Title: The Fox & Little Tanuki Volume 1
Author: Mi Tagawa
Illustrator: Mi Tagawa
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Supernatural
Publisher(s): Diamond Book Distributors, Tokyopop
Publish Date: March 17, 2020
Long ago, certain animals were granted special powers by the gods. Senzou, a Fox Spirit, is one of those blessed animals. However, he abused his power and didn’t use it for good, as intended. This led to the ancient gods imprisoning Senzou and muting his abilities.
After 300 years, he is finally released back into the world. In exchange, Senzou must care for a young tanuki, Manpachi, and help him become a servant of the gods. If Senzou fails, he’ll lose his once great powers forever!
But as it turns out, babysitting a mischievous tanuki is no easy task, especially when the gods use magical beads to bind the two animals together. The Fox Spirit has no choice but to set aside his pride and help raise Manpachi.
Written and illustrated by Mi Tagawa, The Fox & Little Tanuki features a largely interesting, cute, and lighthearted story. However, it isn’t afraid to explore darker themes like abandonment and loneliness. This well balanced mix keeps things engaging and refreshing throughout the entire volume. The lighter and darker sides of this story blend to create an experience that is endearing, and at times, heartbreaking. It’s so sad to see Manpachi suffering from the abandonment of his family. But, the manga pours on enough sweetness that it never feels like too much.
In addition, I appreciate when a seemingly carefree story can delve into more serious, mature issues. It’s a risk for sure, but when executed well, it makes for a great mix. Moreover, the story is well-paced, never moving too fast or too slow. It moves at a pace suitable for most readers.
There’s a decent amount of humor in this volume, and it’s used well. The comedy never becomes too overwhelming, and it fits the story’s lighter side very well. Without a dose of humor here and there, the book might become a bit too serious. So, this is also well maintained.
Next is my favorite aspect of The Fox & Little Tanuki. These characters are so endearing and fascinating, I found myself becoming attached right away. Manpachi is just so adorable and sweet. I was constantly fawning over his cute, curious behavior. Additionally, it was a treat to see Manpachi’s interactions with Senzou, as the two are complete opposites. Going back to his trait of curiosity, I thought it was wonderful to see Manpachi have such a child-like fascination in everything.
Senzou is another interesting character. I normally don’t like his type of character, but there are glimmers of kindness in the way he treats Manpachi, and that was enough for me to like him. I’m really looking forward to seeing how Senzou develops later on, and how his relationship with the tanuki progresses.
I’ve been a big fan of mythology since I was little, so I enjoyed the fantastical angle of this manga. I also like learning about Japanese mythology, specifically, and this story provides a fascinating take on it. In between each chapter, there was a page showcasing a different Japanese mythological creature. I absolutely loved these sections.
Furthermore, the manga’s art is detailed and beautiful. It was a real treat for my eyes, with gorgeous, elegant illustrations. All the character designs were great, but I thought the animal based ones were especially impressive. Overall, the art’s aesthetic is light, lovely, and unique.
Really, my only complaint over this manga is how the first volume ended. Its conclusion came quite abruptly, leaving me a bit surprised. And I can’t help but feel the stopping point was somewhat odd.
Despite that tiny flaw, The Fox & Little Tanuki is certainly a worthwhile read. It boasts a cute, interesting, and well balanced story, along with a cast of colorful, endearing characters. The mythological parts are fascinating and well-executed, with intermittent descriptions of mythical creatures from actual Japanese legend. Moreover, the art is quite beautiful and contains plenty of detail. In conclusion, The Fox & Little Tanuki is a great manga that most genre fans will love for its many strong points. Personally, I’m very excited for the next volume!
4.5 / 5 Stars
Thanks to NetGalley, Diamond Book Distributors, and Tokyopop for this book. I received a free copy from them, in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. All opinions are my own.
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