9 CommentsAnime Analysis, No Anime is Dropped Forever / By Scamp /

No anime is dropped forever: Kobato

There’s no point in run­ning these ‘no anime is dropped forever’ posts if I never actu­ally watch any of the anime in ques­tion. Kobato ran away with the poll in the post it was in so I had to pick it up again. Clannad After Story was a relative success while Excel Saga wasn’t, apart from that bizarre final episode. Third anime up is Clamps manga turned 2009 anime: Kobato.

Picked up on: Episode 4

Why I picked it up again: As I said earlier, it ran away with the poll in the post in question and that would have been enough a reason to watch it anyway. There was also the fact that most of the commenters were doing their usual act of ‘it gets better, I swear!. Finally, there was that constant niggling desire to find something that replicated the feeling I had while watching Chobits.

Review: Somewhere around about episode 12 it hit me. No, not that the show had suddenly become watchable, that wasn’t to happen for several more episodes. No, what hit me was a perfect way to express what it was I didn’t like about this show. I had some vague review thoughts in my head (subconsciously reviewing the show as you watch it; the curse of being a critic) but most of them revolved around bitching about how stupid Kobato herself was and how the show relied on cuteness as its main appeal, something I’ve just never really liked. But then it hit me. Somebody had made a comment in an earlier post that the way they got through a series they didn’t like was because they spent their time also playing Pokemon. So I finally got around to playing Pokemon Platinum (why yes, I am a game behind everyone else) after sitting through the first few episodes of Kobato and realising I would probably smash my laptop if I had to sit through another ‘Kobato Ganbarrebleargh~’ without something else to occupy my mind. Now normally this shouldn’t work unless I was watching the dub. Multitasking while watching subs is next to impossible. However it did work because I actually understood pretty much everything that was being said.

Let me explain. I have never once made an attempt at learning Japanese. I know about as much as any weeaboo who watches subbed anime would know. Watching Kobato wasn’t a sudden grand realisation that I was now fluent in Japanese. It was the simplicity of the language the characters used. They all had just a few stock lines they would throw out in most situations which meant that after watching a few episodes paying attention to the subs you knew pretty much everything that they could say. This effects the anime in far more ways than you might realise. Of course you get the painfully dull and repetitive dialogue. Of course there’s the way every scene and every episode feels the exact bloody same with no inspiration, ingenuity or imagination, bar Kobato’s wardrobe. But alongside that you also have the actual tension in the series solved using the same uninspired methods in every episode. Kobato throws out a few stock phrases, Ioryogi mutters something in the background and all is right with the world once again. It limits the direction any episode can take.

But yes, it does get better. It may take until around episode 17 before I actually went through an episode without having beaten 3-4 pokemon trainers while it was playing, but it certainly did improve. Vastly improved. By episode 20 I had shut that Game Boy for good and was actually watching this show for real. The show took a much more dramatic and melancholic tone that suited the style of storytelling far more. After watching the previous 16 episodes of failed comedy (bar Ioryogi dodging cork bullets at the festival. That was quite funny) and bland stories that were supposed to be heartwarming, the effect this change to a plot-driven story had on the overall quality of the show was phenomenal. The MAL stats paint an interesting picture indeed.

Notice that there’s a very high percentage drop rate to completed rate. And yet the anime is rated 8.07, a very respectable score indeed. Because MAL doesn’t count the scores once you’ve seen beyond a certain number of episodes so those who actually sat through the entire thing were clearly rewarded for their efforts. It also shows the usual reaction of people to rate something highly because the later episodes were better, much like After Story. It’s something that bugs me a lot because I hate having to sit through several poor episodes just because ‘it gets better I swear!’. I don’t doubt it does. It’s just those earlier episodes are a right pain to sit through. Because Kobato is, for the most part, a poor anime. It just happens to end on a very high note. Plus you can’t skip those earlier episodes the same way you theoretically can for After Story. Without those earlier episodes the ending ones don’t work.

It did turn me into a romantic sap though. Good old Clamp did it again. They made me believe that, through anything, love will prevail. No matter what happens to you, what you go through, what form you’re in, love will get through all that. It did the very same thing Chobits did. It made me believe in the Power of Love. I came into this anime looking for something to replicate the feeling Chobits gave me and, in the end, I guess it did exactly that.

Was it worth picking up again: Not really. Not even for the Power of Love

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9 Comments

  1. Posted May 2, 2010 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    16 episodes of crap for just a few nice ones? Not worth it!

    I’ve used Pokemon to watch shows too…but I feel like I can make it through subs and play at once; you just have to walk around blindly in the game! 8D;

  2. Posted May 2, 2010 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    The later episodes of Kobato really do have the warm and fuzzies in spades; but yeah, those early episodes were frustrating to sit through due to their lather-rinse-repeat formula and Kobato’s stupidity.

    Still, I will remember Kobato as a nice wee series but not CLAMP at its finest by any stretch of the imagination.

  3. Posted May 2, 2010 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

    Sorry you didn’t enjoy it that much, personally I thought around 11 it got a lot better.

    Though yes, Iorygyi dodging bullets was awesome.

  4. Taka
    Posted May 2, 2010 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

    “Was it worth pick ing up again: Not really. Not even for the Power of Love”

    Sigh, even though you said that I might as well finish it. I’m on 13. I wish I had something like pokemon to occupy me.

  5. Posted May 2, 2010 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

    I dropped Kobato. at ep6 … it was just soooooooooooo damn boring lol.

  6. april
    Posted May 3, 2010 at 2:10 am | Permalink

    kudos to you for being persistent in finishing this. Similar with the first comment, i personally don’t feel motivated or even the slightest bit interested to venture on an anime that “will eventually get a better”, like halfway or 10 episodes before the finale, because it simply isn’t worth it. But I do remember watching around 5 episodes of Ouran High School Host Club, dropped it, then picked it up months later and absolutely loved to pieces. But that is a different story.

  7. Posted May 3, 2010 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    i’m with Shinmaru on this one. I didn’t drop it but I thought it was so boring and honestly I don’t think we got anything in return at the end of watching all those episodes.

  8. Posted May 4, 2010 at 12:10 am | Permalink

    There are two things you expect going into a Clamp story: Clamp self references, and the crazy-ass twist late in the series. But damn, 17 eps to even get decent? This is probably one to marathon if you have time to burn, if you want to watch it at all that is.

  9. Posted May 5, 2010 at 3:34 am | Permalink

    Ah yeah — I remember commenting on how how I played Pokemon with K-ON. XD;;

    As someone who usually sticks to a series out of a simple desire to finish it, I usually don’t even drop some genuinely horrible shows unless schoolwork gets the better of me. Thus, Kobato’s slow start really didn’t bother me at all. Besides, I usually don’t go for shows that give me warm fuzzies inside, so this was a welcome change to my usual schedule. Not only was the ending added one of my favorites in recent memory, but once it got kicked off (for me it was around the time of the episode with the dying tree), it also really excelled at slowly but surely building up that melodrama to a great finish. Some of the episodic stories were pretty nice too.

    For me, the payoff of waiting through a series I wasn’t so sure about in the first place is worth it. Though, to be honest, I did sort of meander off and turn on my DS every so often — especially early on…In the end, it all really depends on how you think of the time spent waiting for the buildup. Some of those stories were, admittedly, pretty generic and sappy.

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