Kokkoku

October 21, 2018

I’m sure we have this fantasies of wanting to stop time and do whatever we want. Fortunately we can’t do that in real life otherwise time will never ever move forward with all of us busy stopping time trying to achieve our selfish goals. But Kokkoku isn’t an omnibus of mini stories put together about people stopping time and doing whatever they want and in the end reap what they deserve. Instead, a seemingly normal family discovers they have the ability to stop time and while it all seems nice and fun at first, there is also a dangerous cult who can do the same. They have to fight and survive their way through this stalled time while discovering other strange and bizarre secrets of this frozen world.

Episode 1
Juri Yukawa just failed another job interview. Her 19th one. She has a reason why she wants to leave her household. Her grandpa is old and retired, dad Takafumi is laid off and drinks in the day, brother Tsubasa is unemployed and is only interested in playing video games. Her sister Sanae is a single mom and perhaps the only ‘amazing’ one as she works to support her only son, Makoto. They don’t even know who his father is. But Makoto is the sole reason why Juri feels she has hope of this family. Sanae calls Juri to pick up Makoto from kindergarten. Because Tsubasa is being useless again, Takafumi thinks he needs some fresh air and go fetch his nephew instead. After Tsubasa picks Makoto up, suddenly they are kidnapped by ruffians. Soon Juri picks up a ransom call. 5 million in exchange for their lives. Don’t call the cops or they die now. Also, they’ll die if they don’t hand over the ransom at a certain building before a certain time. As the family panics on what to do, grandpa forces them to listen to him. He makes them put their hand on a weird stone as he cuts himself to drip blood into it. Suddenly time stops. After weird supernatural creatures absorb into them, they are able to move about. They head to the kidnapper’s hideout. Don’t worry. They have all the time in the world. Takafumi is in shock and wants a scientific explanation. Yeah, I don’t think our puny minds can understand it. But grandpa doesn’t know much about this world known as Stasis as it was passed down throughout his ancestry. However he cautions that there is a reason why one can’t use it very often. It seems people who do so will naturally give in to their desires like stealing or peeping. Until a point where they become devoured by this world. Grandpa doesn’t know what it means as he doesn’t intend to find out. Arriving at the place, they see the punks in the midst of roughing up their victims. Juri is mad and wants to rough them up. Grandpa notices some hideous creature forming behind her and tells her to prioritize rescuing their family members. As they leave, they are ambushed by a few guys who can move in Stasis. Apparently they have orders to kill everyone except grandpa. Grandpa tries to save Juri and uses his teleportation power but it only moves them a few feet away. Junji Sagawa notes that it is an ability only their bloodline can do and it makes him envious. When an underling threatens to kill Makoto if they keep teleporting away, that hideous bushy monster pops up behind him.

Episode 2
Flashback a few months ago, we see the Genuine Love Society (basically a cult) led by Shibata, telling his followers how they are going to change the world. But they need the master stone for that. Their great leader is Sagawa. Back in current time, the monster crushes that ruffians head! It then disappears. Gramps take Juri and run. He explains that monster is called Handler and is trying to protect people who can’t move in Stasis. There are some other rules too but grandpa isn’t clear about them. He heard people who fooled around too much in here end up as Handlers. Also, they can’t go back and get Tsubasa or Makoto since grandpa cannot teleport stalled people. Yes, he tried it before. Their only way is to redo the spell again. As a Stasis is like a film frame. They need time to flow again and then stop in a different Stasis to rescue the duo and hope those buggers aren’t there. But the problem now is Takafumi. They can’t abandon him and surely the Handler won’t protect those who are moving. Gramps’ plan is for Juri to go back and bring the stone here while he goes rescue Takafumi. We go back a little in time as after the monster killed the ruffian, some of his life force transferred to Tsubasa, enabling him to move. He played dumb by not moving. Shibata talks to Sagawa about the Herald (their term for the Handler). It seems Shibata is in a bind upon realizing they cannot kill stalled people in Stasis as this puts a damper on their plans. Sagawa has also talked to a new recruit about this, Shoko Majima. It seems she has been in this world before but that was like 17 years ago. Tsubasa finally moves when everyone is gone. Unaware of what is going on, he thinks Makoto is dead and carries him to the hospital. Grandpa sees Takafumi being taken by the henchmen to the cult’s base. He goes upstairs and sees a similar stone. When he sees a video when the family was using the stone’s power, he suddenly realizes their target is their stone and has sent Yuri on a ‘suicide mission’. How fast can grandpa run? Meanwhile Juri has returned but doesn’t see the stone. She is assaulted by several men who prepare to kill her as they have orders to vanish the Yukawa family without leaving a trace. I guess this means they can’t rape her and leave semen trails either.

