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Nine Tales: The Lantern, the Fox, and the Water Dragon is a (eventual) webcomic by Mochagatari, aka A Patchwork Scholar.

The comic stars a small girl named Kimiko Yoshimori moving to the nearby forestland of Morimori after her parents' decision to move to the country. Kimiko decides to take advantage of her new surroundings by exploring the forest, her favorite paper lantern to light her way.

Meanwhile, in the forest lives a two-tailed Kitsune woman named Kaede Ichikawa, who is rather wary of humans and uses her beauty to mess with them for kicks. However, she ends up meeting Kimiko during her expedition, and ends up playing a game of cat and mouse. Despite their early rivalry, Kaede and Kimiko become friends, and soon start getting into adventures with the local forest guardian Zheng Yu (the titular water dragon) and Lily (a mean-spirited karakasa).

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Naturally, it doesn't last, and strange supernatural happenings begin all over Morimori. Most alarmingly, they all point to Kimiko. Kimiko then goes on to learn the history of Morimori and her heritage, and that maybe there's something in her that has yet to be awakened.

After the main story, several short stories were planned as a continuation, all under the simple Nine Tales name. Among the stories so far are:

  • Nine Tales Sakurazensen: The Sword, the Wind, and the Cherry Tree
  • Nine Tales Satoukaede: The River, the Sunset and the Maple Tree
  • Nine Tales Anreishitsumei: The Lantern, the Spirit and the Star
  • Nine Tales Kankurezato: The Glimmer, the Fire and the Cave
  • Nine Tales Amearare: The Umbrella, the Witch and the Storm
  • Nine Tales Juugoya: The Moon, the Spell, and the Graveyard
  • Nine Tales Taiyousugi: The Bamboo, the Miko and the Taiko Drum
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  • Nine Tales Chinatsu: The Garden, the Flowers and the Earth Dragon
  • Nine Tales Akaneteishi: The Blood, the Orb and the Black Fox

More stories following the characters are being planned.

Tropes related to The Lantern, the Fox, and the Water Dragon:

