29 CommentsFirst Impressions / By Scamp /

Kotoura-san episode 1 – DEPRESSION, ALCOHOLISM AND CRUSHING LONELINESS

kotoura san

Where in holy hell did that come from? I thought we were getting some goofy sacharine comedy with all the emotional depth you normally expect from a 4-koma adaptation. I was expecting possibly some half-decent jokes from the crew who did Minami-ke’s first season and Mitsudamoe. I wasn’t expecting CRUSHING DEPRESSION!

The first 10 minutes of the show is an endless barrage of non-stop depression, a constant spiral of a human fear and suspicion causing the innocent to be crushed beneath her ostracisation. Bullying, never-home fathers, alcoholic mothers, child abuse, divorce and complete disownment. Also a cat. Normally this kind of thing would have me rolling my eyes non-stop throughout the entire thing. It’s not even the best delivered melodrama, being incredibly heavy-handed with its delivery the entire way through. Sure, I did roll my eyes a little bit, but it somehow it passed by my usual strong cynical defence barriers and actually got to me.

I’m trying to work out why Kotoura-san worked on me. It might be because I wasn’t expecting it to come, so my natural barriers weren’t erected. The other reason might be because it happened right at the start. A problem I often have with melodrama is the intent is to build up characters being happy for the sole reason of then having terrible things happen to them so I cry like a bitch, which never really works on me. This way around, it feels like it was more about setting the scene for later rebuilding, otherwise known as the Good Kind of feel-good anime. It’s laid on way too thick, particularly that dumb part with the cat, but it does its job of setting the scene and made me genuinely care about the possibility of Kotoura making friends.

The relationship between Kotoura and the goofball are only as charming as they are because they did that silly level of melodrama. The timing on the jokes actually works pretty darn well. The very deliberate use of mood whiplash when she reads his mind for the first time is fucking funny, and as cheap as the show looks, I also like the crashed glass effect they pulled with cutting down the grey filter of her flashback. I guess the whole thing works because it has a very deliberate story its trying to tell and knows exactly how it wants to tell that story. Sure, they have basically no budget and don’t appear to be necessarily the most talented writers or animators, but its very deliberately put together and has a clear purpose. Apparently that’s enough for me?

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29 Comments

  1. matrixEXO
    Posted January 11, 2013 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Gods! I still wonder how he thought of those alien life-forms. Especially when at the later parts, he keeps lamenting on his male instinctual acts such as thinking eros and more things related to eros.

  2. Gunslinger
    Posted January 11, 2013 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Any other season and i would have dropped this. Now its probably one of the best. :( This season sucks.

    • Posted January 11, 2013 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

      You could be right. If this came up in the previous season, it may be a drop, or at least not a priority to watch immediately.

    • Scamp
      Posted January 12, 2013 at 10:12 am | Permalink

      Still not quite as good as INFERRRRNO COOOPUUUGH

      • Posted January 13, 2013 at 2:49 am | Permalink

        Nothing this season’s gonna beat Inferno Cop. No way no how.

  3. fathomlessblue
    Posted January 11, 2013 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    This was exactly the reaction I had to the show. The melodrama made even the likes of Ano Hana look subtle but it somehow worked for me. I think this is a rare case of having cheap, 4-koma style animation actually work in a show’s favour; if it was given better art or made to feel more important/substantial in any way, the charm would have been completely lost. That said, even I was cracking up a bit by the end of the prologue, what with the mean, dog-hating old lady & the constant dead-eyed Golgo 13 expressions. Still, anything to prove my dere dere side is still up & running is cool by me.

    • Scamp
      Posted January 12, 2013 at 10:16 am | Permalink

      The fact that it’s adapted from a 4-koma is what shocks me the most from this opening. That can’t have been the funniest 4-koma ever, could it

  4. Fumoffu!!
    Posted January 11, 2013 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    Am I really the only one who thought this was like being pummeled by an emotional hammer the size of last episode Gurren Lagann. I just couldn’t let it go, it was so in your face with the melodrama that it was stifling.

    That scene with the cat was so stupid, when some random ass woman comes out from nowhere, tells Kotoura that she’s moved the cat to the shelter so “fuck off and don’t come back”. WHAT?

    Then again, it wasn’t as silly as when she saves him from the truck. So this truck driver is like “Right, middle of the day, tons of pedestrians wanting to cross the street, plenty of witnesses, fuck it, I don’t care about the red light even though there are people waiting to cross!”. For some reason that stretched my belief a little.

