What They Say:
Juri Yukawa needs a timeout from her life. She’s failed 19 job interviews, she’s stuck living with her crazy family, and her chances of escaping to a life of her own are becoming increasingly remote. Suddenly, all of that becomes unimportant when her brother and nephew are kidnapped and held for an impossibly high ransom. That’s when Juri’s grandfather reveals an incredible secret: a mystical stone that allows Juri, her father and her Grandpa to enter the state of Stasis, where everyone else in the world is frozen in time! That should make rescuing their family easy, right? Wrong, because there’s a sinister organization working against them who also can literally beat the clock!
The audio presentation brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo while the English mix gets a 2.0 mix as well, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The series has its outlandish moments along the way but the bulk of it is filled with basic dialogue. There are some areas where it shines a bit more in how it works with thoughts and levels, but most of it is pretty standard drama material with a few quick bumps here and thee of action It’s often kept to just two people at a time so it has a nice and small feeling to it that serves the material well and it all hits a good stride quickly. I flipped between the two language tracks regularly and they both come across clean and clear and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally released in 2018, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episode series are spread across two discs in a standard nine/three format. Animated by Geno Studio, the show has an interesting look to it where it has a rough and angular look to it when it comes to the character designs, especially the men, that at times is a bit off-putting. It almost looks like this is a budget show because of it but there’s something of a stylistic choice here in adapting the manga. The encoding captures the look of this well with colors coming across clean and solid, the moments of motion and activity being smooth and problem free, and no issues such as noise or breakup in general. Detail holds up well with a lot of it in the backgrounds as the characters are a bit simpler. It may not be the most visually exciting show out there but the encoding captures it well.
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case where we get a great key visual image that works a kind of split with a red side/dark side approach. The character artwork looks fantastic here and doesn’t quite capture the simpler look of the show itself but it’s definitely eye-catching in all the right ways. The logo drives me a little nuts as I can imagine the o’s as u’s at first and there’s just something that doesn’t click for me. The back cover goes for an all-red background with Juri get the character slot along the right that looks good. Te strip along the top brings in some fun shots from the show and we get a decent little summary of the premise that covers the basics. The extras are clearly and cutely listed and the production credits along the bottom gets everything into place right. The technical grid breaks everything down accurately so you know exactly how the set is put together, though the white on black strained the eyes just a touch with the thin font. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menus for this release work the static approach where we get a third of the screen given over to the menu on the left. It’s done with a dark black background and white slots for the episodes titles and numbers that are quick and easy to select. The rest of the screen is given over to really nice visuals, the first with a cast shot and the second focused on Juri, that gives it a strong and moody look. The layout is straightforward and functional with no problems in moving about as either the main menu or as a pop-up menu during regular playback. The layout is easy and I like the look of it with the color design and the visuals that were chosen with their detail and colors.
The only extras included are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences and some of the original promos for the Japanese broadcast.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga by Seita Horio that ran from 2008 to 2014 and completed in eight volumes, Kokkoku: Moment by Moment is a surprising animated project. While we see shows made for older properties that had incomplete anime adaptations before it’s rarer to get a complete manga property getting the green light for a first-time adaptation as it doesn’t feel like there’s a monetary incentive to do so, such as increasing book sales. That said, I do enjoy them because most of the time the original project has ended completely and that allows the adaptation to capture the full breadth of the story by knowing the end game from the start so that it can feel complete, something far too many shows will never feel.
The show focuses on Juri, a recent college graduate that’s looking for work and hitting the interview circuit. That alone gets attention simply because it’s so rare and watching parts of the process is definitely fun. Well, for us at least as Juri is struggling with all of it and it’s wearing her out. She’s dealing with that because she wants to get on with her life as there’s a complicated home life that feels like she and her mother are the only ones supporting and working. Juri’s the responsible type so she’s doing her best but also shaming her father and brother a bit for their slovenly lifestyle and for not helping out. The setup works well to establish things before it goes wonky when Tsubasa heads off to pick up his nephew Makoto from school and both of them end up kidnapped in a black van. With a five million yen ransom, Juri gets a whole new level of stress in her life.
The chaos of the call has Juri and her father at odds but it’s her grandfather that sets things in motion, revealing a supernatural element that lets Juri tap into something amazing, essentially what looks like being able to step in between time or pause time. The science of it is pushed aside in an amusing way as the grandfather basically talks of how it’s been passed down in the family and it’s going to help them save Makoto and Tsubasa. He also talks of how stealing while here can cause this version of the world to devour you and that it’s best not to be tempted by such things. The problem arises during the moment of saving the others that Juri is aware of something else that exists in this pace, which her grandfather is as well but doesn’t want to deal with just yet. But what makes everything tense is the arrival of another group of people in this paused space with their own agenda, causing everything to become tense as they’re almost caught/killed.
The nature of this series is an interesting one as I’ve always loved the whole being able to stop time and step between things. There’s a lot of appeal in the way the whole invisibility as a super-power thing is one. Here, however, we get the mystery of the cult that’s kidnapping people and how Juri and her father and grandfather work together to deal with them. It has a good sense of danger about it as it moves forward as other people appear that can move in Stasis like Juri and the others and that definitely makes it exciting. The surprise reveal of people moving in the same stopped time moment has a classic horror thrill to it that appeals. But we also get some good action elements out of the show with Juri able to expel the Specters out of people, which in some more “complicated” moments is almost comically done but still well-executed. The thing that works is that none of them really feel like they’re “action” people but rather regular people who get caught up in things and act as you’d imagine they would. The Specters present enough of a threat and I like the visuals of them being expelled so it all works out nicely.
Honestly, Kokkoku, as it progresses really, reminded me of a lot of the mid-tier work that Bandai Entertainment brought out in the early 2000s. Titles I can’t quite remember fully but have these hazy memories of because they were interesting mystery series with odd hooks to them that drew you into the storyline. They weren’t visually compelling but prioritized the story and the exploration of unusual ideas over the flash and style. Kokkoku doesn’t quite have the depth that I think works, partially because the story takes a few odd turns along the way and is a slow build. But shows like this are important in that they provide material for an audience that doesn’t get served as often as it should. Juri’s tale as she deals with everything is intriguing but damn if the last five minutes didn’t leave me wanting to see a whole other series based on what’s teased there.
Kokkoku flew under the radar as it was an Amazon exclusive during its simulcast and was a welcome pickup by Sentai Filmworks so that it got more exposure. The show is one that has an interesting setup and an interesting finale but struggled in the middle to feel cohesive with what it was doing as it moved in and out of story elements with more characters appealing. Sentai’s release is solid with a good dub that lets the cast play roles they don’t often get to do with a good encoding and a solid package that really catches your eye. It may not work terribly well for me as a whole, making me wish I didn’t binge it, but it’s great to have this out for fans to own.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Japanese Promos
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: April 16th, 2019
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.