Fox Spirit Matchmaker aka Enmusubi no Youko-chan is an anime adapted from a Chinese Manhua. The series has done very well for itself in China as it is currently in its fifth season. Now, Haoliners is trying their luck with the Japanese-speaking audience and the international audience. We are going to be taking a look at the first few episodes of the series and giving it a mini-review along with our pre- & post-viewing expectations. So, sit down, get a snack, and lets dive into the world of reincarnation matchmaking.
In our world, humans and youkai, or spirits, coexist and can fall in love. However, since the spirit is a supernatural being, it always outlives the human and has to see their lover die. When the human is reincarnated, they lose all memories of their pervious life.
This can be circumvented with a Fox Spirit Matchmaker who is able to revive the lost memories of the human. What they have to do, is purchase the Fox Spirit Matchmaker service and then they are able to relive their love story and continue it. Fox Spirit Matchmaker follows Suusu as she starts out in her journey to be a reincarnation matchmaker.
©Tencent Inc./ Fox Spirit Matchmaker Production Committee
I am expecting this to turn out akin to Reikenzan. This series was made right before Studio Emon expanded into Japan under the brand name Haoliners, so I expect there to be a lot of fast humor, some drama, how much of it is believable though will be arguable, and overall a semi-decent story. This is the most successful series, at least from what I can tell, from Haoliners since they started operations in Japan, so I feel like this one might actually turn out to be well-done. That all being said, I am still not expecting a whole lot. Blow me away Fox Spirit Matchmaker. I guess there is nothing left but to do it.
What Happened So Far (Episodes 1-3)
The series opens up with a boy who sacrifices everything to be happy? Then we get to see our main character Suusu as she argues with her older sister Yaya who tells her that she will never succeed as a matchmaker. As Suusu tries to run away, she falls out of the carriage they are in and Yaya sends her fox servants after her.
We now cut to Gessho, our other main character, as he is on time sort of reality TV show where he needs to either choose a girl for looks or money. He reveals that he is 30!? (Talk about an age gap). Right after he reveals that though, there is a blackout and a representative, Fuuki Ou, for the Unification League has come to collect on Gessho’s debts. However, if Gesshou can bind himself to a woman, then all will be forgiven, which is why he is here. Of course, it is not going to go well as for some reason because Suusu comes crashing through the ceiling and foils Gessho’s plans. He saves her as she is being pursued by the foxes and she sees a woman behind him. Gessho has incredible spirit powers and is able to stop the foxes. Then though, Suusu takes out a paper and asks a woman if she is Setsuyo.
After an explosion that expels them from the studio, they are awash in a mound of sand. A fat monk comes running by and there is a fox named Han Uchi that appears. Setsuyo is buried in the sand and this fox, Han Unhi, licks her face only to get punched and he flies off. After a bit more fighting, it is revealed via the assistant that Setsuyo is actually a reincarnated soul who used to be in love with Han Unhi. However, he appears to have lost his powers to recall her memories. The assistant tries to hire Suusu and Gessho to help the two recall their love, but Suusu reveals that she has forgotten the incantation to reincarnate someone.
At the beginning of this episode, the series reveals how exactly Fox Spirit Matchmaking works. The Tosan fox spirit clan has designed a system to help humans and spirits that fall in love. Since the human will inevitably die, they offer a service where if the two swear their love on a treasured item together, the fox spirit will break it in half. Then when they are reborn, they are born with half of the item. As long as they can reunite the items, then their memories will be restored allowing them to re-live their love.
The assistant whips out some magical mallets that if you tap both the human and the spirit on the head, they will start to remember their past together. Gessho gets right to it and we get a flashback. Han Unhi was a foolish prince, but his father tried to help him by having him overthrow an enemy village so that he could ascend the throne. He does not work out well because he accidentally turns into a human and is captured. When the… giant queen is about to “have her way with him”, he is saved by Setsuyo who was a shogun as fellow sand foxes attack this village.
