Juri Yukawa's brother and nephew are kidnapped, but Juri's grandfather has what he thinks is an ace in the hole- by using a magic stone, he's able to take himself, Juri, and Juri's dad into an alternate reality in which everyone but themselves is in "Stasis" (apparently frozen in time.) Juri wonders why they've been singled out for kidnapping, since the family's not rich; but it might be because of that very "trick" Grandpa uses...
There's an episode of the original (1960's) Outer Limits called "The Premonition" that had a similar gimmick to this one- in other words, its protagonists occupied a timeline in which normal reality looked "frozen", the show's action all taking place in much less than a moment of "our" time. One interesting difference between the Outer Limits take on this and Kokkoku is that in the Outer Limits version objects and people in "normal" (apparently "frozen") reality could NOT be moved or manipulated by the protagonists in their alternate reality, while in Kokkoku they can. This raises the interesting issue (which I'm afraid the current show largely dodges) of what people in "normal" reality make of objects and people instantly appearing, disappearing, or shifting location; Kokkoku is almost entirely focused on the action in the- uh- altered state.
It seems that access to the show's alt-reality (might as well call it that) is through possession of individuals by glowing, multi-tentacled entities our cast call "jellyfish". The "jellyfish" do have at least some wills of their own- they're not passive agents that humans can completely control; the stone just serves as a conduit permitting their entry into humans. This does open any humans using their access to this dimension to certain hazards. For one thing, the "jellyfish" may suddenly abandon a human, throwing them back into the "normal" timestream. But, much worse, they might arbitrarily decide to turn a human into a "Herald" (AKA "Handler"), a treelike being with a penchant for brutally killing any human in alt-reality who tries to kill someone in "frozen" (normal) reality.
The "jellyfish" are said to have a fondness for the Yukawa family, though not all members of Juri's family seem worthy of this devotion. Juri, sure; she's the responsible one, a university senior trying to find a job so she can support her family- who are mostly NOT responsible AT ALL. Granted, we have Grandpa, who's gruff but at least willing to do whatever's necessary to protect his kin. But Juri's adult brother Tsubasa (age 31!) just sits at home playing video games, and complains if asked by Juri to perform even the simplest family obligations. He's also slow on the uptake (as in, very, not just "a little"), but at least he's not really a bad sort, I suppose. But his and Juri's dad, Takafumi, is, alas, a total loser. If Dad ever HAD an ethical compass, it lost its bearings long ago. He's a self-serving schemer, an unscrupulous buffoon very much in the mold of Dr. Smith in the original Lost In Space TV series. I was actually hoping he WOULD be turned into a Herald, so he'd be at least some good for SOMETHING. But maybe even the jellyfish don't want him.
There's also Juri's sister Sanae, of whom we're told she doesn't know who her son's father is. (There are TESTS for that sort of thing, I believe?) In any event, Sanae herself is seen (twice, and just barely), but NOT heard, in the show. But Sanae's son Makoto is that nephew of Juri's who was kidnapped, and he's a good kid, as evidenced by the fact that he's given a superpower in alt-reality, just like the other two "good" characters Grandpa and Juri. (More on this later.)
Let's present the bad guys. There's a young woman named Shoko Majima who's hanging with the baddies, but has her own agenda. (This show is FILLED with people with their own agendas; more on THAT later too.) At least one of the WORSE bad guys expects a certain form of payment from her for his assistance, in a line that's definitely Not For Children. (Her response was pretty well done for an off-the-cuff reply to such an outrageously offensive proposition.) Those Worse Bad Guys include some hired thugs (like our crude propositioner), but also include some "true believers" in a cult called the Genuine Love Society, led by one Junji Sagawa, who's another one who's got another of those self-serving agendas, which he carefully hides from his followers. (This show finally deals with its main villain in a rather unusual way- I'll give it points for that.)
But Juri… well, poor Juri, she has an ability that makes her kind of a god in this world; a god who can save everyone...
...except one. The last episode of the show is incredibly poignant. I'm glad Juri's character is older than a typical anime heroine- I just couldn't even imagine a teenager in this sort of situation.
My usual miscellaneous observations:
- I HATED the opening song, which is sorta hip-hop fused with techno.
-How on Earth could they be sure the Herald they were trying to catch was the right one? There may well have been others, yet they score a triple play (so to speak) their first time at bat.
-How DO you keep track of time in a world where neither the sun, nor clocks, appear to change?
This gets better as it gets stranger, somehow. The show's pathos surprised me, but maybe things aren't as hopeless as they might seem late in the show- judging from my rating! — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: Juri is used for some fanservice in the show and in the closing credits, and the thugs employed by Sagawa are as into physical (and sexual) violence as you might fear. (One of their attempts to murder Juri is pretty disturbing to watch.) Right Stuf rates the Blu-Ray 17+.
Version(s) Viewed: Streaming on Amazon Prime
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Kokkoku © 2018 Geno Studio
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