Posted by psgels on 23 March 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews, Kobato




Kobato is one of those series that at first sight isn’t anything special. It starts with a premise, and repeats that for a bunch of episodes with a number of questionable results. In Kobato’s case, she has to heal a number of people’s hearts. I too wasn’t that much interested by this premise, having seen a few too many series with similar premises that never really went anywhere in the end. Kobato however, did.

The people that Kobato heals in the first half of this series range from nice enough to mediocre, so it’s understandable to get turned off at first. But oh, the character-development in the second half more than makes up for it. This is one of those series which is greater than the sum of its part. Through its entire airtime, it never forgets what it’s supposed to be, and what it’s supposed to build-up for. Every of the early episodes spends time to flesh out the characters, while the later episodes use this build-up to deliver with an excellent emotional impact, resulting in a heart-warming series.

Kobato truly stands out in how incredibly genuine she is. I found her an airhead at first, but her personality and innocence turned out to be so addictive that I couldn’t help but root for her. And true, the story in the second half can get pretty soppy at times, but this isn’t the show that tries to pull deus ex machina for extra drama, and instead carefully builds it up.

Madhouse has done the animation, and despite that you can easily see that this wasn’t the series that their best artists were working on, they still delivered great graphics, allowing Clamp’s character-designs to shine, along with a few episodes that look absolutely gorgeous.

Kobato’s story is very simple, but it has really proven that it’s in no way a disadvantage. Due to its simple plot it had all of the time it needed to properly tell the story that it wanted to do. the ending is wonderfully un-rushed, and provides an amazing conclusion to the series that made optimal use of the time it spent on building up. This isn’t a series for people who dislike overdramatic-ish series due to the soppy parts, but this series’ second half hit all of the right buttons for me.

Storytelling: 9/10 – Never forgets the meaning of build-up. Simple, but very effective.
Characters: 9/10 – Excellent character-development, though the drama can get a bit soppy at times.
Production-Values: 9/10 – Madhouse rocks, even in their less-budgetted series.
Setting: 8/10 – Good attention to detail to the series’ small surroundings, plus some Clamp references that don’t feel forced or rushed.

17 Responses

  1. Acylia says:

    I agree with you there, and I’m glad you picked Kobato up and followed it(her) to the end. Sometimes series tend to surprise us. :D

  2. luckyhuh? says:

    It was wonderful, i have been very displease with lots of endings(sora urrr and many others!) but with this the build up was so nice and steady, that i couldn’t help but feel satisfied, it remained me of the days i used lo love anime, maybe because i am getting old and after 18+ years of watching anime my patient for it, has being running low with every year as more real life stuff piles up, kudos to this series for bring back once in a while this prodigal son, i think the last time i felt like this was spice and wolf.

  3. kyoko-han says:

    I actually cant agree with your rating. The build up could have been better to be honest with you. I understand why they didnt have much to work with since the manga is so short.
    Alot of characters didnt get fleshed out enough like for example ioryogi and his friends what did they try to do to God of all people that they were turned into objects. What was ioryogi after? I also felt okiura character was wasted. He could have been so much more and perhaps an actual rival. i would have loved more character development with him.
    As it stands I feel sorry for his character he looks cool but he wasnt executed properly.
    Overall I liked the last two episodes it was definitely well done a bit over dramatic which was completely unnecessary but overall it was cute. I would have liked it if fujimoto cut his hair for his new job but well.

    I have to give this series a good 50/100

  4. xiao1 says:

    such a cute series. I love love loved it to pieces. I do wish they gave more back story to Ioryogi though. Well, I guess I’ll turn to the manga then!

  5. Suu says:

    I agree with Kyoko-han’s opinion. The ending was very typical of a CLAMP series. I felt like it was reminiscent of other things they’ve done and maybe I would have appreciated it more having not known what to expect.

    I also found the– everyone gets a good ending AND our couple meet again AND they get their memories back so they can live happily ever after –was a little TOO corny even while I really REALLY wanted to feel touched. I loved the bittersweet piano scene at the end and then the moment Kobato was like “oh my! my memories are back TOO~” I had a headdesk moment. I would’ve liked to see Kobato and Fujimoto meet again at least without memories at least to suspend my belief of the perfect happily ever after.

