Kotoura-san is a cute anime with a killer first episode that keeps the rest of the show moving and interesting as it goes on.
Kotoura-san got a 6/10 for me, as it is a show that is held back a bit by its flaws, but definitely has more good things going for it than bad things pushing it down. Ranking here.
Much fuss, I think, has been made by the first episode of Kotoura-san, and rightly so. It’s almost a story all on it’s own, showing the early life of a young girl fall apart and then suddenly get put back together. I didn’t find the first episode to be particularly special, but I won’t deny that it was an emotional bit of good storytelling. There’s a lot to be said about the director’s choices (not vocalizing Kotoura’s scream, the use of color and the way her eyes were drawn), but the first episode is merely a fraction of the larger story.
As I said earlier, Kotoura’s development over the course of the show is made mostly possible by the strength of the first episode. Because of how tragic her early life was, every moment that she is happy during the rest of the show is heart-warming. Her past continues to haunt her, but she does get an actual end by episode 12, a rarity in rom-com anime.
I found the humor in the show to be great fun. I never tired (perhaps surprisingly) of the Manebe-fantasizing-about-Kotoura gag, and some of the other moments, like when Manabe and Kotoura’s grandfather find hit oil in the backyard, were absolutely hilarious. The combination of humor and drama did leave the show feeling a bit unsteady, as if it weren’t sure exactly what it wanted to be. The best course of action seems to be to just accept whatever the show is doing at the time and to enjoy it.
One huge flaw of the show was the final narrative arc, involving a criminal. Clumsily plotted, somewhat lame and stretching the boundaries of suspension of disbelief, it was by far the weakest part of the show. However, even in this part, Kotoura-san managed to keep things interesting and somewhat grounded by using a fight between Kotoura and Manabe. Really, the fight was the bigger story than the actual criminal plot, or at least it should have been.
Overall, Koutoura-san is a fun, sometimes emotional, watch that can’t quite get out of its own way. The struggle for identity between drama and rom-com does bog the show down in places, but the anime’s heart is in the right place, and I can forgive a lot for that.
At the end of the day, Kotoura-san is a little bit more than your typical moe romantic comedy. The first episode definitely merits a watch, but the show as a whole isn’t something anyone needs to rush out and see this moment. If the genre interests you, you’ll enjoy it; if not, Kotoura-san might just be a bit of sweetness in between more serious shows.
Reasons to Watch:
- Manabe’s a love interest who actually says what he thinks and proves that he loves Kotoura through action, not just in word.
- An actual conclusion to the story.
- Generally funny humor.