Welcome to the Final Episode and Series Review of Kotoura-san. Again, I’ll discuss the series finale first, then get to the overall review. If you want to skip directly to that, go here. I’d also like to say that this will be my final post for SushiGoKart, as I’m going to be writing for Metanorn.net, and I’d like to thank Sushi very much for the opportunity to join the site and contribute here, and everyone who’s been reading throughout the last two and a half seasons of anime.
As I mentioned last week, it was good that last week’s episode wasn’t the finale. From the standpoint of leaving the series on a good note, this episode was much better, returning a lot of the humor and interesting interplay between characters that was missing as the series had to wrap up the Tsukino attacks. In this episode we had the surprise that Yuriko is closing down the ESP Research Club, mainly to troll Haruka before revealing that the ‘new’ ESP Research Club will continue to harass her.
We also get Haruka’s crisis of self as she realizes that Manabe has never actually told her that he loves her. He’s told Moritani, and he’s thought it a few times, but she’s never heard it from his lips. But she also realizes that she’s never told him the same thing. And after a typical anime comedy slipup where Manabe sees Haruka practicing with Moritani and gets the wrong idea, they finally get the time together where it feels right to say it, and we get a very nice confession. And both Haruka and Yoshihisa realize that there are times you want to hear someone say what you already know.
The show also deals with Kumiko, Haruka’s mother, for a bit of closure from the beginning. Showing up in a pretty ignominious manner, just letting herself into Haruka’s apartment when noone’s there, and then complaining that there’s no alcohol, she’s pretty boorish. But in between the demands and complaints, Haruka sees that there’s still some caring for her daughter there. And the important memory of walking away from Haruka, we see that she remembers tears and apologies as she walked away, for not being strong enough to protect Haruka. I think there’s not complete forgiveness there, but Haruka certainly softens her feelings toward her mother.
We also get an apology from Yuriko, who throughout the series has been promising to use Haruka to prove that her mother could have been a psychic. And even though I don’t think she ever really did anything, Haruka accepts what she’s saying, while answering that she’s always known about it, and still wanted to be Yuriko’s friend. She’s grateful to be accepted and grateful to have a place that she can be herself, where people know who she is and what she represents and still care for her.
In the end, the finale was fitting for the show, and even if it didn’t match the emotional depth of the opening of the series, it was still a nice wrapup for all of the characters. Definitely far better than Episode 11 would have been.
TV Series; 12 Episodes
Based on a 4-panel manga, Kotoura-san is the happenings of a girl who was born with the ability to read the minds of the people around her. Far from being a boon, this has been more of a curse in her life as it has repeatedly driven her friends away, and even contributed to the implosion of her family as her parents both have affairs and abandon her with her grandfather. The show starts off in a very different way, however, with all of the pain of the title character’s life up to this point, leading to her present situation where, moving to yet another new school, and expecting to make no friends and be a lonely person everyone calls a monster, she encounters Manabe-kun, a boy whose thoughts are so random and transparent that it literally shatters her gloomy outlook. From this basis, we see the assembly of a group of friends in the ESP Research Club, and the slow recovery of Kotoura as she gains friends who know of her ability and don’t shun her for it.
Since the source is a comic manga, it’s surprising that there’s so much emotion and depth in the series. It does a good job mixing both comedy and drama into most of the episodes, and plays a lot on the comedy potential of Manabe, with his perverted thoughts toward Kotoura, who isn’t interested in seeing those thoughts of his, even as she falls in love with him. When the story tries to have more of a serious arc, it doesn’t play quite as well, and the best episodes are the ones that mostly just have the characters doing random stuff.
The characters are interesting, with everyone having flaws of some sort or another. They play off each other fairly well, and work well in the show. Again, given the source material, they’re not amazingly deep or complicated, and this sometimes works at odds with the show’s emotional depth. The anime trend of easy forgiveness is a frequent topic of argument in this show, because while the forgiveness is longer coming than in other shows, the transgressions are generally much worse: Setting goons on someone because he won’t be your boyfriend, and abandoning your grade school child to say a couple. But even given these transgressions, Haruka is very willing to see others’ side, sometimes too willing.
The production of the series is Great, with some great direction giving us one of the most stunning opening episodes of a comedy series ever. The depth of feeling that it produced was far outsized for the type of show it is. And the background music through the opening sequence was great, with the climax of the scene having no vocals as Haruka screams to the heavens, just an evocative melody, that drew tears from me.
The OP is sung by Megumi Nakajima, and the (usual) ED is sung by Hisako Kanemoto, who also sings both songs in character during the show at karaoke… terribly. It’s interesting to hear her sing her own song so badly, but it works for the joke. The voice work overall is good, featuring veterans Kana Hanazawa, Hisako Kanemoto, and Hiro Shimono, as well as the relatively inexperienced Jun Fukushima (*not* Fukuyama) and Yurika Kubo (who is also a member of mu’s in the series Love Live!)
Overall, the show works well, leading to a fun viewing experience. It really stunned right off the bat with a very different opening episode, and although it didn’t match the magic of that show, it did stay a bit different from the usual high school comedy show, by going for a deeper range of emotions than we usually get from this sort of show. It was enjoyable to watch throughout, and entertaining for the majority of the show.