Have you ever wanted to stop time? Would you want to extend a happy moment so that it could last forever? Or maybe it would be more important to freeze a terrifying instant to prevent it from getting any worse? The anime Kokkoku is about a single frozen moment in time. It’s about a dysfunctional family working together. It’s about a murderous cult lead by a megalomaniac. It’s about giant monsters made of dust, the mistakes of children that will last forever, and a bowling ball sized rock that everyone wants. If this sounds like a strange anime, it is. It’s also the most interesting, adventurous, and thought provoking sci-fi about a family I’ve seen in a really long time. Though Kokkoku is about a single frozen moment in time, I think it will be one of my favorite thriller sci-fi anime for years to come, right beside Perfect Blue and ID:Invaded in the pantheon of great sci-fi!
Heads up! There’s spoilers for the first couple episodes!
An Ordinary Day, an Ordinary Family
The anime starts with Juri, a 22 year old who’s struggling to get a job and move out of her family’s multi-generational house. Her family is a bit dysfunctional and she’s had about enough of it. Her grandfather is doing the best he can to keep things together, but it’s obvious the house has seen better days. Her father is a layabout, her older brother is a shut in suffering from a past trauma, and her older sister is a single mom. Her patience reaches a boiling point when she gets home after a job interview that didn’t go so well and finds her older brother and dad sitting around and playing video games instead of taking care of the house or picking up the grandson/nephew from daycare. Not interested in waiting for her older brother (Tsubasa) to find a save point, Juri pulls the plug on his game and sends him out to walk his nephew home.
Kidnapped and Uncle-napped!
It’s clear that Tsubasa is not okay walking around outside his home. He almost seems to cower as he makes his way to the daycare. When he shows up at the care center, the staff are a little creeped out by his shabby appearance and odd nervousness. Thankfully his little nephew Makoto vouches for him. Again, it’s clear that Tsubasa is out of his element when a day care staff member has to remind him to hold his young nephew’s hand when they begin to walk home. The world weary uncle has barely turned the corner of the daycare before the two are stopped by a group of men. For the third time Tsubasa is overwhelmed by the situation. One of the men calmly asks Tsubasa to step away from his nephew and follow the man across the street to talk with him by a van. Sensing no danger, Tsubasa docilely follows him. Within moments Makoto has been picked up and trundled into the van by one of the strangers and Tsubasa is quickly dispatched and chucked in the van after him!
Grandpa to the Rescue!
The phone rings at Juri’s family home, it’s the kidnappers. They want a lot of money and they want it within 30 minutes. The ransom drop location is across town and the older sister borrowed the family car. The layabout dad panics, he grabs the grandfather’s checkbook and plans to run as fast as he can across town, knowing he won’t make it in time. The grandfather stops everyone and insists they do something quickly before they leave. He grabs a rock that looks like half a bowling ball and has everyone hold onto it. He puts a drop of blood in a small hole in the top of the stone and . . . that’s when this series starts getting trippy.
Glowing jellyfish appear and swim into the family members bodies! A giant red bubble forms around the stone and quickly moves outward enclosing the entire city and beyond inside it. When the family walk out of their house they see that the whole world seems to be frozen in time. Birds are stuck in the air mid flap, falling water floats in the air as if it were a bubble, and everything in the bustling city is silent. The grandfather doesn’t know how the stone works, only that the family has had it for a very long time and has always had the ability to stop time. Considering that they now had all the time in the world to go rescue the uncle and nephew, Juri, with her father and grandfather take a leisurely stroll across town to the ransom drop point.
It doesn’t stop there!
It would have been a very short anime if it was as simple as the family strolls to the bad guys lair and retrieves there abducted family members. Needless to say things don’t go as planned. The world stopped, but not for everyone. Not only is there more glowing jellyfish flitting about, there also happens to be a murderous cult on the loose along with their hired goons in this timeless place, not to mention the giant monsters made of dust that are there to keep the unstopped people from harming anyone that is “stalled”. And when giant monsters are protecting the peace they don’t write speeding tickets for the mobile humans, they exact punishment in the more head squishing fashion!