Punchline – 02

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First, the good news: Punchline doesn’t belabor its admittedly dumb “guy gains power by looking at panties” concept; in fact, he doesn’t blow up the Earth once this week! Instead, there was quite a bit of halfway-decent world-building in play this week, with the world in question being Korai House, which feels like a purgatory where its tenants are safe from the harsh reality of the outside world.

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The bad news is that Chiranousuke the cat’s perverted character is already played out, because he’s little more than a font of exposition and lame boob jokes. Also, Yuuta has very little to do this week, and while I like the fact the show feels it doesn’t need to rely on its protagonist to carry and episode, nearly excising him from just the second episode when we barely knew him was a risk. I’m not sure it totally paid off, but I appreciate the fact such a risk was made.

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Mikatan acts as a kind of a cupid of cheer this week, even as she rushes to switch off the TV when her super-heroic alter ego is being interviewed. Here at Korai House, her heroism is limited to offering apple pie, cinnamon, and understanding to Lovera, who is depressed about being a fake exorcist who doesn’t even believe in spirits.

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Despite this, she wants to carry on her family legacy. And while spirit-Yuuta doesn’t do much, he does manage to break a vase Lovera was trying to get the spirit she thinks is there to break. We also get a flashback similar to the one in which he met Mikatan, in which we learn that Yuuta’s sister was once a tenant too, which is how he knew and became pretty close to Lovera. Not romantically, mind you (there’s a clear age difference), but as a little brother-slash-shoulder to cry (or complain) on.

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As Yuuta floats about unseen and unheard, the girls unite in the room of Ito, who despite several increasingly desperate and funny attempts to do so, is unable to conceal the fact she’s harboring a rescue bear cub, in violation of Korai House’s no-pets policy. Meika is ready to throw the book at Ito, but Mika and Lovera talk her down, convincing her to allow further investigation of said abandoned bear prior to summary judgment.

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After the confrontation in Ito’s room, Mika joins Meika on the roof (where Yuuta is also hanging out) and ponders why Ito is a hermit who no longer goes to school. We then flash back to Yuuta playing a video game and then hearing someone shouting next door as he’s beaten, confirming that the person who beat him is in fact his neighbor Ito. Her truancy has afforded her ample time to get very good at MMOs.

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This is my favorite Yuuta flashback, because he neither bumped into Ito nor knew her through his older sister. Rather, the two met each other through an activity they mutually enjoy, and sensing she was in need of a little escape, showed her a beautiful secret place in the game even she didn’t know about. He’s not able to say much without being branded “insensitive”, but he was able to do something that put a smile on her face.

Then Mika (and we) learn what he knows from Meika: that her father is a powerful politician who essentially disowned her because she was a liability. Furthermore, even as her neighbors plan a party to cheer her up, she appears on an online New Year’s list of “victims,” making us curious as to what “craziness” exactly went down at school to cause her to stop going.

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Punchline – 01 (First Impressions)

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Sakamichi no Apollon. Zankyou no Terror. Shingeki no Bahamut. GARO. All shows from the Maruyama Animation Produce Project Association, or MAPPA. All regarded by RABUJOI staffers as well worth the effort of watching them.

Which brings us to Punchline. Despite knowing nothing about it going in, I knew it probably wouldn’t be crap, because nothing from MAPPA has been crap. Disappointing or inconsistent in parts, perhaps? Sure. But each of those other shows also had sparks of true greatness that again, made us glad we tuned in.

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In the first five minutes, our ignorance of what Punchline is about was thoroughly washed away, and the protagonist Yuuta gains superpowers and saves a bus full of people, along with the two young women who were trying to save said bus. And how do those powers awaken, you might ask? When he sees a woman’s panties. That’s right: his powers turn on…when he turns on. Which…I’m not going to lie, is kinda dumb. BUT.

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Fortunately, fanservice and sophomoric hero dynamics aren’t all Punchline has to offer. Right after saving that bus, the bad guy possesses his body and kicks his spirit—everything that makes Yuuta Yuuta—out, leaving him a roaming, body-less spirit.

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Even so, his powers are still activated by the sight of panties, but if he gets too turned on, he ends up incinerating the Earth. Ask me how I know all this (yes, it was a talking cat…why the heck wouldn’t it be?) The cat is able to turn back time and un-destroy the world, so Yuuta has a second chance to look for a book that will help him get his body back.

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He does so by searching his apartment building, which is naturally populated by a colorful mess of comely females: the pink-haired idol Narugino Mikatan (Amamiya Sora), the layabout blonde glasses girl Hikotani Ito (Kotobuki Minako), the brunette gadget girl Daihatsu Meika (Kugimiya Rie), and the green-haired spiritual medium Lovera (or Rabera) Chichibu (Tomatsu Haruka).

