First Impressions Digest: 10/9/14 I – Gugure! Kokkuri-san, Gundam Build Fighters Try

Gugure - 01 -4 Gugure - 01 -26 Try - 01 -16 Try - 01 -18

The jury is very much out on whether this season will have quality, but it certainly has quantity.

Gugure! Kokkuri-san – 01

Gugure - 01 -1 Gugure - 01 -2 Gugure - 01 -3
Gugure - 01 -5 Gugure - 01 -6 Gugure - 01 -7
Gugure - 01 -8 Gugure - 01 -9 Gugure - 01 -10
Gugure - 01 -11 Gugure - 01 -12 Gugure - 01 -13
Gugure - 01 -14 Gugure - 01 -15 Gugure - 01 -16
Gugure - 01 -17 Gugure - 01 -18 Gugure - 01 -19
Gugure - 01 -20 Gugure - 01 -21 Gugure - 01 -22
Gugure - 01 -23 Gugure - 01 -24 Gugure - 01 -25

This is a show about which I had almost no expectations, given that I haven’t read any of the manga (which is by a first-time mangaka) and the premise sounded pretty vanilla.  In point of fact the premiere was quite good – I would have enjoyed it anyway, but certainly coming from that perspective it easily over-performed.

Kokkuri-san is a very popular party game in Japan, something like the Ouija Board is in the West.  I liked the take on it here, with Kokkuri-san himself being a somewhat disheveled and pathetic (both specialties of Ono Daisuke) fox spirit who’s so lonely he’s thrilled to actually be summoned.  Unfortunately for him the summoner is a very strange little girl named Kohina (a very funny Hirohashi Ryou) who proclaims that she’s a doll, an obvious attempt to avoid despair over her pathetic life situation.

Just what is an eight year-old (I’m guessing) girl doing living absolutely alone in what looks like a derelict Buddhist Temple?  I have no idea if we’ll ever see that answered and of course it’s pretty ridiculous, but that’s fine because the whole show is ridiculous.  She’s ridiculous, he’s ridiculous, and it seems as if the other cast members are too.  Kohina’s situation is incredibly depressing if you let yourself think about it but the premiere doesn’t offer much time for that – it’s a steady stream of sight gags, Manzai-style banter and sheer absurdity.  Most of it is reliably funny and Hirohashi’s deadpan loli voice is hilarious, but my favorite moment was when Kokkuri-san tried to Google the weather forecast in an attempt to make himself seem more useful than a search engine.

I really have no idea if there’s enough to a premise about a weird girl obsessed with cup noodles and a loser Kami who likes to cook to sustain a series, much less one that lends itself to blogging.  But in terms of outright humor this was one of the better premieres of the season so far, so I suppose that’s an encouraging start.

Gundam Build Fighters Try – 01

Try - 01 -1 Try - 01 -2 Try - 01 -3
Try - 01 -4 Try - 01 -5 Try - 01 -6
Try - 01 -7 Try - 01 -8 Try - 01 -9
Try - 01 -10 Try - 01 -11 Try - 01 -12
Try - 01 -13 Try - 01 -14 Try - 01 -15
Try - 01 -17 Try - 01 -19 Try - 01 -20
Try - 01 -21 Try - 01 -22 Try - 01 -23

Gundam Build Fighters is a bit of a stealth series (unless you’re at Comiket or anywhere doujins are sold).  It doesn’t seem to get much respect in the hard-core Gundam fan community as far as I can tell, and it’s not what you’d call a mainstream hit either.  But the first season was consistently entertaining, and the second is off to a pretty good start.  Tomino came storming in with Reconguista, talking as if he were going to save the franchise, but frankly the first two episodes of his series are nowhere near as good as the premiere of Try.

What’s the secret of this series’ success?  Ironically, I think that it doesn’t try too hard – to be clever, to be meaningful, to be canon.  It just has fun, plays up the simpler side of Gundam fandom and drops in a bunch of hilarious nods to the sometimes-ponderous history of the franchise.  There’s zero doubt in my mind that this is the most (intentionally) funny series in the Gundam catalogue, and I think it’s the most accessible to fans and non-fans alike.  And those are things to be celebrated.

