by Amy McNulty,
As he clutches detached clumps of his long, silvery locks during a bath, Kokkuri faces the sudden realization that he's going bald. A "handsome protagonist" is still handsome even without the hair, he thinks—or maybe not. This forms the basis for most of episode 9's humor. What makes the "going bald" segment most amusing is that Kokkuri is ancient and still looks like a 20-year-old, yet he apparently dyes his hair and worries about aging alongside the human population. For the most part, the jokes land solidly and resonate with anyone who's panicked even in the slightest about the aging process, although they might not mean as much to younger viewers.
Past episodes have made use of a narrator, but she's never been quite as effective as she is in this segment. When Kohina attempts to make a joke that offends and infuriates Kokkuri, the two enter a standoff that lasts several minutes. The narrator fills in the near-silence, explaining what Kohina attempted and how the two are confusing what the other is thinking. It's a bit Family Guy-esque in that the joke goes on for quite a while, but if you find that sort of over-explanation amusing, you'll be riveted.
Episode 9 also reminds the viewer how fun it is to see Kokkuri flustered. He's such a mild-mannered domestic king who's often stuck as the comedic "straight man" to the zaniness of those around him that it's easy to forget he's vain with a cruel streak. He's the comedic star of this episode—something that was lacking in his turn as she-Kokkuri recently—and it's a welcome return to form.
The episode breaks down rather oddly, with the hair-loss storyline taking up two whole segments and part of a third, with a short segue before the end. The final segment concerns Inugami "running away from home" in an effort to attract attention. Like the first storyline, the setup is standard sitcom fare, but it delivers. Part of the appeal of Gugure! Kokkuri-san is that it takes even predictable comedic situations and goes a step further into over-the-top territory. (Case in point, the cute little ghost Inugami who appears without comment after Kokkuri straight-up murders her. Never mind that he/she was already a spirit to begin with.) Never one to skirt around offensive issues, Gugure! Kokkuri-san manages to slip a date rape joke into this segment, so be forewarned.
Gugure! Kokkuri-san episode 9 gets back to the basics, following the more dramatic (if tongue-in-cheek) fare from last episode. If there's one negative thing to say about the show at this late stage, it's that the comedy is largely relegated to the same few characters and, particularly in Inugami's case, the same schtick. The series has brought in numerous side characters, but with the exception of Yamamoto-kun, they've been sorely underused.
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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