Kokkoku is a manga that I thoroughly enjoyed from beginning to end. It’s not without its flaws, but it still manages to be a well-paced mystery with logical plot twists, suspenseful and even horrifying moments, and characters that I wanted to survive to the end. It’s short enough that it doesn’t overstay its welcome, but long enough that it feels like a complete and satisfying narrative. I definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a good mystery/thriller and I look forward to reading the author’s current series, Golden Girl (It sadly isn’t translated as of writing this, but hopefully someday it will).
Kokkoku starts with
an effective and interesting premise. Juri Yukawa is a young woman in a financially struggling family trying to make ends meet. One day out of the blue, her nephew Makoto and her brother Tsubasa are kidnapped and held for ransom. Unable to make it to the meeting place in time, her grandfather uses a family heirloom to freeze himself, Juri, and her father in time. They go to where Makoto and Tsubasa are being held to rescue them, but they quickly realize that they’re not the only ones who can move in the frozen time. From there, it quickly becomes a game of cat-and-mouse between the Yukawas and their pursuers.
The first few chapters of the manga do a great job at grabbing your attention at the start and it manages to stay consistently exciting and interesting up until the end. There’s always some new plot development or twist that keeps everything fresh and engaging. I have ADHD and I tend to have a hard time sticking with media up until the end. Whether it’s books or games or TV shows, I have a bad habit of dropping things if they manage to lose my attention. That didn’t happen here. I was consistently engaged in everything that was happening in this manga. I kept wanting to know what would happen next. The series is filled with interesting plot twists, and (with one exception) they all feel logically consistent with what had been established beforehand.
Now, as much as I liked Kokkoku’s story, I have to admit that the last chapter is… not the best. The ending isn’t AWFUL or anything, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit disappointed with the series’ conclusion. Still, a lackluster ending doesn’t invalidate a story that managed to be engaging and interesting for 98% of its run time, and for that I still consider Kokkoku’s story to be a good one.
I am not an art critic so while I might not be able to give the most in-depth or informed opinion on the quality of art, even I can still confidently say that the art in Kokkoku is fucking great. Kokkoku takes place in a world frozen in time, and the manga makes great use of liminal space to convey the world’s stillness. Previously busy streets feel empty and lonely in the absence of movement. Characters stand in wide open spaces, really selling you on the idea that they’re stuck in time. But not only does the art’s sense of emptiness sell you on the premise, it also gives multiple scenes a feeling of suspense and tension. In spite of many scenes’ stillness, these characters are not alone. There are other people who can move in this world, and most of them are out for blood. And when shit gets real, the art is just as good as it is in the quieter, more suspenseful moments. Action scenes feel dynamic and exciting. Scenes with body horror feel about as creepy as it should (and believe me there are a lot of scenes like that). I’m not gonna go into any spoilers, but there were multiple time reading this where I audibly said out loud “Ew what the fuck?” It’s possible that I’m just easily impressed when it comes to art, but I really do think that the art in this manga is great It’s one of the main reasons I recommend someone read the manga instead of watching the anime adaptation, because while the anime doesn’t look BAD, it doesn’t look nearly as good as the manga does in my opinion.
Character – 7/10
Kokkoku’s characters are simple but effective. Juri is headstrong and dependable. She cares deeply about her family and will do whatever is necessary to keep them safe. Her grandfather is likewise dependable and responsible, albeit he can be somewhat overprotective from time to time. Her father is bumbling and selfish, but he does genuinely care about his family at the end of the day. The character’s aren’t the deepest I’ve ever seen, but they work well for the story the manga’s trying to tell.
One thing that I appreciate about the characters here is that they all follow a clear line of logic. Everyone from the Yukawas to the main antagonists to even some of the random grunts have clear and understandable goals. Their actions and plans will change depending on what they learn about the situation (or rather what they don’t learn) while keeping the same basic goal in mind. This may sound like a weird thing to praise, but a lot of attention is given to each character’s motive. No one suddenly acts stupid for the sake of the plot. Every decision a character makes feels calculated and believable. There’s this one scene in particular (and I’ll try to be as vague as possible here to avoid spoilers) where two characters see some really important event happen. Both of them realize the consequences of this event and then they both instantly think about what the other one is thinking. They both come to the exact same conclusion about the situation and they make two very different decisions in a split second based on what they concluded about the other one.
And while none of the characters were the deepest I’ve ever seen, I cared enough about all of them that I wanted all of them to make it out of the situation alive. I especially found myself liking Juri and minor characters Majima and Sako a lot. None of the characters felt useless and they all felt like they contributed something to the overall narrative
Enjoyment – 9/10
So yeah I really enjoyed this manga. I was hooked from the start and was engaged up until the end. The final was kinda disappointing as I previously explained. Although that did diminish my overall enjoyment to an extent, I’m still glad that I read Kokkoku. It was well-paced. There was a very clear line of logic with the various mysteries and plot twists. It was a fun and engaging read. If you’re interested at all in the premise, I recommend you give it a try. Maybe you’ll like it. Maybe you won’t. I certainly did, but everyone’s gonna have their own opinions.
Overall – 9/10