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Review: Kobato (Vol. 04)

Kobato (Vol. 04)

Manga-ka: CLAMP
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: July 2011

Synopsis: “Still unable to provide solace to the hearts of Sayaka-sensei and Fujimoto-san, Kobato is at a standstill in the process of healing the wounds of Yomogi Kindergarten. And so prompted, the belligerent blue Ioryogi-san, Kobato’s plush mentor (read: drill sergeant), takes it upon himself to do a little digging into the school’s backstory. But en route from his successful fact-finding mission, Yomogi’s past turns into the least of Ioryogi-san’s worries when his own past catches up with him! And with it comes a declaration: Time is running out for Ioryogi to help Kobato fulfill her quest! But as the seconds tick away, will Ioryogi-san be able to light a fire under Kobato, whose head and heart have become clouded by what seems like love…?”

Kobato still can’t find a way to help her new friends, Sayaka-sensei and Fujimoto-san. With the yakuza after them and their kindergarten still at daily threat of being forced closed, what’s an adorable heart-healer to do? Very little in this volume as it turns out, which continues to be another chance for Kobato to become more emotionally invested in the events than a catalyst in their resolution. None the less, other characters step up their game to make this more than just a fluff volume.

Okiura-san, the smooth-talking yakuza, returns and has another confrontation with Fujimoto. Kobato intervenes but the most progression we get plot-wise is Kobato slowly realizing that she’s sticking around Fujimoto for more reasons than just being concerned about the kindergarten. Timing perfectly with her growing interest in the stern-talking mullet-sporter, she later meets another acquaintance of Fujimoto – whether friend or foe isn’t clear but so far he comes off more a concerned on-looker.

What Kobato and Fujimoto are doing becomes dull fairly quickly though. Other characters and storylines brewing are much more compelling, including some cameos from other CLAMP series (always a series bonus!). Genko and Ginsei – two acquaintances of Ioryogi also forced into animal bodies for past transgressions – spend a fair time together talking about themselves, Ioryogi and his tasks on Earth with Kobato. The vagueness of their discussion in regards to Kobato is a little irritating but nothing new from CLAMP who love to drag out the big reveals.

What really grabbed me about these scenes was the last chapter in the book where a familiar face pops up as bright, cheery and yet melancholic as ever. Kohaku is an angel and the main character from CLAMP’s series, Wish. They (the character themselves isn’t supposed to have a gender) comes to Genko’s shop to order a cake as a gift for Shuichiro (Kohaku’s soul-mate, you could say). It’s great – albeit a little depressing – reading about what happened with Kohaku after Wish ended. I loved how they looked in the updated style as well, plus their presence worked as a good reason for elaboration on the world this story takes place in.

Even if only taking up a few pages overall, nothing in this book stood out to me more than Kohaku’s appearance which actually makes me stop and evaluate Kobato as a whole. I still enjoy reading each volume but it’s definitely not my favourite of their works. The tone of the series changes considerably from volume one and still doesn’t feel like it’s really found its stride; something that it has little time left to do (the series is six volumes altogether).

Kobato is cute and Ioryogi is entertaining, yet the ever-growing focus on Sayaka and Fujimoto still falls flat. I actually liked it better when Kobato was just going around helping random folks, albeit a little more light-hearted than the divorcee woman she meets here. The Yakuza plot line is interesting but it feels like it’s fighting for attention with the supernatural elements, with neither side gaining any ground. With only two volumes left, I really hope things start coming together so I can enjoy this ride I’m on until the end a bit more.

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Book bought from Strange Adventures

About the Author:

Lissa Pattillo is the owner and editor of Residing in Halifax, Nova Scotia she takes great joy in collecting all manners of manga genres, regretting that there's never enough time in the day to review or share them all. Along with reviews, Lissa is responsible for all the news postings to the website and works full time as a web and graphic designer.

Kuriousity does not condone or support the illegal distribution of manga online.
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