More than with any other series this season, I think, I find myself fervently hoping Gugure! Kokkuri-san gets a sequel. I like it very much, of course, but more than anything it just feels like this story has only scratched the surface of what it’s capable of. The comedy is firing on all cylinders, and more and more hidden depths are revealing themselves. It could just happen – Stalker says a little over 3K (which is not disastrous) and this is the sort of series that’s typically underestimated a hair. All we can do is hope for the best, I suppose.
This was certainly a comedy-first episode – maybe the second or third-funniest of the entire series – but even here there were a couple of rather moving moments. The visuals are so clever that I find myself taking more caps of this than any other series I’m blogging, and this week gave us the added bonus of hearing Sakurai Takahiro and Nakata Jouji flex their comic chops in a big way (Sakurai especially was hilarious).
The MacGuffin this time was the “Youth Rejuvenation Water” Kokkuri-san bought for himself as an after-bath treat (at considerable expense). Inugami being the douchebag he is decides to drink it herself despite the warning label on the bottle, not realizing its effect (though I certainly did) and promptly turns himself into an infant. Shigaraki shows up and gives him an “it serves you right” lecture – only to reveal that he too has sipped from the fountain of youth, but apparently only enough to turn himself into a grade-schooler. Hilarity ensues (naturally).
Much of the humor in the second half of the cour has been body-switching related in one form or another – which is certainly a natural given the premise – but I think this bit may just be my favorite. There’s no much comedy gold mined here, starting with Sakurai’s “Ba boo!” dialogue. There’s also watching Shigaraki (having switched from cigarettes to lollipops) follow his natural course, seeing the possibilities for using his regression to get away with ecchi antics like skirt-lifting that would get him arrested as an old man. And then there’s Kohina’s horrified reaction to having a baby around (much to Inugami’s dismay) – she reverts fully into doll more for the first time in a while, her instruction manual warning that she must be kept away from small children as they may swallow her parts (apparently no double entendre was intended here, or I’m giving the show too much – or too little – credit). And then she goes about proving that with Inugami’s help.
The coup de grace comes when a frustrated Kokkuri-san forces Shigaraki to drink enough of the youth water (he must have read the Senate report) to make him an infant too, so he can’t go out and bozu-terrorize the local population. And then, weary at taking care of two sniveling infants, drinks the last of the water and turns himself into the Tengu’s wildest dream. This, of course, is a rather unsettling development for Kohina, who’s neither inclined or able to take care of three children younger than she is. So she calls an “adult” for help – though in Tama’s case I use the term loosely. Her arrival is the disaster you’d expect it to be, with carnivorous curry (who makes curry for toddlers in the first place?) and homicidal “Upsie, daisy!” with Shigaraki. Finally she forces chibi-Kokkuri-kun into maid cosplay and a shopping trip.
Unlike the last couple of plot twists there’s no cliffhanger here – turns out the rejuvenating water was a cheap knock-off, and all three boya eventually turn back into their adult forms. But there’s quite an interesting moment before that happens, in which we see Kohina in unquestionably her most vulnerable moment of the series. Kokkuri-san’s transformation has really shaken her, especially as he’s forgotten who she is – it’s certainly no surprise that she was secretly quite dependent on him as a father figure, but still quite striking to see it displayed so plainly as it was here. Using absurdist comedy as a mirror to hold up to reveal things about characters is a frequent sign of very good writing, and that’s certainly true here. There’s so much more to Gugure! Kokkuri-san than what’s on the surface, and I would dearly love to be able to see much more of it.