    Overall it wasn’t ‘bad’. Kobato was sweet and I enjoyed watching it. In fact, a lot more than Kyoko’s 50/100 (so harsh, dear!) But I do agree this story could’ve made better use of its time with all the episodes that did nothing for the plot. And hell, I love slice of life, but if they were going to make it this dramatic at the end I think they could’ve been more consistant with the drama and went a little easy on the fluff. You could’ve watched a few episodes at the beginning and end and got the whole series.

    But eh, I’m so hard to please :P Oh well! At least it was pretty

  6. Ebod says:

    Right, so after watching the last episode with subs, I think I figured out how it went.

    Kobato died early and made a wish to cross time and dimensions to be with the person she loves the most (which was alternative universe Fujimoto).

    However, she fell in love with the current Fujimoto, so when she was whisked away, her wish changed because she no longer wanted to be reborn in the other dimension with the other Fujimoto. Everyone thought she was gone forever as even though her wish changed, the contract stayed the same.

    HOWEVER, the contract said the she could transcend time and space to be with the one she loves the most. The person she loves the most is now present day Fujimoto, not the alternative universe one.

    So, as per the contracted, she DID transcend time and was reborn again to be with Fujimoto (thus explaining her age – 17? 18? – even though she was only granted her wish 4 years ago).

    Phew, hope that makes sense. xD

  7. luckyhuh? says:

    Well, i know there were some short comings with this anime, and i acknowledge them, but damn all those when flying out of the window the moment i found my self crying like a girl, i do think that the sum of the good parts of this anime completely out weight the bad, and this is from someone that with the years have become a hard-ass towards anime because i simply too old to be flapping at any anime S!#$, that is coming from japan this days.

  8. Alec says:

    the ending was nice and everything, but I would have proffered if she didnt have the deus ex machina part in the end where the curter Kobato remembered her previous life.

    i would have prefered if she was a reincarnation, just like shuichiro’s case. that would add abit more DRAMA to it… its not a happy ending, but its 100% better than the current ending.

  9. inkka says:

    Aww…Happy ending…Usually I don’t like deus ex machina too much. but damn. The ending of Kobato made me cried like baby.I’m satisfy too much to see the two happily together.(Especially when I see how much Fujimoto cares about her.)
    And Thanks for the little fantasy theme that always appears.Little Deus ex machina can acceptable anyway.

    And the “look a like” happy and questionable ending of this series make you can imagine what the thing that truly happen to Kobato.(I like this way). You cannot sure to say that everyone can remember her or why she is in that place(the condition of your imagine is around 4-6 years after ep23 and her story that Kohaku told). if Fujimoto can remember her only. Of course.It’s a little sad for me.

    Talk about overall-review. I really like this series. It really heart-warming. It really excellent character-development(For me I give this section 10/10. Different form you).
    You can see obviously that Kobato in ep1 is different form ep23-24.You know…some series you say character development is so good. But You can’t prove that anyway.But this series is different.It can prove with Your eyes.

    (First half of this series is really help for impact stroy that It did in second-half. and..At least the main premise is about collect people’s heart right?. so it didn’t the bad thing for them to do such of thing for half of series. Hey you remember the first thing that they said about the story of this series?? and It’s concern about Kobato’s contract anyway).

    And what the problem with “Simple story”(But with some detail that it gave.It didn’t much simple to me.) This is the way that you can get the highest genuine drama.Yes It’s really effective Because you cut and abandon the smart story that always has bad guys blahhhhh.So Your attention is mainly at character and You see. What the thing that they give to us!!

    Wonderful..Kobato I love her !!

  10. inkka says:

    hmm..I forgot to tell the thing that I say about the character development of Kobato. Why It can prove with your eyes..

    Because Kobato’s wish is CHANGE.
    at the end.

  11. Reltair says:

    I stopped half-way during this series. So the second half is even better? I’m going to have to pick this up again, especially if it has a happy ending.

  12. totoum says:

    i’m with alec on this,the ending would have been perfect for me without the deus ex machina,fujimoto finds kobato again but she doesn’t remember him but still falls in love with him,they live happily ever after and maybe one day when they’re really old fujimoto tells her the story of how she first met him.

    But I can live with this.

    A couple of note

    First,kudos to hanazawa kana who voiced kobato ,she’s maybe the only actress who can do a “moe” or “airhead” voice without annoying me at all.

    Second,psgels said:”and despite that you can easily see that this wasn’t the series that their best artists were working on”

    I originaly started watching because there were some of madhouse’s best staff working on this,it’s just that they probably had a limited budget.

