By Katsumi Nishino and Rin Yamaki. Released in Japan as by Media Factory, serialized in the magazine Comic Alive. Released in North America by Seven Seas.
As I’ve noted before, in general these days I try to give every new Vol. 1 a chance and a review. Sometimes, though, I suspect on seeing the advance solicit that I know I’m just hurting myself. Kanokon was that sort of title. Moe foxgirl on the cover. Runs in Comic Alive. Harem title. Lots of overt fanservice and sexuality with little actual sex. Male lead whose sole good quality is his endearing niceness. That said, I was hoping at least for a chance to write a scathing review with lots of amusing vitriol, a la Sasameke or Qwazer of Stigmata. But the manga doesn’t even hit those levels of bad. It’s simply a mediocre-to-fair yokai harem manga.
The title is another of those abbreviations that are becoming increasingly needed in a world where every book coming out has a title like “My Light Novel Can’t Possibly Be This Awkwardly Phrased” (AwkPhr for short). In this case, Kanokon stands for “Kanojo wa Kon to, Kowaiku Seki wo Shite”, or “She Coughed With a Cute Little “Yip”. (eeeeurgh…) Seven Seas does helpfully have a couple notes at the back explaining this, as well as a few other culture notes. As for the plot, if you were asked to write a harem manga for comic alive and given the premise of yokai, this is probably what you’d come up with. New transfer student Kouta is from the country, and thus attracts the attention of the popular girl Chizuru. She turns out to be a fox yokai, and has not only fallen for Kouta but can also merge and take over his body to a degree, though it depends on their feelings for each other. Cue angry brother, angry classmate, angry fellow yokai, and teachers, all of whom would like to see Chizuru be a bit more reticent and a lot less horny.
From what I understand, the anime got a lot more blatant, or perhaps this just feels worse when you see it as moving images. In any case, I was not nearly as horrified as my friends who saw the anime said I would be. Instead, it was more of a malaise. There does appear to be an ongoing plot that has potential to get interesting (and thank God this was in omnibus format, as if it had just been the first half it might have been unbearable). That said, the story has some very dumb stuff in it in order to allow the plot to function, particularly how, in creating a juvenile delinquent school for troubled yokai, they then allow totally normal humans to attend, for reasons I cannot fathom. (Yes, yes, learn how to blend in, etc. Still, highly dangerous.)
With all that said, I went into this knowing it was not a series for me. It does, however, have a fanbase of people who love this sort of thing. Cute fox girls, titillation, some fights, and a lead non-entity they can project themselves on who has a girl falling all over herself to sleep with him (and I’ve no doubt there will be more girls added later on). It does its job well for those readers, and thus is not actively radioactive. It’s simply not my thing.