One of the most underrated animes EVER. After watching both seasons of Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles and full-knowingly getting my heart smashed into a million pieces watching the OVAs, my heart finally had some closure with this heartwarming tale of girl and her wish..
STORY: Like I said before, Kobato is the tale about a girl's wish. The title character Kobato Hanato is such a girl. Obviously not of this world, she is given the task of filling a bottle with "Konpeito" or candies, which represent the hearts of people. Her mentor, a stuffed dog named Iorogi which Kobato pronounces as "Ioryogi" is always by her side to make sure she stays on task...even if it means frying her like a piece of chicken! Kobato is a curious girl, of course, and soon finds herself volunteering at Yomogi Nursery. The story builds itself on that plot as Kobato tries to heal the hearts of people she meets.
But her journey isn't that simple. Cliche CLAMP. However, since Kobato doesn't involve so much heavy fantasy like TRC, and since it IS a shojo, Kobato's drama is delievered with real life situations. Yomogi Nursery for example is suffering from some severe debt problems. The employees who work there work extra jobs in attempt to pay the debt off, but it still isn't enough to even afford new toys for the kids. Plus, there are some persistant (albeit smokin' hot) debt collectors and sharks who frequent the nursery's premise. Making time for other things seems to be one of Kobato's main dramatic sources. Many of the hearts she heals involve characters who are overloaded with work and no time for family.
Though that may sound boring for some, Kobato's pacing is able keep you interested. Because the drama deals with real life problems, it's more relatable to the viewers. Things such as the loss of a favorite tree or finding an abandoned cat can hit hard to home. This is a tearjerker series without the death of a favorite or endearing character (I'm talking to YOU Clannad..). Invest in some tissues as you continue to watch because those tears can sneak up on you. This IS CLAMP though, so the story WILL get darker and more depressing..just letting you know.
ANIMATION: I won't go TOO far in depth about the animation because this IS CLAMP we're talking about. The creators themselves stated that Kobato has a significantly different animation style than most works and they're right. For starters, the characters aren't their usual 20 heads high for a young adult. The hair is especially well animated and unique (have you SEEN Kobato's luscious locks??) and it doesn't have that stereotypical shojo look that usually drives me AWAY from the genre.
As usual, CLAMP succeeds in creating some of the most attractive looking men in anime..shoot, the WOMEN are downright gorgeous too!
SOUND: While the music in Kobato is no short of fantastic, I DO feel it was a bit repetitive. That MAY have been because I watched multiple episodes in single nights, but after awhile, Kobato's song and the children's song lost their emotional magic.
CHARACTERS: Definitely this series' strongest point. While Kobato may have some Mary Sue-ish traits, like her purity and inability to be hated unless you're an a**hole, she delivers this in a way..hm..in a way that..makes it seem like we'd WANT her to be real. Seriously, wouldn't the world be SO much better if we had people like Kobato, going out of their way to returns our umbrellas or offering to sing our children to sleep? She's the kind of person we'd want to be friends with. She is impossible to hate and for all the good reasons.
..and then we have Fujimoto. Kobato's polar opposite colleague at the Nursery. Makes you wonder why he doesn't scare the children with that negative aura around him. As we progress into the series, though, we see that he has a pretty dang good reason to have a pole up his behind. Each episode seems to show Fujimoto working a different sidejob in order to pay off the nursery's debt. On top of that, the guy's studying in college as a law major. Talk about a heavy load (BTW, he does the laundry too).
Among other characters are the people Kobato has to and eventually DOES heal. With TRC being the only CLAMP series I ever watched, I'm guessing that a good number of these characters are from other CLAMP works. Most of these people, while they may be introduced as only important to a single episode, actually reappear and play a significant role in the series as it progresses, such as Fujimoto's friend Domoto who takes a liking to Kobato's positive nature.
OVERALL: Easily the most heartwarming anime series. Not as tissue-depleting as Clannad or Elfen Lied, but enough to make your eyes at least a bit glossy. The characters are charming and attractive, the story keeps your peaked and wondering if Kobato will get her wish, and the animation is soft. On top of that, the opening theme song is one of the most uplifting "good morning" songs you could ever wanna achieve your dreams with. Seriously guys, it's one of the best you'll ever see and will leave you smiling at the end.