Episode 3
Juri’s eyes turn white. No, she’s not dead. Suddenly she fights back and seems to purge her attackers. She manages to take the stone and run. As Majima witnessed this, she explains that the life force being purged is actually Spectres. Supposedly the supernatural spirits of Stasis. Merging with them allows you to move in this stalled time and when you are purged, you returned to being stalled. Majima knows this because she once had that power. With Shiomi arriving to check on things, Majima explains what happened so he has to go back to report it to Sagawa. Speaking of which, he is doing an experiment. He calls one of the hired subordinates to kill a traitor in their cult. He isn’t participating in this and is stalled. The moment he is about to kill him, the Herald pops up and kills him. Sagawa observes that once again the head is crushed, signalling the Herald might want to get rid of the killing intention from the brainwaves. Also, the Herald is smaller this time and it could mean it needs lots of energy to maintain its form and its uptime is limited. The Spectre in the dead killer pops out and goes into Makoto. Tsubasa is shocked he can now move. Tsubasa tries to play dumb at what is happening but the kid is smarter than him. Of course being a kid, he goes to play around with all the stalled things. Uncle has to chase after him and the fun stops when his back gave way. After Shiomi reports to Sagawa about Majima’s finding, Takafumi is brought to see him. He is told the stone in their possession belongs to them. As Takafumi only knew today he could enter Stasis, Sagawa offers to make a deal with him. Juri manages to reunite with grandpa who is apologetic for not thinking this through. However they are ambushed by more assailants. Oh boy. This teleport tag is going to take a while. Just when they manage to get away and breathe a little bit, a guy who is pretending as a stalled suddenly goes in for a quick stabs at Juri’s back.

Episode 4
Grandpa was fast in tackling that dude. Juri then purges his life force. She asks grandpa and believes she has come to Stasis before. Flashback shows they did. She was sad her dog was going to die of old age and she was willing to stay here forever. When grandpa wanted to bring her back, she struggled and almost purged him. He managed to cling on but realize he lost her. He frantically searched for her and managed to find her. It was at that point he realized Stasis was like hell. It was a good thing she forgot all this until now, eh? As they quarrel about the stone giving them problems, the ruffian return. They could only run so far and grandpa has no energy left. Juri is through running away (perhaps she can’t stand their sexist comments anymore). She purges them all! Badass! With grandpa’s help of teleporting behind the punk and restraining him, this purging combo works on all their pursuers. They return to get Makoto and Tsubasa but are shocked they aren’t there. Grandpa assures he only saw Takafumi being taken away. Juri examines the rope and it looks like Tsubasa freed himself. Examine the dead guy outside, she asks what happens to the Spectre when one dies here. Grandpa realizes it will slip out and perhaps it went into Tsubasa. Back to Majima’s side, they are waiting for orders from Sagawa and considering the possibility if Juri took the stone and run away, it’s over for them. As one of them is injured, he is of course short fused. Majima adds nobody can leave or enter Stasis without the stone. Like living here for eternity if they never get the stone? An argument ensues and that guy tries to kill a stalled. The Herald pops up and kills him! The Herald then crumbles into sand but does not disappear. Majima examines it and finds a human head inside it but not the one she is looking for. She explains this Herald has used up all its energy and won’t move anymore. Heralds were once humans but have transformed into inhabitants of Stasis. In the doctrine of the cult, there is supposed to be only one but there could be many. Majima sounds calm because she has witnessed a family member turned into one before.

