「嬉しくて、楽しくて」 (Ureshikute, Tanoshikute)
“So Happy, So Fun”
Three episodes have passed, allowing more than enough time for Kotoura-san to at least show off some of its stuff. How’d it do? We’ll see below.
First thing’s first though–address the inevitable rage that’ll be directed at Moritani. Alright, it’s obvious that she’s effed up for sending her dojo admirers to beat up the guy she likes, I’ll give you that. She basically used the kindness of a group without caring about their scenario to “send a message” to Manabe…all without caring about the subsequent wounds her own dojo mates suffered. That’s messed up, unarguably so. Despite that, it’s much more beneficial to look past that disgusting grime, two positive messages have sprung from this scenario.
First, Kotoura is an admirable character for not brandishing her powers against Moritani. Whether or not she actually hates Moritani at this point is irrelevant–what matters is that Kotoura consciously refuses to exact a revenge against the people who antagonize her. Some commenters in episode one expressed in the comments how you would act differently in Kotoura’s scenario, becoming more pessimistic and retributive. One would expect that to be the natural reaction, yet Kotoura, despite all the shit that’s happened to her, has taken the morally high ground and chases after her source of happiness rather than say…crush the source of her sorrows.
This naturally leads to the second positive message: Moritani finally sees Kotoura as a person, except not just as a person. Moritani finally recognizes that Kotoura’s mental resilience and maturity far surpasses her own, rather than some rival that’s carelessly taking away her happiness. Her ego has finally cracked from the sword of public humiliation brandished at her throat, with her redemption and desire to reconcile resulting from said sword not striking her down. Of course Kotoura and Moritani will end up friends due to the OP/ED, but there’s more to the revelation than the obvious conclusion. This revelation is more important than in standard romantic comedy due to the other dramatic factors that still remain. Like I stated last episode, it seems clear that Mifune has not converted so quickly to become Kotoura’s true friend, but rather is putting up quite the deceptive layer to achieve her goals. With Moritani quickly sliding up to join Kotoura’s group of friends, we will be seeing an interesting shift, where Kotoura’s former enemy actually becomes her best friend while at the same time discovering the deceptive ploy of another. While I don’t doubt Mifune’s conversion in becoming a pure friend in the future, seeing her guise finally be lifted, to see her hidden atonement agenda behind the hidden layer be laid bare…that’ll be drama to look forward to in the future.
All of this setup would’ve made a wonderful climax to the third episode, except that the storyboarding and timing was definitely rushed. While it is worth applause for the staff to have created such a great story from the 4koma, the limitations of the 4koma have seriously shown themselves this episode. I would’ve preferred they have added original material to time the episode better, since most of the drama was compressed into a 10 minute segment, all concluding with some dramatic shifts that haven’t had the time to build up or settle in our hearts very long. The speed of the scenes only serves to make the drama more cheesier than it could’ve avoided, undermining Kotoura-san’s potential to becomes a truly amazing show. People rooting for the drama will find their hopes challenged today, perhaps lamenting at the show’s focus on comedy this episode and subsequent shifts towards a romantic comedy style. I would argue though that the comedy really isn’t that bad for the drama or itself and does serve a purpose, though subtle. A majority of the comedic scenarios portrayed in the show have served to reinforce two ideas in the show: Mifune’s efforts on being the most shrouded and misread character as I stated above, but also Manabe being the purest character (his jumps surpass Junichi’s in Amagami SS).
Although equipped with dirty thoughts that make Kotoura cringe every 5 minutes, Manabe’s consistency with his words and his mind make him one of the most reliable male leads I’ve seen in awhile. His character refuses to put up with shit, is always thinking of someone other than himself, and actually takes pride in the promises he make (as seen at the end of this episode). Judging from the reactions in the comments about Manabe, his ability to be open about everything while being free from ulterior motives makes him a role model of sorts to a good number of people, especially with his ability to react appropriately to any situation, whether comically to a love umbrella or seriously in the face of danger. His backbone is a trait sought after in many male leads, representing a certain competence that almost all of us can appreciate.
But alas, Kotoura is now gone, most likely back to her grandfathers or in the safety of a shrine, with a fourth of the show complete. Now is the time to ask: will you continue on with Kotoura-san, or have the hooks from episode one faded too much to continue? I for one will continue to blog this show to the end and I hope you do the same with continuing to watch and comment. Despite the pacing stumbles and the overdramatic moments, I believe Kotoura-san has defined itself from the rest of the crowd enough to be a keeper for its honest message, likable characters, and above all else daring attitude to bring this 4koma drama to life.