Anime: Gugure! Kokkuri-san (Complete Series)
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: April 12, 2016
Retail Price: $59.98
In Gugure! Kokkuri-san, a girl named Kohina Ichimatsu lives in solitude with a claim that she’s actually a doll – who may also have a devout love for ramen. One day the “doll” decided to play a game known as Kokkuri-san and the result was the appearance of a fox apparition of the same name! The pair couldn’t be more different and Kokkuri-san decides he will step in and end the isolation that Kohina has experienced (though she says that she feels nothing.) The comedic dynamic between the pair is visible from the first few scenes of interaction setting things up for a worthwhile adventure of randomness that counteracts with perfection. The seemingly quiet life that Kohina had come to enjoy (if possible) officially comes to an end now that she has awoken the fox spirit.
Kokkuri-san is supposed to hold answers to questions that Kohari may have for the entity, but without the use of the internet the fox doesn’t really offer much in that category. The questions she actually seeks out are significant to the character herself when she wonders, “Is euthanasia a sin? and “What is ‘Clammbon?’” (an unknown character from ‘Yamanashi’ that is referred to but unseen.) He does however try to switch up patterns that Kohari found herself in, promising to cook her elaborate meals in place of her strange doll-diet. He decides that someone as petite and strange as Kohari requires his help – whether she really wants it or not. The series is packed with these unusual stories that show the pair react to each other in different circumstances.
Kohina is the character that I felt was the best example of a standout role, which is surprising because she’s meant to be so simple. There is a sense of irony that the emotionless character is the one who evokes the strongest reaction from a viewer’s perspective. Anytime a scene would be intended to illicit an emotional response, she would remind those watching that a doll has no need for emotion on any spectrum, trying to prove that she is what she claims. There are sporadic instances where you can tell she does experience something that is outside of her norm – but Kohina tries to keep is unknown to Kokkuri-san. Every “bland” quality that Kohina embodies is much more interesting than your average anime character, so you can prepare for a pleasant zany surprise.
Kokkuri enters the anime as a know-it-all, but as I addressed, the world has evolved to a point he no longer feels as relevant. Kohina makes light out of his displaced feeling, but it is very clear that it’s a comedic source of his own self image. For being a former worshiped god, he transitions to a fearful spirit at the sight of the adorable yet dangerous Kohina. His most admirable trait his his outright loyalty for Kohina, and devotion to looking out for the “stranger girl” who becomes like family after a short time. He’s an entertaining central character (and his name is even in the title) but the fact that he takes the backseat to Kohari is a parallel to the spirit of their relationship. Kokkuri, in addition to the other two spirits, claim to intend on possessing Kohina but you become fully aware that things often are opposite of what you’d expect in multiple ways.
When it comes to selecting a major genre for the anime, comedy is the biggest recurring theme in Gugure! Kokkuri-san. Kohina and Kokkuri play off each other’s insanely well timed humor with distinct differences that produce the same results. If you enjoy the interpersonal satire of the anime series (for Kohina and Kokkuri), then chances are you will be utterly amused by the comedy that doesn’t feel the need to introduce any fanservice or unlikable direction (but Kokkuri’s dog/black butler looking partner does get close). Some of the comedy takes notes from Japanese and American pop-culture, referencing series in Japan and other random inclusions, while sneaking in specific citations that some will catch. The strongest jocular role also went to Kohina (she’s just hilarious and basically perfect in the series.) for her effortless timing and peculiar ways of thinking. With that being said, all of the characters brought an individual and specific humour.
The artwork for Gugure! Kokkuri-san was something that I can admit I had reservations about at first glance. I didn’t find that initial visual draw-in that can create an initial spark in an anime, but that didn’t actually occur until a few minutes into the first episode. Kohina’s design strongly differs from the others to add that inhuman appearance, giving her room to be remembered. Her mannerisms only benefit the series, and her Japanese voice actor may just be one of my favorite in recent Japanese dubs i’ve watched. She completely perfected the character’s overarching attitude with Kokkuri being more bold and rather ;oud. By the end of the series I must admit that I enjoyed myself with the bizarre story of a doll and a fox spirit. It sounds like a series that most would skip, but it’s a new favorite comedy series of mine and I definitely recommend you check it out on DVD and Blu-ray now, from Sentai Filmworks!
Overall Score: 8/10
Aedan’s Final Thoughts:
– I’ve said it countless times but Kohina is a brilliant character to introduce, finding the astonishing mixture of average and extremely unique.
– The dog (man/woman) was amusing, but was also the main pathway to include a few of the traditional awkward anime traits.
– The episode that paired a female Kokkuri-san and Shigaraki to be one of the most unexpected and amusing episodes.
-Shigaraki was a character who played a smaller role with a much larger impact.
– I found the series to be a pleasantly entertaining surprise.