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Manga / Kokkoku

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Kokkoku is a dark fantasy manga by Seita Horio, which was serialized in Monthly Morning Two from 2008 to 2014. It later received a 12-Episode Anime adaptation in 2018.

Juri Yukawa lives with her NEET father and brother, her working mother, her retired grandfather, her sister (a single mother) and her young nephew. One day, her nephew and brother are kidnapped for ransom. Having only 30 minutes to meet the demands of the kidnappers, Juri, who realizes there is not enough time to prepare the money, decides to head for their rescue by herself with a knife in hand, but is stopped by her grandfather who uses a mysterious stone passed on in the Yukawa family to stop time.

In a world where everyone and everything is inert, called Stasis, Juri and her father and grandfather run to rescue the two. But at the kidnappers' hideout, they soon realize they are not the only ones who can move about in this still world...

General tropes

  • Abusive Parents: It's implied through a flashback of Shouko's that her father may not have been the best parent. When her older brother, Yousuke, is hitting his sister in the car, he hits him and tells him he's walking home.
  • Affably Evil: Despite trying to kill the Yukawa family, Sagawa addresses everyone in a calm and courteous manner.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Tsubasa calls Makoto "Ma-tan".
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Spectres are the key to everything involving Stasis. They bond to a host's nervous system, allowing them to enter Stasis, and removing the Spectre Stalls the person. Powers such as Juri's ability to expel them and her grandfather's teleporting are the result of the host becoming more attuned to the Spectre (aside from being part of the Yukawa bloodline). Heralds are the result of Spectres consuming the host's body for a core and building a body using the airborne particles.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Sagawa's goal as he, through the power of the Spectres and Stasis, desires to explore the mysteries of the universe beyond time and space while unshackled from the limitations of a mortal shell and lifespan.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The Heralds bar Yousuke, for some reason are huge; they easily tower over most buildings. However, with each moment they are summoned to perform their duties, they gradually get smaller as their host's body is consumed for energy.
  • Babies Ever After: A bizarre twist on the trope in that no romantic couple is involved. When Juri expels the Spectre from Sagawa's cocoon, a newborn baby comes out of it. As Juri saw Sagawa's memories disappear, they conclude that the baby is not Sagawa but rather an entirely new human. Juri and her grandfather raise the baby inside stasis for 6 months before she decides to Stall it. After the True Founder frees her from Stasis, the boy is now with the Yukawa family and calls Juri his Mama.
  • Berserk Button: Juri doesn't take too kindly when some thugs call her "busty bitch". It even scares her grandpa.
  • Black Sheep: Though the members of the Yukawa family are the main characters and normal people, it's later revealed Takafumi isn't entirely innocent. First, he summons Shouko's Herald family by testing how much bloodlust is needed for a Herald to show up (something which Sako calls him "sick" for). Then, he decides he wants to use the stone to cheat and steal so that his family can have a more prosperous life.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: The Heralds have this. Their duty is to protect the Stalled from those who travel to Stasis and abuse its rules, especially if they try to kill said Stalled (often by killing them in return). However, the Yukawa family aren't malicious by any means, but the Heralds won't lift a finger to help them, even though the Genuine Love Society is hunting them down.
  • Book Ends:
    • The first scene of the anime is a woman being pulled into Stasis by a Herald. In the final episode the scene repeats and reveals Juri had fallen into despair and transformed into the Herald from the first scene. She instinctively sought out the woman, who is revealed to be the true Founder.
    • In the first episode Juri is collapsed face down on the floor after another failed interview, with Makoto coming to fetch her. In the final episode the scene repeats only with a reborn Sagawa instead of Makoto and Juri being much happier. Juri even notes how it feels like she's already lived this before.
  • Broken Pedestal: Sagawa deeply admired his father, a religious leader who seemed to be a pillar of morality. Then he discovered his father and best friend's mother were having an affair, destroying his belief in both father and religion.
  • Butt-Monkey: Takafumi. A lot of the series' funnier moments are made at his expense.
