Kobato. Manga Volume 03

こばと。/Kobato Volume 03 Manga Review

SPOILER Summary/Synopsis:

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Kobato. Manga Volume 03Kobato again takes a call from the yakuza with the same family name as Sayaka-sensei.  After telling Fujimoto about the call, Kobato happens to have a chat with Chitose, the apartment manager and Sayaka-sensei’s old friend, where she learns that the yakuza in question is none other than Sayaka-sensei’s estranged husband.  Ioryogi heads off to see Genko, who is also a person from the spirit realm and now holds the form of a bear that runs a Baumkuchen shop in the spirit realm.  After they have a chat, Ioryogi gets Genko to gather some intelligence on the Yomogi Kindergarten situation.

Meanwhile, Kobato becomes worried about Ioryogi but then discovers one of the yakuza thugs on the ground in pain.  She calls Fujimoto, who rushes over to find the girl crying over the yakuza, afraid that he might die.  Fujimoto embraces Kobato to comfort her and calls an ambulance.  While in the waiting room of the hospital, Kobato still cries because people can die easily, leading Fujimoto to wonder if she knew someone who’d died.

Ioryogi returns with a boxed cake but is angry when he finds Kobato missing.  Ginsei confronts Ioryogi, still wanting to know when Ioryogi will return to Tenkai, the heavenly realm.  An implied threat to Kobato by Ginsei has Ioryogi unleash to make his point about protecting the girl.  Ginsei gets the message but still demands to know if Ioryogi will return to Tenkai.  Ioryogi doesn’t answer but Ginsei tells him where Kobato went to.

Ioryogi attempts to find Kobato, who has returned home with Fujimoto as the yakuza thug had appendicitis and wouldn’t die.  Fujimoto is surprised that Kobato’s only belongings are a bag and a futon.  Meanwhile, Ioryogi returns home angry but after hearing of what happened with Kobato, he comforts her in a similar matter to how Fujimoto had comforted her.

The following day, the excited kids of Yomogi Kindergarten greet Kobato and that causes Ioryogi to get knocked out of her bag.  He’s angry at being forgotten but when the bird named Zuisho arrives with a message from Genko.  Because the two had been arguing, their voices carried, causing the kids and Kobato to return to see what was going on.  However, Ioryogi had Zuisho carry him off just before they arrived so that he could then get the information on the school and the yakuza.  Apparently, Sayaka-sensei’s father had been a very charitable person and the yakuza had taken advantage of this, piling a ton of debts onto the man.  When he died, Sayaka inherited those debts and the yakuza want what they were after the whole time — the school.  Not only that, but Genko knows that Fujimoto was taken in by Sayaka-sensei’s father as a child, which is why he feels an obligation to her.

While this is happening, Kobato has forgotten about Ioryogi as she plays soccer with the kids until she is as worn out as they.  Fujimoto puts her in charge of nap time so that she can get some rest, at which time he and Sayaka discuss things.  When Kobato gets back up, it is only then that she remembers Ioryogi and wonders where he’s at.

Thoughts/Review:

With so many things going on, CLAMP still chooses to keep a lighter aspect to things so far, primarily with Ioryogi’s temper and the super-deformed art used for Kobato at times for comedy effect. Still, there’s plenty of material here for CLAMP to go VERY dark though.  ^_^;

Again, we are teased with what manner of creature Ioryogi is.  Obviously, he is some sort of supernatural being and he has no problems accessing the spirit realm that we’ve seen accessed in xxxHOLiC. Obviously, his teddy bear form is not his real one as this has repeatedly been brought up.  Apparently, Ioryogi is being punished but for what, who knows.  We know he cares a great deal about Kobato, whom I don’t believe is a normal human, and he would do a great deal for her.  We also learn that Ioryogi was someone to be feared and he apparently lived in Tenkai, the heavenly realm.  So, is he an angel of some kind?  He doesn’t seem the type but I can’t imagine him being a demon either.  Of course, CLAMP may have other types of creatures that Ioryogi might be so we’ll wait and see how things play out.

As to Kobato, her sadness and fear of the yakuza thug possibly dying suggests that whatever he wish is might be related to someone dying.  I’ve wondered if she might be a ghost who has no memories of the past but she may simply be some creature of the spirit realm too.  What her wish might be, I couldn’t say but I’d guess she might wish to bring someone dear to her back to life.  Just a wild guess on my part based on her reactions to the yakuza thug’s illness and her general kindhearted nature.

Nice that we finally got some information about Sayaka-sensei and the school.  Things make more sense as to her and Fujimoto’s relationship.  The question is, why did Sayaka-sensei marry a yakuza in the first place?  Why would he trick her father into a scheme to make him indebted to them (beyond the normal yakuza schemes I mean)?

On the Yen Press side, I’m really glad that William Flanagan is the translator of this title.  I don’t say that because he is aware of this blog and has made comments in the past.  I’m thinking of his work on both xxxHOLiC and Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, CLAMP’s other two recent (and in the case of xxxHOLiC, ongoing) series.  CLAMP has long shown a love of crossovers from their other works but they’ve gone from simple crossovers, such as making Chobits the sequel to Angelic Layer, to their multi-universe approach as seen in Tsubasa.  Because of his work on xxxHOLiC, William noted the crossover point that Ioryogi used to access the spirit realm as this spot was first seen in xxxHOLiC.  Further, his extended work on current CLAMP titles means that he’d be prepared for a case of Kobato potentially going south or at the very least, becoming very plot-twist oriented.

Also, we have a single page of translator notes, which you guys know I’m a huge fan of.  Thus, I learned that “Ya-san” referred to the yakuza rather than Kobato and Ioryogi simply being a bit confused and assuming “yakuza” was in fact a person named “Ya-san” (which was my impression when I first read the volume).

Yen Press includes a single color page with this volume, which is a nice touch seeing as how the Kobata manga is a rather thin thing at $12.  ^_^;;;

Bottom line: CLAMP again weave a tale that is cute and humorous, mixed with intrigue, mystery, adventure, and some action. I look forward to more, though considering that Kobato’s chapters are published monthly in Japan (in Newtype magazine), the best we can hope for in the U.S. is about two volumes a year.

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