AKA: The Troubled Life of Miss Kotoura
Aired: Winter 2013
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance, School, Supernatural
Date watched: Dec 27 2018 – Dec 28 2018
Series watched: Kotoura-san (12 ep x 23 mins)
Why I started watching: I was in the mood for something supernatural, as that’s one of my favourite genres. This one had been on my To-Watch list (along with many other shows) and I happened to come across its synopsis again as I was browsing. I then impulsively jumped right in!
This anime told a fun story, and I liked it overall to the point where I’d watch a sequel in a heartbeat if one was made. Yet, I couldn’t help feeling as the show went on that they could have done a lot more interesting things with the premise. Haruka Kotoura, the protagonist, starts out the story being a class loner and bullied, with a tragic backstory to boot, because of her uncontrollable ability to read the minds of those around her. The first episode plays on that rejection really well, and I had high hopes for the show. But while other plot points near the start and end do build on it, I felt like they ultimately never really used that hook to its full potential.
The anime uses it as an excuse for Haruka to feel intense self-doubt, but outside of flashbacks, they never really show that many instances of it being a constant source of distress. It does feature in a couple major plot points, and those were done well. However, outside of those, it never seemed to “randomly” pick up people’s thoughts like it was supposed to. Instead of it being the central fulcrum of the anime, it just became a convenient plot device that they used to introduce something to advance the plot, or when the show wanted to display yet another lewd mental image from Yoshihisa.
I soon felt a dissonance between the alleged power that she had, and the show’s lack of displaying random thoughts from her fellow students and club members. She should not even need to hold regular conversation with her friends at all, when they were alone, since she could read their minds. A one-way conversation would have sufficed. But the show doesn’t get self-aware enough to explore little tricks like that more than the tiniest amount here and there, or explore issues like sanity and bullying and misunderstandings. Kokoro Connect, which I watched not too long after Kotoura-san, does it in a much stronger fashion.
While Kotoura-san starts off strongly, with a nice focus on drama, and also finishes fairly sweetly, there were several Slice of Life episodes in the middle where the show felt like it had lost its way. They felt unnecessary to the flow, because again it fails to utilize those episodes to explore the psychological aspects of her power. The final arc involving the police also starts out really, really well, but then has an absolutely horrendous ending that fell flat on its face for me. The scene on the rooftop and the arrival of Yoshihisa was far too convenient, as he basically teleported there from the previous scene. The anime could have showcased a LOT more with the confrontation between Haruka and the other person, making it a back and forth battle between their two mental states until all the others could arrive. Instead, the whole scene ended up feeling contrived, which was unfortunate as the build-up had been great!
I loved the ED of the show, Kibou no Hana, by Haruka Chisuga. It sounded sweet and hopeful, yet tinged with mournful overtones, even though the lyrics were happy – all in a very Tamayura sort of way. And that feeling turned out to be right on point, as the singer was also credited with singing an ED song in that series. Overall, I still had fun with Kotoura-san, and it gave me plenty to think about, even though I think it could have used its premise more effectively. The characters were cute and fun, and the story wrapped itself up well for a 12-episode series. I wonder what this would have been like with 24 episodes.
Final Score: 8/10