Kokkuri-san is a Japanese game where children put a coin on a sheet of paper with letters on it. By inviting the spirit to come through the gate symbol at the top, the children can then ask Kokkuri-san questions, as the coin moves mysteriously across the paper to spell out words from the letters. It’s basically Japanese Ouija, and summoning the occult can mean all kinds of curses if they’re not put away properly.
But in this series, Kokkuri-san and his animal spirit friends aren’t going away any time soon! In fact, in this comedy, the spirits aren’t the ones haunting children. The little girl is haunting them! So sit back, dance uncontrollably to the opening theme like I have, and enjoy a comedy that brings together history, parody, obscure references, and science fiction!
Gugure! Kokkuri-san may be based on the premise of the game I described above, but it is really about what these spirits do to take care of Kohina Ichimatsu, a little girl who seems to have no friends and no parents taking care of her, despite the fact that she lives in a traditional-looking mansion! Kokkuri-san the fox spirit comes intending to haunt the child. But when he learns of her situation, he decides to stay as her guardian instead. It’s a heartwarming tale of a spirit having to take care of a girl as if she were his daughter…
Except that he’s doomed to regret it!
When Kokkuri-san comes into Kohina’s life, he is also joined by the other gods from the other realm, including Inugami and Shigaraki, a lonely dog spirit and the tanuki god of greed himself! And that’s not including the other array of “friends” Kohina makes along the way!
The spirits that come to haunt Kohina have human and animal forms, and they use them interchangeably. Both versions are pretty funny, but the animal forms do come with a few anatomic references, or make a few corrections along the way.
It may be a supernatural show, but this series goes beyond just spirits trying to take care of a girl who thinks she’s a doll and scarfs down instant ramen all day. Kohina’s new, extended family go off on whacky adventures that include lots of parody references, gender and age changes, and all kinds of shenanigans that no number of screen shots will ever capture in their completions. It’s as if the series was practically begging to be picked up by doujin writers!
On second thought, forget what I said earlier.
But while we do have plenty of funnies going on with all the parodies and gender-bends, there is also a small element of Feels that go on, especially in Kokkuri-san’s relationship with Kohina. Kokkuri-san was summoned to haunt Kohina, but he also seems to have a very deep attachment to her, as well as to the Ichimatsu household. And while I’m sure the manga goes over this part in a lot more detail, there is a brief moment in this anime where Kokkuri-san looks back on another girl from the Meiji period, who resembles Kohina a lot!
But regardless, even though there are plenty of jokes about Kokkuri-san’s actual age throughout the series, he is very aware of the significantly shorter mortality of humans by comparison to spirits like him. And even though everyone else gives him a hard time, Kokkuri-san wishes these moments with Kohina will last forever.
But forget about all that chaos that happens to Kokkuri-san and his friends for a second. The real terror is that little girl! And while all the other characters are fighting over little things, I’m sure she’s already planning something terrible! Like turning cats into shamisens, or bullying her classmates or something. I mean it! She’s gotta be planning something big. I just can’t figure out what that is!
So if you like laughing at the occult with lots of parodies and are in need of a variety of humorous situations with animal spirits and all the rest, watch Gugure! Kokkuri-san. And really though. Don’t trust the girl with the instant ramen! Who knows what she’ll do with it?