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Interestingly, Yuuta himself is voiced by a female, namely Inoue Marina (whom I know best as Zetsubou-sensei’s Kitsu Chiri). That’s one strong voice cast, and they all excel at bringing their distinctively-designed charges to life. None of them can see him, but Lovera can sorta detect him, being a medium and all. We’ll see how he ends up reconnecting with them.

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Still, even she doesn’t detect him this week. Instead, Yuuta resolves not to get to excited and re-destroy the earth, and meanwhile Meika scours the news for bad guys doing bad stuff and sends out Mikatan in her alter ego as superheroine “Strange Orange.”

Her maho-shojo-style transformation scene is nicely subverted by a picture-in-picture showing what’s actually going on: that she’s just doing an awkward little dance and has to put on her costume the old-fashioned way. That means disrobing in front of Yuuta, who somehow manages to suppress an apocalyptic reaction.

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The anointment of powers on Yuuta through means that ensure a steady dose of ecchi will pervade Punchline is mitigated by the fact that other than his heroic bus act he doesn’t have that dominating a role in this episode, despite the fact he’s in almost every frame. He’s an inert observer, watching a side of his neighbors he never knew. I also enjoyed all the various elaborate ways his nose ended up bleeding. There’s quite  a bit of appealing Kill la Kill zaniness to the animation in general.

There’s also  whole double-edged sword of those powers of his, which demand a certain degree of moderation and restraint—a lesson I hope Punchline will take to heart. When he does blow up the world a second time, before the very cute (and non-ecchi) credits roll—it’s not because he perversely seeks out girls’ panties, but simply the fact that a “Chekhov’s loose thread” in Meika’s knit dress gets caught in Mikatan’s motorcycle, causing it to rapidly unravel. IT COULD HAPPEN TO ANYBODY.

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Kyoukai no Rinne – 01 (First Impressions)

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Sakura-chan is a freshman who can see ghosts. Rokudou is the frequently absent student who sits next to her in class. He’s poor and can turn invisible to everyone except Sakura when he wants to.

Together, they resolve small time between the living and the dead.

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The premier introduces us to Rokudou’s weird life, which includes sending a gigantic Chihuahua to the afterlife while only Sakura can see them in in the middle of home room.

Later, they exercise a fellow student’s cell phone, which is being called by a 7-years-dead student who they discover was a classmate with their homeroom teacher and died before he could get his beloved track suit back behind the gym and… and the whole story plays like a run on sentence.

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All the elements of humor are here: the weirdness, the Sabagebu style narrator, the misbehavior only one character can see being done in front of (or to) her friends. Unfortunately, it’s not very funny.

There’s no punch to joke delivery or the micro-drama. There’s barely any sound design (let alone music) playing behind it too. KnR is just a quiet, mildly weird, string of stuff happening inoffensively for 24 minutes.

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It actually reminds me of community theatre, in that budget stage work often involves an actor to be on stage where we can see them, even when the other actors must portray characters who can not. We see Rokudou, as Sakura does, and their is no special effect to visually separate his spirit-state that makes him invisible to the other students.

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You may like it: if you set your expectations low. The humor really is here, it’s just so dead pan and the characters are played so unemotionally, that I found it hard to laugh with OR at.

You may want to skip it: because it’s unremarkable on every level. KnR is not ugly, but plain and discount quality animation and has no audio presence. It’s not dull either, or not funny. Rather, the lack of excitement and simplicity of the visual elements snubs the delivery.

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I’m definitely not going to follow this show but I am curious: was this a manga that converted very poorly to Anime? Or am I totally missing something that should make this special?

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Gugure! Kokkuri-san – 09

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Gugure! Kokkuri-san sees a rather quiet week. No one new is added to the cast and none of the central cast see much development. Kohina and Kokkuri-san’s relationship in particular has taken the back burner, which is kinda a let down.

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The run down: Kokkuri-san thinks he’s balding even though he’s probably shedding and freaks out. The result is over-use of hair-grow tonic and a giant puffy mess. Later, Inugami is bored and ultimately realizes no one cares about him. So he runs away for good. (maybe)

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The good: Giant, fluffy Kokkuri-san is adorable, the weird happy cat-cameos were amusing, and Inugami running away at least did something for the narrative. (even if he will obviously return in next week’s episode)

This episode also had a strong visual style. Not only were many of the characters exaggerated (giant fluff fox, tanuki in a wig and school girl outfit) the framing and positioning of the characters was more playful, and often aligned to emphasize Kohina’s size in the world. The adults are taller and break out of the frame above her, while the animal forms are close like imaginary friends or stuffed animals. It’s very charming.

