Gugure! Kokkuri-san – 05

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Gugure! Kokkuri-san episode 5 introduces us to Jimeko, Kohina-chan’s incompetent bully, while desperately juggling the four characters in Kohina’s life. It works quite well, even with all the characters, and the tree acts gave us an average laughs-per-episode rating.

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Inugami still hasn’t decided on his gender and Act 1 is mostly throw away fighting, perv-nuzzeling Kohina, and Shigaraki falling for Inugami’s female form. It’s cute enough I suppose, and it’s good for us to have times where Inugami is on the back foot, but the gender swap ability seems so arbitrary and under used by the story.

At least, under used in an interesting way. Becoming Shigaraki’s very short term lust-interest isn’t really all that interesting. But I’m biased I suppose, since I don’t find anything interesting about Shigaraki at all…

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Act 2 is about Kohina’s bully at school. This one’s a little weird because the bully is a shy tsundere who no longer has any idea what or why she’s doing anything and, while the scenes are funny, I couldn’t help feel it was all disposable?

The whole joke that Jimenko has been bringing Kohina fresh flowers every day for a year ‘as a bullying gesture’ and that fact that Jimenko isn’t even her name (we never actually hear her real name) are clever but… goofie?

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Jimeko obviously likes Kohina and wants to be liked by Kohina, but Kohina doesn’t pay attention or notice. The scene that saves it is when Kohina asks why Jimeko is even bullying her in the first place — and Kohina has her human face on.

Sadly, Jimeko isn’t able to answer and runs off blushing.

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A cute little joke hidden in the infographic that describes why Kohina’s classmates don’t like her.

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Then Kokkuri and Inugami join Kohina’s class using their magic. Naturally, this doesn’t go well and Kohina is frustrated that she’s the only one who can see through their tricks. Yamamoto-kun takes the brunt of most jokes.

We learn that Kokkuri-san has bad eyesight, and that he’s really only here to try and make friends for Kohina. It’s a cute final act to end the episode on.

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As always, this show has great facial expressions and odd situations. It’s chuckle worthy and equal parts emotionally touching. I’m not sure how ‘smart’ it is, though.

Likewise, if Ono wasn’t a major voice of the show, and if he hadn’t voiced such a great show last season with a similar relationship, I’m not sure I’d be this into it? Kokkuri-san is nowhere near as good as Barakamon, that’s for sure!

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Gugure! Kokkuri-san – 04

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This week is all about Shigaraki, the old tanuki, the most recent uninvited spirit in Kohina-chan’s house. As was obvious last week, he’s a drunk mooch and no one likes him. Not even the viewers.

He’s the first truly unlikable character Gugure! has given us and I guess it works because he gives everyone an unapologetic antagonist to work against. Except, compared to Kokkuri-san’s fights with Inugami, no one seems to be putting much effort into getting rid of this douchebag.

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Shigaraki literally has no redeeming qualities. He ruins everyone he haunts and, unlike Inugami, he doesn’t even give them a short period of success before burning them. He’s so selfish and/or delusional, he sees nothing wrong with his actions either.

If his gags weren’t so funny, Shigaraki would be an incredibly difficult character to watch on a regular basis.

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Desperate for some reason not to kill him like the methheads who live in the trash across my street, Kohina-chan asks to see Shigaraki’s animal form. As you can see, this is surprisingly horrifying and funny. What you can not see is his bulging human genitalia…

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Then Shigaraki either misunderstands Kohina when she admits to preferring his human form or is just being a jackass when he turns into a hybrid of the two and chases Kohina around the house…

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However, he soon realizes he’s crossing the line and that Kohina may chase him out of the house somehow. So he bribes her with a million yen… that immediately turns into a leaf.

Yes! Shigaraki is so lazy his tricks don’t even last long enough to trick anyone!

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Gugure! Kokkuri-san was outrageously funny this week — and I’m not even going to talk about the gray-skin Martian that sits next to Kohina at school!

If you need a criticism of the show, it’s that I have no confidence that a deeper mystery will ever manage to surface in a meaningful nor ham-fisted way. That, and it’s Ranma 1/2 style ’90s visuals will keep it at an 8 for most of the season. But what a fun little 8 it is!

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Gugure! Kokkuri-san – 03

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Inugami is, without question, part of Kohina-chan’s family of spirits now. He lives outside and has a brotherly (read: abusive) relationship with Kokkuri-san. He constantly jabs at Kokkuri-san’s value and, eventually, causes Kokkuri to bald in patches.

Enough is enough! Kohina loves Kokkuri!… or at least she loves his soft fuzzy pelt! So begins a few, short lived, attempts to rein Inugami’s behavior in.

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Having discovered a mysterious tome at a used book store, Kohina discovers she should be walking Inugami at least twice a day. At first, they both love this and Inugami greatly mellows. However, after the third walking, Kohina loses interest and makes Kokkuri-san walk Inugami instead.

This goes poorly, since Inugami refuses to wear his dog form during these walkies.

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Then an old and most drunk Tanuki shows up and Kohina’s fate is sealed: she’s gonna be the most haunted little girl/doll in all of Japan!

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G!Ks kept true to its course this week. Its jokes are snappy, cute, and emotionally costly to its characters. (even Kohina-chan!) It’s also very warm and loving, especially when it focuses on Kohina and Kokkuri-san, who has promised her something in the past we have yet to learn.

If I had any criticism, I would say G!Ks plays it safe compared to the other 8+ rated animes of this season. That isn’t a bad thing to be sure! It is very good. Just… safe?

If you haven’t been watching, one: why don’t you like things that are funny and two: tell me why in the comments below!

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Gugure! Kokkuri-san – 02

gks2_7“If you lie, you have to swallow a thousand needles” – Kohina

On the surface, this week Gugure! is all about getting Kohina-chan to smile and to introduce the next regular character. However, if you think about it, this episode is really all about what makes Kohina-chan happy.

Whether she admits it or not, Kohina is lonely and wants friends. However, she’s deeply weird and wants deeply weird friends… and a bit of dark chaos. We’ll see how long it takes Kokkuri-san to figure this out!

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After torturing Kokkuri-san for a while, Kohina decides to try out smiling after all. Everyone else seems to do it and, even though she doesn’t really get why (or want to admit she does get why) she realizes it’s important to know how to do.

Her experiments do not go well.

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I loved the Fukuwarai face expressions Kohina creates. I love them even more when THEY FALL OFF HER FACE entirely. It’s hard to tell if they are literal, magical, or just a short-hand for being so weird that people can’t comprehend them in a normal way.

4th wall breaking or not, they are silly and people’s reactions to them are highly entertaining.

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Speaking of adorable, we see a lot more of Kokkuri-san in fox form, usually when he’s crying (to win an argument with Kohina). Kohina obviously likes this form as much as I do, and especially enjoys rubbing the fox’s paw pads. It’s all very awwwww! making.

More important than that though, this second form reinforces the idea that people (or, at least, this show’s characters) have multiple sides. Here, they are literal forms that represent a shift in the character’s personality: Kohina looks more natural* when she is actually feeling emotion and Kokkuri becomes an animal when he can not accomplish his task in a rational, adult like way.

It’s also illuminating that Kohina and Kokkuri’s alternate forms are used sparingly. In a way, I’m assuming the alternates represent their true forms, forms which neither is able to come to terms with yet…

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Then we meet Inugami, the ghost of a dog that was sacrificed to cast a curse. He’s a bit of a hentai, though it may be more accurate to say he’s obsessed with Kohina for showing him compassion while he was still alive.

Kokkuri is deeply distrustful of Inugami — and for good reason! This type of spirit brings its owner great fortune for a time but almost always snatches that fortune away by the end, which usually results in the owner’s demise…

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Inugami can change form too, though his cute form may be a response to Kokkuri doing it and less be a meaningful alternate. While Inugami is very pleasant to touch in this form — something that brings Kohina great pleasure — his personality remains mostly the same.

So Kokkuri-san puts him in a blender and grinds his spirit into burger meat. It’s gross but the pixelated censorship pattern makes it pretty funny. And, somewhat obviously, Inugami is a spirit and can’t be killed anyway.

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Which brings us to Inugami’s fourth form: a sexy female version of him/herself. Again, I’m get the feeling that, for all his/her forms, Inugami has no depth and no true alternate. He may pretend to have different emotions and motives, but he is actually quite true to himself and his real goal — his real feelings — are always plain as day to see.

