Kotoura-san – 08

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You didn’t think we were going to get through a whole episode scot-free from angst, did you?

You know, every time Mori-san dares to act haughty in the slightest, it really burns me.  And when she’s used in the tired cliche of beating on the male lead, it positively makes me seethe.  When she was lecturing Manabe about acting perverted, he really should have said something along the lines of “Don’t worry – I won’t hire some thugs to viciously attack Kotoura while she’s sick.”  I really like Mori best the way she was depicted in Kotoura’s Grandpa’s character parade – the old man had the measure of her, for sure.  I still think her presence as an accepted member of the group is one of the biggest weaknesses of this series, and we really saw it this week.

Be that as it may, Mori is only one small part of this episode thank goodness – and it’s a pretty solid effort on the whole.  It slyly advances the plot on several fronts, and I like the way it does so with so much subtlety that you could almost think you were watching a simple slice-of-life episode.  It remains irksome to see anime characters going to great lengths to deny the horrifying possibility that they could be on a date – just why, exactly, can’t they simply be on a date?  Manaba and Kotoura have pretty much acknowledged that they’re in love, and it’s a funny sort of hang-up in anime that we have to go through this silly denial every time high-schoolers start dating.  But I give Kotoura-san credit for at least having characters on-screen point out just how silly the pretense is – like Makishima acknowledging that Psycho-Pass is ripping off Philip K. Dick.

Indeed, Kotoura-san has made something of a habit of making silk purses from sow’s ears – like turning Moritani into the butt of the series’ jokes – and walking the fine line between comedy and drama at all times.  In the case of the former, it’s able to take stock situations like the anime cold and by recalibrating them in seemingly small ways make them not just feel fresh, but really significant in the overall story.  Of course we’ve seen the cold thing a million times, but the twist here is that apparently when feverish or or generally under-the-weather (the actual cause could be crucial in determining just how often Kotoura’s blackouts occur) Kotoura-chan loses her ability to read minds.  Interesting, that, especially given that Manabe has to deal for the first time with the reality that he can think whatever he likes without Kotoura being privy to it.  When he ends up taking care of her at her place this leads to the aforementioned lecture from the loathsome Moritani, but the truth of the matter is Manabe would never take advantage of a helpless Haruka and if she (and the Prez) had any sense they’d know that.  The point is that having ecchi thoughts is perfectly normal for anyone, never mind a 16 year-old male – that doesn’t make a person a deviant.

I really liked the scenes in Kotoura’s apartment as Manabe battled his own thoughts and took care of her – and I especially liked Kanemoto Hisako’s voice work in the first half of the ep (though she’s generally great all the time anyway).  Kotoura’s powers don’t return immediately, interestingly, and it’s not at all surprising that she actually enjoys this break from the curse she’s lived with for her entire life.  When Mifune “punishes” Manabe by making him go on a date with Kotoura, it’s rather touching to see how thrilled she is by being able to do mundane things like going to the movies without learning the ending from the viewers leaving the theatre.  There are plenty of solid comic moments here and as always, the chemistry between Kotoura and Manabe is rock-solid.  I’m not sure why Kotoura is one of these teenagers who likes to dress in spinster clothing (perhaps to hide her self-perceived physical inadequacies) but their trip to the boutique is interesting in that it shows that even without her psychic abilities, there’s no problem getting the gist of Manabe’s thoughts on the matter (which is rather the point of the scene).

This being Kotoura-san, it was always likely we were going to see reality bite back – and when the ED started so early, I figured there was probably a twist to come.  Indeed, what a twist it was – not only did Kotoura’s powers come back, but apparently just at the moment when she was passing someone thinking about committing a murder.  This is new territory for Kotoura-san, as serious as it’s already been – and it takes Haruka-chan dangerously close to places Mifune’s mother ventured in her tragic life. This coming episode may be the one where Mifune’s true motives are put to the test – as with Moritani, I’ve always felt her redemption came a little too quickly and easily, and she’s surely going to be more tempted than ever to exploit Haruka for her own ends (as indeed she’s already done, more than once).  The almost uniquely stark contrast between the screwball comedy and ruthless angst is what makes this such an unusual series, and it also has the effect of making it very hard to feel comfortable in predicting where the show might and might not be willing to go.  That, as much as anything, is what makes Kotoura-san such an especially compelling experience.

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  1. l

    So she faints, recovers and becomes Tantei Opera Kotoura?!

  2. G

    The Japanese Anime cold sure is a fearsome beast. Imagine if such a thing existed in the real world and outside of Japan…

    Planes full of people would just drop out of the sky and crash if the pilot had a cold, prison guards would not show up for work and all the killers would escape. The tragedys and near tragedys would be endless.

