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snakebrain

  • Joined Jul 29, 2010
  • 34 / M

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.

7.5/10 story
7/10 animation
7/10 sound
8.5/10 characters
8/10 overall

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