Every year for Halloween I carve a pumpkin for myself and for the trick-or-treaters to enjoy, usually based on a popular Hollywood movie with costume potential. To commemorate my post at RocketNews24, however, for this year’s jack-o’-lantern I chose my first ever anime theme! I went with one of my favorites from this fall’s line-up, Gugure! Kokkuri-san (繰繰れ！コックリさん), available on Crunchyroll .
Both heartwarming and twisted (for the non-anime-initiated), the series is an outrageously wacky, slice-of-life comedy adapted from a four-panel comic strip by Midori Endō . The large cast is led by Kokkuri-san and the young girl Kohina; the former is a motherly, lonely fox spirit (originally from Japanese folklore) with both human and animal forms, and the latter is a hardcore bocchi (loner) with a cup noodle addiction who claims to be an emotionless doll.
Read on to learn a little more about the show and the design process, as well as to get a nicer view of the lit-up pumpkin. There’s also a time lapse video that condenses 30 hours of carving into just over 11 minutes!
I began by gathering lots of potentially useable images in order to come up with a decent layout. The final design revolved around Kokkuri-san and Kohina, as seen in the promotional image below on the left. For Inugami-san, the gender-bending dog spirit who loves Kohina but hates the fox, I ended up using his animal form’s angry face (as seen on the right).
▼ The white-haired Kokkuri-san and noodle-slurping Kohina. The black-haired guy is Inugami-san in human male form.
▼ To tie together the various characters and props, some motifs from the anime’s opening credits were brought in.
▼ After some tracing and freehand drawing, the lights and darks were roughly established. Since the images were two-dimensional, I figured that much of the decision-making needed to create depth would happen while carving.
▼ Then the design was transferred onto the 14-inch-tall pumpkin (not including the stem). At this point I had not yet decided whether to incorporate the black outlines into the carving, since I hadn’t used them much in previous jack-o’-lanterns.
▼ The pumpkin in its early stages. Kokkuri-san looks a little scary here…
▼ A shot of the finished pumpkin. In the show, a beautiful fox-eared man appears after Kohina plays the divination game of “Kokkuri-san,” which used to be popular with school kids in Japan. Rather than haunting her, he ends up handling all domestic chores and taking care of her; he also makes it his mission to turn her back into a regular human being. Behind Kohina is the sheet of paper used in the game.
▼ Very similar to a Ouija board, participants in the game summon the fox spirit to ask him questions. In fact, “Gugure!” is a pun on a kanji character with multiple meanings that include “to look up; to refer to,” and the Japanese slang for “Google it!”
▼ A close-up of Kokkuri-san.
▼ A low-angle view. I personally like how the sleeves turned out!
▼ Kohina eating a cup of instant kitsune (fox) udon, a type of udon that’s topped with aburaage (thinly sliced tofu that has been deep-fried). Her take on the identity of the cheap, nonnutritious cup noodle is quite philosophical!
▼ Kokkuri-san in fluffy fox form with Kohina’s favorite timer and electric kettle, standing on a yet another cup of kitsune udon. My choices were actually between Gugure! and the boys from Free! but I just couldn’t resist this cute little guy.
▼ The cardboard mandarin orange box that Inugami-san carries around. He (sometimes a she) is obsessed with Kohina because she once was nice to him before he became a spirit, when he used to be a puppy abandoned in that box.
▼ “Get away from her!” He’s standing on a pot that contains salt, which is thrown around for its purifying properties in attempts to drive away Kokkuri-san.
▼ Meet Yamamoto-kun, an alien-like classmate of Kohina’s who everyone treats as human.
Finally, in the past I had been asked to film the slow carving process, so for the first time here’s an 11-minute time lapse video that gives you the basic idea; watch as the characters emerge from the pumpkin’s surface! All in all, this project was a lot of fun; if you’re itching to make fan art of your own, have at it and drop us a line!
▼ My favorite parts are the sections in which Kokkuri-san’s face begins to materialize.
You have plenty of time until next Halloween, so we hope to see your own anime carving efforts next year too!
Images: RocketNews24, Twitter , Crunchyroll