The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Kobato

Title: Kobato
Genre: Drama/Romance
Company: Madhouse
Format: 24 episodes
Dates: October 6 2009 – March 23 2010

Synopsis: Hanato Kobato has one goal in mind when she arrives on Earth. That goal is to fill her bottle up with healed hearts before the one year mark hits. By doing so, she is granted her wish of going to the one place she wants to most. Accompanying Kobato is a stuffed dog named Ioryogi, who guides her along her journey. Along the way, she ends up working in a daycare centre in a small town, where she starts to heal the hearts of those around her.

The Highlights:
Plot: Simple, but deep and insightful.
Hanato Kobato: A naive and cheerful protagonist, who really grows on you.
Finale: Unique ending from the manga, but appropriate and fitting for the anime.
Animation: Beautiful colors, scenery and character designs.

I would like to think that I have seen my fair share of CLAMP anime, and while many of them end open-ended or unfinished, I was really hoping for Kobato to do something different. I was hesitant to start watching mainly because the manga is ongoing and I wasn’t sure how the series would end. Luckily, the finale for Kobato wrapped up the series with an original ending that was both fitting and touching, making the entire 24 episodes worth the watch.

However, Kobato is not a series that shines through immediately and the beginning is quite slow and episodic. It takes awhile for characters to be introduced and even more time for each one to develop their own unique personality. Kobato starts off as a simple story about healing hearts every episode, but the underlying plot is brought together over the year that Kobato spends on Earth. It does not get very complex or twisted, but this allows the audience to appreciate all the smaller differences that makes this series stand out.

This is all brought together in the second half when you see all the character development come into play. The plot advances quickly and all the answers and solutions that Kobato is looking for, are shown. Due to the simplicity of the story, nothing is rushed or overly dramatic. The story evokes all the right emotions at the right time which made it an enjoyable ride. What I love the most is how subtly the story proceeds, and at the same time, the characters react and develop realistically to their situations. Nothing feels forced or out of character which makes the finale more enduring to watch.

Aside from the simple and cliché storyline, the characters are the highlight of Kobato. Each character has their own distinct personality and past that results in who they are and it shows. There are also multiple cameos from other CLAMP productions (e.g. Tsubasa Chronicles, Wish, Chobits) and while it does not take anything away from the experience, it rewards CLAMP fans with familiar faces. There are only a handful of characters that did not get their story told which something that I would have liked to see. However, I was able to overlook this given how the rest of the story fell into place.

I started Kobato expecting a shallow, unfinished story with another clueless heroine. Yes, Kobato is not the brightest bulb, but her genuine passion towards helping others draws you into her life of collecting healed hearts. The overall plot and story are not overly complicated, nor are there any surprises that leave you dying to watch more. Kobato is simply an anime that tells the tale of a young girl and what her wish is, how she gets there and who she influences along the way. I believe that given its genre and setup, this story proves to be unique and memorable in its own right.

The Rating: 7
7/10

Reviewed by: Buttercup

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