Episode 5
Flashback shows Majima’s family also had that stone. It seems they caught up in the spell when grandpa activated it because at the same time Majima’s brother’s tears dropped inside it. The family are shocked to find themselves in the Stasis world. However because they are mentally weak, they soon turn into the Herald. Scared Majima was alone. She bumped into Juri. She too got freaked out and purged Majima before she turned into a Herald. Now, Majima’s ulterior motive is to test if Juri could really expel Spectres and hence using those guys to prove it. Her goal is to find her family who turned into the Herald and bring their bones back. Also, one must not lose the determination to live if you are to continue staying in this Stasis. Juri and grandpa teleport back to purge one of the guys before escaping. Majima and Sako are left as they search for the duo. Majima wants to talk to Juri but she’s not coming out. They give up and return to report to Sagawa on what happened. Because Majima points out there might be more than 1 Herald, Sagawa finds it interesting because it goes against the teachings of the cult. He wants to test it. He pretends to kill that stalled traitor and wants the rest to warn him if the Herald pops up. It’s hard at first but then a small Herald pops up. Shibata laughs at its size and abuses it. When he dares it by threatening to kill the stalled, suddenly it grabs his hand. Sagawa tells him to cut it off or be killed. When he does so, 2 more Herald pop up and decapitate him! Majima somewhat recognizes them as her family members since they are wearing familiar clothes. Meanwhile Juri and grandpa try to take Takafumi away. I know he is bait for the other henchmen to spring and attack them. But what are they waiting for? Because the family is like having enough time to argue and stuff. Once grandpa realizes they’re being tailed, he teleports the family away. Dang. They lost their chance. Sako prefers to follow Majima instead of those ruffians to keep his sanity. They decide to tail the Yukawa family in secret. Tsubasa and Makoto return home. But one of the ruffians tailed them home and reached there first. He hid the stalled bodies and the note Juri left them. When the time is right, he attacks and tries to stab Tsubasa who amazingly puts up a decent fight.

Episode 6
In the struggle, Tsubasa strangles and suffocates him to death. When it’s over, he realizes Makoto is not around. As he looks for him, the Spectre inside is threatening to leave. Luckily he stumbles into Juri and the old guys but at this point Tsubasa is in danger of turning into a Handler. Juri quickly purges him to prevent any further damage although he is now a stalled. Soon, they are confronted by Majima who claims they have Makoto. She blames them for all that has happened. To a point she even stalked Juri in front of her house? And something about she negotiating with the cult but won’t tell them her reasons. They are forced to cooperate as Majima explains her intentions. She wants to summon a Handler to retrieve her family. She will pretend to kill and before the Handler kills her, she wants Juri to purge it. But it is easier said than done since Majima has a hard time trying to ‘pretend’ to kill. However it appears in a flash when Takafumi does so. Thank goodness for grandpa’s teleportation or else he would have been done for. Juri leaps onto the Handler and tries to purge it but because it is huge, she needs many tries to reach into the deep core. All this while, grandpa’s teleportation serves as useful to save Takafumi’s life from the Handler’s smashing. In the end, Juri finally manages to purge the Handler and stop its violence. It seems the people inside the Handler are indeed Majima’s family. According to Majima, both sides acknowledged each other even if it was just for a split second.

Episode 7
Apparently Majima’s brother is still alive. But looking like a malnourished African kid. Soon after, the Spectre leaves his body. Majima makes arrangements so that when she leaves Stasis, she can bury her parents and bring her brother to hospital. Sako wants to team up with the Yukawa family as he feels he doesn’t want to be used anymore by the cult. Juri doesn’t trust him but grandpa at this moment prefers to gather allies. Sako says there are 7 members left in the cult including big boss Sagawa and Shiomi who is good at placing hidden cameras. Sagawa and Shiomi investigate Tsubasa’s body. Sagawa believes the Spectres are familiar with the Yukawa bloodline and hence drawn to them. He reveals his true intention of wanting to observe the world for a long time and hence a lifespan that spans thousands of times than normal humans. If this works out, he plans to install Shiomi as the next head of the cult. He agrees with Shiomi’s plan that if he becomes the head, he will seal Stasis forever. A cult member eavesdropped on them and believes Sagawa is going to betray them. Juri’s plan is to purge the remaining cult members, return to reality and destroy the stone to seal Stasis forever. Majima adds how the stone existed a long time ago but fell into obscurity. Only Sagawa realized it recently though she doesn’t know his real intentions. Takafumi seems to have a different thinking. He doesn’t think nor want Stasis to be sealed. Sako and Majima managed to lure a cult member to get some updates before Juri purges him. A couple of others are resting at the shrine. Noticing that somebody was here, they search the area and find the stone hiding in the tree. Sagawa continues explaining about the cult’s founder who went on to live for 500 years and wrote the scriptures. From what I understand, he became a Herald and Sagawa plans to follow that path. Turning into a Herald is just a process of that. When the cult member returns with the stone, he doesn’t hand it over. He questions Sagawa’s intentions. Sagawa reveals he wants to try extend his life using Spectres. If successful, his body will be a mummy for a while. He wants Shiomi to guard it as the cult’s head. Sagawa also forbids them from using Stasis during that period. The cult member is disappointed has strayed from the cult’s teachings and will make the doctrine come true himself. Sagawa is going to demonstrate what it’s like to be completely controlled by a Spectre as his life force starts seeping out.