So far, Try seems to have sloughed off the cast of the old GBF (apart from Mr. Ral) in favor of a new cast of plucky middle-schoolers, though I’ll be shocked of the big names don’t make at least a cameo.  The first of the new group to appear (a female MC – in Gundam??) is Hoshino Fumina (Makino Yui), the last member of the Gunpla club Sei took to the world title.  She pines for master Gunpla builder Kousaka Yuuma (Uchida Yuuma – now there’s a coincidence), obviously the otouto of China, who’s thrown over the Gunpla club for the rival Plastic Model Club.  And finally there’s transfer student and martial arts master Kamiki Sekai (Togashi Kazumi), whose flaming red hair is the first clue that he’s connected to Reiji.  As if there could be any doubt Hoshino jokes that he’s like “a boy from another planet” and Mr. Ral as much as explicitly states the connection later.

Sekai-kun is easily the most entertaining character in the premiere, though Hoshino is likeable enough and Yuuma barely gets a word in.  Sekai is looked after by older sister Mirai (Endo Aya), who appears to be filling in the Rinko role this time, as Try goes the SILF route.  The details aren’t really filled in yet, but they aren’t really the main point – what matters is that Gundam Build Fighters is again irreverent, not at all self-serious and a good deal of fun.



  1. H

    Gugure! Kokkuri-san was very well executed, but I didn't laugh as much as the show wanted me to. I'm also wary of the premise having no legs.

  2. J

    Would one have to go through and complete Gundam Build Fighters before watching GBF Try, or can one pick this series up w/ no prior GBF knowledge and not miss a beat?

  3. g

    There will be some old characters that will probably show up you won't know, but I would guess most of it will be focused on the new kids.

    The real question is – if you enjoyed the first episode here, what's stopping you from going and burning through season 1 right now?

  4. J

    I had no expectations for Kokkuri-san either, and I have to say that I have yet to laugh so much while watching a series from the fall. It was just so weird and wacky that I have to keep watching.


  5. K

    Your assessment for Try was spot on. If we're talking about sheer fun then Try is the way to go.

  6. H

    "There's zero doubt in my mind that this is the most (intentionally) funny series in the Gundam catalogue, and I think it's the most accessible to fans and non-fans alike." Hmm, not sure how qualified you are to say this. There's a whole history of comedic Gundam series out there.

    Try is certainly in-your-face fun, but there's a certain charm in seeing Reconguista's oncoming train wreck.

  7. R

    To be honest, I'm almost 100% sure that a lot of those comedic moments weren't meant to be comedic. It's more of a 'tried to hard and ended up in a wreck' sort of comedy.

    Plus, I think he means the series as whole. There's funny moments in other Gundam series, but GBF as a series doesn't take itself seriously.

    I am equally unqualified to judge the Gundam series as a whole seeing as I've never been able to bring myself to finish any of the series XD (got through a good chunk of SEED, 00, almost all of Gundam Wing) so who knows. I could be completely wrong.

  8. I don't think you're wrong.

  9. H

    You guys never heard of SD Gundam or G Gundam I take it?

  10. g

    G Gundam was halfway serious, and I think most people like to pretend SD gundam never existed….

  11. H

    Conceptually, neither of those series take themselves seriously. G Gundam famously so.

  12. J

    I seriously adored Kokkuri-san so much. It reminded me of Jinrui, WataMote, and Nozaki-kun. Like Nozaki-kun it kinda introduces some story elements while being a sitcom-style that is never really going to change, and like WataMote it covers up a whole bunch of despair and suffering with comedy.
    But more like Jinrui (and sometimes Nichijou), a lot of the time the funny stuff isn't signposted (especially with musical cues) but left to sink awkwardly and fade out. I loved the changing tones throughout.

    The Asuka cameo and ending fluffy cat also greatly appealed to me.

  13. N

    I saw the preview pics and thought 'hey, what's Inuyasha doing there?'

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