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Manga / The Fox & Little Tanuki

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The Fox & Little Tanuki (Korisenman/こりせんまん in Japanese, lit. "Fox and Tanuki Ten Million") is a fantasy manga by Mi Tagawa. It was serialized in Monthly Comic Avarus from 2018 to 2023, and is licensed in English by Tokyopop.

Long ago, the Kitsune Senzou, born with immense mystical power, wrought chaos throughout the land and feared little of the gods in the heavens above. For his transgressions he was ultimately imprisoned and sealed away by the Sun Goddess, laying dormant for centuries.

In the present day, Senzou is finally freed and becomes eager to seek vengeance for his imprisonment, but unbeknownst to him not only has the bulk of his power been sapped away over the years, the Sun Goddess has other plans in mind for him. In order to win back his strength, Senzou is charged with raising Manpachi, a Tanuki pup born with heightened magical abilities like himself, to become a servant of the gods. Now Senzou has no choice but to swallow his pride from the days of being the great & terrible fox spirit he once was, and learn the ropes to becoming a proper caregiver in order to escape his fate.

The Fox & Little Tanuki provides examples of:

  • Accidental Murder: What happened to the original Manpachi. Manpachi tries to convince Senzou to leave the Mitake wolves' mountain so they wouldn't be scared of him anymore, but Senzou doesn't believe him and mistakes Manpachi of teaming-up with the wolves to attack him. Manpachi tries to tell him he wouldn't, but Senzou gets influenced by Gyokumen's miasma and loses control of himself, burning Manpachi with his own flames.
  • Animal Jingoism: Wolves and foxes are stated to have a long-standing animosity for each other, so much so that the Sun Goddess specifically sent wolves to subdue Senzou before sealing him away.
  • Asian Fox Spirit: Senzou and Koyuki are both kitsune or Japanese fox spirits. Senzou was a particularly powerful one, but in the present day most of his magical power has been sapped away. Gyokumen is a more evil example, being a nine-tailed fox.
  • Bad Ol' Badger: Subverted with Momoji the mujina, who is villainous but also very much a Dirty Coward and never picks a single fight. Not even a fight he's sure he would win, as would be the case with fighting Senzou after his De-power.
  • Bakeneko and Nekomata: A whole clan of them operate like a Yakuza analogue within the Youkai world, led by the nekomata Shirotabi. There's also Milk, Shirotabi's adoptive daughter who turns out to also be a nekomata, and whom Shirotabi intends to succeed him.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Koyuki is a kind and generous vixen who takes care of Senzou & Manpachi, all while dealing with Senzou's constant bad mood, and does it happily. She will put her foot down though, gladly chewing Senzou out for neglecting Manpachi, or standing up to the wolves for being too hard on Senzou.
    • Manpachi and Tachibana are both total sweethearts, but they can still put up a fight if they really think it's the right thing to do.
  • Big Friendly Dog: Tachibana, a reiken (spirit dog) partnered with Mikumo who doesn't likely have a mean bone in his entire body and treats just about everything or everyone with a dog's enthusiasm. There's also Hagiri, who has the Face of a Thug but is of a similar disposition to Tachibana, and loves cats.
  • Brought Down to Badass: Senzou's De-power has largely stuck, and even when he regains his power temporarily via Manpachi's necklace he can't seem to control it anymore, so at present he can only draw out one extra tail's worth of power safely, a small fraction of what he was once capable of. But even with just that he's able to hold his own against a whole group of wolves at once, underscoring how his reputation as such a terrifying beast isn't hyperbole.
  • Cock-a-Doodle Dawn: The Naganakidori are divine chickens who serve the Sun Goddess - which is true to many myths about her in Japanese tradition - so this trope is naturally in mind. Their crowing can mark other events ordained by her as well, such as Senzou's release from being sealed.
  • Covert Pervert: Koyuki, who comes off as a prim & proper young lady but inexplicably owns what appear to be adult female magazines with plenty of nude men in them.
  • Dead Guy Junior: In Volumes 4 and 5, it is revealed that Manpachi gets his name from Senzou's first friend, the original Manpachi, a human boy. After restoring Senzou's memories of his true past and his friendship with the first Manpachi, he asks Senzou if he gave him the name so that Senzou could do things that he couldn't do with the human Manpachi.
  • Dogs Are Dumb: Some of the wolves definitely aren't the brightest, and even the smarter ones can be downright goofy at times.
  • The Dreaded: Senzou himself is this. Though it was mostly back when he still had his powers, even in the present some characters are still intimidated by him. Shirotabi completely loses his cool the moment he sees Senzou, and orders his underlings not to fight him.