Episode 8
It seems Sagawa is a hybrid of the Herald. He doesn’t turn into one and maintains his physical form, save for those bulging veins. Also, he is able to maintain his consciousness as he kills his cult members as prove he is doing it on his own will. The last surviving cult member he wants him to kill Tsubasa to see if Sagawa will have the urge to kill him. However Juri drops in to purge him before grandpa teleports away. Sagawa and Shiomi then retreat but take Tsubasa away. Majima believes it is a trap to lure them. Her plan is to negotiate with Shiomi and if he is on their side, everything else will be easy. Meanwhile Takafumi is watching Makoto. We see him slowly becoming rotten as he encourages Makoto to take the toy he wants without paying. Even the kid knows it is wrong! Shame on you! After pretending to pay, Takafumi thinks hard on how to convince grandpa to teach him how to use Stasis. Sagawa eats to replenish his energy. He grows big but is able to maintain his size. Just like a snake shedding its skin? There’s some explanation about controlling the Spectre thingy but I don’t understand. Sagawa senses somebody close so Shiomi goes to check and finds Majima. He knows about her intention to use Juri’s power to save her family. After confirming she was successful, he wants her to join them as it will be her best bet to stay alive. That’s the decision he came about to stay alive. He will bring Sagawa here. The others are waiting outside when they hear a commotion. Sagawa is attacking Majima. Man, is this like Hulk smash?! Majima is somewhat able to understand the laws of physics of Stasis, hence using some of its power to make it look like she could walk on objects in mid-air. When the other arrives, Shiomi attacks and slashes grandpa (but not fatal). Soon, Sagawa and Shiomi retreat. Juri finds Tsubasa and hides him while Majima treats grandpa’s wounds. They are unable to understand why Sagawa is doing this so when they return to find their stone, it is missing. Grandpa isn’t worried because even if they use it to leave, they can find it later. If they don’t, their goal to defeat them still remains. But Majima fears why they took grandpa’s blood. Because using one’s blood in the stone could also purge that person. Yup, looks like they’re doing it. Grandpa is starting to have this funny feeling…

Episode 9
Spectres are seeping out from grandpa. Juri tells him to imagine and teleport to the stone. When he does so, Juri smashes the stone and crushes its core. Things revert to normal in the Stasis. That is when Sagawa comes back in. But immediately he attacks Shiomi who saw this coming. Quickly he runs to Juri’s side and says he is switching sides. Grandpa teleports them out before Sagawa could smash them. With the stone destroyed, Sako is worried they cannot get out anymore but Juri still believes there is a way. You just have to be nice to her… They ask Shiomi about his intentions. He switched just to survive. After the stone is destroyed, he knew he would be of no use to Sagawa. He continues explaining Sagawa’s incredible sense of those around him but he could have a weakness and must watch what he eats or else the Spectre will eat him. As for Sagawa’s intention for all this, it is to become an immortal and observe not only mankind till the end but the entire universe! So that’s like becoming God? Hence he is going to become the only stalled person in the real world. While it might look silly, that is just a very short moment in Sagawa’s ‘time’. Juri thinks they have nothing to do with this if he wants to go to the future. However Shiomi warns that Sagawa intends to fight and will not let them go even if they truly won’t get in his way. For example, if a mosquito says it won’t bite you again, it will be easier to crush it than to believe it. Meanwhile one of the members killed by Sagawa turns into a Herald. Takafumi and Makoto return home and they see this. Oddly the Herald attacks Takafumi. I don’t think being a hero is going to do any good. However Makoto activates his power. He can order the Herald to stop. When the rest return and see this, they think Takafumi did this. This jerk claims the credit. But Juri knows better and wants him to prove it. So he orders the Herald to climb up there. Nothing happening. Suddenly it does. So does he really have the power? Actually it is Makoto silently using it to help uncle out. The rest think of using the Herald to combat Sagawa.

