Kanokon is a nine-volume (or four-omnibus) manga based on a popular Japanese light novel series published between 2005 and 2010. The story follows fourteen-year-old Kouta Oyamada, a shy first-year student who has just transferred to Kunpo High School. On his very first day, Chizuru Minamoto, the school’s most popular girl (popular as in “every boy wants to date her”), passes him a note asking to meet her in the music room after school. Class representative Akane Asahina warns Kouta to be careful of Chizuru, but he meets with her anyway. The last thing he expects is for Chizuru to throw herself on him declaring her love! In a moment of passion, she kisses him, and in the process, Kouta is shocked to discover that Chizuru has grown fox ears and a tail.
It turns out she is a yokai—a monster of Japanese folklore—in the form of a 400-year-old fox spirit. This discovery is interrupted by Tayura Minamoto, Chizuru’s “younger” brother, another fox yokai that Chizuru “adopted” many years ago. Unfortunately, in a fit of misplaced jealousy, Tayura attacks Kouta, who is saved when Chizuru possesses him and they create a foxfire so large it explodes the music room. In the days that follow, Chizuru pleads with Kouta to keep her identity secret. However, Kouta comes under the attention of the local boss of the yokai, Kumada, a bear yokai, who thinks Kouta is half-human, half-yokai. When it is discovered that Kouta is just a regular human, Kumada challenges him to a fight and Chizuru has to admit that the school is secretly a reform school for wayward yokai who are being given a last chance to show that they can cope and co-exist with humans. The volume ends with a slightly ominous comment from one of the teachers, Yatsuka, who remarks that Kouta “just might be the one to save us,” implying that something secretive is going on and that Chizuru’s attraction to Kouta might be more important than anyone realizes.
The art in Kanokon is clean and crisp, which keeps the reader from not getting too bogged down with unneeded background details drawing attention away from the main action. Kouta is a typical nerdy manga boy: short and skinny with dark hair. All the other main characters have a small styling element which helps keep the reader from confusing any of the characters, whether it is Chizuru’s fox ears, Asahina’s glasses, or Kumada’s facial scar. The only artistic element I do not understand is why Chizuru, in human form, appears as a girl with long brown hair, but when she turns into a fox she goes blonde.
Kanokon is a fun manga. At its heart, it is a harem story without the harem. Kouta and Chizuru are together from the first pages and none of the other girls on campus are interested in him (in fact, the couple’s PDA causes many other students to call Kouta a “beast” and a pervert). Most of the harem elements come from Chizuru doubting Kouta’s love for her (although from volume three a wolf yokai will challenge Kouta and Chizuru’s relationship). I enjoyed the high school acting as a reform school for delinquent yokai, as it gave a spin on the typical school story.
While I enjoyed the story for its comedy, I would suggest that librarians look at their current collections and deem the appropriateness of the series for their teen collections. Seven Seas rates this as 16+ and there are a lot of fan service moments throughout the volumes. The most common are up-skirt shots and Chizuru appearing naked after she possesses Kouta (since her clothes can’t come with her). However, the nudity is not graphic—more just curves of the body than detailed body parts. I did not get to read the final volume but, in searching it out, I did see some reviews that stated the last volume is more risqué than the previous ones. Overall, it is a humorous story with well-defined characters that stand out from one another. I think many teens looking for a comedy with a little romance would enjoy this series.
P.S. The name “Kanokon” is short for the phrase “Kanojo wa Kon, to Kawaiku Seki o Shite,” which, in English, translates to “she coughed with a cute little yip.” It is supposedly a play on the sound a little fox makes, which apparently is similar to a little cough.
Kanokon Omnibus: vols. 1-9
by Katsumi Nishino
Art by Rin Yamaki
Omnibus 1-2 ISBN: 9781937867355
Omnibus 3-4 ISBN: 9781937867362
Omnibus 5-6 ISBN: 9781937867829
Omnibus 7-9 ISBN: 9781626920125
Seven Seas, 2013-2014
Publisher Age Rating: 16+