Kobato – 23, 24 (END)
Ever since the nursery closed, Kobato has been sticking to Kiyokazu and trying to help him with whatever he needs. She even tries to get him to have some fun, but Kiyokazu just wants her to leave him alone. Ioryogi is more concerned about Kobato running out of time to gather konpeitou, but Kobato has made up her mind about what she wants. When Kiyokazu questions why she’s so concerned about him, she explains that he’s important to her. They return later to the apartment building, and Kobato receives a flower from the sky, so she tells Kiyokazu that she won’t be able to be with him the following day. He’s glad to hear this, but what he doesn’t realize is that it’s time for Kobato to leave. She departs the next day after saying goodbye to Chitose, and Kiyokazu doesn’t find out until he gets back home that evening.
At the park, Ushagi floats down, examines Kobato’s bottle, and shakes its head because the bottle isn’t full. Ioryogi’s pleas fall on deaf ears, but before Ushagi can use its powers on her, Kiyokazu comes running. Since Kobato can’t explain what’s going on to him, Ioryogi finally reveals himself and how Kobato is bound by a contract. He has Kobato remove her hat, showing the crown-like object on her head that signifies that she’s dead. Her soul doesn’t belong to any world, but because of the contract, she was given the chance to be reborn. Kobato, however, chose to spend her remaining time with Kiyokazu rather than to fill the bottle, thereby breaking the contract. Ushagi then reappears and casts a barrier around her, and Kobato explains that she now must disappear. She tells Kiyokazu that she was happy being by his side and reaffirms how important he was to her, and this causes him to tell her not to go. That in turn causes the barrier around her to shatter, and a giant konpeitou emerges from him, filling Kobato’s bottle. Since the contract is now fulfilled, Kobato has to go to that certain place, and she vanishes in front of Kiyokazu after saying goodbye.
After Kobato disappears, Ushagi erases all traces of her from the world, including those in people’s memories. Kiyokazu thus forgets her, but certain things that should remind him of her, like her empty room, triggers something in his memory. Sometime after talking with Sayaka who has decided to restart the nursery, Kiyokazu returns home and finds a konpeitou that had been in his jacket pocket. Staring at it causes all of his memories of Kobato to return, and Kiyokazu doesn’t understand what’s going on. Nobody else he talks to remembers her, but he eventually thinks to visit Kohaku. Kohaku still retains her memories of Kobato, and she explains that Kobato lost her life a long time ago in an unfortunate incident. Kobato’s wish was to be reborn so that she could be at the side of the person she liked, and to get that wish granted, she undertook the konpeitou trial. Kohaku doesn’t know if Kobato reached where she wanted to go, but she does tell Kiyokazu about how she and Shuuichirou have been separated numerous times over the years, and each time he’s reborn, they are reunited even if he doesn’t remember his previous life because he still has the same soul.
With this in mind, Kiyokazu continues with his life for the next several years. He becomes a lawyer with a small firm and one day gets sent out on an inheritance assignment to the countryside. There he finds an empty house, and in one of the main rooms is a piano. Since he’s kept the konpeitou with him all this time, Kiyokazu decides to sit down and play Kobato’s song, and he recalls all the memories he has of her. After he’s done playing, he hears a girl in the distance singing the same song. That girl looks and sounds just like Kobato, and although she doesn’t recognize Kiyokazu, he remembers what Kohaku told him. Since she’s the client of this assignment, Kiyokazu goes over the inheritance stuff, but he also gives her the konpeitou and asks her to sing again. He plays the piano for her, and while she’s singing, she experiences fragments of her old memories. This tears to form in her eyes, and when a tear falls on the konpeitou, it activates in a bright flash. When the light clears, Kobato recalls how, if she met the person she wanted to be with again, she would smile this time. She then turns to Kiyokazu and shows him a tearful smile, and the two are reunite with an embrace.
Wow, this was without a doubt the two most emotional episodes out of the entire series. Episode 23 was built up around the fact that Kobato decided to stay with Kiyokazu instead of gathering konpeitou, and we finally learned the truth about her towards the end. It was the separation scene though that got me choked up a little. I never thought of Kiyokazu and Kobato as a great pairing because Kiyokazu was always so pissed off and uninterested (never mind the fact that he seemed so much older than her), however that changed when he finally showed how much he cared about her in that scene. I felt it was a little cheap that his konpeitou was so big that it filled the rest of her bottle, but in general I enjoyed the music and the emotion in that scene. They also made good use of Kohaku, and I noticed that through her they brought up the oft-used-in-CLAMP-series theme of hitsuzen.
Watching episode 24 right after felt a little weird at first because it seemed anticlimactic compared to what had happened in the previous episode, and plus it was following Kiyokazu’s point of view instead of Kobato’s. The first half was predictable for the most part, helped along by that konpeitou plot device, though I liked how they sort of paralleled Kohaku’s and Shuuichirou’s relationship with Kobato and Kiyokazu’s. It was nice to see the plot then jump a few years ahead for the second half so that we could see how Kiyokazu accomplished his goal of becoming a lawyer and how that led him to Kobato. I think the multiple versions of Kobato’s song really softened me up for the end of the episode, because unlike the previous episode where I only got a little choked up, I couldn’t help but shed a few tears when Kobato finally regained her memories and showed that she wanted to be with Kiyokazu all along. It was such a powerful scene emotionally, and the epilogue wrapped things up as perfectly as could have been expected. All of the shots in there were nice, but it was particularly sweet to see Ioryogi still watching over Kobato.
All in all, these two episodes gave the series a much, much stronger finish than I ever would have imagined several months ago, and thinking about it now, I consider Kobato to be a worthwhile watch. I still feel that the show suffers from how episodic it was in the beginning and middle, and while there were some decent one-shots (episodes five and thirteen come to mind), things didn’t really become interesting until they left that format and worked on developing the main plot and relationship. If I were to recommend Kobato to someone – and after these two final episodes, I would recommend it if you like drama and romance or just CLAMP titles in general – I’d probably suggest the person skip some of those middle episodes that had no bearing on the final outcome.
Now I’m going to go listen to the soundtrack a few more times…