Recently I had the misfortune of bearing witness to the perversion of one of CLAMP’s most popular and critically acclaimed works Chobits through a misguided attempt at an adaptation. In order to wash that erase that drek from my mind, I decided to sit down with another of CLAMP’s works and one of my recent favorites, Kobato. The series uses fantastical elements such as talking animals, in conjunction with real world problems such as debt and lost love.
The early portions of the series were episodic by nature, but have since transitioned into a longer plot focused arc, with Kobato having to terms with the fact that there are some people she can’t help. Such a tactic has proven beneficial to the series, developing Kobato from a one-note happy go-lucky character to a conflicted girl who is torn between accepting the reality of the situations placed before her and the desire to cure everyone’s sadness.
Volume 4 explores Kobato’s budding feelings for Fujimoto, who in turn appears to have shared a relationship with Sayaka-sensei in the past. To this end Kobato is forced to examine not just the changes in the feelings of those around her but her own feelings as well. The volume is heavy on exposition, particularly in regards to the Fujimoto’s history with Sayaka-sansei. Different accounts taken from multiple characters act as pieces to a larger puzzle explaining the relationship the two share.
Characteristic of CLAMP, the artwork is gorgeous and detailed, using patterns to evoke the prints one might find on ornate Japanese tapestry. Also of interest to longtime CLAMP fans are the numerous winks to the groups past works sprinkled throughout.
Kobato Volume 4 provides yet another enjoyable volume in the series. The characters and their relationships with one another are fleshed out, introducing a conflict of interest in Kobato’s mission to save Sayaka-sensei’s daycare. While the series isn’t groundbreaking like so many of CLAMP’s other works, it espouses the same charm and playfulness that has made the group a global phenomenon.