When you review comics or manga every week you tend to find repetitive storytelling. At the very least you see tropes at work to get the reader clued into what is being conveyed, which can grow tiresome. Who wants to read stories that are predictable and repetitive? That’s why I picked up Kokkoku: Moment by Moment because I had no idea what to expect. I was rewarded by a narrative that seemed to trick the reader at first and then dive them right into a story that was huge in scope.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
In order to save her brother and nephew who have been kidnapped by a mysterious religious group known as the Genuine Love Society, Juri and her family cast a spell using a stone hidden by her grandfather to enter the world of stopped time known as Stasis. However, when they infiltrate the kidnapper’s base, they’re met by other people who can also move about freely. With grotesque creatures lurking about, will they be able to escape the parallel world and return to their normal lives?!
Why does this matter?
Don’t let the cover fool you — it’s not a monster mashup like Pacific Rim. It’s actually quite a thinker. The story is intriguing as it pulls you into a new religion (or is it a culture?) and shows you a magic not even those who wield its power understand.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
The story itself will make you contemplate the real world.
It’s pretty clear writer and illustrator Seita Horio was aware of the weight of their story, as the story slowly unveils its main characters without any magic or drama. Juri lives a rather boring life with a deadbeat father, brother, and semi-deadbeat grandfather. The first few pages offer some sort of magic, but it’s vague and from the perspective of a child, so can we really trust it? Then Juri’s nephew is kidnapped along with her brother and the shit hits the fan. It’s not until the grandfather is forced to do something that a magical ability is set free. This manga is very good at defying your expectations after a seemingly ordinary introduction. As the story progresses rules are explained as far as powers, the force of nature that is bestowed on the cover, and eventually who this family really is and that’s incredibly exciting. Horio has managed to turn a family that is average — something I’m sure we can all relate to — into something spectacular and interesting.
I don’t want to spoil this story, but time travel is an element, at least on some level. I’ll say no more, but the concept of time is an inescapable element of the manga and one that’s explored in an interesting and new way. This isn’t Back to the Future stuff, but a frozen time sort of thing that has its own rules. The characters don’t understand it completely themselves, which adds an element of surprise to the manga, but also intrigue. More than once I was contemplating how something like this would be conveyed in film, and this story would suit that format quite well. The manga is very visual, which of course is supported by the excellent art by Horio.
The art in this manga is highly detailed which helps sell the believability of the story. When things are frozen, especially in awkward positions, Horio manages to capture the awkward nature due to the detailed shading and fine detail to the ground and clothing. It simply looks real and that’s strange and somewhat awkward. Seeing a child face down in the dirt somewhat taut is a strange thing. If they’re dead they’d be limp, but not so here which helps sell the magical nature of frozen time. Other elements, like Saran Wrap on food, helps sell the believability of a scene.
It’s all about the stones.
It can’t be perfect can it?
There’s a mysterious female character who comes in and out of the story that’s more conundrum than curiosity. It’s an element that’s attempting to pique readers’ interest, but ends up being more of a frustrating element. There’s not enough information to understand what her deal is or how her past ties into anything, so it serves as a promise for more info to come, but nothing to sink your teeth into.
Is It Good?
I was blown away by this manga partly because it does a great job sneaking its incredible story into an everyday life of a family. This is a manga that should be on people’s radar because of its interesting mythological story and a unique way of looking at a seldom used ability. Once you’re drawn in you’ll want volume 2!