Episode 10
Takafumi thinks he can use this chance to greatly increase his reputation. The rest want to bring Makoto to somewhere safe but Takafumi argues it is his job to protect him. So he is going to fight as well as protect Makoto in the midst of battle? Suspicious… Since he won’t shut up, I guess they relent. As Shiomi advised, they have to act now as the more time they waste, Sagawa will use it to replenish his energy. They surround Sagawa and start their coordinated attack. Sagawa knows that a long drawn battle will be to his disadvantage as he will run out of energy. He could also sense Makoto as the one controlling the Herald and tries to target him. At this point the rest also discover that it is the kid who is controlling the beast. When Sagawa is pinned down, Sagawa tries to expend some energy to get out. He grows big but soon bursts into sand and becomes a shrivelled up old fart. Needing more energy, he eats the Herald. Still not enough, he runs away while the rest give chase. Although Juri and grandpa corner him, Sagawa offers to teach them how to control their consciousness and Spectres in addition of getting them out of Stasis without the stone. Juri believes he is only deceiving them. They then talk about Sagawa being a priest before. He claims he is not a madman but a normal person who can’t even go insane. So I guess we’re hearing his flashback now? Okay. He comes from a family of preachers based on a very old faith. Every week he would see his dad preaching the same thing to his followers. Like a stone pillar. He thought it is that invisible pillar that supports people and their morality that protect the world. He had a friend who was a child of a member as the only other kid he interacted outside school. One day when they head back home to get new amulets for new members, they caught their parents in the middle of sex.

Episode 11
Sagawa became disillusioned when he learnt everything was just for fun. His father died 5 years later and he was devastated. He wanted to leave the faith forever but his friend forbade him. Angry, he smashed the altar and saw the stone. That is when he became interested in Stasis and formed his cult to research on it. Sagawa views the normal world as nothing attractive but it is not the case for Juri. He wants her to return to her family. However Juri refuses to believe and tries to expel him. Sagawa can withstand it although very much weakened. Juri reasons that since he is devoted to his cause, he is not likely to leave everything to luck and hence this was just a distraction. Juri takes the cutter to kill him but grandpa doesn’t want her to dirty her hands. Since he too is hesitating, they argue. Until Takafumi barges in and stabs him with a sword! He tries to act tough and all but Sagawa turns into dust and his brains and lungs fly away?! Outside, he forms a cocoon and is believed to be regenerating. As there are threads all over the place, Takafumi tries to cut it down but realize too late the threads are so sharp this his own fingers are cut off! To avoid bleeding, Juri expels him. With Sagawa in this state, Shiomi suggests burying the dead and Juri has them promise never to hurt her family again. While resting, Juri tries to purge grandpa but he is quick enough to escape. Is this her way of saying goodbye? Instead, they treat Makoto nice for ‘one last time’ before Juri purges him (since he wanted to see mom so badly). As time passes, they realize Sagawa has extended his threads. He is also extracting nutrients from it. Majima who was watching Sagawa realizes she is trapped and cannot move. Shiomi experiments as he uses Juri’s power to destroy the threads. It’s their chance to destroy Sagawa once and for all. Thank goodness Sagawa is suspended low enough that a ladder could reach him. When Juri begins to purge him, she could see all his memories. She realizes he is the same as her but cannot worry about him s she has her own family problems. After she purges him, a foetus of Sagawa drops out. Grandpa slaps the baby’s buttocks as it cries its first breath of life.

