Kobato.–First Impressions

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So far Kobato. (with a period) is my favorite series of an admittedly weak fall anime season. It’s cute, it’s funny and it’s charming. Maybe there’s more to it than that, or maybe not.

Almost 15 years ago there was another anime series created by CLAMP and animated by Madhouse. It was called Cardcaptor Sakura. It was cute and funny and charming. When I saw the first few episodes, I thought that was all there was to it–fun but lightweight. Gradually it became clear that this was a masterpiece, a great classic of animation and perhaps the best example of long-form television writing ever. (It’s not the best-written series ever, but the better ones are all much shorter.)

Since then both CLAMP and Madhouse have gone on to make many other series, none quite as good and some much worse.

This new collaboration is quite different from CCS, but there’s something about it that feels similar. That certainly doesn’t prove that it’s another masterpiece. In fact the odds are that it’s not. But I’m willing to stick around to make sure. At worst, it probably will be a pleasant diversion.

Kobato Hanato is a cute, sweet girl from…somewhere else. She’s come to Earth with a mission to heal people’s broken hearts. Every time she does that she will get a konpeito (confetti candy). She has been promised that when she has enough to fill her little glass jar she will be granted her heart’s desire.

Kobato isn’t exactly dumb, but she’s very naive and ignorant about humans and rather clumsy. Her only companion is Ioryogi, a plush dog. A nasty, bad-tempered, foul-mouthed plush dog.

Other characters include a nursery-school teacher with some sort of hidden past, a taciturn, unfriendly bishounen, and several of the characters from Chobits. This must be an alternate universe however; there are no humanoid robots, and while Chii and Freya exist, they have different names and seem to be ordinary human girls with an odd taste in hair styles and clothing.

So far Kobato has only had to deal with broken hearts of the most trivial sort (a little boy who was upset because he heard people criticizing his mother, and a middle school girl with puppy love problems.) Chances are the show is going to get darker as Kobato learns how cruel life on Earth can be, and how badly a heart can be broken.

If she manages one konpeito per episode, it’s going to take a long time to fill up that jar. Since the original manga doesn’t seem to be that far along, there’s a real risk that the anime will run out of material and finish up with some sort of unsatisfying inconclusive ending. Or maybe the writers have something better in mind. Only time will tell.