    Then again, the parents not working out that the child can read thoughts and thus dealing with it withing a couple of weeks of the phenomena starting is also questionable. I’m not sure about you, but I think they’d work it out pretty quickly, yet for some reason it’s not until the marriage is failing that they suddenly notice, become unable to deal with it, and disown her.

    Also, negative reinforcement, if a child , whenever she blurts out what she hears gets scolded, shouted at or spurned will eventually stop. Dogs often get taught with this method, I don’t think it’s beyond the intelligence of a child.

    I don’t hate the show or anything, but it’s so poorly written and so heavy handed I just felt exasperated. I’m surprised more people didn’t, but it is really starting to seem like it’s just me.

    • Sarif
      Posted January 11, 2013 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

      I think perhaps you just didn’t get the joke. Gurren Lagann is a parody that was melodramatic on purpose. This show is along the same lines. Those melodramatic scenes are meant to be over the top sad/funny, and prepare you for a heart warming scenario.

      It’s most comparable to fruits basket’s homeless girl premise (re-used in Kamisama kiss), or Hayte the combat butlers debt stricken child. They are ridiculously sad and unrealistic for the sake of comedy. The main difference is this show did not blatantly announce it was a joke to the viewer.

      • Chipp12
        Posted January 15, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, you’re right, it was actually over the top funny from the start till the end, also the moment near the end where she started blaming her ability for all the bad things that happened to her – meaning that it ABSOLUTELY wasn’t her own stupidity, of course!

        All in all, manga called Saiki Kusuo no Ψ Nan can show the example of the protagonist with the mind reading ability done right.

    • Fumoffu!!
      Posted January 11, 2013 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

      Is it? Is it really? I honestly don’t think that’s it at all… was it supposed to be comically bad? I’m pretty sure you were meant to be taking it at face value. It’s like saying AnoHana was trying to be funny in how much it tried to jam the emotion down your throat.

      Unless it’s clearly purposeful, saying that poor melodrama is supposed to be funny is pretty much this:
      Person A: “My god the ____ is/are terrible
      Person B: “Don’t you get it? It’s supposed to be ironically bad!”

      It’s a weak refute, and rather sounds like an excuse that people lie to themselves with.

      • Sarif
        Posted January 11, 2013 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

        I did not say the melodrama was bad. I said it was done in an over the top manner to produce humor and context for the story.

        Try to remember this show is a comedy.

      • Fumoffu!!
        Posted January 11, 2013 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

        I’m saying the melodrama is bad because, among other things, it’s over the top. Therefore saying it is over the top on purpose is saying that they are deliberately making the emotional melodramatic scenes over the top, and thus badly functioning as melodramatic scenes (should you take it at face value, like almost everyone has) in order to make it amusing. Got that? Good. Again I’ll say that the scenes were designed to be taken at face value.

        “But this this a comedy!” you’ve said, yes, indeed it is, however that does not mean that every portion of the show is intended to be funny. This is supposed to be an uplifting comedy show (which I have no problems with), and so it aimed to give us the low at the start to tell the audience “no matter how far you’ve fallen, you can always get back up”, or something to that effect, so I imagine they wanted to take the low seriously, it is a comedy because they have devoted a sole introductory episode to setting the premise and backstory in order to make the series work, and from now on it will be humour but with underlying development.

    • Scamp
      Posted January 12, 2013 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      Sorry Sarif, but I’m not buying your explanation at all. As Fumoffu said, that’s a cop out excuse for things being bad. I remember reading someone trying to convince me that Guilty Crown was a post-modern parody of bad anime, which is the worst attempt at critique ever because by that standard, everything bad is actually a parody. There was not a single hint that we were meant to take this as anything other than seriously.

      Also wait, who didn’t take the ending of Gurren Lagann seriously? I took that shit dead seriously, and it was awesome because of that.

      Anyway, yes what you said is right Fumoffu, but it still worked on me. Don’t really know why either

      • Sarif
        Posted January 13, 2013 at 6:32 am | Permalink

        I might be wrong about thinking you will like Milky Holmes then Scamp.

      • Sarif
        Posted January 13, 2013 at 6:34 am | Permalink

        Side note. If Kami-sama and Hyate the combat butlers opening back stories did not have a narrator it was a joke, would you also not consider them to be jokes?

