A school love comedy. Kotoura Haruka is a 15-year-old girl who can read people's minds. She has been suffering from troubles caused by her mind-reading ability, and her parents got divorced as a result. She moves to a new high school but tries to keep away from her classmates. Manabe Yoshihisa, one of her classmates, accepts and appreciates her ability and she begins to interact with her friends with his help.
Kotoura-san has the makings of an exceptional show. It has the ambition to be both an emotional drama and an uplifting comedy, to be an experience full of highs and lows to keep you engrossed to the end. It even has an intriguing premise providing a solid foundation for its narrative. Regrettably, it is clear from the very first episode that not only is Kotoura-san plagued by atrocious writing, it furthermore has the entirely wrong attitude when it comes to the use of drama in general.
Kotoura-san tells the story of Kotoura Haruka, a girl with the power to read people's minds. Whilst one would expect
such a power to be a gift, this unfortunately couldn't be further from the truth for Kotoura, who goes through tragedy and strife. As more and more people reject her, she sinks into the depth of loneliness. Abandoned by her parents and afraid to get hurt, she moves from school to school, keeping people at distance. But upon transferring into yet another school, she meets Manabe, a perverted yet honest individual who accepts Kotoura for who she is, and tries with the help of others to get Kotoura to accept herself.
With such a promising premise, how did it all go wrong?
Kotoura-san, bless its poor, forsaken heart, knows nothing of subtlety. When it comes to the drama, the show's writers want you to know for certain what's happening on screen is tragic, and they are not leaving it up to chance. Kotoura-san makes sure you know by shoving it in your face, being incredibly melodramatic, and blaring histrionic orchestral music at your ears. You can practically hear the director shouting "ARE YOU SAD YET? BE SAD NOW!". The writing is so heavy-handed in its approach that the scenes often don't even make sense, as elements designed to make the scenes even more full of anguish are carelessly introduced without proper thought. At worst, things get completely out of hand as you are bombarded with one melodramatic scene after another.
The very first episode is a perfect example. Kotoura's tragic backstory is told, where each depressing event in her life is immediately followed up by another one, aiming to be even sadder than the last. Eventually it escalates into a ridiculous scene in which Kotoura-san, previously finding her only solace in a stray kitten, breaks down because she is informed that the cat has been taken away, leaving her alone. This would be acceptable, however the woman who informs Kotoura proceeds to shout at her, telling her to "Leave and never come back!" for no apparent reason. This is one of the many contrivances used to easily make the scene more emotional, which are the defining hallmarks of Kotoura-san.
The complete lack of subtlety in Kotoura-san's drama is replicated in the fanservice as well. The fanservice consists of eponymous Kotoura being cute, a rather innocent and likable form. However, when the show wants you to notice how cute she is, it again makes sure this is impossible to ignore; once again you are assaulted with one cute scene of Kotoura after another. Kotoura would be more endearing if not for how persistently the show confronts us with it. That said, the fanservice is still a relative highlight of the series, even if poorly executed like the other aspects.
Unfortunately, the comedic aspect of Kotoura-san is also lacking. The essential joke of the series is that the male lead Manabe has a perverted fantasy of Kotoura; who will then get embarrassed and annoyed at him. This joke is then repeated throughout the entire series. Funny as it was the first few times, by the fiftieth iteration of the joke it was getting incredibly tedious. It is fortunate that the show invested in other jokes, however these are also repeated frequently and whilst some of the jokes were funny enough to withstand constant repetition, the majority were not. The repetition of this poor comedy becomes a dull monotony for the viewer. Additionally the humour comes at often inopportune times, causing a large emotional whiplash when placed right in the middle of a dramatic scene, a problem that pervades the entire show. If you are the sort that likes "perverted humour" then the comedy will most likely be more amusing, and will sustain its freshness for much longer.
For the writers, all that seems to matter is the result. They appear not to care if the story makes little sense or is filled with plot holes; so long as the dramatic scenes are saturated with sadness and woe, they consider it a job well done. This attitude is ultimately what's responsible for the terrible writing. It is indeed unsurprising that the writer who was unable to come up with enough jokes to last the series, was also unable to write more than one pattern of character development. Kotoura-san is rescued from her depression by her friends (notably Manabe) at least three times. This wouldn't be so bad if not for the fact that it's the same issue every time, simply disguised by a different context. Ultimately what happens every time is that Kotoura becomes self-loathing and depressed because she blames herself for bad events, only to be "saved" by Manabe and the rest of her friends. Call me a cynic, but although it is clear that Kotoura suffered a tramautic past, the drama feels insincere when Kotoura is saved by Manabe through the same process multiple times.
The comedy, romance, and drama that make up the plot of Kotoura-san were in shambles. The quality of writing is dismal, it desired the story to end up a cohesive mix of these disparate narrative elements, but either they couldn't be bothered to actually put in the time and effort to make it work within a story, or they were simply unable to. Whatever the reason, the sheer quantity of inconsistent tone and plot holes is almost insulting- it's a depressing thought that this standard was deemed acceptable.
The art and character designs were of low quality, they both look messy and have very little detail. For the comedy segments this is not so much a problem, as the 4koma style character designs suit it well. However, when it comes to the dramatic scenes the character designs are in stark contrast to the melodrama, and appear incredibly awkward when the art gets in your face. The music is generic and lacks subtlety, dramatic scores being employed ruthlessly in every single scene bar one notable exception that verges upon melancholy. The opening is cute and likable, if not ultimately forgettable; the ending is simply nondescript.
On a more positive note, the characters are all pretty likable. They evoke sympathy from the audience even if they are well defined by a limited number of distinctive traits, and are at times enjoyable to watch; you certainly shouldn't have a problem with any of them. Well, perhaps apart from Moritani. She starts the series as an antagonistic figure, only to have her personality overhauled, leading to an abrupt and irrational character change that is poorly explained. Again, the attitude of the writing shines through once again. However, there is one facet of Kotoura-san that was done right, and that was the romance. The relationship that develops between Manabe and Kotoura was surprisingly well done over the course of the series, despite it's repitious nature. Their interaction isn't complex or deep, but in a show where characters can just change personality at the drop of a hat, it was a real highlight.
To conclude, the incredibly forceful attempts to evoke emotion in Kotoura-san is stifling, demonstrating an extreme example of the "tell not show" attitude to drama. If you can ignore poor writing, and relish heavy-handed drama and comedy, then this show will probably be of great enjoyment to you. If, on the other hand, you loathe over the top melodrama and care at all about plot progression, then Kotoura-san is nothing more than a trainwreck.
Our childhood is often filled with many blanks and not much memories. The few you might remember are some friends you made or games you played.
But, what if the memories you remember most vividly were the ones filled with bullying,ignorance, and broken hearts?
Kotoura-san starts off as a seemingly sad and powerful drama. Maybe a bit generic. What throws people off is that after the first half of the show, it just hits you with all this comedy that you weren't expecting. This is probably what caused the downfall of the show. I can't say I exactly disliked the comedy, but it would've been better
if the producer had focused a bit more on the drama. Still, there were some good comedy moments, and the drama was well played.
The art is nice and fits the mood of the story. It is a bit generic, but if you're a fan of moe, then the artwork might be something for you. There sad and happy moments of the story are portrayed pretty nicely, the coloring and shading helped the mood.
Character development has its sweet and heat breaking moments. From Kotoura starting to learn to trust her friends and deal with yet, more bullying, to Moritani learning to deal with jealousy, it was pretty nice to watch. And so...friendship is building up between Moritani and the rest of the ESP Research Club. One thing that did kinda bug me was that the relationship between Kotoura and her mom was not really in depth. It seemed like they introduced her in the beginning and just decided to put her off for a while.
Overall, the drama mixed with comedy makes this show pretty enjoyable. (Manabe having pervy dreams of Kotoura really makes this worth watching lol) Of course, I'd love to see Kotoura overcome more challenges as well. This show left me with mixed feelings. There were some moments I really enjoyed, yet some I felt kinda bored with. Nonetheless, I still think the drama part of the show displayed some pretty valuable lessons.
It seems the biggest problem the show is having is the transition from hardcore drama to just plain comedy. I don't find this much of a problem since I think a show that's too serious is just plain boring. I recommend that if you're expecting Kotoura-san to just be a really good drama, then it's best you don't watch it. Of course, this is just my opinion.
Wow... Just wow. This show easily makes it onto my highest favorites. There is nothing I can truly nit pick about the show that would detract me from my rating. It took me for a ride I won't soon forget.
Story: This is among the most emotional stories I have ever had the grace and the priveledge of experiencing. I'm not lying when I say this: It deserves to be seated in the high heavens for the drama genre. Why? Haruka's backstory alone had me under emotional torture. The show itself proved how serious it can get when it wants to, and boy they wasted no
time in doing so. I have never had a stronger first impression for any show of any medium (yes, even stronger than Clannad). That isn't the say the story is always dramatic; in fact the comedy was equally well done. I might have broken a lung in laughter. Even if it's the same gag, there's still the hint of freshness in that it's done differently each time in differently awkward, yet appropriate situations. Bottom line: If you have any sympathy in you, then this show will exploit every part of it. It's likely the show will crush your soul once or twice, but it also leaves you happy and satisfied. Kotoura-san is absolutely top tier in it's story, and it's not just a simple Romantic Comedy. This story is one for the ages! 10/10.
Art: It's simple, doesn't try to innovate, or invoke scenery porn all the time; but it's that simplicity which makes it very clear what we should be feeling and when.The graphics were very pleasant to watch, and I had no problem with it whatsoever (especially since I marathoned the show) .The special effects were also very pretty to look at and weren't overdone in the sense that they never distracted me from the one fantasy element the show focused on: the telepathy. The character designs were plain for the most part, but very cleanly done which is fitting for telling a story in an otherwise mundane setting. I didn't see any notably bad off modeling (QUALITY!!) during my marathon. I found all of the characters' movements to be enjoyable and sensible except for one: Daichi "fish lips" Muroto. His mouth was just too weird and strange for me to watch, and I can't see why they made that his default expression. He looks like a derp to me when he's supposed to be the smart one, and that doesn't register well with me. Still, the art overall is simple, yet elegant and vividly expressive. 9/10
Sound: The voice acting was absolutely perfect! The characters' emotions and personalities were portrayed in a very clear and concise manner on top of sounding their age. The characters' feelings can be readily felt in their voices, and each voice suited each character in each situation to excellent degrees. The opening and ending themes didn't catch on with me at first, but I grew to love them. As for the soundtrack, I didn't just hear the music, I felt it too. The classical music inspired soundtrack also accompinies the story to carry the appropriate emotions. Seriously, listen to the prolouge theme, as in right now. It is the most profound example of this phenomenon the OST can provide. Otherwise, the simplicity wins again, both in my heart and in it's catchy listening value outside the show. Pure ear candy 10/10.
Character: It's amazing how much I attached myself to the main heroine in just 10 minutes. She is among the deepest and most dynamic characters I've ever followed. Everything about her from her personality, motivations, and thought processes is perfectly justified and empathic to me. Manabe couldn't be a better foil for her, even if he tried. A guy who freely admits his perversion and an overall free and flexible thinker makes for the best long-term counter to Kotoura's telepathy in the most enjoyable way possible. Manabe may be an idiot, but his heart is definitely in the right place and he knows it! The guy definitely earns his balls as well as Kotoura's love by the end. The main supporting cast also develops surprisingly well and likable over, but some of those character's motivations were sold a bit short (I'm looking at you, Moritani, and your distaste for dojo inheritance). Muruto's neutral stance towards Mifune is also annoying and baffling to me, but not extremely so. Otherwise, the characters felt human and were dramaticly driven and they all had real power behind them. 9/10
Enjoyment: I marathoned the entire show in just one night. That alone speaks volumes how much I enjoyed this show: it was an insatiable addiction! 10/10
Overall: WATCH IT! I don't care who you are, or what genre you're normally into. Do yourself a service: drown in your own tears, break yourself in laughter, and/or just enjoy the ride. It's probably the wildest emotional roller coaster out there if you can stand seeing Manabe's perverted thoughts. 10/10
Have you ever tried rubbing lemon on your eyes? Because that pretty much describes what this show tries too hard to do. Forced drama, everywhere.
So the first five or so minutes of the first episode is the part where all the people ate up for some reason and it apparently managed to leave such an impact that people thought that this show was going to be good just from those five minutes alone. So this girl can read other people's minds, but her feelings get hurt because she doesn't realize she has such powers, and she's a bit insensitive because she was young. Alright,
that's not too bad so far. It's fairly realistic as far as fictional mind reading powers go, but then stuff happens. Namely, the "everyone is conveniently an asshole and stupid" cliche- Where if you are too lazy to give a character a well written tragic backstory, then fuck it, just force it! Just make everything around them happen conveniently to drag them down! What makes me baffled is that it's not like the writers did not have the time to devote a whole episode for this; Instead, it's just rushed and feels completely forced, leading to an extremely lazy writing. In its original form as a 4Koma comic, this wouldn't be a necessity, but as an adaptation, I think it needs some more attention especially if you're trying to tell a serious story.
So, apparently Kotoura remains stupid about her mind reading powers while growing up and doesn't learn to shut up about it, and eventually pisses off her parents because her father is the most irresponsible father ever and her mother is just genuinely retarded. Instead of believing multiple doctors claiming that Kotoura is not a compulsive liar, she decides to believe her homeroom teacher who says she is. Who needs those PHDs? Then she sort of ditches Kotoura in her grandfather's house, and then the actual plot happens. Well, not before showing us that Kotoura gets more traumatic experience out of her favorite cat not being at the usual spot than being ditched by her parents. Brilliant. She eventually comes across the main character while still showing off that she can read minds, although she fully realizes that she's going to get her feelings hurt anyways about it because she's retarded- And what a surprise, the main character's mind is all wacky and funny! It's almost like some people honestly don't give a shit about Kotoura for once because she's the most important person ever! Realism! This apparently causes Kotoura to take interest just because he just so happened to not pay attention to her presence like every other human being that was ever around Kotoura in her life. That being said, this main character is awfully written too. He's solely characterized by his wacky silly perverted mind, and the writers can't seem to stop making overdone jokes about this, and this continues to drag on every episode in this show. Of course, outside of this, he acts like the most generic main character ever and serves as a white knight of sorts to Kotoura because everyone around her happens to be conveniently a dick just so that the main character can have a role.
But wait, there's more! More dumb characters are introduced; Daichi and Yuriko. They're both members of some stupid ESP research club, which I don't see how it got approved in the first place. Yuriko's initial plan was to use Kotoura's ability to prove to people that psychics were real because her mom died because nobody believed that she was a psychic. Now, I don't see how showing off that Kotoura is psychic proves whether her mom was ever a psychic in the first place, but that'd be too logical. Furthermore, why would Kotoura even agree to help Yuriko when clearly mind reading only makes her depressed? There's literally no reason.
But there was a reason after all- The show uses this as an excuse to introduce the next half-assed character. This character is named Moritani, and she is in love with the main character because of whole ten seconds they shared in the past. This causes her to get jealous of Kotoura because she was attracting all the attention from the main character. And then the next part is just awful: Kotoura makes a mistake, and accidentally ends up reading someone else's mind, so clearly this means that she has to actively target someone visually to read their mind. It's not something passive where she just 'hears' other people's minds. Therefore, she can technically just choose not to read minds at all, which is precisely what she doesn't do ever and she barfs all over herself because that's what people do when they're depressed and realize that others think badly of you. Then the main character defends Kotoura because she gets bullied yet again despite it being her own fault completely, which triggers Moritani to become even more jealous and causes her to order her friends to beat him up. Yeah, I'd call someone else to beat my secret love interest too because that's a smart thing to do. And she even manages to ask for help from people associated with her family dojo, so it's clearly impossible for that someone to realize she was responsible for it.
So at this point, it should be pretty noticeable that every 'drama' in this series is half-assed, forced, and just completely caused because the characters are mentally deficient. It's like watching a movie about zombie apocalypse where everything bad happens only because the characters are dumb and one just lets the zombies in because he thought he needed some fresh air- Except worse, because at least those movies are visually fun- This show is just boring, forced conflicts happening just for the sake of having a conflict. Then they constantly try to cram what they classify as "comedy" in, which includes a scene where the main character imagines Kotoura in a swimsuit or something. It's like the writers can't make up their mind about what they wanted to write, so they just taped the two together without any regard for transition. And unfortunately the show only gets worse from here- The show eventually introduces a mystery arc, where in theory, it should be interesting in conjunction with Kotoura's mind-reading powers.
Summary of the "mystery" arc: Kotoura does something stupid and she gets into a trouble. In this particular case, she walks alone at night when she fully realizes it's dangerous to do so because there's a culprit somewhere in the local area, meets a person who's pretty much a stranger at this point, and follows that person only to realize that person was the culprit all along. This sort of twist would make Shyamalan shake his head in disapproval. And then the last episode just quickly resolves the whole mother-Kotoura conflict that the series has been building up to for the entire cour in five minutes. Brilliant pacing.
Considering how much useless filler there was in this series, this wouldn't really be classified as "rushed." Now one may argue that since this is an adaptation of a 4-koma comic, you shouldn't expect a well-written story. But that is the silliest argument, because if the series is going to attempt to take itself seriously, then it should be treated as such. The fact is simple; They tried to cram some drama in and failed pretty hard. Hopefully after this show, people won't decide that a show is going to be "good" just from the first five minutes of the first episode.
The wind bites at your skin, the snow soaks your socks, and no matter how many blankets you pile on you, warmth seems to flee from your body. Why not try warming up with these must-watch anime beach episodes! The weather outside may be frightful, but the beach is so delightful!