This is review number four hundred and twenty nine. This anime is part of the Fall 2014 lineup, and it’s called Gugure Kokuri-san. It’s a twelve episode anime about a handsome fox spirit that hangs around a little girl. It’s not what you think, unless you think the show is pure fujoshi bait. Then yeah, you’re right. Let’s just read on.
The anime follows a girl named Kohina who summoned a fox spirit while playing Kokuri. She actually summoned Kokuri-san, and the spirit decided to stay with her after realizing she lives a lonely life. Kohina fancies herself as a robot, but the weirdness doesn’t really end with her. Coupled with a dog spirit that wants her sexually, a tanuki that likes to sexually harass people, and even an alien, this show is certainly going to be rowdy one.
Taking the Pants Off
I do not like this anime. Yeah, I’ve been putting off doing this review for a long time now because I just can’t gather enough enthusiasm to talk about the show. It’s not a bad show, but it’s a very alienating one. The Comedy genre already functions on a very subjective barrier, where most jokes would only work on most people, so this show is already tough to like. Its brand of Comedy isn’t really for me, so it was tough marathoning a show that just doesn’t appeal to you. But, you know what, I’m TPAB, damn it, I’ll feign enthusiasm and just get this sh*t over with. Now, this anime is alienating on two aspects. First of all, the comedy doesn’t really work for me. More importantly, this anime caters to specific audience. It focuses on a core group of people that I personally can never understand. I just don’t function like them, and that’s alright. We all have our weird sh*t. Now, I’ve put off doing this review mainly because I wanted to re-organize my thoughts about this show. You see, my first impression of the anime is that it caters to a “fujoshi that does not take a bath”. That’s really where my mind went, and I know it sounds extremely insulting but that’s the vibe this anime gives off. It’s unapologetically honing in on what an unwashed fujoshi would like. Gawd almight, it just doesn’t sound right and I apologize. Ok, f*ck it. Let’s start here. Let’s expand on what a “fujoshi that doesn’t take a bath” actually means.
Yes, They Don’t Take Baths
Honestly, the idea of a creep not taking a bath is basically a general description for an otaku. They’re so consumed with their hobby that they become undesirable to society. That’s why otaku is a negative term, and that’s why most people are pissed off when westerners use the word without knowing its true meaning. Granted, the meaning of a word changes over time, but still, I remember this multilingual idiot that works at this fancy company really introducing the term to the western world and tries to make it cool. For context, imagine going to Taiwan and seeing students wear Nazi uniforms and goose stepping. That sh*t exist (link here) and now you’re in the same boat as someone that truly understands what the term otaku means on both sides. You know it as a reminder of fascism and a dark page in human history, but nope, it’s also a fashion statement for young kids of Asia. Are they wrong for adapting the imagery into a fashion statement? No, as much as it isn’t wrong for westerners to adapt the term otaku and making it cool. Ok, f*ck, what does this dribble have to do with Gugure Kokuri-san?
Nothing. I just really hate it when people use the term otaku. Like, for gawd sakes, stop it.
But anyways, let’s focus on the term fujoshi. According to this site HERE, fujoshi is “a self-mockingly pejorative Japanese term for female fans of manga and novels that feature romantic relationships between men”. Fujoshi enjoy imagining what it would be like if male characters from manga and anime, and occasionally real-life male performers as well, loved each other.” It doesn’t really stop at yaoi fans, or fans of boy’s love, because the term basically umbrellas the shippers of this world. Yes, shipping fans. That’s one demographic that I don’t really get and I can never understand them. Now, yaoi or shounen ai I can love, because it’s basically romance between two dudes. That’s honestly part of my reality, so I am exposed to it. But shipping fans are totally alien to me. You’ll attack me for pairing two fictional people? Why? Is there a secret game of tag where you win money by attacking fans and their ships? This is really what I mean by an unwashed fujoshi, total creeps that I just do on understand. Hey, no offense to the rabid fujoshi of the world, but y’all are insane. Yknow what’s even more insane? Some anime cater to this specific group of people. It’s kinda weird that some studios, and mangaka in general, would feed the flame of these rabid fans. The most famous example of a show that caters to a shipping fujoshi would be that show about the Axis powers but it’s turned into a cute anime about anthropomorphic countries. Yes, Hetalia.