      • Sarif
        Posted January 13, 2013 at 6:35 am | Permalink

        Ah.. Wish there was an edit.
        “Side note. If Kami-sama and Hyate the combat butlers opening back stories did not have a narrator telling you it was a joke, would you also not consider them to be jokes?”

  5. Posted January 11, 2013 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    I agree with you about it being deliberate and clear about what it wanted to do, but as much as I liked the direction it took I can’t appreciate how it was being done. Like, if the melodrama was allowed to unfold over a greater span of time, like if we didn’t get to the happyhappyjoyjoy half until the second episode, I wouldn’t be complaining so much. Yet apparently ten minutes of depression consists of ruined school life, destroyed families, broken frienships, and denying care for a cut widdle kitten (le gasp).

    Could you imagine if Natsume started like this?

    • Posted January 11, 2013 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

      I’m a cat-lover, so what that old hag did is a shit thing to do. But then again, I think it’s always the little, silly things that breaks the proverbial camel’s back for Kotoura, IMO. She’s been through a lot as a child, friendless, loveless, and the only chance she get to have anything close resembling a friend is taken away by an old hag, and informed about it in a rude-ish way.

      I agree though with that the jokes should’ve come in later than it should. I mean, after driving home, shoving down our throats that her childhood is destroyed in the most over-the-top way possible (kitteh denied le gasp!!), and suddenly fat-lipped aliens. WTF. That said, I don’t have any idea how they could’ve done it differently.

      That just goes to show that my imagination died a long time ago.

      • Scamp
        Posted January 12, 2013 at 10:25 am | Permalink

        I thought the jerk in tone was totally deliberate, and I kind of love it for that. We essentially had the exact same reaction Kotoura had herself. “life is so depressing I will never have any fri-whoa what blue aliens what?”

      • Posted January 12, 2013 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

        Well it sure was mixed feels for me at that time, but WTF is the most dominant one. Considering this is a comedy anime after all, WTFcontrasting like that is to be expected, I guess. At least there’s not a lot of, if any, yelling jokes.

  6. Sarif
    Posted January 11, 2013 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    I was completely taken by this show as well. The over the top drama was so intentional and hilarious. It reminded me a little bit of combat butler, but went so much further.

    I watched it with two friends, and one could not stop laughing through the first 10 minutes, while the other could not stop crying. It was a hoot.

    We also pick ridiculous skype pictures from our anime every week and while Kamisama’s weird art style episode’s horse face had been winning all three of us now have purple slime monsters with whore lips.

    So glad you also watched and enjoyed this show.

  7. Posted January 11, 2013 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    I’d take anything after the abomination that is Vividred. Please, even more of the crushing depression. Anything!

    Honestly I have a soft spot for this kind of crushing-depression-at-the-start way of story telling. Sure there’s a bit of weird circumstances. Nonetheless, it clearly tells me that she’s sad and lonely as fuck and needs some different way of attention. Not the fear-mongered way most people in here life gave her all this time. Something only an adolescent male who doesn’t care about things like a psychic could give apparently.

    This, after salami-san and Infernooo Coppuuuhhhhgg, is the best new anime this season.

    • Scamp
      Posted January 12, 2013 at 10:29 am | Permalink

      In a strange way, it’s a show praising the dopey mindset of some adolescents. As someone who’s mind is filled with similar things to the male lead, I can get behind a character like him

  8. Embok
    Posted January 11, 2013 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

    100% agreed on every front. I went in expecting a comedy show, I normally hate drama, Kotoura-san somehow made it work anyway, then the aliens showed up and I burst out laughing.

    I’ll take this over a Key series any day.

  9. Daniel
    Posted January 12, 2013 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    Hey scamp I just wanted to say I think you’re writing is incredible. You are a fantastic writter and I am looking forward to when you expand beyond anime.

    I love anime yet I want like to see what you will do next in your career.

    • Scamp
      Posted January 12, 2013 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      A fittingly over-the-top praise for an anime with over-the-top elements

      • elior1
        Posted January 14, 2013 at 9:37 am | Permalink

        by the next episode preview it seems like the melodrama didnt over yet becouse looks like this 3 girls going to bully her about the mind reading as well

      • Chipp12
        Posted January 15, 2013 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

        Because she couldn’t shut up spouting out everything she heard in others’ minds, right?

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