari’s emotions is starting to seem a little weird to me. That sort of thing, i.e. Inari’s emotional state, should ideally remain private unless the girl specifically wishes to share them. And yes, I’m sure she’s close to Uka so she doesn’t mind… for now, but there has to be limits, no? Plus, what about Uka herself? Is it healthy to live your emotional life vicariously through someone else’s experiences? It can’t be. I’m sure goddesses need emotionally fulfilling moments of their own too, but I’m afraid the story’s solution to this will be to pair her up with Touka.

• And there you go:

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My eyes are rolling so hard right now.

• To be honest, I wouldn’t want to be friends with Akemi either. She’s so helpless:

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It’s pretty pathetic. You can’t even use the excuse that she’s just a middle schooler, ’cause Keiko’s one too and so is Inari. They’ve both had the courage to save her ass when she couldn’t even help herself.

• I really don’t like Akemi’s character right now. What the hell is this nonsense: “When she helped me earlier, I felt like we’d finally become friends… It made me so happy. But I was wrong. I misunderstood…” Quit being so dramatic. She said she had to pee. Get real. Yes, I know it was really Inari trying to get herself out of a tricky situation, but c’mon, who acts like this? Uguu, she suddenly ditched me because she had to pee… I GUESS WE’RE NOT FRIENDS AFTER ALL.

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Quit being so helpless too. You’re being your own fucking problem. Maru doesn’t want to be your friend? That’s her loss. Get a goddamn backbone. But instead, the anime pretty much blames her parents for her own crippling inability to make friends:

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GAWD, if my parents weren’t always working so hard to provide for me and ensure that I have a good life, I wouldn’t be such a loser. I totally wish my parents were more like Inari’s parents! ‘Cause who needs a career when being a mangaka is more than enough to take care of a family of four with frequent vacations to the beach!

• “…all Sanjo talks about… is you.” Well gosh, I wonder who Keiko’s been friends with longer. Is it possible that people will often talk highly of their best friends? B-but why don’t they talk about me instead who they’ve only become acquainted with an episode ago?!

• I’m actually a pretty emotional guy. I hate watching depressing stuff. You think I can sit through the intro to Up with a straight face?

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Hell no. Watch The Color Purple? Don’t even start with me. But this…

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…this just doesn’t do anything for me. What should’ve been one of the emotional high points of Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha‘s narrative just feels… petty.

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6 thoughts on “Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha Ep. 5: Sad shoujos at the beach

  1. IonCaron (@IonCaron)

    Well, at least this episode proved once and for all that not every anime needs fanservice in a beach episode. haha
    …It’s a shame that even needed to be said…

    “And maybe it’s just me… but I think that’s fucked up. Having Akemi and Keiko act out antiquated gender roles, especially when they’re both of the same gender, is patently ridiculous.”
    I would agree with you but this fits their personalities, so it doesn’t feel weird to me. Our first real intro to Keiko’s character was her head-butting her best friend (compassionately, yes) and she’s said to have a primarily rough persona. Akemi, however, has been the apple of Inari’s jealousy BECAUSE of how feminine she is. She’s basically a “school idol” in Japanese terms: charismatic but gentle, beautiful but frail, etc. She’s stereotypically feminine, and therefore fits that frailty is genuinely a part of her.
    Like it or dislike it (I too think they went overboard with Akemi’s frailty, honestly), but since they are legitimate parts of those characters the Dom&Sub coupling fits.

    Though ultimately I think there’s just something going on with the fictional homosexual community. Not the real world one, but the one that exists for ALL fictional characters of original and fan fiction. Why is it that they are never eye-to-eye? There’s always the one with the penis, and the one with the bigger penis? One is a receiver and the other a giver? Why not just, you know, write them as people first, gays second? By that I mean that often the best portrayal of a homosexual, man, woman, child, etc. is to write them according to their CHARACTER first, and all other aspects of their persona become secondary, thus feeling natural and not stereotypical. Kind of like, for a videogame example, the protagonist of Telltale’s “The Walking Dead”. He was black, but he didn’t act “black”. You feel me?
    It’s more of an issue with Japanese fiction (or primarily anime, anyway) that characters are written with a varied layer of stereotype over them if they aren’t simply Japanese. No idea why, but that’s what I’ve seen.

    As for Akemi’s character on its own: I also don’t like her here, but I have to admit that her nonsense is…well…real. I don’t think the anime is blaming her parents, but rather just giving a bit of a glimpse into why she is the way she is. It’s not their fault or anyone’s really. She is her own problem but it stems from her fear of-
    wait WHAT? Hold on. Why is AKEMI carrying the “social anxiety” characteristic? Wasn’t she fully capable of interacting with Inari’s crush and even agreed to be his team’s manager? Wasn’t she just fine at the festival? What is even happening with this girl now?