Hetalia has no romance. Everything about it is implied, because the author knows the fans will do the rest. As a social studies teacher, I also hate Hetalia on principle. How it got popular, I’ll never understand. But, the appeal of Hetalia is to get the shippers to ship and get their active brains going. They imagine a lot of weird sh*t for their pairings, and they just sail off with it. If you watch Hetalia, it’s really just a stupid comedy about Germany and Italy’s fascism told in a cute way. Yeah, because the holocaust was such a fun time for everyone. The fact that the cast is all male, are subtly attracted to each other, and comes off as fan service would really escape you. Normal audiences won’t get the true appeal of Hetalia unless you hang around with the aforementioned fujoshi that doesn’t take a bath. The potential to ship characters is basically what makes Hetalia such a fun show. Considering it’s only three minutes per episode, I doubt the jokes really land. No, the joke is that fans of GermanyxItaly are ready to kill fans of GermanyxJapan because that’s just how weird this whole process is.
Ok, please understand that “fujoshi that doesn’t take a bath” is just my shorthand for this specific type of fujoshi. I know the term is funny and offensive, and that’s really the point. I like yaoi too, but I don’t really classify with shippers. I don’t get the appeal of it. Now, we’ve already established that a fan’s active imagination will really do all the legwork in an anime like Hetalia. We just need to establish the small details for them to pick up the scent. I’d like to mention Black Butler in this topic as well. I haven’t seen the show in a long time, but I do remember two things about it. One, Sebastian is a smexy guy that serves Ciel faithfully. Two, Ciel wearing that gothic Lolita dress is now an iconic moment of the show. Oh, it had a story? Really? Because I’ve heard nothing but a lot of GrellxSebastian fans ruining the show for me. Like, really, I just do not get it. But, this is what we’re working with. These shows are not yaoi, they’re subtle and they trigger a specific core audience. Now, does Gugure Kokuri-san file under these kinds of anime? Let’s see…
Sebastian is a loyal servant that is homely and attractive. Oh, like Kokuri-san:
The cast are all male and they subtly act as if attracted to each other. Oh, yeah, we have those too:
Ciel in a gothic Lolita outfit?
Seriously, this anime isn’t even being subtle. Of course, this anime is for the fujoshi of the world. My misunderstood peers, and that’s really my review of the show. I nailed it, didn’t I? To hammer the point home, why not watch the OP sequence and see if your fujoshi alarm bells are triggered by the subtle hints. Yep, this world is a sin.
Ok. OK. This anime isn’t just pure fujoshi trash, because it’s also a comedy. This anime is about a small girl that summoned Kokuri-san, a fox spirit that haunts anyone that plays the Kokuri game. When he discovers the girl is weird and a recluse, he decided to stay and take care of her. This anime is all about situational comedy, but a lot of jokes don’t really land for me. In fact, the girl kinda got annoying at some point. Her banter with Kokuri isn’t as funny if you realize the only thing keeping this going is that Kokuri is hot. He’s really hot. A girl being taken care of by a handsome fox spirit doesn’t really work for me. The anime kinda realize this as well, so it really tries to break up the stale banter by introducing characters at almost every episode. I think they only time they didn’t introduce a new character would be at episode seven and eight, during that story where one of the guys turned into a girl and another guy wanted to sexually assault him. I kid you not, this anime is absolute fujoshi trash. The comedy is really secondary to the fact that there is a cast of handsome people, the situation the girl lives in is pure fujoshi fantasy, and the banter between the characters implies some unexplained sexual tension. Don’t get me wrong, there are some good jokes. I guess towards the end, like the last three episodes, I began to genuinely like the show but mainly because the fujoshi elements were slowly being toned down. It got replaced by some solid romance, some cute sentimentality and even a Tengu character that is legit a pedophile. Seriously, this is what we’re working with here.
