Ushinawareta and Kokkuri-san 2 and 3

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The last time I looked at Ushinawareta Mirai wo Motomete, two weeks ago, the astronomy club was breaking up fights and half-assedly planning a planetarium for the festival, then Kaori died and everyone died, and then we jump back in time. No time jumps in episode 2. There’s an earthquake or something, then Sou and Kaori discover a naked girl on the building’s top floor. Soon enough she’s transferred into the school and joined the astronomy club, because a stranger being naked with memory loss isn’t enough of situation to bring to the authorities. Also, she knows Sou’s name. Everyone scratches their heads about that, but not too much. Yui (naked girl) becomes sort of a innocent lamb to the group, one that needs looking after, and the whole episode becomes a long, dull series of days and trying on waitress clothes, looking for a ghost that we know won’t be explained this episode, until we get some plot at the very end, nothing tragic this time. Really, I could do without the dithering in this series. But we’ll see how episode three goes …

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… and now I have no idea where the show is going at all. Well, we do know that Yui is there to keep Kaori from getting killed. We just don’t know why. In this episode she interferes enough in the Judo/Karate club scuffle that Kaori doesn’t injure her leg, which is step one. I keep waiting for a cruel trick to happen and have her injure her leg anyway, but the show apparently isn’t going to do that to us. Instead, Sou gets punched in the face. In exchange for Kaori’s life I think everyone must be happy with the deal, but it bugs Yui. What the show IS going to do is confound us with the ghost sightings. We have real, ghostly appearances by obviously Yui, in her cute hat, which is part of the story, but they get pushed aside as we discover that another club is fabricating ghosts of their own, thus wasting the Astronomy Club’s time, and ours. The whole memories bit concerning how Airi met Kaori made me feel the same way. So they are no closer to unraveling the mystery. In fact, they think the mystery is solved. Meanwhile, the clock is still ticking on Kaori, and we barely know a thing more.

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Gugure! Kokkuri-san 1 was maybe the most impressive opener of the season. That sounds strange, but I don’t recall a series that can jump from gags to pathos back to gags without overdoing one or the other, and they make it look easy. So I was sure that subsequent episodes would not live up to the promise. Happily, while there might be a letdown due to familiarity, episodes 2 and 3 are still plenty good. #2 is maybe better, since it has some fun with character designs by having Kohina try and smile, making her facial features slip around and occasionally fall off. Introducing Inugami looked to be a letdown because Kokkuri would have to be on guard against him constantly, for the rest of the series, but making the dog-god a stalker is a excellent touch.

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And episode 3 does indeed have too many confrontations (like, nearly the entire episode’s worth) between the fox and the dog. And at the end we get a NEW troublesome spirit to bother poor Kohina. But before you worry that the show is going to wind up as little more than wacky spirit fighting, we get wonderful, odd bits like Kohina’s epic monologue on the endearing braveness of fake fried soba noodles, which expands into a rumination on the validity of identity, while Kokkuri can only gape. Indeed, the creators have made it so Kohina can make big, sort-of wise pronouncements or behave like a withdrawn little girl, both with that flat monotone she has. So far the show has used its comic weapons well.

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