  • 108: Ireiyatsu's name translates to this, emphasizing his role as an evil spirit.
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Fern’s Hanasaku Sword, though it was blessed by Kun Shen and can cut through anything. Momiji’s uchigatana can do the same, however.
  • Action Girl: Kaede and Fern.
  • Adorkable: Kimiko.
  • Aerith and Bob: Among the cast, we have Kimiko, Kaede, Amazora, Momiji...and Lily. Though this could also be to emphasize her “low-tier youkai” status.
  • Adult Fear: While Kimiko's parents rarely appear in the comic, the idea of their reaction towards their daughter being possessed by an Eldritch Abomination is pretty frightening.
  • The Ageless: Kaede and Lily stay at their physical ages of 20 and 14 respectively, being youkai.
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  • Alliterative Name: Momiji Maekawa.
  • All-Loving Hero: Kimiko. Even Ireiyatsu has a fragment of her sympathy.
  • All the Other Reindeer: Lily was singled out by the other forest youkai for only being "a silly hopping umbrella", causing her to become jaded and bitter over bigger, more powerful youkai.
  • All Women Are Lustful: Higanbana, a sex-crazed yuki-onna.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Kaede.
  • And I Must Scream: Ireiyatsu being sealed in a lantern for all eternity.
  • An Ice Person: Higanbana can manipulate snow and ice as a yuki-onna.
  • Animal Motifs: Nezumi is heavily associated with mice, with her odango-style buns resembling mouse ears.
  • Animesque: Even more so than its sister series, Genjitsutouhi. Nine Tales is styled after a Japanese folk tale and uses several ninja anime tropes in it's later stories.
  • Arc Number: The number 9. In the original story, there were nine chapters ("nine tales"), nine different supernatural incidents, and Ireiyatsu is a nine-tailed fox.
  • Arc Symbol: The lantern.
  • Artifact of Doom: The lantern.
  • Ax-Crazy: Ireiyatsu, and by extention Kimiko while she's possessed.
    • In the later stories, Momiji's feelings for Fern enter Yandere territory and he tries to burn the forest down as well as murder Kimiko and Lily.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Fern wears a cut-off tank top that exposes her navel.
  • Beneath the Earth: The Obsidian Mine in Kankurezato.
  • BFS: Momiji's uchigatana.
  • Big Bad: Ireiyatsu, for the main story.
  • Big Good: Zheng Yu.
  • Bishōnen: Zheng Yu when in his "young man" form. Kimiko even lampshades it.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Lily, Kaerin, and Kaede become hostile when Yuureireru's spell causes the moon to turn youkai crazy.
  • Butt-Monkey: Lily.
  • Cherry Blossoms: The Cherry Blossom Front, a large grove of cherry trees that bloom eternally.
  • Covert Pervert: Kaede, and surprisingly, Leng Jing.
  • Creepy Cemetery: The abandoned cemetery near Fern's temple, where Kimiko is spirited away in Anreishitsumei and Yuureireru puts a spell on the moon in Juugoya.
  • Demonic Possession: Kimiko becomes Irieyatsu's vessel more than a few times throughout the story.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Momiji is always calm and smiley, though it’s probably because he’s almost always high. It makes it that much scarier when he completely breaks down in the climax of his character arc.
  • The Ditz: Lily to varying degrees.
  • Edo Punk
  • Eldritch Abomination: Ireiyatsu.
  • Fairy Tale: The story is written to resemble a Japanese folk tale.
  • Fantastic Nature Preserve: Morimori.
  • Fiery Redhead: Fern.
  • Genki Girl: Kimiko.
  • Gentle Giant: Zheng Yu is a gigantic, fearsome water-controlling Chinese dragon. He also happens to be the nicest person in all of Morimori next to Kimiko.
  • Giggling Villain: Kirisaku is fond of giggling pleasantly even as she attempts to eat Kimiko alive.
  • Hair Decorations: Kimiko wears white hair tubes on her sidetails.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each story has the Nine Tales title followed by three things that pertain to the plot.
  • If I Can't Have You...: Momiji eventually attempts to murder Fern for rejecting his feelings.
  • Jerkass: Lily.
  • Karakasa: Lily is a karakasa with a human body, and wears the top part of the umbrella as a hat (it still has a blank eye and long tongue, though, which dangles off the side). However, later it's demonstrated that the top part can cover her entire body and revert her back to umbrella form.
  • Keet: Kabanoki.
  • Kid Hero: Kimiko, the protagonist, is only about 9 years old.
  • Kitsune: Kaede is one that has 2 tails, while Ireiyatsu has 9.
  • Lady of War: Fern.
  • Light Is Not Good: Ireiyatsu is pure greed and evil, but he takes the form of a huge, almost angelic white and gold kumiho.
  • The Lost Woods: Morimori.
  • Lunacy: Kimiko and Fern theorized the full moon was what was causing the youkai to go mad in Juugoya, but it was actually Yuureireru’s spell causing a different reaction in youkai than in ghosts.
  • The Night That Never Ends: In Juugoya. Yuureireru’s plan involved extending the night indefinitely over her home to empower the ghosts she controls, but it reached too far and caused youkai to become Ax-Crazy. Not that she cared, mind you.
  • Nice Hat: Lily's umbrella top.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Magmarok in Kankurezato. Releasing her to the surface could potentially cause a world-ending supervolcano-nuke because Magmarok loves destruction so much.
  • Poor Communication Kills: A good chunk of the events in this story never would have happened if everyone actually listened to each other.
  • Professional Killer: Momiji.
  • Purity Personified: Kimiko.
  • Reformed Bully: Lily has started to become this after Amearare.
  • Supernatural Gold Eyes: The dragons have them.
    • In a more frightening example, Irieyatsu has them, and Kimiko gains them when he possesses her.
  • Theme Naming: Many characters are named after plants.
    • Kimiko's surname has "forest" in it.
    • Kaede and Momiji both have names that mean "maple tree".
    • Lily is a type of flower, most likely referring to water lilies.
    • Fern is a given, but her real name, Ayame, means "iris flower".
    • Kabanoki translates to "cypress".
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Lily in the more comedic stories.
  • Yandere: Momiji for Fern.
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