  3. H

    But the next day they'd be completely fine. Oh the scourge of being hit by some raindrops!

  4. G

    Also I thought the guy she passed was possibly a serial killer. Will be interesting to see what the gang does about this in the coming weeks.

  5. H

    I don't think we've even gotten into any of the story of Yuriko, nor anything for her to have been redeemed from. The only time that Yuriko has acted any way other than a friend / senpai to Haruka was when she used Haruka for the mind-reading table, and that was really a minor transgression that Haruka participated in with full knowledge. And there certainly seemed to be sincere regret on Yuriko's part for Haruka being bullied. So I don't think the show's been too easy on Yuriko, because she hasn't really crossed over any line yet.

  6. e

    Manabe's first locket pic was priceless, ahah. It didn't deserve being crushed so mercilessly, neither was the man pictured for that matter.
    Btw, in terms of old school anime/manga callbacks this week we got an Ashita no Joe moment. Heh.
    Once the 'it's a DATE!!!' freak-outs were ut of the way it was a very pleasant watch (and Enzo… those are not spinster clothes, she just dressed modestly ;3; and she still looks cute ;_; ).
    As a bonus we even got to see Muroto's pretty eyes, and more than once at that.

    Ready to angst next week. Eros-kun, keep being our light in the upcoming darkness.

  7. Not having read AnJ (sorry, Mashiro) I didn't pick up on it.

    And I never said you didn't look cute, but sorry – those are librarian clothes. I couldn't help but think of Kramer's Seinfeld line: "Look at her. This is a lonely woman looking for companionship.. … Spinster. ..
    Maybe a virgin. …"

  8. e

    'You'? Admittedly that felt weird for a moment. On haruka's account I thank you oh merciful sir XD.
    Anyway nah, if she were older I might concede you that outfit can evoke that. But given her physique and age it's quite endearing imho really, also considering that outfit's effects on Manabe's raburabu vision.
    About AnJ your screencapping sense still nailed it http://lh6.ggpht.com/-L-5Vy2sVNSE/UTARVxnSS8I/AAAAAAACsxg/dsUPJhSIUqU/s1600-h/Kotoura—08—Large-142.jpg this is that series iconic scene, just at the very end – in the anime version at least – . I still remember it crystal clear after 30 years. Dezaki Osamu owned my childhood anime-wise XD.

  9. Heh, forgive the slip of the fingers. I'm sure you dress in typically cutting-edge Italian style.

    That was an AnJ moment, eh? I always took those shots as being more of a general classic anime freeze frame, but maybe I just never knew where it got started.

  10. e

    Yep, it's THE AnJ moment, emphasized by the trademark Dezaki's freeze frame glory.
    If you ever come around to wath RoV *nudgepokenudge*, Ace wo Nerae, Remi (the original, not the remake), his Black Jack OVAs… you will often find freeze frames to highlight key moments. Preferably coupled with a pastel/watercolor technique rendering or expressionistic colors. They were among his signature traits.

    I don't mind the fingers slip if it's a gentleman doing it :p. But while I like to think I dress well I'm not sure I fall into how you picture me (have you been picturing me? ohohohoh). If anything my clothing spectrum I've been told falls between sexy librarian and boho chic (in my case hippie/Regency/LotR movie Arwen/Victorian clothes <— much more wearable than the concept would make you believe. Pity I'm way too past my tenage years to pull off a zettai ryouiki , but hey thigh highs are a lovely hidden alternative) and that I look like… a Celt (!). Must be the alabaster skin vs dark eyes&hair combo.
    I think I'm more of a 'Snow White meets Dracula's concubine' myself. My canines are up to the role at the very least X,DDD . Incidentally, they have been my trusty allies in biting non-gentlemanly wandering fingers * smiles sweetly *).
    You were soooo much in need of this TMI I'm sure. Fell free to censor and delete at your leisure.

  11. H

    I'm with elianthos on the clothes. They're not that far off of what the other women in the scenes are wearing, somewhat more modest, but that's her attitude. Maybe brighter colors, but as he says, Haruka has a pretty slight figure and is still an embarrassed girl about a lot of things, so she's not going to wear even any of those outfits that Manabe was pointing out (which in other anime would barely be racy at all, themselves).

    It's certainly not the same case as Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun where they specifically made a point of showing that Shizuku wore the exact same outfit as an old woman.

  12. B

    Moritani continues to be the worst part of this show, Manabe continues to be the best part, ho-hum, just another episode of Kotoura.

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