This is strange. Why do I already feel, in just three episodes, that when the Plight Turn occurs for Kotomi–it more or less works? Is it because I find Kotomi a lot less annoying than Fuko was at first? Do I just have a moe fetish for antisocial genius girls who can’t play violin?
Well…Kotomi is less annoying at least to me. Knowing their audience, I suppose, Key couldn’t make Kotomi’s antisocial nature too offputting, the way the writers made Eriko in Kimikiss seem–though even they’ve turned her strange tastes for berry ramen charming. But Kotomi has it all: a penchant for books and libraries (massive win for me!), doesn’t even know how to greet people properly (offputting in real life, really cute here–especially “Bon-joooooour?”), cowers at the thought of bullies, thinks she’s more talented at the violin and comedy than she is, and walks around barefoot. (My, she has cute feet.) I suppose it boils down to the fact that she is drawn attractively, is not a mean person, and is shy. Apparent meanness is what makes Eriko a bit hard to accept at first, after all, and shyness is moe. But of course.
Plus, the strangeness starts with her immediately, the one that leads up to the revelations that are coming in episode 12. Yes, some of them are a stretch, the same way the Fuko arc’s revelations were for me at first. Inserting a man in sunglasses and a trench coat is really, really unsubtle. When they started talking about time and hidden worlds, I thought for a moment I’d stepped into one of Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell movies–though the scene was, mercifully, brief. But when Kotomi and Tomoya spend some time alone in the library and she starts talking about rabbits, deer, and other things she has seen–followed by a bizarre dream sequence–I think that is an effective and concise way to talk about something weird going on with this girl, and why she is so strangely withdrawn, and that she sees things VERY differently. And that appears to be the key, so to speak. The rest is exposition.
I also have to praise the direction of episode 12, especially in the latter parts where Kotomi breaks down at the sight of the bus accident–it simultaneously raises questions about what she sees there, and is emotionally charged to boot, since we know from the start that she has real emotional baggage–and when Tomoya is trying to get into her house after talking to Trenchcoat Man. The pacing felt just right in this episode given all that is revealed; it wasn’t too sudden and the effect is to build up to 12’s climax…
Which, I have to admit, I somewhat groaned at. Another forgotten childhood friend? But then again, I’ve always said it’s more about the execution. If they could “fix” the problems of the Ayu arc with Fuko, they might fix some more problems with this one–though it seems this arc ends with the next episode. They don’t have much time if that’s the case.
(Speaking of Fuko: why does she show up here? It felt like an intrusive cameo more than anything else, a desperate bid to establish some kind of continuity. She didn’t contribute anything to the plot or the character, except to show that everyone really has mostly forgotten about her. If this is a KyoAni-original addition, I disapprove.)
Well, this continues to be an interesting show that is far more tolerable than its predecessors, and has the potential to be actually good as the Fuko arc as shown. I’ll definitely be continuing this into the new year.