This is review number one hundred and ninety three. This anime is part of the Winter 2013 lineup. The anime I’ll be reviewing is called Koutura-san. It’s an anime where the title character can read minds and slowly enjoy the meaning of friendship. It’s a decent show but I have a lot of complaints. A lot of it. Anyways, it’s a twelve episode anime and it’s a bit romantic and comedic and uninteresting all at the same time. Let’s read on.
The anime is about a girl named Koutura. She can read minds. She cannot tell between normal speaking and the mind speaking so she often blurt out responses to things she thought was declared by a person but they were actually just thinking about it. It ruined her life. She has no friends and she was bullied because of her ability. Then, in a new school, she met a guy named Yoshihisa Manabe. He likes Koutara and he would do everything in his power to get this girl to open up to him. Manabe maybe the person Koutura has been longing for though. Someone that isn’t afraid of her powers.
Taking the Pants Off
Koutara-san is probably the most disappointing anime I have seen in a while. Most anime doesn’t use its full potential and just stick to what comes easy. It’s a common problem for most anime and I have since accepted that. This is the first time though that I’ve seen an anime actually try to reach its full potential but failing instead. Not just failing though. It was rolling down a mountain halfway dead on the way down. It’s truly saddening because this show has an amazing premise. The entire anime was convoluted though and a mishmash of things that doesn’t seem to go together. Here’s the creepy part. It’s a four panel anime. Seriously, it’s along the lines of Shiba Inuko-san, Record to Randoseru and freaking Double J. Most four panel anime doesn’t have a story. It has a crazy idea or setup (like a talking dog in a uniform) and then repeatedly pokes fun of it. There is no story because the purpose of a four panel manga is to deliver jokes. It’s a setup/punchline kind of manga that doesn’t possess a story. I was a bit mind blown by the idea that you can tell a story in four panels so I checked the manga. It’s actually a normal manga but most of the pages are in four panel. I personally think the mangaka was too lazy to draw a more detailed manga so the mangaka half assed it. This is where the problem lies. Koutura-san looks pretty crappy so I do not know what kind of tentacle monster AIC Classic had raping them that they decided to do an adaptation of this lazy manga. To be fair, there was potential and they tried to present it. They fumbled hard though and the ones feeling the searing pain are the viewers.
The premise of the anime is about a girl bullied for being different. She led a pretty miserable life and she no longer found a reason to trust people. She even has some awesome set of dead eyes because she has pretty much given up. She no longer wants friends, a loving family or even a simple companion. She has learned a long time ago that she hurts the people that are close to her. This perverted guy named Manabe is pretty fascinated by this girl though and decided to get close to her. Koutura soon learns that having friends and someone to trust is something she has been longing for all her life. It’s a simple premise. It also had a lot of potential to be massively successful. As the anime progresses, it focuses on the relationship the two characters have and various incidents that they storm through together. A little bit of romance and some teasing here and there to further develop the characters. It also featured Koutura’s dark past and slowly revealing the things that made her lose faith in humanity in the first place. Manabe reassures her that he isn’t leaving her side and the show slowly builds for a romantic climax. It really writes itself.
The anime decided that it isn’t enough though. A romantic comedy with a slither of drama just doesn’t cut it. So, let’s pile more stuff on top of it. This was also on the manga, by the way. The studio is really just animating the four volume manga. It decided that Koutura needed to be in a club and turn the whole anime upside down. So, along with the cute love story of the anime, it also had a club themed plot point to focus on. It featured the crazy people of the ESP club and the fun times they have together. They go to the beach, have sleep overs and sing at karaoke because that’s what most club themed anime do. They waste time on each other doing non sense. It has the typical club themed anime tropes like a bossy club president that orders her members around and submissive members that do whatever she asked. Koutura and Manabe were soon in the middle of a club themed anime while their relationship is slowly pushed to the side. They devolved into massive stereotypes to fit the balance of the club themed part of the anime. Manabe became a fumbling pervert that just thinks of dirty thoughts of Koutura and the girl became a one dimensional shy girl that everyone loves poking fun of.
This is the problem with the anime. It had two plot points that does not blend well together. Whenever they try to co-exist, they reject each other and completely throw each other’s balance. What do you expect? One plot point is a cute romantic comedy featuring the serious relationship of the two characters as they face through various adversities together while the other is a fluff filled story that has no direction and no purpose to serve other than to make the characters look funny. It doesn’t work and you can clearly tell how disastrous the pacing of the anime becomes as it progresses. It was evenly presenting the two plot points and they are just at the opposite ends of the pole. They don’t go well together. One episode you’re focusing on the burden of having to read people’s mind and then you suddenly shift to the club going to the beach. How does that work? It doesn’t. You can’t go dramatic then slice of life fluff without making the story so very shallow. Towards the end of the anime, I slowly got lost at the direction that it just wasn’t fun anymore.
