#1 Icky shota/loli characters
Kanokon is an ecchi romance anime that borders closely on just being softcore hentai. Not only does it have full nudity, the characters also engage in all kinds of sexual shenanigans on-screen so long as that doesn’t involve penetrative sex. And even that limitation is something that Kanokon is willing to stretch as far as it can go.
This wouldn’t be a problem for me in most shows, but Kanokon has this happen to characters that look like they are barely out of grade school.
Sure, the anime is set in high school, but the character designs are so pint-sized and moe that these alleged-adolescents look awfully childlike. Watching characters like that rub up against each other, masturbate, or engage in exhibitionism is just all-around unpleasant.
#2 Nonstop sexual harassment
The story follows Kouta Oyamada, a lil guy who just recently transferred to a new school in the city. There he immediately draws the affection of the perpetually-horny Chizuru Minamoto. Despite his valiant attempts to keep her at bay, Chizuru still publicly harasses and teases him every day, which ruins Kouta’s reputation among their classmates.
Chizuru soon ramps up her advances and more-or-less coerces Kouta into a relationship. From that point onward her teasing becomes increasingly extreme. She even frequently attempts to pressure Kouta into having sex, again often in public. Other characters become interested in Kouta as well and treat him basically the same as Chizuru does, albeit with different cookie-cutter personalities.
Even outside of prudish moral arguments that can be made about using sexual harassment for a fun, lighthearted story, Kanokon also just gets boring. The same shenanigans repeat episode after episode, so the whole show just blends together. Only the token visits to a hot springs resort and the beach manage to stand-out slightly.
#3 Pointless fantasy plot
Oh yeah, this is actually a fantasy anime. Forgot to mention that.
The school Kouta attends is actually a place where disguised yokai come to study and work side-by-side with regular Humans. While Kouta is just a regular boy, Chizuru and her brother are actually fox spirits, with other characters covering a variety of folklore creatures. It sounds like a significant detail, but it really isn’t.
These characters can transform into their true selves and will do so from time to time, but there is rarely a reason to do so. This is just an ecchi romcom anime, so why would transformations be necessary? There are a few action scenes, but these are so spaced apart that entire episodes go by without them. Outside of the characters using animal-themed insults for each other, the fantasy aspect is entirely ignored.
I am already not a fan of Japanese folklore, but Kanokon was such a half-assed attempt at it that even I felt underwhelmed.
#4 Static storyline
A side-effect of the story not doing anything with its fantasy themes is that Kanokon ends up lacking a purpose.
Some episodes will feature a bad guy or set up some intrigue, but there is never any follow-up to these. Most villains end up being dealt with within the episode in which they are introduced. Even the one genuine threat that isn’t completely defeated remarks on having future plans, only to then still vanish from the plot entirely.
Even if we discard that as being unimportant because this is a romance story first and foremost, then the relationship between Chizuru and Kouta becomes the problem instead. Episode 1 establishes their “love”, episode 2 brings in the romantic rival, and nothing else happens from there until the final episode. The anime is only 12 episodes long, but the story is so stagnant that it feels like a slog.
#5 So little effort
I didn’t want to make this into some ginormous 12 Reasons To Skip article, but damn does Kanokon have a lot of problems. Many of which stem from the same overarching issue that nobody seemed passionate to make this series actually work.
Outside of fanservice, the anime is so underwhelming to look at that I kept thinking it was half a decade older than it actually was. Kanokon aired in the same year as Toradora and Familiar of Zero‘s third season, but looks more at home when put besides low-budget series from around the turn of the millennium. Especially its few ventures into action scenes come of as laughable. One climactic battle in particular didn’t have sound-effects or any kind of animation directing to make it look impactful.
This is even worse in the bonus materials. Many of the specials that were released alongside the series reuse scenes from the original or pad out their miniscule runtime with slow panning shots of still images. Characters already had a tendency to look weird in the show itself, but the specials and Godawful OVA are even more lax with quality control.
That comes on top of the voice cast phoning their performances in hard. Kanokon has a pretty sturdy cast of voice talent in it, all of whom sound like they are desperately trying to be booted from the project. You got people here who have starred in dozens of anime, some with over 20 years of experience, and they sound like amateurs stammering out their very first lines for some moe blob side-character.