by Amy McNulty,
Gugure! Kokkuri-san might not always win a prize for original concepts, but as we've seen in previous episodes, the show has a knack for putting clever spins on common sitcom and anime tropes. Episode 11 adopts the "adult characters turn into children" setup and features Inugami, Shigaraki and Kokkuri becoming young boys and/or babies after drinking Kokkuri's youth-restoring bottled water.
The first half of the episode, in which Inugami is a baby and Shigaraki a young boy, both left in the care of "Mama" Kokkuri, contains this week's funniest gags. After already being in charge of cooking, cleaning and laundry, Kokkuri has the stereotypical stay-at-home mom shtick down pat. It's amusing to see him run ragged by Inugami and Shigaraki, who have retained their older mindsets but insist on getting the most out of their newly-restored childhoods. Shigaraki is determined to be perverted and use his childlike appearance to get away with flipping skirts, so Kokkuri forces him to drink more water and devolve into an infant. However, this backfires, resulting in Kokkuri being stuck with two precocious tots. Kohina's coldness around the kids is humorous, especially since her concern over having her parts swallowed by young children brings out her doll side. Surprisingly, Inugami isn't as broken up over Kohina's rejection of children as regular viewers might expect, and instead revels in cooing gibberish and watching Kokkuri suffer.
When Kokkuri gets fed up with the sleepless nights and drinks the water to become a little boy instead—not retaining his memories due to the stress of childrearing—Kohina calls in Tama for help and the jokes get more tired. (Thank goodness she didn't call Tengu. This was a prime opportunity for his reappearance.) One-note Tama has yet to bring many laughs to her few appearances, as her primary schtick entails loving dolls and dressing things up. Needless to say, she enjoys every minute of treating boy-Kokkuri and the babies like dolls, but it doesn't produce more than a few chuckles.
Of course, the viewers might empathize with her, as the younger versions of the spirits are absolutely adorable, especially the infants. There are still adult minds inside those little bodies though, and this could have yielded far more laughs. There are a few moments where the episode hints at what might have been had the dirty-minds-in-adorable-bodies path been more fully explored, but it doesn't really deliver.
Gugure! Kokkuri-san episode 11 is a lesson in finding the right balance between giving secondary characters a moment to shine and finding where the best humor of the situation really lies. We don't see a lot of Tama, but she doesn't make the most of her appearances, either. The episode was on the right track showcasing an exhausted Kokkuri dealing with bratty adults in baby bodies. Making him a clueless young boy as well reeks of pure fanservice for viewers who want to see him "cute-ified" and doesn't add enough to the story to justify taking the show in that direction.
Gugure! Kokkuri-san is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Amy is a YA fantasy author who has loved anime for nearly two decades.
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