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My favorite moment is when Kohina reads Inugami’s run away letter, which is an obvious ploy to get the household to come after him, and somehow identifies it as a fake that implies he’s been kidnapped. It’s a cute, if not totally bizarre event. I only wish the episode had done something with it…

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The not as good: nothing stood out this week. Worse things can be said about a show but everything leading up to the final line of narration was a rehash of previous stories and themes, gently inflated to be more extreme.

Kokkuri-san’s hair falls out in greater quantity, Kokkuri’s counter measures result in a bigger mess, Kohina ignores everyone to a greater extreme, and Shigaraki’s heart of gold comes through ever so slightly more.

None of these things are exciting and Kokkuri’s balding freak out is only funny at the end when he turns into a puff ball. ho-hum?

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The verdict: At its core, GKs is a show about 4 room mates hanging around the house making fun of each other. 2 room mates have one-sided crushes on other room mates, 1 character is a perv with a heart of gold, the oldest character is wracked with stress over aging and losing his beauty, etc. If you strip away the japanese spirit motif painted over it’s surface, GKs just isn’t that original.

So, even though I recommend watching GKs, if you haven’t already started, there are plenty of similar shows that are funnier anime you could look into.

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Gugure! Kokkuri-san – 08

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Gugure! Kokkuri-san picks up more or less where it left off last week. Kokkuri-chan is a woman, Shigaraki is head over heels drunk in lust with her, and no one else really cares.

I probably shouldn’t be so surprised that Gugure! Kokkuri-san carried this theme over from last week. This show has been all about its consistent, evolving, development driven plot after all. However, for some reason, I just expected Ono to be back voicing a male Mister Fox, with no real explanation.

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I couldn’t find who voiced Kokkuri-chan, but the voice sounded vaguely like Club President Miou from Sabagebu!, which I’m very okay with. Whoever it was, she captured Kokkuri-chan’s slightly timid, flustered voice very well, which worked well and really made me empathize with the character. (YES PRESTON I HAVE EMPATHY!)

I guess I would have been more impressed if the voice was done by Ono, or the show runners had found someone who could capture an Ono in female tones. Maybe I’m asking for too much but Ono has a very specific pentameter and a sort of dryness to his pallet that is very specific. (It’s almost like he has a perpetual summer cold).

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Understandably, Kokkuri is not especially interested in staying a woman. Knowing this, and knowing he can exploit the situation, Shigaraki wins some tickets to a hot spring in a town that is rumored to have a curse-breaking-hot spring.

Kohina implies that Shigaraki spent almost all his allowance on the lottery in order to win the tickets. So it seems like Shigaraki may be doing this as much because he really is a friend to Kokkuri-san as he is a lecher. He did save Kohina from the spirit and get a nasty scar after all…but I’m not really sure. Shigaraki’s pretty lusty and it’s a perfect setup for some ogling and heavy petting.

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So it’s going to be a hot spring episode, which I guess makes sense for the middle season, even if it does feel a bit out of left field. We get plenty of the things you’d expect: well drawn bodies, skin, decent angles, conventional girl-on-girl boob feeling and peeping-tom jokes.

It’s cliché but harmless by most standards. In fact, I’m almost willing to give the show extra credit for playing with the conventions: the girls are wearing Bikini’s because they know Shigaraki will peep, by girls I actually mean mature Women, and we can’t forget that two of them are basically male in female form.

The whole thing is reminiscent of 4Chan dare to fap games… which I’m not going to explain in any greater detail than that :(

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On the topic of unexplained, Yomomoto the alien and Tama the cat god are both in this episode because why not? When you have a big cast of one-off characters, making fun of their continued reappearance without context can be a joke in and of itself. Almost.

To be fair, I did enjoy Kohina, Inugami and Kokkuri’s conversation after running into Yomomoto in the hall. There’s something honestly funny about the characters not knowing which one of them is supposed to be friends with the alien. Everyone assumed it was Kohina, since she’s in his class, but she insists the alien likes Kokkuri… who doesn’t really like him back.

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It’s cute and works well enough. Certainly Yomomoto works better than Tama being there. Tama doesn’t even have jokes to tell or to be told about or anything. She’s just there for a bath, to fight with Inugami once, and provide a pair of legs and boobs.

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As for the primary lot and character developments? In between fine meals and baths Shigaraki… takes Kokkuri-chan to more baths. They play a carnival style shooting game and win prizes and have a bit of fun with each other but nothing brings Kokkuri closer to being male again, which is obviously the point.