Episode 12
Juri decides to take care of the baby? Shiomi worries his memories will reactivate but Majima explains about Spectres relying on genetics information to keep Sagawa alive so with him being reborn, there is no way his old memories will return. Juri adds that she saw his memories crumbling. So I guess that’s that. Now Juri has to send the rest back. Because Majima is being pessimistic, Juri slaps her first. Like that would give some positivism. She expels Majima, Shiomi and Sako. So now Juri and grandpa play house and take care of the baby? Yeah, they even have time to go have fun. Nothing is going to stop them. Eventually Juri purges grandpa in his sleep. He did say he wanted to go back but was waiting for the resolve to explain to the family. Juri had to do it now because they’re dragging their feet at this rate. Juri continues to take care of the baby and for almost 6 months, that is when she decides to purge him because at this point she is hesitating. Now all alone in Stasis, Juri has all the fun she needs without a care. Who is to stop her? Eventually boredom and depression set in so she takes a long walk. She tries not to think depressing thoughts until she stumbles into a strange Spectre. That is when she realizes she lost her reason to live in Stasis after purging the baby. She slowly transforms into a Handler and losing her consciousness. She is drawn to some light and when she touches it, she returns to normal. Although still in Stasis, she is shocked there is another blonde woman, Mariya (MAMIKO NOTO!!!!!!!!!!!!!) who can move. As explained, it seems Juri pulled her into this world. Mariya was born with a Spectre in her body and doesn’t age. Her husband was the one who created the stone. She often brought him into Stasis. Although many called him the Founder, she is in fact the true founder. Oh, he died back in 1880. Mariya wants to stay in this era a little longer and purges Juri. Time now resumes for Juri. Happy to be have time flowing? Well, now no money or handphone… Juri walks all the way back and upon reaching her doorstop, she sees grandpa waiting for her. He calls everyone as they are so happy to see her back. Juri too. Ending montage shows the Yukawa family doing decently well and Sagawa has grown up to be like Makoto’s age. He calls Juri his mom. This has got to be weird. Imagine a child who doesn’t know his real father. Unless of course, adopted.

One Moment In Time
So… That’s it? Damn, I must be sorely disappointed for expecting the final episode to make some big revelations or twists. But instead I have been left to ask a few questions like why didn’t Juri use the power to purge herself? Can she only do it to others? I mean, you just place your hand on the chest and bam! Purged. And then having this Mariya lady showing up last minute didn’t help either. Sure, it sounds intriguing especially about her past but somehow I feel that it is just a plot convenience so that Juri get return to her normal time and reunite with her family. Remember, Mariya could enter Stasis like as easy as breathing so she’ll be able to go in and out any time. At least that’s what I think. But thank goodness for casting Mamiko Noto as Mariya otherwise it would have really been a downer. So what ever happened to the rest of the cult and ruffians? Although some of them did die but for the rest who got purged, don’t you think they would go after the Yukawa family? Don’t tell me they lose their memories after being purged because that doesn’t quite cut it. Or maybe nobody is going to pay them even if they got the job done. Or maybe they got scared after experiencing Stasis and decide to return to repent, lead a normal live and never speak of it again. Like this anime. Haha!

Although generally the concept and setting of Stasis looks interesting and intriguing at first, but the more I see how it tries to flesh out the story and pacing of the series as a whole, it felt like it was getting harder to justify how to end things. Like as though it was trying its best to keep up and maintain its intrigue but with nothing really going for it, it’s like doing whatever it needs to keep going until they could somehow properly end it. Because you see, the plot is just so paper thin that there is almost hardly any. A family down on their luck suddenly discovers a hidden ability that supposedly runs in the family. A cult who somewhat wants to take them out. Their cult leader has an ulterior motive. The entire series feels like a horror survivor movie with Juri using her power to take out the baddies one by one until a few survivors left against the big boss. I guess that’s where your ‘action’ mostly comes from other than seeing the Herald crushing punks’ head to death.

Hence it is never sufficiently explained about the world of Stasis. From what we hear are just mostly ‘guesses’ and ‘observations’ of those who supposedly entered and returned. How the stone ended up in the respective sides are not explained but it is not as important as to why the Yukawa family possesses such unique powers in the Stasis. Why is it that grandpa has teleportation power while Juri possesses the purging power and Makoto too had some Herald controlling ability? It would have been a little bit better had they give up some insights but thinking about it, it might have been a bore since looking at how the way things have gone, it might not have played a significant factor. They just the power because of being passed down by the family thingy whatever. Like as though the family is given such powers to spice up the pace of this series and to give them a fighting chance against the cult who has numerous members as well as additional hands they have hired just to take them out.

