Gugure! Kokkuri-san
Episode 8

by Amy McNulty,

Continuing last episode's second segment for the duration of this entire episode, the Kokkuri-turns-into-a-woman plot is the series' longest storyline yet. Perhaps writers think they'll disappoint fans if they don't give them "what they want," but by assuming we all want to see the same thing over and over again, they ensure we'll never see the end of tiresome tropes. The list of "clichés you must have at least once in the show" includes a hot springs episode, so episode 8 of Gugure! Kokkuri-san is this series' turn at bat.

It actually doesn't do too bad a job of it. The inevitable girl-on-girl "let me feel your boobs because that's apparently what many creators of anime and manga think women do" moment is there, but at least it sets up a joke at Shigaraki's expense. Plus, the episode shows surprisingly little skin. (Shigaraki actually shows off the most. His tattoos are pretty epic.) Tama comes along for absolutely no purpose other than to add another lady to the hot spring scene, and female Inugami inevitably only appears in the bath. Still, the predictable spying-on-the-women's-bath scene doesn't last long, and at least Kohina isn't objectified in it.

If the episode does do something wrong, it's Kokkuri's repeated insistence that he not be treated "like a woman." It's understandable that he's uncomfortable with Shigaraki's advances, but the implication that he can't carry a few bags of stuff without collapsing is less okay. It's especially odd considering there was no evidence Kokkuri thought so little of women before he became one.

Strangely, Kokkuri isn't even that uncomfortable with Shigaraki's advances. He acts more like the "you drive me crazy, but I might really like you" woman in a romantic comedy. Shigaraki is also relatively tamer than usual, acting less like a lewd middle-aged man and more like a gallant gentleman straight from a bodice ripper romantic novel. There actually is a slight romantic tension between the two of them that works. It's about the last thing one would suspect going into this show, so props for conveying some real emotion.

The tongue-in-cheek allusions to Ranma ½ in Gugure! Kokkuri-san episode 8 are a treat and worth a chuckle, and there are a few more moments of random wackiness that make the episode an overall pleasure to watch. Nonetheless, it's hard not to notice the lack of fast-paced madcap humor, which is usually the show's strength. The effort at real character development might be worth the sacrifice, except that it's cheapened by the sexist stereotypes and making sure everything goes back to normal by the end. Still, since Gugure! Kokkuri-san fans are here for the comedy, ending this storyline is for the best.

Rating: B-

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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