  • Cheerful Child: Makoto. Very little gets the best of him, including being stuck in a world where time stands still, his uncle being attacked, the Heralds in general, feeling his Herald familiar's stomach being eaten by Sagawa and witnessing his grandfather's finger being chopped out. Only being kidnapped seems to have fazed him, but he gets over it quickly. This is lampshaded and Played for Laughs by Tsubasa.
  • Cool Old Guy: Juri's grandfather is retired, and is one of the few who knows anything about the Stalled World. He's also a pretty upstanding guy, despite his gruff behavior.
  • Cool Uncle: Tsubasa is treated by his nephew Makoto as an older brother. Juri can also be considered a Cool Aunt.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: Juri's reaction when she learns that Sagawa's true plan wouldn't have hurt her, her family, or the world. However, that contradicts the deceptions and murders he had committed in service to said goal.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Shouko's family crossed it when they found themselves trapped in the Yukawa's spell by accident, quickly becoming Heralds and would have happened the same to her had Juri not force her to join the Stalled.
    • In fact, Volume 4 elaborates that for those with weaker wills, their mental state eventually deteriorates to the point where they cross this trope, allowing the Spectres inside of them to take over and transform their human host into a Herald.
  • Distressed Dude: Tsubasa and Makoto are kidnapped at the beginning of the story, although they escape thanks to being de-stalled.
    • Later Takafumi is taken hostage by the cult.
  • Dysfunctional Family: The Yukawa have a few issues, but they clearly love each other.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Herald is a huge tree-like creature that appears whenever someone is about to harm a Stalled.
  • Evolving Credits: The anime's opening has the same scenes throughout the series, but details are changed to reflect the current events. Changes include: In the final shot, Juri gains white eyes after she unlocks her power; in the same shot, Juri's outfit is changed when she changes clothes; and the shot of Sagawa is split to show his normal and pseudo-Herald forms after he transforms.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The entire story takes place within the span of a single moment between two seconds. Just one.
  • Fingore: When Sagawa's vital organs flee his body after Juri expels his Spectres, it stops in mid-air and forms a cocoon held up by razor-thin threads. Takafumi loses his fingers trying to approach the cocoon, forcing Juri to expel him from Stasis so he could have them reattached later.
  • Forgotten First Meeting: Juri realizes she met Majima years ago when they entered Stasis.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Shouko and Sako decide that working for the Genuine Love Society will bring nothing but trouble, so they choose to help the Yukawa.
    • Later, Shiomi does this as well, under similar motives.
  • Killed Offscreen: A unique variation. In the opening moments of episode 12, everybody is still in Stasis. After the opening, Shimio and Sako have already been expelled, with their frozen poses implying it was the result of a "surprise attack" from Juri.
  • Killing Intent: What summons the Heralds to dispose of whoever emits homicidal intents towards the Stalled.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: It's eventually revealed that Juri had been to Stasis when she was a little kid. One night, her grandfather took her there, because her dog, Andre, was dying and she wanted to spend more time with him. When it was time to leave Stasis and let Andre pass on, Juri tearfully refused, which activated her ability to remove the jellyfish spirits from those who travel in Stasis and make them Stalled. She nearly forces her grandfather to join the Stalled, which knocks him unconscious. When he wakes up, he fears that Juri was in another session. But when he finds her, he decides that it's best that she never remembers her time in Stasis as a child.
  • Mayfly–December Romance: The final episode reveals the Founder was a mortal man (the ancestor of the Yukawa family) who married an immortal woman. Her powers over Stasis allowed him to live two hundred years while researching it, creating the Society.
  • MacGuffin: The time stopping stone, which the cult is after and the reason behind the kidnappings of the Yukawa family. Juri destroys the stone later, rendering her the only means of leaving Stasis... until she meets the True Founder.
  • No Man Should Have This Power: The Yukawa family stole the time-stopping stone for this reason, feeling nobody could be trusted with Stasis due to people abusing it for their own gain. (The Yukawas themselves are mostly unambitious, and therefore more trustworthy.)
