This certainly wasn’t the funniest episode of Kokkuri-san, but it may just have been my favorite. There’s always been a creeping sense of something dark lurking not very far beneath the surface of this madcap comedy, and of genuine warmth too. But I think this was the episode where we saw both of them overtly express themselves most forcefully. Whatever else this series may be, my gut feeling is that when you boil it down to its essence it’s going to be revealed as a tragedy – just as so many good anime comedies are.
As I suspected last week, there really was more to Shigaraki’s good guy act with the orphans than just an act. He may have rationalized as that as part of his tanuki scheming, but there’s no way to do that with the events this week. The only explanation for what we saw is that Shigaraki is basically weak for kids – a lech and a drunk and deadbeat, yes, but one that genuinely likes children (and not in an icky Inugami way). Not only did he show concern for Kohina unprompted, but he took it upon himself to get involved in keeping her safe – and in the end, took a spiritual bullet for her without bitching about it.
Yes, this was definitely a different tanuki than the one we met last week, and just his new kawaii kigurumi form. The prompt for all this is Kohina’s newfound ability to see spirits – which Kokkuri-san theorizes is due to the constant presence of himself and his two unwanted houseguests. Kohina reacts to this in a refreshingly childlike way – she chases the “floaters” about, and tries to adopt one as a pet, despite all the warnings from both Kokkuri-san and Shigaraki. This leads to the funniest moment of the episode when she has a run-in with a particular spirit and its digestive juices, and Inugami memorably reshapes her (could Kohina really be a doll? Nah…)
Gugure! Kokkuri-san’s take on the sixth sense thing is pretty unsparing. The cute little cyclops turns into a killer when it gets a taste for blood, and only the “evil” tanuki’s interference stops it from killing Kohina in her sleep. Their encounter leads to the scar on his face, and he then uses his magic to take away the sight from her – which leads to her being sad about this the next day. But Shigaraki being the standup tanuki he is stays with her and comforts her, even when she professes that she was only keeping the cyclops to fatten it up on cup noodles and use it as a topping (I don’t believe her any more than I believed him last week). It’s not exactly Natsume Yuujinchou but this is a very bittersweet moment and it’s handled in a nicely understated way – Kohina has lost something very special, but is she happier (and safer) for it in the long run?
I also quite liked the postscript, which was both far more substantial and darker than the norm for post-credit sequences. It started off innocently enough with Inugami making coffee, but quickly degenerated into his describing his warped worldview to Kokkuri-san – effectively, he hates everything in the world that isn’t Kohina, including himself. And he points out that there are many others out there, just like him. Inugami is a comic relief character but his story is a pretty damn grim and depressing when you consider it, and this whole sequence – while it did have its laughs – was quite disturbingly twisted. I rather like that this show can go to places like that at the drop of a hat, and that it doesn’t hesitate to do so – that’s a big reason why it’s far more interesting than the average anime comedy.