That’s not really a complaint — these characters have good chemistry. Kokkuri is so feminine to begin with, and all his/her demands to be self reliant and stand offish and vulnerability just entice Shigaraki more.

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The best moment shows us that Kokkuri is so much smaller than he/she’s used to, he/she can’t even carry the bags of prizes they won at the shooting range. However he won’t let Shigaraki carry them for him. So Shigaraki picks Kokkuri up instead.

Then they kiss and turn back into men.

Without that resolve, which deliciously pokes fun at true love’s kiss as a convention, it would have been decent but typical. With the resolve, and the narration that this brutal resolve was the intent of Kohina’s ancestors, who appear to be a bunch of malicious prankster jerks, I was sold.

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So, basically, this week’s entire joke structure revolves around Kokkuri-san already being a woman. In fact, Kokkuri notes that he stopped transforming into a woman ages ago even though he loves house work, cooking, and skin care products because men couldn’t leave him alone.

I suppose everyone’s response to him as a her is as cliché (or at least as predictable) as it was in his other gender. Still, I can’t help but agree with Kohina-chan. I’d find Kokkuri-san more interesting as an actual woman…

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Gugure! Kokkuri-san – 07

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Gugure! Kokkuri-san episode 7 introduces Tama the Cat God, who owns a Japanese Café called Nennekotei. It only has a 1 star online rating and she’s obsessed with dolls, which means Kohina-chan is all she has eyes for and, when it hits the fan, Kokkuri-san has nothing to take away from her.

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Obviously Tama snatches Kohina and hides in the cafe and Kohina’s trio of spiritscan not break through the barrier. Fear not! Kohina escapes on her own and I’m sure we’ll see Tama in future episodes…

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Then Kokkuri-san opens a box that has many warnings written on it and is turned into a woman. Kohina is upset because Kokkuri-san’s only notable feature is that he’s a man that does house work, which is sad.

Regardless, the episode doesn’t change him back.

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This week’s most out of context came during Tama’s cafe scenes, where the Halloween horror movie theme was playing totally out of place with the otherwise, non-horror moment. Not exactly non-horror I guess — Tama’s place is inexplicably a spirit nightmare setting, not unlike Kohina-chan’s place in the opening of the first episode but kinda weird choice all the same?

Over all it was a cute episode of G!Ks. Nothing special, exactly. Just a few good jokes and a new character with a straight forward reason to be connected with Kohina.

Carry on…

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Gugure! Kokkuri-san – 06

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Gugure! Kokkuri-san episode 6 was an odd duck, structurally. No! No! It was fine to watch and there’s nothing to complain about. I just don’t know what to make of the 4-minute plot extension thread that happened after the credits.

The extension’s content isn’t even outside the normal scope of the show’s style or subject. It just happens AFTER the credits, instead of AFTER an act-break-card.

Weird, right?

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So Act 1 is about Kohina becoming able to see spirits and finding a little winged eyeball that she turns into a pet. Except that’s really not what it’s about. Rather, it’s about Shigaraki actually having a moral center or, at least, mild compassion for Kohina-chan.

See, the spirit drinks Kohina’s blood and loses it’s ability to live with humans. Specifically, it’s going to cut her up and eat her in her sleep. That’s strongly implied anyway.

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Kokkuri-san splits in two so he can pitch himself the eyeball AND hit it into the atmosphere, thus Kohina keeps the eyeball’s return secret. She even gets Shigaraki to keep the eyeball a secret, which is the first sign that he maybe kinda sorta can care for others.

Later, as he see’s the spirit get more and more dangerous, he destroys it and removes Kohina’s ability to see spirits at all.

His reward? Kohina admits she was just keeping the eyeball around to eat as a Ramen topping…

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The post-credits plot is about Kokkuri-san and Inugami fighting in Inugami’s dog house. Inugami admits to hating everything in the world except Kohina-chan. He even hates himself.

Though, I suppose, he also likes coffee?

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Episode 6 definitely hit a stride, humor-wise. I found it regularly funny on all fronts, from all characters. I also greatly greatly appreciated Shigaraki getting some character development. Without that, I was worried that he’d start to really annoy me on the cast.

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Otherwise? Gugure! Kokkuri-san is just a solid, mostly self-contained show. I don’t think it will ever get a rating higher than 8. It isn’t unique enough or beautiful enough or touching enough for that. Not from what I’ve seen so far.

But just being “very good” is far far far away from being remotely bad. Happy watching fellow foxes! Woof!

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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.

8_ogk

*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.

8_ogk tbd_ogk