Kotoura-san – 02
「初めての。。。。。。」 (Hajimete no……)
Episode two makes it clear: the drama is here to stay. After all the arguments and the sudden demand to translate the 4-koma, Kotoura-san’s dramatic elements were not a one-shot deal–the show has fully revealed its true genre, hiding nothing about its intentions. I, for one, am relieved that the animation has taken a route that is actually faithful to the original material, where even the comedy has a looming connection to the overarching drama. If you still want to see a straight up romantic comedy with harems and carefree gags, this is not the place; there are many other shows this season that cater to that genre. Kotoura-san is serious about its plot and undoubtedly will seek to make you laugh, cry, d’awwww, and cry while laughing, all in what I like to personally label as the dramatic comedy.
The question remains though: will Kotoura-san live up to the high expectations that its first episode established?
Episode two, if it serves any indication of the future, is making good progress, especially in introducing the rest of the cast. We probably won’t see anything as dramatic as the first episode for a long while, yet the drama is still being pushed to advance the storyline, with a number of foreshadows being dropped, with some hints more obvious than others. It seems like every female character has some form of suffering they’re hiding, which will probably play as the main theme of the show as we move forward.
The first case of which of course lies in the ESP Society’s President, Mifune Yuriko (Hanazawa Kana). At surface she’s your typical club president, egging the rest of the members to take part in ridiculous club activities for the sake of accomplishing some crazy goal. However, dig a little deeper thanks to Kotoura and you find some pretty messed up stuff underneath, with some hidden intentions to boot. For being such a forward person, Mifune is doing well to hide the emotional scars wrought from the death of her celebrity psychic mother (who uncannily looks like Kotoura’s mother). This comes as a benefit though, as Kotoura and Mifune now share a common bond and mutual understanding that can’t come from pure sympathy, especially so for Mifune, whose (perhaps) only source of understanding came from her fellow Vice President Muroto Daichi (Shimono Hiro). Mifune takes a step too far though in exploiting Kotoura, though conclusively makes up for it in the end, so all is okay, right?
Actually, I have my suspicions. First off, Mifune’s desire to convince people that the phenomenon of ESP seems a little…off. It is clear through the reactions of her classmates that they know that Kotoura is a “freak monster”, so any attempts to prove the existence of ESP seems…a little moot? Instead shouldn’t Mifune look instead to garner sympathy and tolerance for those who claim to have ESP?
While it may be easy to blame this on bad scriptwriting, I think something else is at work here that requires us to scrap the idea of categorizing Mifune’s moments as “surface” and “hidden”. While at surface Mifune is a class president and what Kotoura sees at surface is the sad life of Mifune…perhaps at a deeper level, Mifune is sneakier than seen at face value. Since she blatantly spoke out that her sympathy and pity were cheap tactics, I have doubts that this may be the last we see of Mifune’s plans to amend for the crimes against her mother. Although the latter half of the episode with her actual sympathies confuses this theory a little, especially through Muroto’s second conversation with Mifune, it’s an interesting path that might be realized.
Even if that hypothesis isn’t realized though, the current antagonist to Kotoura’s happiness will find the spotlight. Although introduced in episode one quite subtly, Moritani Hiyori (Kubo Yurika) starts showing her darker, yet confused colors this episode. While she will undoubtedly convert to a friendlier attitude towards Kotoura, her current disposition is one to be despised. It’s stereotypical, but it pisses us off all the same–bullying those who threaten your position, Japanese-style. Papers on the back, writing on the chalkboard, negative auras and subtle aggressiveness, all of this combines to make hell for Kotoura, who is actually aware of why Moritani acts like this in the first place.
After the conclusion of this episode though, she must feel like shit, so much so that I sympathize with her a bit…a bit being the emphasis here. Though she did act like a bitch, I like to think that it was her friends, who genuinely despise Kotoura and want to see her suffer out of enjoyment, that pressured her to initiate the bullying. In reality, Kotoura is taking a precious source of happiness away from Moritani, taking away perhaps the first person to view Moritani’s background in a positive light. The justification for Moritani becomes clear this way, though in no way acceptable.
What I truly feel for Moritani though is that her love basically called her shit out in front of an entire class and spoke, “Your mind is so filthy, it mad Kotoura puke,” and, “…because I like her!” A double blow in the course of a few minutes, attacking both her hopes and her personality…wow. I’d be depressed for months if I was in her shoes, though we’ll see what her actual reaction is in the next episode, whether she’s knocked down or intensifies her efforts. Although I do applaude Manabe for being a GAR and standing up for Kotoura as every sensible person should, I can’t help but feel pity for Moritani as she lands herself permanently in Manabe’s friendzone. In fact, this is my reaction to Moritani at this point concerning her hopes for hooking up with Manabe. It’ll be a sight to see how Moritani evolves from this bottom of the pits situation to frendship, but knowing how Kotoura-san pulls at the heartstrings, I expect such development to be dramatically powerful.
Overall, a great episode to set the tone of the show, with drama overarching the entire episode. Kotoura stays adorable, our great voice actors HanaKana and ShimoHiro are great supports, and Manabe and Moritani duke it out in style. I look forward to covering this on a regular schedule (if you haven’t seen the schedule already) and seeing what surprises can be dealt next–at its heart it’s a romance comedy, but the unique aspect alone makes it worth watching for many more.
This last part, I couldn’t find a place to fit in the main article, so I’ll add it here as an extra.