Well, that was a cheap troll to begin a show…
Kotoura-san begins as a most tragic slice of life regarding a girl which can read minds. She ends up making everybody hate her for that, because she keeps revealing secrets of people that were better off remaining hidden. She gets rejected by everybody and lives a lonely life, until she is approached by people her age that are not bothered by her power and even aim to help her train and make use of it. Nice and cute so far but eventually a troll.
The fail of this show is that it tries to attract your attention with very tragic beginnings of various events, before it completely throws them away in ten minutes and replaces them with comedy and light fan service. We are supposed to sympathise with the girl and then keep watching regardless of the show not being dramatic but just another fluffy school life series.
Before I move to other aspects of this anime let me point out that Kotoura-san is by far the most attractive new title of the winter season for most in the fandom exactly because it is switching from tragic to comedy in a heartbeat. If you have watched enough anime, you will realize that the winning formula for most mainstream anime is to have very tragic premises with very light presentation; and this is what it does very good. Most viewers don’t care about a show being serious about its themes but rather to be an emotional roller coaster. So yes, the sudden mood swings will make most to laugh and cry like immature 14 year old girls, and in a way that is what the series was heading for in the first place.
That of course counts for the AVERAGE anime viewer, who is very easy to be impressed and treats anime as superficial entertainment. A veteran A-type watcher like myself will see the whole thing as yet another series that wastes its true potential for shallow entertainment. And let’s not kid ourselves; it is a shallow series that will be forgotten fast exactly because it is doing that. For the demanding audience, this anime is NOT really doing anything with its premise, other than trolling you into laughing right when you are crying. Works fine if you your emotions are an uncontrollable maelstrom, and doesn’t if you have self-constrain and prefer to look at the execution. Kotoura-san is undeniably a low-tier B-type show and not a high-tier A type that will be talked about in a few years from now.
So now that I have prepared you properly for how to perceive this show, let me point out that it is made with a low budget all across the board. The characters are all drawn very cartoony and there aren’t any fancy cinematics or songs to make the series attractive. Not that it has anything worth to be Kyoto Animation level or that good visuals mean anything in the longrun if the show still manages to inflict the watcher with emotions; a thing it manages even with the crumbs it throws at you. That is something noteworthy, especially for managing to be far more interesting to KyoAni’s Tamako Market that airs next to Kotoura-san and despite its budget it is just another mediocre moe show.
SCRIPT & CAST
Let’s move to the premise, which is becoming stupid very fast since the drama is always overblown and even unrealistic. And I will prove that by presenting both ends of the spectrum it tries to cover.
- Let’s start with the first episode, where the girl gets in trouble for talking when she shouldn’t. I understand that probing peoples’ thoughts is wrong and could easily make you a hated person, but just why didn’t anyone try to make use of this ability all these years? It is just impossible to imagine this girl never using it to pass tests easier. Or for her parents to use her for telling them what their relatives or supervisors really thought about them. Or to become the most powerful person in school by blackmailing or controlling information. Or to rule the world. Hell, there are so many secret organizations that could make good use of her, yet nobody ever tries to use that power to his advantage and just hates her. They don’t even try to send her to a school for problematic children and just tolerate her. Everybody is just pretending that everybody is fine, like it would kill them to try making use of the talents set in front of them. No sir, she doesn’t have amazing superpowers that can help us take over the universe; she is just a compulsive liar and a troublemaker. We are all dull and normal people, and even those who aren’t must pretend to be. Sorry if I call this A LOAD OF CRAP! The setting is not the middle ages; it is modern Japan where they make a spectacle out of every minor and useless thing there is. I am of course overthinking this but it is out of context considering the time and place. And it is of course done for the sake of building up overblown tragedy. And sure, all tragedies are in effect overblown events caused by human stupidity. But MAN, this is so completely one-sided it just can’t pass my suspension of disbelief.
And let’s face it, the only thing this girl ever needed to learn is good manners. If she can’t keep her mouth shut and keeps revealing all of peoples’ secrets left and right, she was worth the hatred she received. You don’t need to be a mind reader in order to be that snitch nobody likes in class. I used to be the class’ snitch too in elementary school; I used to rat out everybody’s mischievous acts to the teachers. I wanted to keep those fools under control before growing up to be assholes. Well, not only it didn’t work but everybody disliked me; so I stopped trying to fix what was broken beyond repair. By the time I was in junior high, I was no longer a snitch, people disliked me less (but still did) and those assholes turned out to be as I expected and are now either bums, hiding from the police, OR DEAD! MWAHAHAHA WHO IS THE SMARTASS NOW YOU ASSHOLES?!