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Juri eventually realizes that she's similar to Sagawa, both feeling trapped in a life they don't want. She uses this to justify expelling Sagawa's Spectres even if it kills him as she would kill Sagawa if the positions were reversed.
  • Papa Wolf: Takafumi may be unemployed, but when his son and grandson are kidnapped, he jumps at the opportunity to save them.
    • A special mention also goes to Juri's grandfather. He's very protective of his family, which is what allows him to introduce Juri and Takafumi to Stasis in the first place.
  • Personality Powers: Juri is a driven, frustrated woman who spends most of her time trying to spark her family into doing something. In Stasis, this manifests as her ability to jolt ability which, because it's being used in Stasis, is fatal.
  • Power Perversion Potential: When the various thugs and devotees start robbing a Stalled store, one of them... starts looking at a porno mag in public. His fellows immediately mock him and point he can see the real thing, which they prove by yanking down a Stalled woman's panties.
  • Prophet Eyes: When using her power, Juri's eyes turn milky white. This is characteristic of any person who gains a Spectre power, such as Makoto when controlling a Herald, Majima while ignoring gravity, and Sagawa when partially a Herald.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Sagawa is the main antagonist and has red eyes in the anime.
  • Religion of Evil: Most of the antagonists are part of this as the "Genuine Love Society"; others are just mooks hired by them. They seek the stone for nefarious purposes and will commit any atrocity to get it, such as kidnapping and murder.
  • Required Secondary Power:
    • Sagawa notes that Spectres have a number of side effects beyond placing a person in Stasis, such as ignoring the air friction one would ordinarily expect when moving at relatively high speeds.
    • Those who roam around Stasis acquire a secondary power, but it seems that it has to be unlocked. Volume 4 of the manga reveals that being able to control part of the Spectrenote  inside of them is only hereditary among the Yukawa, who have been travelling to and from Stasis for generations. If someone who wasn't a Yukawa were to unlock their power, such a feat would not pass down to their children.
  • The Reveal: The final episode has a big reveal when Juri meets the true Founder, a woman rendered immortal by Spectres. The man believed to be the Founder was her mortal husband (the ancestor of the Yukawa family) who created the time stopping stones using the eye of a creature native to Stasis.
  • Shout-Out: ''Animated'' versions Optimus Prime and Megatron, along with Machalcon appear as toys in Chapter 38, Volume 6.
  • The Shut-In: Tsubasa is extremely reluctant to leave the house and is exceedingly timid when he goes to fetch Makoto.
  • The Symbiote: Spectres fuse with a human's nervous system to bring them into Stasis. The relationship appears to be largely beneficial unless the host begins to lose hope, at which point the host will transform into a Herald.
  • Time Stands Still: The basic premise of the story is this, with the characters trying to figure out the true nature of the world.
  • The Power of Love: Juri's special ability to force people roaming Stasis to join the Stalled seems to trigger when she thinks of her family.
  • Unscrupulous Hero: Takafumi is slowly shaping up to be this (though it seems to be Played for Laughs so far). He wants to abuse the Stasis Spell's power, but only so he can support his family.
  • Visionary Villain: Sagawa is far more high-minded than his thug hires, claiming it is the duty of the Society to better the world using Stasis. That's a lie, but the truth is visionary in its own way: He wishes to become an immortal observer of the universe.
  • Was Once a Man: Shouko reveals the Herald were once humans who chose to become permanent inhabitants of Stasis. Episode 5 also reveals that weak-willed people become Heralds when they feel trapped or lose the will to endure Stasis.
  • Wise Beyond His Years: Makoto may be young, but he comes as more mature than his 30 year old uncle and his grandfather.
  • Women Are Wiser: Juri seems to be far more down to earth than her father and brother.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: The Heralds are humans who decide that they want to become permanent residents of Stasis, or are those who feel despair about enduring Stasis, and are then transformed into spirits that protect the Stalled. However, it comes at a price: every time they emerge in a Stasis session to perform their duties, they use up some of their life energy and gradually become smaller and smaller. It gets to a point where, instead of just disappearing, they collapse and die.
  • Your Head Asplode: One of the thugs that had taken Makoto hostage gets his head crushed by the Herald. It happens to others working under the Genuine Love Society, though for some, the Heralds either rip off their heads or break their necks.