  • Dying Race: Overlaps with Endangered Species - just like in real life, by the time of the story's plot wolves have become extinct in Japan, which means no more makami can be born from their spirits upon passing on. Hagiri and Chiaki are presumed to be the very last wolf youkai who'll come to be in this manner, which is why they've since started enlisting dog spirits like Tachibana into their ranks to compensate.
  • Fan Boy: Shiki the human high schooler is one for Youkai, in particular fluffy ones and especially for Senzou, as the legendary fearsome creature he once was. When Senzou experiences Glamour Failure in his human disguise and assumes his true form while talking to Shiki, the guy passes out with his tongue hanging out and hearts in his eyes.
  • Fantastic Drug: A plot arc starting in Volume 2 has the heroes investigate youkai illegally dealing in a substance called Kakuremino, which allows a user to mask their presence and move about undetected.
  • Fantastic Racism: Black and white foxes are said to hate each other, as the latter typically serves the gods while the former is reputed to work against them and wreak havoc instead. In Senzou's youth this was one reason why he was turned away by other kitsune that he sought out for help, but in the present Koyuki seems to treat him just fine, so this attitude may have gone away over time.
  • Feral Child: The first Manpachi was a human boy found by Senzou in the mountains, abandoned by his parents. Later, a false memory conjured by Gyokumen shows Funazuki and Shizukaze assuring him that they will find a village for him to live among the other humans if he killed Senzou.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: A few hundred years have passed since Senzou was around and he has a bit of a hard time acclimating to the world as it is in the 21st century.
  • Forced Transformation: A Running Gag involving Manpachi's transformations is that they often inadvertently effect Senzou as well.
  • Freudian Excuse: Senzou was abandoned by his parents and ostracized for being born with his powers, hunted constantly by wolves who wanted to kill him since they saw him only as a menace, and rejected from being given any form of protection even from other kitsune due to black foxes being considered evil and because he had to use his powers to defend himself. It's hard not to at least understand why he is the way he is, when nobody wanted to help him when he needed it and he has no choice but to provide for Manpachi the upbringing he never got to have.
    • Made even worse when its revealed that Senzou wasn't abandoned by his parents after all, but they sacrificed their lives to save him (becoming reborn as Koyuki) even after newborn Senzou's powers got out of control and Yazumi tried to retrieve him. And that's before Senzou befriended the human Manpachi and got his memories altered by Gyokumen...
  • Funny Animal: Manpachi's first attempts to transform into a human instead turn him - and Senzou - into these.
  • The Gift: Manpachi, having been born with natural magical abilities, is good at magic even before he learns how to speak and only improves from there. Senzou was like this as well, prior to his De-power.
  • Gleeful and Grumpy Pairing:
    • Senzou is a cynical and bitter fox who's made to take the cheerful and optimistic tanuki Manpachi under his wing.
    • Mikumo is a serious, skeptical and irritable wolf. His work partner is Tachibana, a goofy and friendly dog.
  • Green Thumb: Manpachi's abilities tend to manifest as manipulation of plants.
  • Hates Being Touched: Senzou definitely does. The very first interaction between him and Manpachi is him chewing the tanuki out for nuzzling him. Getting over this is one indicator for his Character Development.
  • Heel–Face Turn: The intended result of Senzou's predicament. While slow, it does appear to be working, as he slowly displays more kindness and starts to act more in the interest of others instead of just himself.
  • Humanity Ensues: Many characters take human form to better get around in human society. After some practice, Manpachi learns how to (mostly) do this, and can do it to Senzou as well.
  • Interspecies Adoption: The reason Hagiri loves cats so much is because he was raised by them as a pup before becoming a makami.
    • Manpachi himself has essentially been adopted by foxes, Senzou & Koyuki.
  • Innocent Fanservice Boy: Due to not having much knowledge of humans or human societies in general, when Manpachi transforms into a human for the first time, his human form didn't include any clothing leaving him and Senzou, who takes the same form as Manpachi if he transforms naked. While Senzou is mostly annoyed about being in the same form as Manpachi, they both act as if things are completely normal, despite both of them being naked.
  • Involuntary Shapeshifting: If Manpachi uses his powers to transform either his entire body or part of his body, Senzou will also have his body in the same form as Manpachi, only changing back if Manpachi changes back.
  • King of All Cosmos: The Sun Goddess is the de facto Top God who evokes reverence from almost everyone who beholds her... and who also enjoys being invited to parties, eating yakitori, and making jokes at her familiars' expense. Even her loyal underlings can't help but comment on how much of a goof she can be at times.