… Oh wait, I went off topic here. Anyways, what I wanted to say is the following. If that girl didn’t realize that the truth is NOT solving problems if not used properly, even after all the times she got burned because of it, then she is a complete retard. And excuse me for being unable to feel anything for a retarded snitch.
- The problem exists even when she DOES manage to keep her mouth shut, but for inappropriate issues. In the second episode, she doesn’t talk when she should. You see, she meets people who are part of a paranormal school club (since apparently there is a school club for about everything) and the people there want to help her promote her skills. Upon trying to do so, some bitches constantly harass her for being special and getting all the attention, and she reacts by NOT TELLING ANYONE ABOUT IT! What the hell man, ten minutes ago she couldn’t keep her mouth shut and now lets these jealous nobodies to tell her off? This is again proof of how the drama in this show is stupid as hell. It helps you of course to feel like a hormone-crazy teenager but it all comes down to the heroine talking when she shouldn’t and not talking when she should. This girl is a masochist! Third episode, she doesn’t reveal how much she is in love, as if it’s going to kill her, while not talking is exactly what makes her suffer in the first place. SHE DESERVES THE TREATMENT SHE GETS! Something similar happens with the boy that wants to be her friend. He doesn’t mind her dreaded power because he is also a retard! Really, she asked him why he is not afraid, and even by reading his mind, he has no idea why! A retard!
Another issue which makes things even more stupid is the whole mind-reading fuss. You are never let to understand how exactly it works. And I don’t mean some technobabbling nonsense; I mean HOW it works. At some cases the heroine reads minds unconsciously, at some others only when she focuses. At some point she can read only people next to her, at some others even when they are away from her. And if she can read minds, why is she constantly tricked by others? Why does she even ask them when she can just extract the truth? Why isn’t she a genius for learning everything straight from the source and instead acts like a stupid girl with an IQ of 80? Why hasn’t she gone insane from reading thousands of minds every day?
Ok, I am again overthinking this but as I said, it is details such as these which prevent this anime from being anything other than an unrealistic school show that circles around HERP DERP people. The drama doesn’t even mean anything after awhile, since it keeps jumping back and forth to mediocre school comedy and erotic humour. All the episodes are about some problem that builds up and resolves within 10 minutes in a cheap and stupid reason. It is just silly fun, just another mediocrity that tries poorly to troll you into liking it before you realize how obviously mediocre it is and give up on it.
This anime, for a lack of a better term, honey-dicked the complete shit outta me. The first ten minutes of the first episode had me enthralled; going in, I believed this to be nothing more than your typical, cut and dry slice-of-life series. I was sadly correct in my assumptions. Kotoura-san fails to live up to its true potential, opting to follow a generic, unoriginal plotline instead of chasing after a much darker, more serious narrative that is practically shoved down the viewer's throats in the first ten minutes of the premiere episode. To put it bluntly, the writing is far-too heavy handed (Kotoura's L's are just piled atop one another), the go-to joke gets old incredibly quickly (by the fifth time you'll want to gouge your eyes out), and there is no cohesive story or narrative whatsoever (much of the latter episodes seem to be nothing more than filler).
Kotoura-san's most grieveous sin, however, is that it fails to tell the story that everyone wants to hear. As I said previously, the first ten minutes of the premiere episode sets up the anime beautifully to cover serious topics such as abandonement, self-identity/self-discovery, and the blatant denail of truth in order to remain happy, just to name a few. What the anime does decide to cover, however, is the shoddily assembled backstory of an uninterestingly cliched supporting character, a love traingle whose result can be seen from a mile away, and an inconsistent and hastily written romance between Kotoura-san and some schmuck whose name I have forgotten. For fuck's sake, the latter episodes focus on some schoolgirl abusing criminal that appeared out of nowhere, and whose entrance/exit was as equally mundane and predictable as the rest of the anime.
The anime itself is nothing special; it was vibrant, everything sounded okay, the animation was fine.
In short, stay away from this anime if you don't want to be disappointed. If you enjoy happy-go-lucky shojou type series that leave no lasting impression, feel free to watch.
This show goes from tragic to campy to syrupy in what are essentially three emotional acts, and it does each of them fairly well. The mixture, however, is a little more jarring than I could really take. The first few episodes, and episode one in particular, made me feel like crying at every turn. The characters were so raw and the storyline so convincing. Then, when the initial tension is resolved, it drops into several episodes of club hijinks and PG perversion. Then, when it looks like it will take a turn for the dark again, it ends up trying to tie up story arc after story arc with happy endings. It was worth watching, but at the end I feel like some kind of creative direction was needed to make the story more consistently appealing.
The sound was average, with the voiceacting being rather unimpressive. The art, when it was the focus, was excellent, but it was interspersed with far too many cartoonish scenes (and a couple of persistently cartoonish characters) for my tastes. If you can do the art and animation well, do it. The characters were the best feature overall, with only the protagonist (and the grandfather) being far too two-dimensional to be believable.
