Saturday, November 15, 2014

Kobato (manga, vols. 1-5) presented by CLAMP, translated by William Flanagan

This series was okay, but there were so many cameos. So many. I don't know if it's just that I've hit the point in my CLAMP reading where I can recognize more of the cameos, or if this really has more cameos than other CLAMP series I've read (except for Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, which is basically designed to have cameos).

It took me a while to find my footing. I assumed, at first, that it was going to be a “wounded heart of the week" series and was surprised when the kindergarten storyline continued on and on. Also, the connection with Wish threw me a bit.

I'm only one volume away from finishing, so I'm going to continue with it, but the more I think about this series, the more “meh” it feels.

Warning: the rest of my post is a volume-by-volume look at what I read, complete with spoiler-y descriptions. Read on at your own risk.

Kobato (manga, vol. 1) presented by CLAMP, translated by William Flanagan – Kobato has to fill a jar with wounded hearts in order to be granted her wish. Before she can even start, however, she must earn the jar by displaying her common sense to Ioryogi-san, her dog companion. She doesn't have much, but she manages to earn the jar. Then she finds a home for herself, as well as a part-time job.

Meh. It's okay. It's pretty, and sweet, but so far nothing special. At this point, there's no info on what Kobato's goal is, what she is (she can't possibly be human, considering her lack of knowledge about how the world works, and she appears to be hiding something under her hat), where she comes from, or why the one animal-like being Ioryogi-san knows might want to hurt her.

CLAMP fans will notice many, many cameos. I was able to catch some, such as the Chi-like girl, her sister, and her mom (all from Chobits), and Tirol, the bakery. Others, I missed. Thankfully, the translator's notes pointed them all out. I have no idea how a CLAMP newbie would react to the cameos, but so far there isn't anything here that I think would confuse anyone.

Kobato (manga, vol. 2) presented by CLAMP, translated by William Flanagan – Kobato works for a run-down kindergarten and tries to heal wounded hearts while she's at it. She finds out that Sayaka, the kindergarten's principal, is in debt, so she helps hold a bazaar to try to pay it off, not realizing that the debt is too great for such a little thing to truly accomplish much.

I liked this volume better than the first. CLAMP went a bit lighter with the cameos, and Kobato was so genuinely sweet that I decided I could be okay with her clumsiness and stupidity. I'm not sure how I feel about Sayaka (the principal) and Fujimoto (sort of Sayaka's helper, a family-less loner). I did love how, after Fujimoto told Kobato off for taking on a kitten she couldn't care for and would probably have to abandon, Kobato worked hard to find a home for it. Also, I liked Kobato's conversation with the little boy whose parents were divorced.

Kobato (manga, vol. 3) presented by CLAMP, translated by William Flanagan – Kobato learns that the loan shark, Okiura, is Sayaka's ex-husband. He tricked Sayaka's dad into taking on a lot of debt. Kobato is worried she won't be able to help. Meanwhile, Fujimoto is softening towards her, because she genuinely seems to care about everyone. We also learn that Fujimoto loves Sayaka, and was an orphan who was taken in by her dad.

Okay, so this volume introduces some messed up family relationships, but I still liked it. The series now has my attention, so I'll see where this goes.

Ioryogi-san and the other talking animals appear to be heavenly beings. What does that make Kobato? Also, we have another CLAMP universe cameo, in the form of the bunny messenger from Wish.

Kobato (manga, vol. 4) presented by CLAMP, translated by William Flanagan – Kobato only has two seasons to fill her bottle, according to God's messenger. If her wish isn't granted, Ioryogi must remain on Earth in his stuffed animal form. However, Kobato appears to be falling in love with Fujimoto—and maybe realizes that he loves Sayaka.

This volume brings us Xxxholic and Wish cameos. From what I can tell, this series appears to be set in the world of Wish, rather than just featuring a Wish-like character. Kohaku's storyline sounds exactly like it did in that series, although maybe set a few generations later. I'm still not entirely sure what the stakes are. What is Kobato's wish?

This volume confused me a little, because, for a while, Ioryogi's name was spelled Iorogi. I assumed it was a typo that had somehow repeatedly been missed – it was the next volume that made me realize this was not the case. As silly as Ioryogi currently looks, he used to be a powerful being of some sort (with a human-like form?). He fell in love with an angel and started a war with Heaven for her.

Kobato (manga, vol. 5) presented by CLAMP, translated by William Flanagan – Kobato, through singing, realizes she's in love with Fujimoto but doesn't think he could love her in return. She wants him to be happy, so she goes to Okiura alone. Meanwhile, we learn that Kobato's body is that of a gravely injured mortal girl, and her soul is that of the angel whose singing hatched angels' eggs. Iorogi (Ioryogi's old name) loved that angel and wanted to save both her and the mortal girl, but saving them may now break both their hearts.

The character relationships in this series are super-complicated. Kobato and Iorogi were in love. The mortal girl got hurt during Iorogi's war with Heaven, and Kobato wanted to save her. If I remember correctly, Kobato-the-angel's life will be saved if her wish is granted, but granting her wish would mean that she can't be with Fujimoto. Meanwhile, Ioryogi must either choose to help the angel he loves get her wish granted, so that she can live, or stand back and let her die so she can be with the new guy she fell in love with. Or something. I should have written better notes.

Unless CLAMP plans on making this a completely tragic series, here's how I see this playing out: Ioryogi decides that he's okay with his beloved angel falling in love with someone else, as long as she's happy. Kobato is given the option of having a different wish granted, and opts to stay with Fujimoto as a human. Fujimoto tells her he loves her. Everyone is at least content, except for Iorogi's ex-subordinate. We'll see. Just one more volume. I should probably request it before I completely forget what's going on.

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