by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Kokkoku continues to chug along at its own erratic pace this week, offering up plenty of plot developments and exposition in an idiosyncratic and stilted way. Ostensibly, this is an episode where quite a bit happens; allegiances are made, secrets are discovered, and some long-hidden character motivations come to the forefront at last. Given its place in the story, you might expect this to be the most exciting episode Kokkoku has delivered so far.
In spite of this, “The 7th Moment” is one of the most uneven entries of Kokkoku yet. From Shoko's reunion with her brother at the start to Sagawa's impending transformation at the cliffhanger everything about this episode feels off. Shoko and Yosuke's reunion should feel heavy with emotion, but it comes across as awkward instead. Sako and Shoko's decision to help the Yukawa clan in their (mostly) unanimous quest to destroy the Master Stone is a huge turning point, but the moment comes and goes with little fanfare. Even all the backstory behind the GLS and Sagawa's ultimate plan feels underwhelming, and that's something I've been wanting Kokkoku to expand on for weeks.
The main issue is that the direction and animation of the episode simply aren't up to snuff. Most of the episode's scenes are executed in as rote a manner as possible, with little consistent animation. On paper, I love the idea of contrasting Shoko's birth to her finding her emaciated brother as an adult; there's real power to that idea on a lot of levels. But there's no pathos to how it's executed here, like a flat slideshow. Character faces are horribly off-model most of the time too, making scenes like the big reveal of Juri's new outfit look unintentionally hilarious instead of exciting.
The other half of the episode is fumbled just as badly. Not only do we finally learn about the general history of the GLS, we also see Sagawa and Shiomi break away from their devout lackeys in the cult and push for Sagawa's true goal: to exploit Stasis in the pursuit of godlike immortality. Just as before, this is an excellent idea in concept, but the execution just feels sloppy and rushed. Sagawa's plan is uncovered in the laziest manner possible (his underling eavesdropped at an inopportune time), and the Master Stone is conveniently discovered just a couple minutes later. Kokkoku is trying to hastily put all of its pieces into place at the last minute, which is especially odd since the show has been taking its sweet time getting to this point.
The only beat that I thought worked decently enough was the comedic aside to Takafumi's embittered scheming against his own family. The overtly comedic soundtrack that played as he tried to hype up his own selfish desire to use Stasis for whatever he wants was a bit on the nose, but the man is supposed to come off as an idiot, so I can forgive a lack of subtlety for the sake of injecting some humor into Kokkoku's story. At least Takafumi's self-centered buffoonery will likely generate some interesting conflict for the rest of the cast.
”The Seventh Moment” takes all of Kokkoku's weaknesses and lays them bare under a microscope while the runtime plods along. It isn't a complete waste of time, because it does move the story forward in some compelling directions, but the execution of those developments leaves much to be desired. Hopefully Kokkoku can pick itself back up in the final third of the season; I'd hate to see such a promising series stumble so badly in its final stretch.
KOKKOKU is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
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