Or maybe these forms are just shallow ways to reflect other people’s wants back at them? Kohina obviously likes the cute plushi form and, to a degree, Kokkuri-san is male and marginally responds better to the female form. At least, he doesn’t hit her with a frying pan or put her in a blender.

gks2_12…now where have I seen this particular gun recently?

Then Inugami and Kokkuri fight in Kohina’s yard. For her part, Kohina doesn’t enjoy their fighting, which I assume is because they aren’t paying attention directly to her. (even if they are fighting over her) So she ignores them and starts playing with a stray cat.

Both being canines, the fight ends quickly and they come to a very brief truce to chase the cat away.

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In the end, they bond over their innate sense of inferiority to cats. After all, cats score higher on google and get more cute videos and are just better pets anyway. (and a cat video has run after the credits of both episodes so far!)

Ultimately though, bonding isn’t enough and the only solution is to make Inugami sleep outside, which he/she agrees to do because Kohina built his dog house as a craft project for school.

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GK-s proudly shows off its witty, quick banter and simple but amusing visuals. It’s a treat in the simplest sense: little girls who can’t smle, ghosts who want to take care of them, and evil ghosts that are obsessed with them. its all very silly but it made me laugh as much, if not more, than any other show this week.

Why give it only an 8? Well… for starters, despite being fairly well drawn, GK-s is only a hair above generic. Likewise, the plot is fairly compact and most likely will follow a direct, predictable trajectory.

There’s nothing wrong with that! As I’ve said, GK-s is very funny. However, it deserves less than the complex, narrative-driven shows like Brilliant Park, which are equally funny and better drawn and feature characters and story with more potential.

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*natural, by anime terms.

Gugure! Kokkuri-san – 01

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A little girl summons Kokkuri-san, the fox spirit with a (Japanese Ouija board?) and, unexpectedly, Kokkuri arrives at her window. Then, in total dead-pan-mode, the little girl closes the window on him. Thus began Kokkuri’s bewildered relationship with an odd little girl and many somewhat humiliating scenarios.

Gugure! Kokkuri-san adds to this season’s already long list of shows that pull a great bait-and-switch, with it’s supernatural horror opening quickly and completely reforming into a comedy. And a great little witty comedy it is!

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See…Ichimatsu Kohina, the little girl, claims to be a doll. Energy efficient, unhindered by feelings good or bad and driven by a love of junk-food-style cup noodle, she utterly confuses Kokkuri. She is un-frightened and uninterested in his ability to answer questions (unless she’s making fun of his short comings).

Yet she lives alone in a huge, shrine-looking house, which also happens to be haunted.

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Appalled and lonely himself, Kokkuri barges in and takes up the challenge of fixing Ichimatsu. Or, at least, getting her to eat 3 meals a day with 50 ingredients minimum!

As they get to know each other, the become friends. Sort of. Ichimatsu has Kokkuri dragged off by the police for appearing naked when he was summoned from his bath and Kokkuri throws away all of Ichimatsu’s junk food in an attempt to make her a healthier person.

Perhaps it’s more accurate to say they become family, more than friends…

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Excuse me while I hang myself in shame…

Kokkuri-san is voiced by the Daisuke Ono, who voiced Handa in last season’s Barakamon. Ono won Best Voice Actor at the 4th Seiyu Awards and it’s clear why. Gugure! Kokkuri-san’s tight banter owes a so much to his precise comedic timing.

I love whoever is delivering Ichimatsu’s lines too. The understated robot-addicted-to insta-noodles routine is a bowl of chuckles. Likewise, the female narrator, who is used sparingly, lands many solid punches. it’s all very cute.

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Hmmm… guess we’ll learn more about this guy next episode?

Gugure! Kokkuri-san really captures the core of what made Barakamon so good: a child teaching an adult about life through clever, often embarrassing means. As with that show, our protagonist’s genders are opposed… though I don’t think Gugure! Kokkuri-san will entertain any romantic scenarios.

Will it have legs without the grounded villager cast of Barakamon? Hard to say. The opening and closing credits show many supernatural beings so I imagine there will be plenty of cast, effective or not.

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Gugure! Kokkuri-san is an adorable show. While I’m not sure it will manage to surpass the quality of Barakamon from last season, nor that other wayward god show from winter season, it has my attention now and MAN! It makes choosing my 5 shows to review this season even more challenging!

And that’s a challenge I’m quite happy to have.

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