Kobato. Manga Volume 01

こばと。/Kobato Volume 01 Manga Review

SPOILER Summary/Synopsis:

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SPOILER Summary/Synopsis:

Kobato. Manga Volume 01A young teen girl named Kobato and a short-tempered, talking stuffed dog toy named Ioryogi start out on Kobato’s quest to learn common sense whereby she can earn a bottle which she must fill with wounded hearts in order to obtain her wish. Being a very bright and kindhearted girl, Kobato is very naive and thus does not do well on Ioryogi’s common sense tests for a park or garbage collection. Ioryogi has her work some food stand where she cooks a bizarre nabe that ends up being very good. On Christmas eve, Kobato gets a part time job selling Christmas cakes for Tirol bakery. She’s given a cake as a bonus at the end of the day but ends up giving it away, but that earns her a big bonus from Ioryogi despite the fact that he didn’t get cake.

It is now the New Year’s period and Japan is shut down, leaving Kobato with nothing to do. She encounters an elderly fortune teller whom Kobato helps and spends the day with. At the end of the day, the lady gives Kobato a bottle of sake, especially since she sees Ioryogi not as a stuffed animal but as a living being (Ioryogi having a taste for adult beverages).

It is Valentine’s day and Sayaka-sensei of the Yomogi Kindergarten picks up a chocolate from Tirol. She drops a small box of chocolates intended for her aide, Fujimoto. She doesn’t learn of the mistake until she gets to the school. Meanwhile, Kobato has found the box but has no way of figuring out how to return it to its owner.

With spring comes the sakura in bloom and thus a hanami — flower viewing. Kobato’s common sense test is on the hanami and she gets passed the first hurdle by picking out a place to view the flowers. She quickly becomes very popular at the hanami and eventually is encouraged to sing, pleasing everyone. This is witnessed by Fujimoto and Sakaya.

A rainy day test is up next with Kobato not having an umbrella an nearly losing her hat, something that scares both Kobato and Ioryogi, the later warning Kobato to never let her hat be removed. After taking shelter under the awning of Tirol, the owner lends Kobato an umbrella. However, it is stolen after they make a stop at a convenience store. A boy lends her his after showing he could share with his dad. Kobato ponders why people would steal but before she can be rewarded for her efforts, she trips and irritates Ioryogi, causing him to fail her.

It is summer and Kobato is still being tested, deciding to get some free beer for Ioryogi. While she’s gone, Ioryogi is visited by a rabbit with an eye patch named Ginsei, who reminds the dog that they have unfinished business. Meanwhile, Kobato manages to score a beer for Ioryogi and despite causing the can to spew all over the dog, he grants her enough points for her to get her special bottle.

Now that she has a bottle, Kobato gets an apartment in the small building managed by MIHARA Chitose, who has two young twin daughters named Chiho and Chise. Kobato rushes around trying to heal people’s hearts for her bottle but she’s seen as weird. An older man thinks she’s engaged in teen prostitution. She’s saved by Fujimoto, who doesn’t think much of Kobato for prostitution. For her part, she’s shocked when she learns what Fujimoto thinks of her. The next day, Kobato encounters Sayaka-sensei and manages to score a job as an assistant as Sayaka-sensei’s school. However, Fujimoto is still not happy with Kobato but Kobato isn’t going to let that stop her from her mission.

Thoughts/Review: When I heard that Yen Press was publishing CLAMP’s latest manga creation, naturally I had to check it out.

Kobato is a funny manga with a hint of extreme sadness and some darkness. As a character, I have to ask what the heck Kobato is. She’s not human because if she were, Ioryogi would not have had to give her common sense tests to see if she could live in Japan. Further, until Kobato got her bottle, she and Ioryogi seemed to have no place to live. This was highlighted not only by the fact that she had no place to go on New Years, but the fact that she has to always wear a hat. Also, the general sense CLAMP gave that Kobato was homeless is a clue. Despite that apparently homelessness, she always manages to have nice, new clothing.

So, based on CLAMP’s other works, Kobato must be a person from the Spirit Realm, which we saw often in xxxHOLiC. I would guess Ioryogi is as well (or he’s some sort of youkai). What kind of wish must Kobato have in order to put up with the massive amount of abuse she takes from Ioryogi? Knowing CLAMP, it will be something big, assuming they even know where they are going with this.

I like Kobato a lot as a character and the super deformed style used for comedy helps me like her more, especially when Ioryogi has been mean to her. I’m rather interested in seeing where this one goes.

CLAMP apparently had too much fun with Tsubasa as they have already brought in quite a few characters from their other manga titles into Kobato. Right off the bat, Ueda from Chobits is shown, complete with his Tirol bakery. Later, we see him as well as Yumi, the high school girl who’d fallen in love with Ueda in Chobits. She looks much older here and one wonders if they are married now.

Next, CLAMP brings in the old, fortune teller lady from xxxHOLiC. We still don’t have a name for her, but as she did in xxxHOLiC, her eye for the supernatural has not been dimmed. Too bad Kohane-chan wasn’t there too.

The next cameo came from girls from Magic Knight Rayearth (which I’ve not read) and Misaki from Angelic Layer (which I’ve not read, but I have seen the anime). There may have been other cameos, but I didn’t notice those, save for this final set — Chitose and her twin daughters. Chitose was the apartment landlord in Chobits as well. This time, Chi is not an android, but Chiho and Chise (rather than Chi/Elda and Freya).

Well, I can’t say that the cameos don’t make me smile. I guess CLAMP has favorite characters that they just can’t let go no matter what.

On the Yen Press side, William Flanagan is in charge, meaning this is in good hands. He’s become a bit more otaku in his adaptations over the years, which pleases me. Plus, Mr. Flanagan is great at providing excellent translator notes and they are provided here as well. Further, Yen Press doesn’t publish them stupidly as they and others have done when going to the 2-column text pages. Thank you, Yen Press!

After one volume, one can see why CLAMP is so successful as a manga group. We have an interesting story, interesting characters, all mixed with some humor and a bit of CLAMP favorites from the past. I look forward to reading more.

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