If there’s one thing I do legitimately like about the show, I’d be the visual gags. There are scenes or punchlines that you can take a screen grab and find it hilarious as you look for a context for the image. My favorite is this:
Taken out of context, the situation is pretty funny. It’s also evident that the show isn’t really meant for kids. You might see the cute mascots of the show and realize they exist to appeal to kids. But nah, the cute animals are still for the fujoshi peeps. You see, cute things and smexy characters are in the radar of these people. The cuteness also contributes to the handsome character themselves. They’re cute AND handsome. Gawd almight, we’re in business. Ignoring that off tangent rant about the cuteness of the show, let’s feature some more effective visual gags taken out of context. Like these:
This is another fave for me:
And I also like this:
Despite the comedy not really doing anything for me, I can admit the large cast does work wonderfully. They have great chemistry together and they deliver the mature jokes effectively. Even though some of the gags are ridiculous, the characters do grow on you. A good example is Kohina’s love for cup ramen noodles. Her love comes off as one dimensional and the joke is honestly tiresome, but it does make Kohina an endearing character constantly sneaking cup ramen into school or eating them behind Kokuri’s back. Yeah, the characters are extremely one dimensional but it honestly works for this show. I guess flat characters generally work for a Comedy, because how they react to a situation is funny when you know how the characters behave. Like when Kokuri turns into a girl, you can expect the sleaze bag tanuki to suddenly be all over him. It’s funny, because the characters reacted in a way you expected them to react. But again, their chemistry is pretty great. Kokuri and Inugami tease each other a lot, and I know it’ll ping some radars because their banter is adorable. It isn’t funny, but it is adorable. The same goes for any pairing of the foursome, really. Kokuri and the tanuki play off each other well. Kohina and any of her unofficial harem also works great. They rarely interact in a group, but these characters do shine in how predictable and extremely one dimensional they are.
We also get some character depth from time to time, but it really only serves to make the character endearing to the audience. It doesn’t serve the show in any long term way. The characters all benefit in a small moment of vulnerability or serious sentimentality. I guess it’s these rare moments too that made me want to see more of the show.
The rest of the cast is extremely stale though. The new characters introduced in an episode don’t really stay long. They just break up the monotonous pace of the show. I believe ten or so new characters are introduced for specific gags in a specific episode. Sure, they return from time to time, but they’re not as fun as the four main characters. But again, the last three episodes are really good, because the supernatural aspect of the show started to become strongly established here. I remember these episodes a lot because they didn’t really alienate me at all. They had solid stories that were satisfying to me. Of course, it came after the episode where Kokuri was a woman, but let’s not dwell on that. We should focus on the voice acting instead.
It’s not Daisuki, It’s Daisuke
The moment he opened his mouth, I knew Kokuri was voiced by Daisuke Ono. Clearly, no regular fan can pick up on that fact but I’m sure my unbathed peeps got a ping on their radars. Yeah, you should know who Daisuke Ono is, because his voice is orgasmic. Basically, any handsome character voice by Ono just feels right, and that’s really one of the strongest aspects of this anime. The voice acting is top notch. I checked the manga, and you can clearly tell that the print source was missing something. It had the same jokes, same pace, same punchlines, same funny out of context images, but it was missing something important. It was missing Daisuke Ono’s voice. It’s not the same reading Kokuri’s line when you can experience Ono reading it for you. It’s not just Ono that delivers great voice work, because we also have Jouji Nakata and Takahiro Sakurai lending their smexy smexy voice. Jouji is known for voicing Alucard himself, and he actually uses the same voice range for the tanuki character. He does this intentionally because it’s his most recognizable voice. He also did Kirei Kotomine of Fate Zero, but nothing beats a frisky tanuki character with the voice of Alucard. It’s Takahiro Sakurai, Mr. Suzaku of Code Geass, that does the most fan servicy voice in the cast though. His voice is instantly recognizable, and you can hear him as early as the OP sequence and he really just flirts with that voice. His voice acting is akin to a pouting handsome Korean pop star, if that makes any sense, and he just unapologetically goes wild with it. It honestly works, because I’d often just stare blankly at a scene that doesn’t make me laugh, but in my mind, I’d go “gawd that voice is sexy”. Assembling a cast of popular voice actors to voice a show that triggers shippers, do you understand now how deep this rabbit hole goes?!
The MVP of the show would be Kohina’s voice actor though. She owned the character and it’s completely different from the manga counterpart. Nothing in the manga points out that Kohina does a robotic voice. I guess it’s a given, but Ryou Hirohashi’s robotic voice really completed the character. I cannot read the manga without hearing her voice. It was honestly grating at first, but I soon realized the voice actress is really acting her ass off for a show that caters to an unwashed fujoshi. She apparently plays Minoru Mineta in Boku no Hero Academia too, so that blows my mind. To gather a cast of hard hitters though and make the robotic voice standout takes a bit of talent though. I say good job. She completely stole the show with her robotic voice.
