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