Another mind boggling thing that bugged me was when Juri started hanging out all by herself in Stasis. She did eat some food and used up some resources in the real world. So when time resumed, don’t you think all those foods and drinks would suddenly vanish from the perception of normal people? Yeah, the grocery guy just stacked the entire shelf with fresh buns and breads. And then the next second, they’re all gone! I can imagine that all the resources consumed happened so fast just in that moment so it looked like it ‘disappeared’ in a blink of an eye to normal people (because they wouldn’t even know time had stopped). So what I am saying is, if Juri remained in Stasis forever and continued to consume the resources, wouldn’t the world suddenly just ‘die’ when those resources are out? One moment in normal life, things are going well. Suddenly the next second all the foods and drinks are gone! Oh no! See what I mean here? It would have been nice to see some of the people’s reaction in this anime to find such stuffs suddenly missing. The biggest unexplained mystery in human history when things just go missing without a trace. Because of the Spectres inhabiting one’s body, time flows normally. So does this mean Juri will age and die in Stasis? If that’s the case, I wonder how Sagawa was going to become God and observe all of time and everything. I also have to ask and wonder how people in Stasis go take a dump… They’re coming out and then it stops halfway out of your body. Can’t imagine this disgusting thing…

I am not technically wrong when I say that this series could be one draggy series because heck, more than 98% of the series takes placed when time is stalled! Only the first and last episode do we see that time is actually moving. Uh huh. Technically all the episodes in between are like the frames that happened in that single moment in time. As I have said that the plot is paper thin, hence a dozen episodes feel like a long time to flesh things out. Thus the reason why I said this series is draggy. Although I am not bored with this sluggish pace because some of the mysteries kept me intrigued, the way they unfold the mysteries bit by bit seems a bit too slow. Okay, I don’t really want everything to be revealed in one episode and then for the rest of the episode have no mystery and intrigue to look forward to. But sometimes I can’t help of wanting to scream out to move on to the next thing. Get it over with. However it is once again silly of me to wish things would move at a quicker pace since time is stalled and there is no incentive for these characters to quickly do things. Literally they have all the time in the world.

I can’t say the main characters are general interesting because take for instance the Yukawa family, they’re just a really normal family trying their best to make ends meet in the normal world. Juri tries to play the responsible family member because the guys are just useless or they are just too old or young to be relied on. I suppose as the only female in her family in Stasis, she has this obligated sense of duty to protect her family. Of course she also has the most useful and dangerous power among them so it makes sense she wants to use it wisely and efficiently. But other than that, she’s pretty normal. She looks badass just because she has no pity for the bad guys but then again if anybody threatens your family like that, you’re not going to show mercy to any of them.

Since Makoto is just a young kid and too young to understand what is going on, I figure he is perhaps the only character who is seen having fun. It is like he is oblivious to why all the people stopped moving and just goes around having fun in his own way. This kid isn’t scared of seeing the Herald and even hopes to ride it! I don’t think this is an amusement park. But his innocence brings a fresh air and hope than the other characters who are just too caught up in the moment (literally) trying to figure and stop things. Also a much better character than Takafumi who looks like he is going to walk down the dark side and my thoughts that he would become the final antagonist after Sagawa’s defeat but alas, looks like nobody in the Yukawa family is going down the rotten road yet. But even if you put yourself in Takafumi’s shoes, could you blame him entirely for wanting to use Stasis to his advantage? Why is it that some people are successful and some are not? If you have that chance to turn the fortune tables, would you do it? Questionable but hardly surprising for Takafumi who is already at the bottom of his life. Well, just don’t get caught.

I feel that having Majima in the mix is just to provide a little distraction and side plot. Otherwise the story would have proceeded the same without her albeit a little bit faster. She is a reason why I said the series was draggy because of her subplot to find her lost family. So when they are conveniently found and rescued, it felt like no big of a deal. She could finally find peace for her family and put an end to her long search. Otherwise, it doesn’t hurt to have another hot badass chick to hog the spotlight and fight alongside Juri. I figured they needed that Shiomi character because aside from him being the only handsome dude around, it is just for that minor plughole to explain how somebody could plant hidden cameras and spy on the Yukawa family. Also, we need somebody with that brains calibre to fight Sagawa and Shiomi looks and sounds like the man for that role.

Sagawa as the main antagonist is hardly surprising but in the end turns out into a disappointing character. He has this typical cliché looks of a main villain and initially what makes him dangerous as the cult’s leader is his calm and crafty manner. Probably his training from his religious days has him not show much of an emotion and this makes him a force to be reckon with. He is able to think calmly and perhaps stay on par with the Yukawa family. Sure, he too has his own issues but it doesn’t seem to be such of a big deal that you would want to take pity on him. But maybe when you’re in a religious cult, everything is so ‘straightforward’ like that and when the slightest deviation, you become disappointed. But still, it feels like a big gap on why he wants to become God and observe everything till the end of time. Even if he manages to become one, I am wondering if he would be able to remember them all. After all, his body and life might have transcend the normal observable time and life but his brain might not. So is he going to like walk everywhere, watch everything and remember everything? Heck, I can’t even remember what I ate this morning! Even if he is able to transcend into a higher being, will he still be himself with his own will and conscious? It looked like so but that is only because I believe that isn’t his final form and was just in a transitioning form.

