Anime: Kokkoku: Moment by Moment
Season aired: Winter 2018
Number of episodes: 12
Genres: Supernatural, thriller, mystery
Thoughts: Kokkoku: Moment by Moment (Kokkoku for abbreviation) is an anime focused around a family with the unique ability to stop time and wander about in the world of frozen time. When a few family members are kidnapped, the remaining family members spring into action by activating that power. There, they meet unexpected and dangerous people who can change their entire lives in literally a single second of the universe. It’s a mystery that slightly resembles the hit Winter 2016 anime, ERASED, and bears a slightly similar tone as well. That being said, I think the two are different enough to be considered within their own merits.
I’m personally a huge fan of thrillers and mysteries. As someone who writes in her spare time, I know from personal experience that this particular genre is hard to write. In fact, I find thrillers and mysteries harder than any other genre out there. Because aside from the usual character development that accompanies good stories, you’re also required to create intrigue in the audience, and drop just enough clues to have them guessing on their own while hiding the real answer till the very end. That’s especially hard to accomplish. As a result, I have a lot of respect for any form of media that executes a successful thriller or mystery, and Kokkoku earns that respect from me.
A big contributor to a mystery’s success is its pacing. It cannot go too fast and leave the audience confused in the dust. But it cannot go too slow either, and leave the audience feeling bored. Kokkoku did well in this aspect; it has the right pacing down to the very details. What could’ve helped is that the manga is completed, so the anime had been adapting something with an ending in sight from the very beginning. Still, each episode left me with just enough answers to feel satisfied and a lot of questions that left me hanging on the edge of my seat. The directors and screenwriters knew exactly how to begin and end each episode to keep the viewer hooked.
Though it is slightly similar to ERASED as I mentioned above, by the end of the first episode, the audience knows the two anime are distinctly different. While ERASED focuses more on a man’s quest for redemption of a past event in his life, Kokkoku is more focused on the grey areas of morality in society. It constantly forces the audience to question what is right and wrong, especially when you literally have the power to stop time and create a world where laws no longer matter because no one can stop what you do. As a result, the anime’s plotline is not only focused on rescuing the kidnapped family members, but also seeing the protagonists struggle with these questions on morality.
I personally enjoy the characters. They are very three-dimensional and diverse. Amongst the group of protagonists, there are some characters with very questionable morals, and then there are others who are never swayed by power. The age range is very wide, from a young elementary boy to an old grandpa, and the powers that each character possesses is very unique. But most importantly, the main protagonist, Juri, delivers and carries the entire storyline. She’s a strong female character who’s unafraid, unabashedly confident, and very protective. Watching her grow from someone who is ashamed of her own family to someone who would devote her entire life to saving them was extremely empowering to me. There was never a point in time during the series that I supported the antagonists because Juri is such a likeable character.
There are, however, two flaws I must say for the anime. The first is the fact that despite having a complete ending, Kokkoku does not answer all the questions in the end. Though that is indeed a writing style to keep certain details forever in the unknown, I think it is especially important for mysteries to have all loose ends tied. It does successfully answer all the immediate questions the audience is concerned about, but there are plenty of less important questions that still remain relatively open even at the very end. The second flaw is the art and animation. Though there isn’t a specific episode where the animation is considerably less fluid than another, it is clear that this anime did not have the best of budgets. Movements were stocky at times, and the characters’ faces were warped here and there.
That being said, I like to judge anime based on the product as a whole. When I consider its complex plotline, its believable characters, extraordinary pacing, and the music that helped build the suspense and intrigue, I think Kokkoku is a great anime. People who like discussions on morality accompanied with an intense mystery should definitely give this anime a shot.
I am planning to rate all my anime based on the anime rating system that Japanese anime critics use. I will have 5 categories, each with the top score of 10, and then a final multiplier of 2.
Voice acting: 7
FINAL SCORE: 74