I’ll be frank: Kobato is another anime that I’ve been anticipating this year, along with DTB2 and FMA2. Who doesn’t? Hanata Kobato is everyone’s favourite flat-chested girl ever. Okay, maybe that doesn’t sound right after all. But the fact remains Kobato is my favourite CLAMP work piece after Chobits. Now, just knowing that CLAMP is the one behind this assures you these: first, it’s definitely shoujo; second, it’s definitely funny; and lastly, it will feel pretty much similar to CLAMP’s previous works. I’m sure most of you have read Scamp’s first impression on Kobato and given his B rating for the anime, you know he won’t be blogging about it. So, this is where I’ll be filling in. But unlike my usual episodic reviews, I’ll do Kobato a bi-episodic review, which would easily fits into my hectic schedule as of late. So this review is kind of late but better than never. Now, enough ranting and to the review.
Episode 1 synopsis: Enter Hanato Kobato, a girl who ascended to our earthly realm from an unknown realm (beats me, all of CLAMP works have this same pattern of a story), who is in the mission to heal all the broken hearts to be collected as a way to fulfil her wish. With her, a plushie-looking beast, Ioryogi, who acts as her advisor to achieve her mission. Being new to the human world, Kobato acts like a total klutz, knowing no rationale to her behaviours as she is trying so hard to pass her preliminary test to qualify her stay in the human world. She ended up with bad company but was saved by Fujimoto Kiyokazu. He went on to continue his normal routine, working at a food stall at a sakura park, when he received a call from Sayaka-sensei. He left his work in a hurry when Kobato just walked in. One clumsy act and she messed up the food stall where Fujimoto worked earlier. Because of this, she offered her service to the stall owner as her act of apology. She started off great, until she was asked to prepare a nabe (hot pot). She however took this as a test at her culinary skill. Boy, her cooking skills are way too similar to H&C’s Hagu. Even so, the result was unexpectedly good and was well-received by all the customers who took a bite from her special nabe.
Later that night, after Kobato finished her work at the food stall, a crying baby caught her attention. The baby’s grandmother who is there taking care of the baby, explained that the baby’s mother is busy at work and usually sings to calm the baby down. So Kobato decided to sing in place of the baby’s mother. Ioryogi admits to her good singing ability and compares her to Kohaku. After the scene at the sakura park, Kobato asked Ioryogi for her day’s performance but he denied her a pass. The baby’s grandmother happened to pass by and thanked Kobato (Ioryogi immediately played stuffed animal as his cover) for her singing that made the baby happy. Upon hearing this, Ioryogi had a change of heart and decided to pass her instead. At that cue, a magical flask appeared from the sky which Kobato needs to fill with fragments of broken hearts. From that on, Kobato was determined to complete her mission so that her wish to get to a certain place granted.
Episode 2 synopsis: The next day, Kobato admires the flask and begins to wonder how she would fill it up with those heart fragments. Before she could set off to begin, Ioryogi warns Kobato not to talk to him as it is not normal behaviour to talk to stuffed animals (which Ioryogi pretends to be). This had to be explained because she really lacks a human’s common sense. So Kobato begins to scout out to blatantly ask people who has a broken heart needing healing. Having a couple of failed attempts to collect heart fragments, she stumbled upon Fujimoto and decided to follow him. That brought her to a nursery home where she meets Okiura Sayaka, or better known as Sayaka-sensei, who is a teacher there. Sayaka told Kobato that the nursery home is understaffed and she decided to help in hopes to obtain her first heart fragment. In the nursery, she mingles with the children there when she was asked about her father. She could not answer this, considering that she may not have a father figure to begin with, but her no-response caught the attention of one of the boys. Thinking of a way to occupy the children’s time, she decided to go for dancing. The children then brought along Fujimoto to play the organ. Turns out that he too is a teacher at the nursery. He however wasn’t feeling too jovial as the children to see her there and asked her to leave the place. She insisted to stay to help out but he pointed out that she could do nothing. Sayaka who passed by however decided to let her stay and asked them both to get along. Kotabo went on dancing with the children while Fujimoto plays the organ.
It was the children naptime when Kobato mingles with Sayaka and Fujimoto when she remembers about Ioryogi whom left behind. Before leaving, she asked if she could join them again tomorrow. Fujimoto opposed to the idea, adding that they have no clue about her background. Sayaka agreed otherwise, out of pity for Kobato who could not figure who she is for the moment. As she was leaving the nursery, Fujimoto warned her not to return if she intends to help out of pity or curiosity and would only cause trouble to other. This indeed troubles her, pondering if everything she is doing is troubling other instead of helping them. She added that she could not differentiate those who has a broken heart or not and whether or not they need healing for it. Ioryogi, in a consoling way, asked her to heal them anyway. As she walks back to the playground (I suspect she’s staying there for the moment), she runs into the boy whom she met in the nursery earlier that day. He told her that he is waiting for his mother to return from work. He adds that his mother is working hard for him and Kobato finds this amazing. The boy, Toshihiko, was surprised by her response because the common response he would get is that her mother was ill-judged as a bad one. Kobato thinks that his hardworking mother is a wonderful thing and gave a round of claps for it. Toshihiko was touched to hear this, then hugs Kobato with joy. At the playground, Kobato noticed something is inside the flask. Ioryogi explained that it was from Toshihiko whose heart Kobato managed to heal after she said that his mother is a wonderful person and being kind to him. This motivates her more and wanting to give a name to the thing that appeared in the flask, Ioryogi names it konpeitto.
Thoughts: How is it not possible for me to keep my expectations high for the show when you have a CLAMP label on it? My bad that I hardly follow Kobato, which I used to read from my occasional purchase of now-defunct NewType magazines. Chobits remains my favourite work from CLAMP and yet I still find Cardcaptor Sakura more adorable to watch than Kobato, at least, in animation. Ultimately, Kobato looks much better in stencils and judging by the genre, I doubt it will garner a large audience to the show. The real addiction to Kobato is Kobato herself. A sweet naive girl who at most times, acts like a klutz but this very behaviour of hers is addictive. Spoiler alert here: as the story develops, so is her emotions that she will be feeling for the first and by all means, foreign and new for her. And this includes love (it’s a no-brainer who she falls in love with later in the story). Judging by how the plot may progress, it shows clearly how Kobato plays by CLAMP’s usual story pattern. Despite saying how typical the story may get, there is no denying the real reason why you’ll keep on watching is because of Kobato. Only one word to describe it: MOE!
Episode 1 screencaps:
Episode 2 screencaps: