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Kotoura-san - First Thoughts PDF Print E-mail
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Friday, 11 January 2013 22:35
Because of her unusual special abilities, Haruka Kotoura has never had a real friend or a loving family. On the contrary - they've made her life hell, and made her as lonely as a girl could possibly be. But that changes when she transfers into a new school and meets Manabe, who rather than being repelled by her special talent instead finds it rather exciting...

A bit longer than the usual First Thoughts, this one. The ability to keep your thoughts to yourself, to hide what you're really thinking, is one of anyone's core defence mechanisms - the world would be a terrible place if the people around you knew exactly what you were thinking, and we all had to be completely honest and direct. Haruka's mere presence strips that defence mechanism away from anyone near her - and the reaction, naturally, is for them to lash out at her. And Haruka's apparent inability to keep her mouth shut in the face of conflicting words and thoughts doesn't help her. As a result, her life could barely be any worse - an eternal prison of mental torture, rejection by others, and loneliness. The first half of this episode, which brought us up-to-speed with Haruka's life, was not particularly easy viewing.

And then there's the complete mood whiplash caused by her encounter with Manabe, who's perhaps the second person to come into her life who lacks the ability to be duplicitous (the first I suspect being her grandfather). What he says is what he thinks, and finding this out is the first ray of light in Haruka's miserable life in quite some time. Sure, there are going to be trust issues as she tries to unlearn her fear of getting close to people, but she certainly seems to be making a start.

You wouldn't think this was based on a 4koma romantic comedy. The tone of the opening half of this episode is the surprise of the season so far, as the tone of the show's promotional material give no clue it was going to go that way, while the source material (which I admit I haven't seen) apparently doesn't take the drama route either - drama's hard in 4koma format. But the anime has taken a big chance, and it's paid off in spades with the best opening episode of the season so far.

THE GOOD: Where to start. As hard as Haruka's past is to watch, it's a great sequence because it really does make to connect with the character and the pain she's gone through. Manabe, by comparison, is an idiot, but delightful to watch for his honesty. The mood whiplash between serious and romantic comedy works, because of the way the two of them go on to connect.

THE BAD: The show has raised unrealistic expectations, I think. I would be very surprised to see it spend much more time in the drama side, and that'll focus more on the comedy - the visual style and OP song are fairly strong hints at that - but I think that would be a shame and a waste of the potential that this episode has shown.

I would be ecstatic to be proven wrong, though. Kotoura-san has shown right out of the blocks just how good it could be, and I really hope the anime runs with that idea. We would be in for something special if it did.

Kotoura-san is streamed by Crunchyroll.

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