KOKKOKU Episode 11
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 11 of
Kokkoku has always been a weird show. It takes the high-stakes plot of a kidnapping thriller and mixes it in with the strange premise of a science-fiction family drama, with splashes of domestic comedy thrown in for good measure. The primary monsters that occupy the world of Stasis are tree-people made from dust particles. It's just plain weird. That said, “The Eleventh Moment” might just be the moment where Kokkoku gets Weird with a capital W.
Things get off to a rocky start right away, picking up in the middle of the scene that we abruptly cut off last week, finishing off Sagawa's “tragic” backstory with a resounding shrug of the shoulders. It turns out that there was nothing else to reveal after Sagawa discovered his dad having an affair; that relatively minor bit of disillusionment was all it took to turn the dedicated young boy into the bitter, Stasis-obsessed man that he would become. The leap to his obsession with Stasis still doesn't feel very congruent. After Juri and Grandather spend way too much time trying to figure out how they're going to kill the swiftly decaying Sagawa, Takafumi rushes in and accomplishes just about the only useful thing he's done all season by stabbing the man multiple times with a cheap katana.
Unfortunately, this singular act of heroism isn't even all that successful, as the episode ramps its weirdness dial up to eleven when Sagawa transforms into a giant floating set of eyeballs attached to a brain and lungs, which quickly flies out of the window on a tornado of dust. I was not at all anticipating this campy imagery in a show that has chosen (giant tree-and-dust monsters notwithstanding) to remain mostly grounded in the way it tells its fantastical story. I barely had time to collect my thoughts before the Sagawas discover the brain-eyeball-lung-thing stringing itself up into a cocoon, using razor sharp wires that spindle out to leech nutrients from the surrounding area. Takafumi tries to play the hero once again, but he ends up chopping his fingers off on Sagawa's wires instead, which forces Juri to quickly expel him from Stasis so he can seek medical attention.
This leads us in to the episode's strongest segment, which sees Juri finally confronting the fact that she has chosen to trap herself in a world of eternally frozen time in order to save her family. Having been unable to say farewell to her father, she gets a couple of genuinely emotional scenes with Grandfather and Makoto, the latter of whom she expels from Stasis in an especially strong and touching moment. Shoko and Sako also get some attention as they help Juri figure out how to use her power to deal with Sagawa's wires, which I appreciated since they've not had much to do since Shoko's story was wrapped up weeks ago. It's a shame that the animation and artwork on display in this episode's second act are just as inconsistent as they've been for months now, because a stronger sense of visual weight and atmosphere would have made for more affecting drama.
The episode can't end things on too quiet a note however, as Juri uses her Expel power one final time on Sagawa's cocoon, only to find a baby version of the man spit out in an embryonic sac once she destroys his hiding place. For the first time, I finally threw up my hands and gave up on figuring out on how Kokkoku was going to resolve its story. Ever since introducing Herald Sagawa, the plot has taken a turn for the ramshackle, which I didn't mind in terms of getting a more well-paced and entertaining series in the tradeoff. Turning Sagawa into a baby might just be too silly a turn for me to accept, especially with only one episode left. It's possible that the finale could turn things around, but I'm more than a little concerned for how it's all going to wrap up next week.
KOKKOKU is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
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