KOKKOKU – Anime Preview
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Synopsis: It’s 6:59 forever…The members of the Yukawa family inherit Statis spell, the power to stop time.The members of the Yukawa family are able to enter the Stasis, a world where everything has stopped, when they use their power.One day, Juri’s nephew and brother get kidnapped. In order to rescue them, Grandpa uses Statis spell, but they get suddenly attacked by other people who are still able to move. (Official Amazon Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Kokkoku is no looker. It’s rough, understandably so as it’s the first animated production from Geno Studio (although they did do some work on the Genocidal Organ film.) There’s stilted character movement, poor CGI-blending and other deficiencies that keep Kokkoku from being anything close to eye pleasing. There’s other issues with the production too, namely the background music. Certain tracks are wonderful, perfectly capturing the eerie atmosphere that the anime is going for. Other times it crosses a line from eerie to just plain strange, or even off-putting. Writing wise the series is a bit uneven too. We start with a flash of the series’ supernatural elements, most likely there to keep audiences aware of what’s coming up. It’s so contextless though that it feels singular in its purpose, and near forgettable. From there we jump hard into character introductions and world building. It’s hamfisted as characters spew thinly veiled chunks of exposition to help define the state of the family’s situation. It’s not the worst we’ve seen, that still goes to this season’s favorite punching bag Record of Grancrest War (I promise I’ll stop beating up on that show, I promise.) but it’s still fairly weak. Things pick up however and ramp up quickly as two of the family’s members are abducted and held for ransom, leading us to the series shift towards its more supernatural, psychological, and mystery elements.
Linny: Besides the hamfisted narration, the episode also suffers extremely from on the nose thematic imagery for when the uncle and nephew are abducted. As the two are pulled into a van we cut to a spider’s web over the shot as we view the van drive away. It makes me concerned that Kokkoku might continue to be blatantly obvious with its thematic metaphors and messages. Some of the stranger music choices were a bit of an issue for me as well and something that made the show feel unsettled and jumbled, like it wasn’t certain exactly what vibe it is going for. Also apart from the stilted animation, the art style itself is a bit peculiar and while not out and out ugly, could take some getting used to. But despite all these minor complaints, there is still plenty to grip you. First off, the episode moves pretty fast for better or worse once it is done with set up, thus ensuring that audiences get sucked in. Also, for now, the show does a good job of balancing the supernatural powers of its protagonists, making it all the more gripping to watch them face down with the villains.
Tom: Once we get to the meat of things is really when Kokkoku gets interesting. As Juri Yukawa, the hardworking daughter of the family, panics on how to save her nephew and NEET brother, her deadbeat father, Takafumi, tries to take control of the ransom situation. Jiisan, the grandfather, then offers up a big reveal that turns an already tense situation on its head. Tons of questions are raised as Jiisan reveals the family’s power to stop time. It’s a bit sudden, but still offers a lot of intrigue and mystery. Couple that with a host of flawed characters and the series seems ripe for revelations, character development and more.
Linny: I especially find it interesting that our lead Juri, or at least the girl that seems to be the lead based off promotional images, isn’t made very likeable. She’s a bit selfish, critical and sarcastic towards her family members, who are of course very flawed themselves, but it makes her stand out from the bevy of self sacrificing beacons of virtue that anime leads can often be.
Tom: Despite a rough first ten minutes, Kokkoku offers a lot to pull you in and keep you interested, at least for episode 2. I don’t know exactly where the series is heading, as I’m unfamiliar with the manga, but if the series can be more like the back half of this first episode than the rough opening ten minutes, I think Kokkoku is something worth following through the Winter season.
Linny: If you can sit through some slapped on and overbearing exposition, Kokkoku eventually molds itself into a promising watch, though it still has some flaws that could ultimately become deal breakers, such as the in-your-face thematic imagery and animation issues. However, it manages to weave an intriguing set up with its time stopping mechanic and has characters that are unique thanks to their flaws that could all combine to make for a show that’s action packed and gripping.
Kokkoku is available for streaming via Amazon Video.