Post Reply Gugure! Kokkuri-san
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Posted 12/17/14
by moonhawk81

Gugure! Kokkuri-san is the story of a girl and her ghosts, and began as an ongoing four-panel manga serialized in Gangan Joker since 2011. Studio TMS Entertainment has provided the anime version currently airing on Tokyo TV and simulcast on Crunchyroll on Sundays at 2:05PM CST.

A girl and her ghosts? Well, yes. Kohina Ichimatsu is an elementary school student who mysteriously lives alone in her family home. Her lack of human interaction at home seems to have stunted her social abilities, and she has no one whom she calls a friend. She does, however, call herself a doll as a way to both acknowledge and explain her lack of emotional engagement with others. After all, dolls only react to people when forcibly moved, and offer no participation of their own. She herself says, "Dolls feel nothing." In fact, the only love Kohina displays is for cup noodles, considering herself both a collector and connoisseur.

One day Kohina plays a game to summon Kokkuri-san, a fox spirit. It is alleged that to play this game alone is to risk being haunted by the summoned spirit, but Kohina has no friends with whom to play. And so she finds herself face-to-face with her first spirit, whom she promptly locks out of the house. One broken window and an eye jab later, Kokkuri-san has decided that he cannot abandon this lonely child to her unhealthy lifestyle, and decides to haunt her as a guardian spirit. (He is especially moved because of memories of her visiting his fallen shrine.) He begins cooking real meals for Kohina and keeping the house properly, all of which she tolerates until Kokkuri-san returns all of her cup noodles to the store. At the loss of the only thing she truly loves, Kohina snaps and tries to cut off Kokkuri-san's ears and tail for punishment and recompense, finally driving him away. Her resulting sadness at his absence is what prompts his return, and they settle into an odd little family. (If we stopped here, we could almost have a ghostly little Usagi Drop.)

But Kohina's haunting by one spirit seems to attract others, and the household promptly grows. Next to arrive is Inugami, a dog spirit who remembers Kohina as the only person to show any tenderness towards the abandoned puppy that he was. Inugami died before becoming aware of gender, and so does not really remember if he is male or female. He normally takes the form of a lithe young man, but also frequently assumes female form. Kohina had held him briefly in his mortal life, so he interprets love and tenderness as being physical. Either that, or he's just a pervert with a thing for young girls. Whichever is the case, his appeals for physical affection are often quite sexual in nature, and he constantly speaks of marriage between Kohina and himself. A tanuki spirit in the form of a mendicant monk soon joins the group, replacing Kohina's cup noodles with his sake and cigarettes as the new household health issues. But ill omen that he might be, Shigaraki has a soft spot for Kohina, and offers her counsel and protection.

And she needs protection, as all manner of beings begin to take an interest in Kohina, from a bloodthirsty cyclops to a schoolyard bully, from a domineering cat spirit to a fearsome tengu. Kokkuri-san might wish he had not succumbed to Kohina's tears and returned (of course, the fact that she had him arrested so quickly after his return should have given him a clue!). Kohina might yet need that doll facade.

This has become one of my favorite shows this season. The characters are well-developed and vibrant, seeming sometimes ready to spill out of the screen. The artwork changes style according to mood, unobtrusively sharpening the viewer's focus. And two very distinct runs of humor are present, one more obvious and often physical, while the other is rather subdued and dry in what I can only term the best British sense. And on top of all that, it's fluffy! What more could you want?
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