What They Say:
To ease all the pain and suffering in this world is no simple task, but young Kobato earnestly believes that she has the talent and ability to do just that! However, the half-human creature known as Ioryogi doubts whether the strange girl with the mysterious past is truly ready to receive the mystical flask Kobato needs to achieve her goal, a special bottle gifted with the ability to capture the pain and sorrow of a broken heart once it’s been healed. There’s really only one way to find out if Kobato truly deserves the right to use the flask – Ioryogi decides to send Kobato on her first assignment!
Contains episodes 1-12.
The audio presentation for this release is basic with just the Japanese language track here in stereo encoded at 224kbps. The series isn’t one that has a whole lot going on with its audio side as it’s mostly laid back and dialogue driven with just a few moments of action here and there, but even that barely qualifies as action. There’s more comedy driven audio moments than anything else with how some of the characters interact with each other. What we do get here is a good sounding track that captures the feel of things well and lets the music shine through just right. It’s not a track that demands a lot but it conveys it well and is free of problems like dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2009, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The twelve episodes on this release are spread across two discs evenly with six on each. The animation by Madhouse is very well captured by the transfer here with lots of great colors and an appealing amount of backgrounds that gives it a very warm and friendly feeling. The animation has a very vibrant feel to it with a lot of fluid areas that generally revolves around the way Kobato moves, giving it a strong look overall. This release stands out very well with what it’s showing here and it definitely keeps you watching just to enjoy the visuals.
The packaging for this release has two discs inside a standard sized single keepcase with a hinge inside for one of the discs. The front cover is about as expected with a shot of a very upbeat and smiling Kobato in the outfit she usually wears, complete with hat, while Ioryogi is hanging over her shoulder holding the special jar. It’s a very girly cover with lots of pinks and bright colors but it works well and lets you know exactly how the show is designed, so there’s no trick advertising going on here. The logo looks good and the artwork for Kobato herself is spot on. The back cover has pieces of it with the light colors and the pink along the edge, but it adds a bit of darkness along the top to balance it as well. There’s plenty of shots from the show and a look at the two Chi-girls which may draw people in who have seen Chobits while Fujimoto gets a nod as well. The summary covers things well enough and the technical grid is clean and and problem free with what it breaks down. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for this release is simple and clean and definitely on the cute side as it uses a copious amount of pink. It’s split pretty much in half where the left side has cute character artwork for Kobato with the logo behind her while the right side has the breakdown of the menu navigation. The navigation itself is pretty simple with it just being the episode numbers and titles going down as there’s nothing else really here such as language setup since it’s a monolingual release. The first disc has a little more with the extras while the second disc just has the navigation itself.
The only extras included here are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga of the same name by CLAMP, which ran for only six short volumes before ending the month that this DVD release came out, Kobato is a twenty-four episode series of shonen magazine origins that’s pretty safe and basic but has the usual CLAMP fair to it. With the first half of the show, we get the basic setup early on and then it delves into episodic fare for the majority of it with only a few hints about the big picture that we’ll be dealing with when it gets closer to the end with the second collection.
The series revolves around a cute young woman named Kobato who has arrived on the human world from the Ikai dimension along with a stuffed animal named Ioryogi, who is actually a member of the Ikai dimension that has been punished by being put in this form and is serving as her guardian for her mission. While it is not revealed in detail, what we do know is that she’s come here amongst the ordinary humans who don’t know of the three other worlds in order to heal problems amongst people in order to acquire special crystal hearts that will fill a special crystal jar that she needs in order to have her wish come true. What that wish is, well, we don’t really have any idea what it is that she wants, but she’s prepared to do as much as she can to achieve it. And with Ioryogi working her over to achieve the hearts she needs, there’s little down time for her in a way since he’s continually grading her.
Kobato’s pretty clueless about the human world, but she’s not as bad as some characters in other series. She manages to luck out into helping out at Yomogi Kindergarten and that gets her some crash space thanks to the owner. There’s drama associated with the kindergarten as the owner, Sayaka, has some financial issues and that plays into the story over time as well. What Kobato does through her time there though is to use it as a launching point to meeting other people that she can help. From elderly women to cats to kids and especially to those that she works with, with Sayaka being a slow problem she’s working at to Fujimoto, a college student working there who also went there as a child. There’s some nice material associated with the relationship that he has with the place and Sayaka’s father, the former owner of it, but it’s all pretty simply telegraphed.
Because of this, the show doesn’t exactly really stretch itself in any way because it just does the slice of life gig while having Kobato help people. And it’s not that they need dramatic help for the most part either, just simple things like her singing to someone, helping a cat find a home and helping a couple of people realize that there’s more of a relationship between them than they think. It’s slice of life of material without any real magic involved, which is a plus, and plenty of cuteness along the way. The relationship between Kobato and Ioryogi could be problematic, but he’s largely kept to the sidelines for a lot of it and just gets involved in small ways with some cutting but cute remarks while he watches over her all while playing his own mission as well.
One noteworthy thing about Kobato is that like a lot of works by CLAMP in the last decade, they recycle and recycle well. There’s a lot of familiar things reused here from other shows, especially the setting, as it takes place in the same area where Chobits took place, but in a different world of course. Kobato ends up staying at the same apartment complex that Chobits takes place in and there are several Chobits characters that appear here, including the two Chi characters and the Bakery Tirol and those that work in it. Kobato ends up actually working there for awhile so it’s cute to see that story have a similar resolution to what happened in Chobits as well, or at least a portion of it. While I do like the way the CLAMPverse works, it can be distracting at times because you watch this and then start focusing on what you can pick out from their other series instead.
Kobato is a pretty fun little title but one that I think will appeal more directly to fans of CLAMP in general and younger viewers. The newer you are to anime, the more appeal this will have and CLAMP fans will enjoy a different romp through familiar grounds. The first thing I thought of was that my daughter will love this after reading so much of their manga and enjoying Chobits, and that’s part of the appeal of what they’ve done here. For me, it falls a little flat in some ways because of the familiarity and because we are kept from knowing what it is that Kobato herself is after and what Ioryogi is trying to work through as well with the punishment that put him in this form. This is a very well put together production, but it’s light on substance and heavy on atmosphere and cuteness.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: August 9th, 2011
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.