It's above average overall but only slightly so.
Kotoura-San was somewhat of a disappointment and had so much lost potential is just saddening. The first three episodes gave us the impression that Kotoura-San will be more of a romantic dramatic with some comedy to ease the tension. Even though I thought highly of Kotoura-San in the beginning, this show began to deteriorate into a poorly done slap-stick comedy that can't even deliver good jokes in no time flat. The romance is barely there and what is there only includes that stereotypical romance with a bunch of blushing and no one acting on their feelings so don't expect a romance as beautiful as Toradora either. This series revolves around a girl named Kotoura that has the power to read people's mind and this ability has gotten her into some serious trouble throughout her life. Even her own mother wishes she was dead, ouch! Even so, the only real problem isn't even her mind reading abilities, it's actually that she doesn't have the common decency to just keep her mouth shut. Anyway, Kotoura-San is suppose to be about how Kotoura is able to make and keep friends even though she has the ability to read minds which has driven off everyone else she has ever come in contact with. There's very little to actually enjoy about this show after the first half and just has so much lost potential. A story could of been built off of Kotoura's relationship with her mother and how her friends help her through it or at least involve a growing relationship between Manabe and Kotoura. Kotoura-San is a disappointing anime that could of done so much better.
Story -- 7.5
Koutara-san is what I like to think of as a "hang out" anime. Like many slice of life shows, its most obvious joy is the opportunity to just hang out with some interesting characters for 24 minutes at a time. By episode 5 the core cast is more or less set and the premise is pretty well established; by that point, you're either on board with this cast or not. After that point, the series settles into a fairly predictable, albeit lightly enjoyable, rhythm.
The plot, such as it is, involves a high schooler named (you guessed it!) Kotoura, who from a young age has been able to read other people's thoughts. Not able to control her powers, she inadvertently hurts many people around her; by the time the series itself commences, she's a loner who can't hold onto a friend because her power reveals what everyone is really thinking. Enter Yoshihisa Manabe, a well-meaning if perverted young man who takes an instant linking to Kotoura, despite--or perhaps even because of!--her unique gifts. Eventually, they both end up members of the school's ESP Research Society, the President of which naturally has an interest in Kotoura's abilities.
And ... that's about it. With a series like Kotoura-san, the premise is the plot. There is an overarching romantic story that is at once highly unrealistic and ultimately rather poignant, the President of the ESP club has some vague ulterior motives that don't amount to much, and there's an ill-conceived storyline involving a crime spree near the end that mostly serves to provide something for the characters to actually do, but aside from the romance angle it's all rather superfluous.
The other major plot is the character development of Kotoura, which deserves special mention here simply so you don't get the wrong idea about this series up front. The first episode is pretty tragic, giving Kotoura a fascinating and very, very sad origin story that forms the basis of virtually all her interpersonal relationships. This origin isn't forgotten exactly--as I said, it comes up often, and the last few episodes deal directly with the psychological consequences of what she experienced as a child--but it's rarely dealt with as seriously as you might expect given its treatment in the premiere.
Animation/Sound -- 7
Animation is fine, sound is fine. Character designs get the job done but are hardly revolutionary. I really enjoyed the opening theme, which adequately expresses the bubbly fun at the heart of the show; the ending theme is less memorable. Voice acting is generally spot-on, with no obvious weak links.
Characters -- 8.5
In order for a hang out series to survive it needs characters who do a good job of bouncing off of one another; luckily, most of the main cast here is more than up to the task. Kotoura herself is interesting, with abandonment issues playing directly into how she interacts with others. My other favorite is Hiyori Moritani, a late addition to the main cast who has an actual arc with a fairly satisfying conclusion. The male lead, Manabe, is fun in fits and starts: his constant perverted fantasies, while certainly excessive (and too fanservice-y for my taste), are admittedly realistic for a teenage guy. Yuriko Mifune, the ESP Club president, is great at stirring the pot and getting the action going, essential for a show like this. The only wet blanket is Daichi Muroto, the ESP club's vice president; he doesn't do much that I can see, and rarely causes or resolves conflict on his own. Aside from him, however, all of the rest have clearly defined personalities and roles within the group that lead to generally entertaining shenanigans.
Overall -- 8
If you're down for a solid romantic comedy/slice of life/hang out series with a supernatural twist that's light on plot, you should get some enjoyment out of Kotoura-san. Just remember that it's not going to ever quite live up to the dramatic stakes set out in the first episode, and that it's much more concerned with having a good time than seriously addressing any of the consequences of its character's actions. Stick around for the solid romance, as well, which has a sweet and poignant conclusion that more or less resolves the central emotional conflict of the series.