  13. kyuzo says:

    lol. yey for an ending that made viewers overuse the term deus ex machina.

    ending was perfect for me. i’d rather have this than what most people wanted, a bunch of pictures showing how happy both of them are in the future. it fully closed the series. also, it gave the chance to show how everyone else, who played quite a part in the series, were doing. predictable as it may, it was well executed.

  14. Firechick says:

    I wonder why people are saying this anime had a limited budget? I sure don’t think it does! I think this has one of the best animation artwork I’ve ever seen! Especially the flowery backgrounds!

    Anyway, I loved CardCaptor Sakura so I felt like watching this…and boy am I glad I did! But I haven’t decided whether I’m gonna put it in my top 20 yet. But I definitely loved it to bits!

  15. psgels psgels says:

    Firechick: well, let me put it this way: it aired right alongside Madhouse’s Aoi Bungaku. Of course it would pale in comparison to that one. ^^;

  16. Miguel says:

    I loved this show and agree with the review 100%. The character developement for Kobato was great. This has almost none of the typical cliches. Kobato has no memories for a good reason that isnt a bad car accident, she is an airhead but is so different from all the other airheads in animes, she is one of the most likable characters I have ever seen. And its nice to see an airheaded character that isnt fanservice for a change. The animation was some of the best Ive seen, madhouse can do anything. All the characters were unique. i loved it.

  17. Robin says:

    They say that Kobato’s wish has changed, but has it really? Kobato’s wish was always Fujimoto…only the nature of the wish changed as Kobato prefers to spend more time with the present day Fujimoto than reincarnate…

    However, in the end, if we assume that Fujimoto’s “Kopentou” filled up Kobato’s bottle and therefore granted her wish, guess what? She ended up in the same world as Fujimoto again! Fate brings them together even across diffferent universes. The Fujimoto in this world may very possibly be the reincarantion of the Fujimoto from the other world…

    However, the transformation from a family kind of love to a romantic kind of love between the two is kinda…but as they say, their love transcends above all these things…

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  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 08:38 AM)
    Jesus I never expected that doing a myanimelist/letterboxd account thing would be so hard. I’ve seen a scarily higher amount than I thought, its insanely hard to remember everything to add.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 06:17 AM)
    It seems then that the future of the franchise’s anime adaptations rests a bit on Schwarzesmarken’s success, which looking at the buzz doesn’t seem favourable at all. I doubt it can regain the lost audiences.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 06:14 AM)
    That would suggest that the author(s) had the foresight of including seemingly useless stuff that will come into play later. That’d be impressive if they did, as these kinda series are make-it-as-you-go.
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 01:59 AM)
    It’s difficult to put into words but essentially while the first game isn’t good, it does work as a tool for introducing and endearing you to the characters. Then Unlimited sets down the rules of the new world. And finally alternative proceeds to kick your ass into next Tuesday.
    That’s sort of why I don’t think it would have the same effect if it was an anime. VNs allow you to get a more personal connection with the characters.
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 01:55 AM)
    It’s not quite the same. It’s more like there are things in extra which seem insignificant but turn out to play an important role later. It wouldn’t really work the same if you did it in reverse order. Character history is a bit different too as each game is essentially an alternate universe. The character histories in extra are different from those in alternative.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:38 PM)
    And also remember how Darker Than Black had a big jump between the main series and Gemini of the Meteor. They later made a 4 episode OVA that covered the gap, and although you knew the outcome it was still entertaining; or at least more than the Gemini one. There’s merit to non-linear chronology and storytelling, but it is usually very hard to pull. The audience is intrigued by secrets that can later be uncovered, although in anime the pay-off is not always substantial.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:32 PM)
    I don’t know, the audience usually only needs very limited information to figure out dynamics and histories between the characters.
  • AidanAK47
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:27 PM)
    A 13 episode series would work for the second title unlimited. But Alternative is a pretty long visual novel. You need at least two cours to give it justice. Making extra an OVA could work but you do need it for alternative. But it’s not an optional part of the trilogy. It needs to be read first, so that events later have a greater impact. Personally I am not even sure Muv Luv can even work in another medium.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:12 PM)
    That might compress things, but I think a good screen-writer can fit pretty much any VN in 12-14 episodes (covering just the main route).
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:07 PM)
    @Aidan: then the best solution would’ve been to make a two cour season covering the 2nd and the 3rd book. Have the cours air two anime seasons apart, and in the middle have an offshoot short OVA that covers the 1st book, but has a more harem comedy feel to it. Think Full Metal Panic and Fumuffu.

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