Spoilers avoided. I finished my blind watch of Kotaro Lives Alone (you can read about the first impressions from that here in case you would like to) and now I want to do a more detailed piece separately on its core theme since it is extremely close to me but that will be spoilers galore so here is a quick final review. I’ve only seen the anime (which is only one season right now) though I plan to read the manga now, so this will be limited to the former.
Kotaro Lives Alone is a slice of life story with a child as a protagonist but it’s Seinen and therefore meant for adults. I feel it serves two purposes largely, the first being to provide a view into what abuse and neglect may look like in a child and second being almost a cathartic medium for any adult who was once an abused child to acknowledge the wrong done to them and maybe try to move on. I have experience with children from abusive backgrounds so when I talk about that below I’m doing it basis that.
What Doesn’t Work
- It starts off strong with the first episode really catching your curiosity but somewhere in the middle the story tends to get a bit repetitive, somewhat slow, and loose in execution at-times though the season has a fairly impactful last episode
- While the dynamic of Kotaro and Shin is developed fairly well, the secondary characters are often wasted and I would have been ok with fewer of those with more time spent with each
- Considering the theme it deals with, it tends to get a bit too fairies and wonderland at-times which takes away its credibility but it does manage to salvage it by tying back to the core theme eventually. But personally, I would have preferred more seriousness considering this isn’t targeted at children.
The Win of Kotaro Lives Alone (what works well)
For me, what trumps everything that Kotaro Lives Alone gets wrong is a very astute and poignant understanding of the psyche, traits, and experiences of an abused or neglected child. I don’t know if the mangaka based this on personal experience but you cannot create a story like this unless you have seen this up-close whether in your own life or the life of someone close to you. It hits you again and again and how. Abuse doesn’t leave one impact and the effects can manifest in many different ways long after it’s no longer happening. Kotaro Lives Alone goes into so many of these impacts with a lot of respect and understanding of them that I’m ok ignoring the rest.
The story packages this understanding into bite-sized morsels which evolve from fairly innocuous everyday things and then morph into an insight into some aspect of the impact of childhood trauma which even someone who fortunately did not have to go through it can most likely understand. I always tend to place a bit of hope in such media (I like being optimistic ok?) to create a wider awareness in people about signs of abuse to watch out for in children since the series is actually often quite accurate in the gist of the message and seems to put in earnest effort into building that understanding. Watch it for the beautiful relationship which develops between the two protagonists Kotaro and Shin and Kotaro’s other little friendships. Overall, if you enjoy sensitive and emotional stories and would not get triggered by references to childhood abuse, I’d recommend this one.
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