To be fair, the individual aspects of the story were pretty good. Certain things wonderfully stand out by themselves but the overall story of the anime is just whacked. I think you’ll even just pin point your favorite aspect of the story and wait for it to be featured and slowly developed. There were two things that I believe the anime did a good job of. The first one is the theme of bullying. I tip my hat to the director and the opening scene of the anime. It gave a short version of Koutura’s miserable life that was just heart wrenching. The way she was bullied in the anime is very nicely done. People aren’t just mean to her. They would talk behind her back about it but she can hear those harsh words because of her powers. It had a touch of realism that I find pretty amazing. At some point, you even want people to just back off and leaver her be. Perhaps my personal favorite moment was when she was teased for being a filthy troublemaker and she threw up because of the pressure. She was then teased for being “barf”toura the rest of the episode. The bullying in those scenes was just really convincing and the effect it had on Koutura is pretty nicely presented. Those pair of dead eyes just tells a whole lot about what’s going on in her head. It’s awesome.
The second thing I liked about the anime was the theme of friendship. It’s a common idea in the anime and the way it was presented was really nicely done. Koutura slowly realizing she has friends she can finally rely on was really a touching moment in the anime. Seeing them go far to support her was a nice aspect of the anime that I wanted to see more of. Koutura really just opened up and she just trusted the people around her. It’s not just Koutura though but everybody else in the ESP club had support throughout the anime. Whether it’s the girl that wanted to clear her mother’s name, the other girl and her unrequited love or the boy who couldn’t stop thinking of Koutura, the display of friendship in the anime was pretty great. If only they found a way to cohesively tell a direct story while incorporating these themes then I’m pretty sure the anime would’ve meant a lot more.
The story is really bad though. I just can’t get over it. I personally think that someone made a list of cool events like a beach scene or a murder mystery and then build a story incorporating these events. The story slowly made no sense towards the second half and the original premise is lost. The two plot points completely fought each other until the end and the whole thing just became boring. It had a lot of chance to stand out though and be freaking amazing but it just couldn’t. It’s pretty sad, to be honest. An original idea that had limitless possibilities reduced to a predictable and stereotypical anime is just heartbreaking.
The characters are all one dimensional and they pretty much move to the flow of the story. Koutura had some promise. She started out a bit cold and then turned into a fidgety shy easily flustered character. Unfortunately, she stayed in that rut for the rest of the anime. Either being the cold insecure girl or the easily flustered girl to match the pace of the anime. After all, with two different plot points, she needed to have to different personality. As the anime progresses, she and the rest of the cast became mere plot devices to serve the story. Manabe is the guy that blurts out his thoughts and his honestly is the thing that Koutura loves. He is either a caring guy who looks out for this girl or a massive pervert that thinks of dirty thoughts about the girl she looks out for. I think this is how spousal abuse start but I wouldn’t know. Like Koutura, he just picks one of the two generic types to fit the story. The rest of the cast is the same. They’re either a caring friend looking out for each other or they love poking fun of each other. I really can’t blame the lack of standout characters since the anime keeps jumping from one scenario to another that it didn’t really matter if the characters develop because there is no way to properly enjoy their transformation.
The side characters are even more of a plot device for the anime. They do make the main characters look good though and some of them do nicely stand out. I’m a huge fan of Koutura’s mother. A little bit antagonistic but her maternal love lies dormant and I find that very nicely conceived. She is complex without being complex. Most side characters just compliment the progression of the story like the concerned monk that looks over Koutura’s well fare or the rich grandfather that very much loves his granddaughter’s ass. Yeah, that happened.
I do like the idea of a four panel anime having an actual story but I wish the studio took more ownership of the script instead of just adapting the manga because the manga is a wreck. They had the good taste to present a wonderful twelve minute opening sequence to setup the story yet they decided to end there. It’s a damn shame because I was personally seeking a deeper experience with this anime. Instead I saw an anime try hard to be great and then crumbled under its own weight. It’s such a shame.
Sight and Sound
The character design is pretty plain. There is diversity though because the characters differ in height and a little bit on their body build. They look pretty simplistic and the lack of great details was a shame because they could’ve looked better. They have amazing details when they camera focuses on their face but you can see those details fade way during regular scenes. To be fair, the manga design is just like this. Like I said, the manga was lazy and the anime should’ve done something more.
The animation is pretty poor. The characters often lose their features when they move and the frame rate is pretty low. It doesn’t provide for a smooth animation but just decent enough to call it an anime. The quality is also inconsistent. Some scenes are beautiful while normal scenes aren’t. They look poorly made and the movement is awkward. The characters still fidget and move around a lot but you can just tell that the animation was subpar.
The anime’s OP is “Sonna Koto Ura no Mata Urabanashi Desho?” by Megumi Nakajima. It’s a bubbly jpop song and it does sound pretty cute. The singer has a nice voice and the romantic vibe of the song nicely comes through. The OP sequence features Koutura and Manabe’s cute relationship. It also featured all the characters and a brief idea of the anime was nicely summarized in the OP.
The anime’s ED is “Kibou no Hana” by Haruka Chisuga. This is a mellow song with a nice piano arrangement. Haruka’s voice is angelic and it really gave the song a strong personality. It has a slow pace that just comes off as relaxing. The ED sequence features Koutura and the rest of the ESP club in a simple montage.
5/10 “Some scenes will feel profound but the overall experience is shallow and unsatisfying.”
This is a decent anime but it should’ve meant more. The potential it couldn’t achieve is just saddening to watch and the strange sequences of events in the anime are a bit iffy in its conception. If you enjoy RomCom anime with a touch of drama then you’ll enjoy this anime. If you enjoy club themed anime with a comedic appeal then you’ll enjoy this anime. If you prefer a complex story in your anime then you won’t find it here.