In our present day, with all of the busyness of secular life, many of us tend to forget about the spiritual aspects of everyday life. From what I understand, Japanese culture is very similar in that regard. Sure, most of its citizens practice Buddhists or Shinto (and of course, an incredibly small population that practices everything else), but lots of people don’t practice enough of whatever faith or spirituality they have. In modern times, we have less of a reason to be pious or devout to gods or spirits, thanks to the advent of science and philosophy. Regardless, even scientists will tell you that some kind of faith is still important to everyday life. Having said that, Gingitsune helps shed at least some light on one sect of Japan’s Shinto culture.
The premise of this series features Makoto, a high school girl who lives at a shrine with her father, the priest. Her mother, who was once a priestess (or shrine maiden; I never understood what the difference was) passed away when our protagonist was still very young. She aspires to become a priestess just like the mother she never got to know; if not because it’s a family business, then definitely because of her gift.
Makoto Saeki is the successor to the local shrine and is therefore given the power to see spirits; more particularly, the heralds of the gods. The resident herald, Gintaro, is an old fox spirit who stands indifferently to pretty much all humans (except for Makoto and the successors before her) and tends to spend each day loafing around eating tangerines. Since Makoto is the only one who can actually see Gintaro, they form a very special friendship.
Other characters are introduced throughout the series, including two of Makoto’s friends, another successor and his fox spirit herald, a few neighbors who live near the shrine, the coolest upperclassmen ever, a physically attractive priest, among others. Oh, and did I mention that there are other heralds other than foxes that are included in Shinto canon? The series also introduces to viewers these other heralds, including turtles, monkeys, and creepy-looking dog creatures (not really sure what they are, to be honest).
I was expecting a lot of the “feels” for this series, but one thing it did lack was plot. Despite some of the dynamic character relationships, a unique setting, and a fairly dramatic premise, the series had no real conflict posed. Of the 12-episode series, each segment felt situational, as the timeline spans in a matter of four months, from early Spring to mid Summer.
Regardless of the lack of plot, Gingitsune occasionally made me laugh or cry, but one thing it always did was make me smile. The things Makoto, Gintaro, and their many friends do are nothing short of cute. I personally don’t believe that plot defines what makes a good TV series. In fact, I think what made Gingitsune special is the fact that there wasn’t a plot. Sometimes in life, we expect drama or conflict or something crazy to make our lives interesting and tend to think that our everyday lives of work or school are boring by comparison. For a series about spirituality though, we are reminded once again that even in our everyday lives, there can be some peace in our present moment.
So if you like the idea of bringing yourself to peace, if you are interested in learning even the smallest glimpse about Japanese spirituality, or just want to watch a mindless series that makes you smile, go ahead and check out Gingitsune.