Show of hands, who even remembers that this aired? I almost didn’t, until I scoured my list for shows from earlier seasons that I might have had fond memories of. Considering that I watch nearly 100 anime a year (60-70 of which I watch airing), I nearly forgot that this was a thing. I mean that’s probably for a good reason, seeing as Kotoura-san wasn’t really that good, but it still did enough right to warrant revisiting before permanently being relegated to the mental junk drawer.
It’s rare for a show to be so willing to dump on its own protagonist to the concentrated degree that Kotoura-san did. In the first few minutes, Kotoura-san goes full-steam into painting its namesake protagonist’s childhood as the one of the most miserable, non-starvation-related experiences imaginable, short of getting injected with lead paint from used syringes.
From a relatively innocuous start of using her psychic powers to guess what her mom made her for breakfast, the series yanks her from one awkward moment to the next, as she alienates everyone that she comes in contact with. The events finally come to a head when she’s outright abandoned by her mother, and forced to live with her less shitty grandfather. If it had no tact, the barrage of adversity would have come across as wholly forced. But it remains strong.
What’s odd is the shift from borderline-cartoonish misfortune to intentionally goofy comedy goes off without a hitch. All it takes is a short, goofy thought on the part of the male love interest to pull a graceful 180 on the series’ tone. Kotoura-san doesn’t keep up the momentum, even outright falling apart, but for half an episode, it deftly played the emotional field, thanks to a burst of strong direction. For half an episode, it could hold its head high, before giving up and smothering it in the grotesquely large cleavage of clumsy fanservice.