Hanato Kobato arrives in a park one day with her stuffed dog companion Ioryogi with the wish to go to a certain somewhere, but to do that, she has to fill a special bottle using the hearts of people who have been hurt and healed. Before she can even do that though, she first has to get the bottle, and to get the bottle, she has to pass Ioryogi’s test of whether she can live in this world. The problem is that Kobato is rather naive and lacks some common sense. When a woman accidentally leaves her some garbage to dispose of, Kobato decides to let the crows at it because a sign told her to reduce the amount of garbage thrown away. When two guys try to pick her up on the street, Kobato goes along with them until Ioryogi blasts them with his flame breath. This angers the guys, and Kobato is saved thanks to a stranger who scares off the first two. Later that day, Kobato finds herself helping at a nabe stand, and even though she doesn’t know how to prepare nabe, what she cooks turns out to be surprisingly delicious. Afterward, Kobato comes across a grandmother with a crying baby, and she decides to try singing for the child. Kobato sings so well that not only does the baby stop crying, but a crowd also gathers and pulls her away because they were so impressed. It’s not until later that the old lady finds Kobato again and properly thanks her, and Ioryogi finally decides to pass Kobato and give her the bottle.
The opening and ending songs themselves are pleasant and appropriate for the series, but it felt a bit weird hearing Sakamoto Maaya singing something like that after hearing her as semi-villain Alphard for an entire season in Canaan. Also, having her singing the opening song and Nakajima Megumi singing the ending song gave me memories of Macross Frontier, and it’s a shame Kanno Yoko isn’t working on any major series right now.
This first episode turned out to be every bit as cute, funny, and endearing as I hoped it’d be. In fact, the nabe scene is a perfect example of all of that. They actually didn’t animate everything though that was in the manga leading up to Kobato getting the bottle, but it’s probably better that way because a lot of that was not-totally-necessary seasonal stuff (Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s chapters). This way lets them get to the heart of the story faster, and they’ve already shown a good deal of Fujimoto, who I like to think of as Tsubasa Chronicle‘s Syaoran+10 years. Speaking of which, because of that, his more mature voice (done by Maeno Tomoaki) took a little getting used to, but at least both Tetsu Inada and Hanazawa Kana were spot on as Ioryogi and Kobato.
In terms of production quality, Madhouse did a good job capturing and animating the CLAMP style that made the manga so cute, and I really liked some of the background music, like the piece that played after Kobato finished singing. The insert song scene was also a nice way to cap off the episode. In short, I enjoyed the first episode and am really looking forward to what happens from here since I didn’t read the manga past this point.