    I WAS about to say things about social anxiety, how these infuriatingly ridiculous conclusions that even bugged you here are realistic with that kind of thing, and was really about to get into the topic in regards to writing characters. I was, that is, until I realized this strange turn/revelation of Akemi’s sudden change in personality was never even hinted at earlier. Seriously, what is up with that? No foreshadowing of this trait whatsoever as far as I recall, and now it’s in full bloom.

    Oh, and I SO called BishiBro not only being a complete nigh-recluse weirdo (who should NOT be lookin’ beefy and bishi) and “raising a flag” with the goddess. Though I guess that was obvious all along so…um
    If only they actually did something with that and reflected it in his character design… But no, he needs to look hunky so that his shacking-up with the beautiful goddess isn’t so unbelievable. sigh

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      I would agree with you but this fits their personalities, so it doesn’t feel weird to me.

      You forget the very real possibility that their personalities and their potential pairing have been planned out from the very start. It’s not as if the storyteller wrote these two girls as dominant and submissive, then decided somewhere along the line… well, I’ll just pair them up! And while Akemi has always been feminine, sine when was she this pathetic and submissive that she can’t even move when a guy hits on her?

      As for Akemi’s character on its own: I also don’t like her here, but I have to admit that her nonsense is…well…real.

      It’s not always about what’s real and what isn’t real. Yes, people like Akemi do exist. But by putting her into a story, and by having Inari feel sad for her, the anime is saying that we too should feel sad for her. And from that, we too should feel that she has some legitimacy to her complaints. Sorry, but no, I do not think Akemi has a legitimate complaint.

      It’s not their fault or anyone’s really.

      But the anime IS blaming her parents. They’re not even coy about it.

      Reply
      1. IonCaron (@IonCaron)

        “You forget the very real possibility that their personalities and their potential pairing have been planned out from the very start.”
        That’s-!
        …Well, shit. You got me there. haha

        “Sorry, but no, I do not think Akemi has a legitimate complaint.”
        Oh no, not at all, and that’s what I was saying about how though it IS stupid, it’s also very real. However, what you said here: “It’s not always about what’s real and what isn’t real.”
        That’s very true. Ultimately I’d say it’s a character type that’s just misplaced here, as the amount of work that kind of character needs for proper growth would overturn the plot of the show.
        You hear that, Akemi? Your shit don’t belong here!
        *cue Akemi’s hysterical weeping

        “And while Akemi has always been feminine, sine when was she this pathetic and submissive that she can’t even move when a guy hits on her?”
        MY POINT EXACTLY! haha! Character types aside, what the hell happened to Akemi? It’s as though the writer(s) realized that it’d be easier to get more drama from her if she was like this and changed her accordingly. But the thing is, just having her have a simple crush on Keiko AND the awkwardness between her and…uh…Glasses Girl would’ve been enough. They clearly altered her character immensely, a crime only committed by lazy writers or inconsistent ones. It’s odd, too, since thus far the writing in the show has been just fine.

        Though maybe the dissonance in BishiBro, a guy who has the personality of a delusional recluse while having the build of a Japanese (grain) god, might’ve been a hint at problems to come. Who knows? I just hope it gets resolved quickly and doesn’t linger

        Reply
  2. Dawnstorm

    wait WHAT? Hold on. Why is AKEMI carrying the “social anxiety” characteristic? Wasn’t she fully capable of interacting with Inari’s crush and even agreed to be his team’s manager? Wasn’t she just fine at the festival? What is even happening with this girl now?

    What’s going on here, I think, is that the show is contrasting Inari and Akemi: Inari is straightforward and honest; she has no social front whatsoever, but that also means she doesn’t project any idealised image and thus falls for Akemi’s front. Meanwhile, Akemi is trapped in her own front; she’s polite, but she can’t get closer to anyone, because the moment she drops the front she doesn’t know what to do.

    I also don’t think the anime is blaming the parents. This is a straightforward these-are-my-real-feelings moment. You don’t interfere or offer advise in such moments; you listen and accept. It’s a first step. Similar situations almost never blame the parents (e.g. the rich girl in Ai Yori Aoshi). The anime does say, I think, that Akemi doesn’t know how to approach people, because she couldn’t “practise” at home. But the whole thing is framed within her jealousy fit (and the typical I’m-a-horrible-person gambit). Note that Inari’s parents were present. She’s not just jealous because of Keiko. This is the sort of world she doesn’t have.

    The point, I think, is that Akemi and Inari don’t yet understand each other’s problems, because they each see in each other what they think they lack. I don’t think the show raises the index finger of ethical judging in any way; morals are implied in a rather stereotypical anime way, and what I’m seeing is “Grass is always greener over there.”

    Reply

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