Seita Horio’s manga Kokkoku: Moment by Moment (Kokkoku) is a fantasy noir manga series. It was serialized in Kodansha’s Morning Two magazine from August 21, 2009 to October 23, 2014. Volume one contains the first five issues.
Juri Yukawa hopes to find a job, just like her sister Sanae and her mother. After nineteen failed job interviews, it begins to seem that this may not be her destiny. It may be that fortune intends her to join her NEET brother Tsubasa and father Takafumi, who are useless layabouts (but nice ones).
The Yukawas are by no means wealthy; they’re not an obvious target for criminals. Notwithstanding, gangsters ambush and kidnap Tsubasa and his nephew. The Yukawas are told that they have thirty minutes to deliver a five-million-yen ransom. If they fail, Tsubasa will be murdered.
The only way the Yukawas could scrape together five million yen is to raid Grandfather’s retirement funds. But there’s no way to do this in the time allotted. Or so it seems. Grandfather has resources of which his family is unaware; for Grandfather, thirty minutes is all the time in the world.
Grandfather produces a seemingly unremarkable stone. Those who touch it — Juri, Grandfather, and Takafumi — become the only moving beings in an instant of frozen time. The same mysterious power that allows them access to stasis also permits them to move and breathe normally, walking through a world otherwise unmoving.
The gangsters who snatched Tsubasa and Makoto are caught in stasis as the Yukawa trio enters the appointed rendezvous. The trio push aside (rather than kill) the gangsters and start retrieve their relatives.
Surprise! Another ambush! A bunch of cultists pop into the Static world and attack Juri, Grandfather, and Takafumi. Takafumi is knocked out, but Grandfather again saves the day. He has a previously unmentioned ability to teleport short distances, which he uses to save himself and Juri. One of the cultists tries to cut Makoto’s throat. The frozen world has rules and those rules are firmly enforced. A giant appears and crushes the would-be killer’s head.
Juri and Grandfather are on the run, but the cultists have Takafumi. We learn that they belong to a cult called Genuine Love, a cult that has had their eye on the Yukawas for quite some time.
Each moment of frozen time is independent of other such moments. Someone who enters the Static world at twelve noon couldn’t interact in any way with someone who entered it at 11:59:59.999999999 AM. This means that if Takafumi is out cold in the Static world, his relatives must remain there as well or potentially lose him forever.
You may wonder why Grandfather had never bothered to mention the magic stone and the Static world to his family. Well, Grandfather appears to think the whole business is more trouble than it’s worth. It’s not clear what’s allowed and what’s not; if you make a mistake, a giant will kill you. Nor is that the worst thing that can happen to you in the Static world.
Also, the old man has a touch of dementia, which makes explaining his powers a tad difficult.
The cult, however, has no qualms about messing around in the Static world. That’s because they seem to attract an endless supply of expendable knuckleheads. The person running the cult isn’t an idiot, but he’s still figuring out the rules of the world. Losing minions in job lots doesn’t faze him in the least.
Volume one does everything one could want in a first volume. One cares about the characters; one is given just enough information about the mysteries of the Static world and the mysterious cult to whet one’s appetite for further episodes.