Series Review: Kobato

Kobato reminds me a lot of Cardcaptor Sakura, something that I've watched way before I call myself an anime fan. Besides that they both come from CLAMP, they're similar in a way that most of the series runs on a general story outline, with no real story running from episode to episode. In Kobato's case, all we know she's collecting "confetti" to "go to a certain place". While Kobato lacks the magical girl appeal that made CCS sell so well, Kobato makes it up with slice-of-life, emotional and heartwarming little episodes.

To me, to put it bluntly, the first half of the series is quite a drag. I wasn't too bothered by the fact that we know practically nothing about Kobato's origin and final destination, but the mini stories were not the slightest bit exciting, and it wasn't as beautiful or heartwarming was it made out to be. It was nowhere close to what Aria had achieved. I struggled to keep it on my watch list, and only Hanazawa Kana (Kobato's VA) and people's high recommendation helped me last till the latter half, where it finally starts to get interesting. Having a cute lead can only get you so far.

Admittedly, I might have gotten used to the story style and therefore started to appreciate the show for what it is. But the second part is also where we start to learn more about where Ioryogi and Kobato comes from, and the general storyline mix in with the mini "healing" stories made the show a whole lot more enjoyable.

What really scores for Kobato is how the series ended, and that's pretty rare for a anime original ending (since the manga is still running). I had my reservations because of how much of an unfeeling asshole the male lead was, but there are times where he did reveal his nicer side and that justifies how it all comes together in the end. I don't wanna reveal too much, but I would say that it's a happy ending, and an awesome one at that. It's a lot better than most shows I've watched, and it really does justifies its intended "heartwarming, emotional" theme.

In terms of characters, Kobato's clumsy and naive nature, paired with a cute and cheerful appearance makes her extremely likable. But like I said above, her character by itself wasn't quite enough to drive the story without the depth that comes late in the series. And I'm not too sure if Hanazawa Kana is the best choice for her. She might have perfect cute girl voice, but in some situations she might have sounded too aggresive for Kobato to me. Ioryogi feels like an irritating mascot at first, but he's a really awesome tsukkomi to Kobato's usual dojikko. Male lead Fujimoto, despite his role at the end of the story, is a pretty useless character throughout the series. Though I must give credit to his subtle kindness at times, he is mostly a one-dimensional dick that I don't care much for.

Madhouse did a pretty good job on the animation, though I can't say it's really great. A lot of works goes into the character appearances and lighting/shading effects, but I thought they could made the animation a lot smoother. Kobato's design are gorgeous, she always looks cute in her number of (seasonal?) outfits. The other character are more or less nondescript, but at least they aren't screwed up like xxxHolic. The songs were okay... The ED's sang by Kana herself were pretty good, but not good enough for my playlist.

I don't want to recommend shows based on the ending, so one must be able to appreciate the short, innocent stories that take up the bulk of the show to be able to really enjoy this. So it's pretty much a "highly recommended" and "not recommended" here. (I'm somewhere in between =P)

Plot/Concept: Excellent!
Story Style: Good
Audio/ Visual: Good
Value: 8