  • Mafia Princess: Milk, a kitten doted on heavily by Shirotabi. She doesn't like this lifestyle though, and desperately wants to return to living with her old friend Hagiri.
  • Magical Accessory: Manpachi's pearl necklace, with each pearl representing a blessing from a divine being he's helped. Its effects are said to vary and grow with each pearl added to it by a different entity, and in addition it allows Senzou to temporarily regain his true form & powers.
  • Mirror Character: Senzou and Mikumo. Senzou had in the past been consumed by his hatred for the wolves, driving him to become the Jerkass that he is. Mikumo's hatred of Senzou had the exact same effect on him, something Tachibana lampshades at one point.
  • Mirrored Confrontation Shot: All the volume covers depict profile shots of various characters staring each other in the face. Volume 1 has Senzou on the right and Manpachi on the left confronting each other, and afterwards it's usually Senzou and Manpachi on the left, while characters who are prominent in the given volume are on the right. Volume 6 shakes things up a little by having Manpachi with Koyuki confronting two white foxes while Senzou is in the middle and way in the background looking on.
  • Morality Pet:
    • Invoked with Manpachi, whom Senzou is more or less forced to treat well in order to uphold his part of the deal to regain his powers. Though as Character Development sets in it's more by choice, as he begins to care for Manpachi simply because he wants to.
    • Backstories reveal that Tachibana was one for Mikumo, as Mikumo remarks that it it hadn't been for Tachibana, he might have turned out like Senzou.
  • Never Given a Name: Manpachi has no name until Senzou gives him one at the end of the Chapter 2, having never received one from his family since they abandoned him.
  • Noble Wolf: The wolves (and dogs) under the command of Oguchi no Makami, who worked with the Sun Goddess to put an end to Senzou's evil and continue to keep tabs on him in the present. While they are somewhat of a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits and some of them are more pleasant than others, overall they are definitely good guys.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: The Sun Goddess is very clearly meant to be Amaterasu, as she is presented as Top God in the setting and her personal emissaries are roosters just like in many myths, but she is only ever called "Sun Goddess" within the story itself.
  • Numerical Theme Naming: Both Senzou's and Manpachi's names use older kanji for specific numbers. The "sen" in Senzou's means "thousand", while the "man" in Manpachi's means "ten thousand" which Koyuki suggested be incorporated into his name since Manpachi is "coming after" Senzou as his underling. Additionally, the "pachi" in Manpachi's name means "eight" which is a number often associated with tanuki.
    • Senzou's "follower" Momoji even gets in on it; "momo" means "hundred" in his case.
  • Parental Abandonment: Both Senzou and Manpachi suffered this, as it is common for creatures born with unusual powers to be rejected by their families.
  • Power Incontinence: Manpachi doesn't quite have the hang of focusing his powers, which often results in them effecting more than he means them to.
  • The Power of Hate: Mikumo was created from the hate and despair of dogs and wolves that fell in the effort to imprison Senzou.
  • Rascally Raccoon: Played for Drama. The culprit of the Murder Mystery subplot is a raccoon bakemono who wants to steal the powers of other bakemono for itself, by killing them and eating their organs.
  • Restraining Bolt: Before setting Senzou free, the Sun Goddess places a divine rosary bead necklace on him that causes him pain whenever he tries to do anything evil or neglects Manpachi.
  • Rodents of Unusual Size: Kazura's dormouse underlings are the size of wrecking balls. Kazura himself averts this however; in his true form he's as tiny as dormouse ought to be.
  • Shapeshifting Excludes Clothing: When Manpachi successfully transforms into a human for the first time, since he hasn't had many interactions with humans, his human form doesn't include any clothes. Senzou also transforms into a human without clothes due to being forced to be in the same form as Manpachi.
  • Tanuki: Manpachi.
  • Tanuki/Kitsune Contrast: Senzou and Manpachi, naturally. Senzou the kitsune is a cunning, bitter Jerkass while Manpachi the tanuki is a kind and innocent Cheerful Child.
  • Tsundere: Senzou is prickly, closed off, and quick to lash out at others, but as his Heel–Face Turn sets in he does start to show a more empathetic side, if subtly. Pointing this out to him is a sure-fire way to piss him off, though.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: When Senzou is temporarily restored of his full power by Manpachi's necklace, he all but loses his mind and doesn't regain it until he returns to normal.
  • Youkai: Tons of them, what with Japanese mythology being a major theme.
  • Zashiki-warashi: Manpachi's first job as a divine servant-in-training is to help a zashiki warashi whose home fell to ruin.
  • Xenofiction: A manga about sentient, shape-shifting animals from Japanese mythology born with magical powers.