This brings me to the Heralds themselves. They are supposed to be the biggest mystery and horror factor that the series has to offer but when the truth about them is somewhat revealed (even if they are just ‘intelligent guesses’), it somewhat felt like a downer. I know, blame myself for having such high hopes of these creatures when it first appeared. Probably that first Herald skyrocketed my expectations. So if the Heralds roam freely in stalled time, but this also means that they have to be present in other stalled times, right? So they’re like able to ‘teleport’ from one stalled time to another, right? Because with Sagawa almost turning into one, everyone assumed that there are no more Heralds in Stasis. Does that mean when there are no more of those creatures, whoever enters Stasis are free to kill any stalled people without consequences? Like I said, lots of things are not put together nicely and since they are quite loose, the more you think about it, the more your brain hurts. That’s why I stopped questioning them all.

The art and animation are pretty standard. One might think that animating this anime is easy because 95% of the series takes place in Stasis and hence everything else in the backdrop is static and need not be animated. Sure, it is slightly easier but no different than most other animes as well. Because all those other animes too don’t necessarily animate all in the background all the time. We are just ‘distracted’ to not focus too much on it. The other anime that I can think of that animates the characters and those in the foreground but the background is left like a wallpaper or backdrop is Mahou Tsukai Ni Taisetsu Na Koto: Natsu No Sora. Yeah, that’s a pretty old anime series. But that show wasn’t about stalled time so watching that series was weird.

One thing I want to note about Sagawa when he partially turned into a Herald, somehow I started thinking if the form he took on was inspired by a combination of The Hulk and Groot. If those 2 had a love child together, this is what they get! No kidding. The design of the Heralds are supposed to be creepy. Maybe at first but with the bushy like branches sticking out of their head, I sometimes can’t help think and wonder if this is their afro hairstyle! Oh no! Now I can’t stop seeing them in this light! Want to become a Herald? Hope you like the bushy afro-like hairstyle. This series is animated by a relatively new studio, Geno Studio whose only other works I have watched is Golden Kamuy.

One of the weirdest moments in the series has got to be the opening and ending themes. Flashback by Miyavi vs Kenken feels so out of place that it definitely doesn’t fit this series in any way that no one would see it coming. But the song itself isn’t that bad. Just weird. It is filled with wild frantic techno hip hop and funky bass lines that it is more suitable for a rave dance party. Making it sounding weirder is the background vocals going, “Aaah, aaah~” in some of the lines. If you hear the original full song of this, this ‘chorus’ starts repeating itself from 2/3 of the song right till the end! Be careful, you might get hypnotic at the end… The ending theme, Asayake To Nettaigyo by Boku No Lyric No Bouyomi is also weird. Sung in a very drowsy and sleepy voice, this is actually a calming peace despite its rap-like lines. A song that is good to listen when you wake up on nice mornings. But for the ending credits animation, is it sexy time?! Because we see Juri and Majima in their sexy undies in some scenes and they are drawn up to a very cute and sexy look. The series lacks fanservice so is this where they can freely sexualize our lovely ladies? Mmm, me approve!

Overall, at first looks this is quite an interesting series. However it fails to captivate in the end and making it more disappointing is its inability to properly finish and answer all the burning questions. What is the point of making the mystery even more mysterious and leave viewers scratching their heads instead of some mind provoking thoughts? The concept of moving within a stalled time and how each and every time if stopped is like a movie frame is also quite interesting but again it fails to capitalize on that as it soon became a ‘low budget’ horror survival series. The potentials of this series somewhat feels like the Herald crumbling into dust and vanishing forever, leaving a pile of unwanted sand. Yeah, that greatly sums it up. Can we move on and leave this series behind in Stasis forever? In the end, even if we all cannot stop time and do sneaky stuffs like peeking up a girl’s skirt (you mean this thought never cross your mind as a man or woman?!), but take heart that we are all time travellers. One second at a time.