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Review: Kobato (Vol. 05)

Kobato (Vol. 05)

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

Synopsis: “As the seeds of love begin to bloom in her heart, Kobato’s attentions are diverted from giving solace to strangers and filling up her magic bottle in order to finally earn her mysterious wish! Now it seems all Kobato has eyes for the dour Fujimoto-kun and putting a smile on his face. With this turn of events, Kobato is fighting to save Yomogi Kindergarten more than ever before, all at the expense of her magic bottle. But as time runs out for her quest, is Kobato unwittingly endangering her wish, her life, and the lives of Ioryogi and his erstwhile allies (read: cronies) by choosing to follow her heart?”

It continues to be a flaw of these shorter length volumes of Kobato that we don’t feel we’re getting a lot of substance per book. Fortunately this particular volume hits that quality over quantity sweet spot, delivering on some much anticipated history behind the main characters. We’ve been following Kobato and Ioryogi on their path for five books and finally we’re seeing where it all began.

Continuing their trend of weaving some really complicated story lines, CLAMP’s reveal of who/what Kobato is makes for a somewhat confusing read but still proves a lot more linear and simplistic than some other existences (TRC clones anyone?). I really loved getting more substance behind the leads, especially Ioryogi for whom we’re teased with only partial views of his full humanoid form throughout the whole book. I’ve long since learned to suspect nothing is coincidence with CLAMP though, so the brief looks of Ioryogi cool mullet-sporting true self has me looking at another grumpy-faced mullet-owner with suspicion in a universe where a ‘version’ of someone exists in every world.

Even though this other particular development isn’t new, I’m still surprised at just how much this series connects to Wish. CLAMP loves their crossovers but with the addition of angels, continued appearances from Kohaku and now overlapping character job descriptions, Kobato definitely works like a tighter partner to Wish than just casual cameos, more similar to the ties between Angelic Layer and Chobits.

Kohaku’s presence did have one flaw though, nailing home how little I care for Kobato’s cast. I found myself charmed by the short scenes Kohaku inhabits and, though still entertained, found myself still feeling pretty ambivalent to the others. The back story has helped yet the overhanging feeling that this story was originally intended to be a more shallow, episodic series remains. It feels like CLAMP is trying to build up repoire with these characters but unfortunately it’s just not clicking. This is especially true for the growing romance between Kobato and Fujimoto for which I feel little more than ‘meh’ about.

Sweet, fluffy and occasionally funny as Kobato can be, it definitely feels like it’s wandering on an aimless track. The magic bottle is brought up a lot but is it really that relevant? The fact it’s only got a couple star bits in it is disturbing if you believe CLAMP is going to keep the story going long enough to fill it up – it’s already dragging way too much as is. I never thought the kindergarten story would last this long either. It’s still made next to no real steps forward either. It’s no wonder this volume is strong with its focus on back story when the present day events are going at a snail’s pace. Some things have begun to develop though so with history in hand and Kobato on the move, I’m hopeful that volume six has even more to offer.

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Book provided by Yen Press for review purposes

About the Author:

Lissa Pattillo is the owner and editor of Kuriousity.ca. 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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