Yoshimasa Hiraike and TMS Entertainment
I’m not really impressed by the show, but I do know a lot of effort is poured into this very forgettable anime. Let’s face it, it faded into the background fairly quickly. Despite that, the director still did an incredible job with the show. He was faithful to the original source, and he really improved upon it. He gave the show an outstanding voice, he captured the spirit of the manga and he really emphasized on the strengths of the show. The animation isn’t that good, but I think he worked with what he had. TMS Entertainment isn’t really known for their impressive animation, but it really could’ve made the show better. The banter and the unexplained sexual tension could’ve been more emphasized with some smoother animation, but I think the show still thrived without it. So, it’s fine. This studio is really “meh” for me. I try to think of past shows I liked from them, but I don’t really think they set out to do great shows. It’s often just good or good enough, and I guess its fine. They still pump out anime on a consistent basis, so they must be doing something right. Now, do I want more Gugure Kokuri-san anime from TMS Entertainment? I honestly don’t know, but I won’t hesitate to try it.
Sight and Sound
Midori Endou’s design doesn’t really jump out that much. I don’t like Kohina in the manga, because she has a rounder face. It’s the same as the anime, but it doesn’t look consistent throughout the panels. I also had a hard time reading the manga, because it’s honestly very close to the anime and it felt like I was re-watching the show. With that being said, the character design is pretty good. It isn’t as impressive as I’d hope it’d be, but the handsome features of the characters are still there. There is more emphasis on the comedy though, since most gags would consist of just one page. It is a mess to read, but the simplicity of the design plays to Midori’s strength. You can tell she is more of a storywriter than an illustrator, so the inconsistent panels are really only salvaged by her strong writing. She still draws a handsome Kokuri though, but it often lacks details to really stand out. The anime kinda functioned the same way. The design is OK, and the characters take their shirts off from time to time, but it’s the flow of the episode and the banter between the characters that makes them appealing. Again, it showcases Midori’s writing and not her illustrations.
Animation is a bit subpar. I honestly don’t like it, because I just realized I hate digital animation. It harks back to when anime was awkward with its low budget cell animations. Now, it’s a low budget digital animation and it honestly turns me off. The colors of the foreground and the background looks boring, the animation isn’t as polished and the characters really only look good when they’re standing still. The comedy pacing is also fast, so there’s not a lot to really enjoy here. Unless you find the entire sequence funny, then the experience is a bit bland and tedious. Now, I am still a fan of the out of context visual gags, but it doesn’t really elevate the animation. It looks cheap through and through. I sound harsh, but it isn’t really as bad. I still finished the show, despite looking cheap. The voice acting also carried the show in a lot of moments, so the negatives and positives kinda balanced out.
The anime’s OP is “Welcome!! DISCO Kemo Kemo Ke” by Kokkuri-san (CV: Daisuke Ono). Narration by Inugami (CV: Takahiro Sakurai), Shigaraki (CV: Jouji Nakata). I love this song, because it’s just pure fan service. I don’t really need to know the lyrics. I just need to know that Ono, Nakata and Sakurai sang the damn song. When it hits the chorus, f*ck, I often sing along. It’s just so fun and stupid. The OP sequence is pretty decent too. It introduces all the handsome characters early on, and then they all dance at a disco floor on top of a giant ramen cup. It’s pretty cute. It will certainly ping some radars, which is honestly the purpose of the entire sequence.
The anime’s ED song is “This Merry-Go-Round Song” by Atsushi Suemitsu. This is a weird lullaby featuring the guy who composed the first ED of Shiki. I like his style, but I dunno, I’m not a fan of his voice. I also can’t get access to the lyrics, so I just don’t know what to think of this song. It’s cute, I guess. The ED sequence features Kohina playing and hanging out with then three main guys, and it’s also pretty cute. There was one image of Inugami showing his ass to the audience though, like what the hell was that about? The sequence is pretty cool though, especially when the piano version of the song plays for the ED.
7/10 “It’s subjective comedy, but the visual gag is strong and the voice work is pretty great.”
In terms of an anime utilizing its ability to deliver a visual and audio experience, then this show is pretty good. I personally don’t like it, but I do know a good show when I see one. The effort is there, the intention is good and it does extremely work for its target audience. The comedy can be hit or miss, but there is something to love in this show even if the handsome characters and the blatant fujoshi service can alienate you. If you give it a chance, I’m sure it won’t disappoint…as much.