Screeching back to reality we see that the fat monk is Gessho’s father who has essentially skipped out on him. They have a fight and then the father runs off and we are back to the flashback. Han Unhi’s comrades are destroyed by the Ancient Water Jewel and the queen, and Setsuyo sacrifices herself to protect him, but he swallows the jewel when the queen is not paying attention. Fuuki, Gessho's rival, reveals himself again and is confronting Setsuyo’s father for a way to capture Gessho, when he is smitten with Setsuyo. However, it’s not over for Han Unhi as the secretary guides them to “the royal palace” of cardboard. Surprise, it’s Setsuyo’s attic. Downstairs, Fuuki tries to amaze Setuyo with his looks and she agrees to a date happily. Oops.
Setsuyo is 100000% over the movies, but both are trying to take advantage of each other. Back to flashbacks and we see that Han Unhi has went daily to confess to Setsuyo in a past life. She turned him down. We get a random Yaya (From episode one. Remember her?) with Lolo scene where Yaya says that Suusu is starting to grow with the help of Gessho. Their sister needs someone to help her grow and they have been looking for someone for 500 years.
We FINALLY find out the sacred item that they swore on; the ancient water jewel. The secretary has been hiding it from Han Unhi for years which is why their attempts have always failed. It is revealed that if he touches the jewel, his memories will come back bringing back luck and sadness. The father, aka the king, shows up and challenges Gessho to a duel, but Gessho overwhelms him with one hit. We get one more backstory.
We see that now Han Unhi has the ancient water jewel, he is a genius and overpowered. He has been confessing day after day to Setsuyo and coming home injured. That is till one day when he does not come home. The king freaks out, but we see that the two have come together and she has agreed to marry. Han Unhi is now the king and decides to make the ancient water jewel a national treasure since it brought them together. Since their natural weakness is water, the elders, who have been preventing him ascending the throne the whole time, expel him from the kingdom. 80 years into the future of the past, we see that Setsuo has died and they requested a reincarnation matchmaking using the jewel. Han Unhi will not give up on his love because he loves her.
Finally, back to the present, after she bit Yuuki hard, Setsuyo’s stomach hurt and she had to have surgery. As expected, the other half of the jewel was in her stomach. She somehow is saved but now Gessho and Han Unhi have to save her from Setsuyo. Han Unhi turns into the super-hot prince and they go!
Expectations & Impressions After Episode 3
©Tencent Inc./ Fox Spirit Matchmaker Production Committee
To be perfectly honest, I was ready to drop this show after episode one. The first episode was hard to get through, however, after the 100 flashbacks from episode two and three, it actually became interesting. I actually was mad that at the end of episode three because the story had not been resolved and I wanted to see it. I almost tried to go watch episode four, but it is not out yet… I think because so much of the story is thrown at you at first, that you are not sure what is going on, however it actually was pretty good now that I reflect on it. One thing I did not mention is the copious amounts of jokes throughout the series. I thought it would be more serious, but then again, just like with Reikenzan, there is a lot of humor peppered throughout and it at first seemed a bit overdone, but it worked well with the characterizations and I found myself laughing along by episode 3. It was just a matter of grasping the stories and characters before I could fully enjoy it. As for the rest of the series, it’s a full two cours, so we can expect either it to be in these arc formats or there is going to be a deeper underlying story that will emerge.
The Skinny: Keep Watching or Drop?
It is clear to me why Haoliners has brought this work to Japan. They know that this is doing well and they want success. It is a good move as this one really is standing out as a good show. If I did have to point to one standout moment, it was when Setsuyo was revealed to have died in the past and Han Unhi threw away everything including the kingdom to be with her. As of the three-episode mark, I would give this an 8/10. The rating has been going up with every episode I see, so maybe by episode 6 or 7, this will become a must-watch. If you liked it so far too, with it being two cours, you are guaranteed material through December. Let us know what you think below and if you are watching it!