Kotaro Lives Alone is an anime series that I wanted to take a while to discuss. Maybe that is a bit of a bad thing because it is a Netflix “original” that didn’t get any advertisement. Still, if you enjoy the words and ideas that I have to say about, you can go on and check it out now. It really is a show that needs attention because it is just really good. Some quality work from Liden Films after them just throwing up a lot of shows after a while. This is a show that feels like it understands the absurd situation that it creates, but then does so much work from it.
This show’s plot is easy to describe. A young five year old named Kotaro Sato moves into an apartment complex by himself right next to mangaka Shin Kirino and that’s all you need. Why is Kotaro by himself? The show actively knows how absurd that is and fills out some answers very slowly like a drip feed. How does Kotaro support himself? Where does the money come from? Something that is also answered. What about human interactions between people? Well, Karino is right next door and the rest of the apartment complex just adopts him even if he doesn’t realize it. It’s good stuff is what I am saying. Some hard stuff at times, but
Structure and Balancing Emotional
How Kotaro Lives Alone works is that the show is a series of short moments and pieces placed into ten standard lengths of anime episodes. It really works though. As I’ve mentioned before, we got to see the full picture behind Kotaro and his life through a drip feed. But those drip feeds come from being really happy and heartwarming between Kotaro and everyone else. Moments where you can feel some connections moving along with Kotaro’s future. But then there are the sad moments that are there because what happened to Kotaro has broken him.
The show works on that front because you get a little bit of each. Kotaro Lives Alone is a hopeful series and you can see it. It is also a realistic series that is grounded by Kotaro handling trauma that he is too young to realize he has yet. Or him having silly moments of buying samples from a stand at a grocery store for childish reasons. Finding that balance between the two from a structural standpoint is hard to do and I feel like this show handles that pretty well. Some like me, could say that it did it the best that it could and the show should really feel good that it nailed that aspect. I’ve cried in happiness and sadness because it’s amazing like that.
It’s All About that Characters
Kotaro Sato is the show. Maybe it’s such an obvious thing to say because his name is on the show, but he really is. How Kotaro feels and adapts to his life style. Also his sense of maturity and yet not maturity. The kid is forced to grow up because of his circumstances, but he still loves a really bad kid’s tv series that got canceled and doesn’t know how to process some things that adults do too. There are two lenses from the adults that help/play with him and Kotaro himself that really adds to a lot of the heart that can reach you.
Then there are the characters that also change from Kotaro being in their lives. Those are the adults that either learn to step up or try to be their best because they have Kotaro around. Karino himself goes from a lazy mangaka to someone that clearly has a good future because of Kotaro’s small and cute interferences. Then there are the others in the same apartment complex like Mizuki and Isamu that become better people or you learn to understand them more because of their relationship to Kotaro and who/what they are connected to. Just lots of pain. But good pain.
Away from the adults, school life has really helped the show in some interesting ways too. Especially when comparing how Kotaro talks and acts compared to normal kids. Or even how supportive Karino has become by showing up to pick him up from school or showing up to Kator’s parental moments. Our little boy has really learned what words like strength mean besides just being physically strong. There are still so many things for Kotaro to learn and he has all the time in the world because he is only five after all.
Wrapping Up Kotaro Lives Alone
Visually, this anime series is not much to write home about. In my mind, the anime took One Piece character design rejects and made the designs from the cast from there. That switch from Mizuki to the woman who appears later was obviously Nami to Robin to me. If that makes any sense at all. There is enough work from backgrounds and characters that they are expressie and wonderful enough to get to know them. But there is little to no animation or just simple animation. That’s ok, it’s not what you watch the show for after all.
Don’t let the visuals fool you though this show is really good. Should be watched by everyone I think. Kids might not understand everything now, but they might later on. And then there is the adult fear presented by everything that happens in this anime series. I find all of those thoughts and ideas in this series just well considered and the right levels of emotion instead of the more Clannad sorts of strong ups and downs there too. Emotional manipulation is apart of every piece of media, but it hurts when it feels so obvious. Please watch this show when you have the chance. It’s only ten episodes after all.