Public and Private Kindnesses in Kobato.

I wasn’t planning to make this week’s posts all CLAMP-themed, but since we’re here, why not? Between Gate 7 and Kobato and a Magic Knight Rayearth rewatch, I think I have to write about for the next few days.

I always find it more difficult to write about the series that I would initially write off because one or more of the characters are airheads (see: K-On!!) — but, as I wrote in a previous entry, now I want to be fair to the work, and actually experience the anime or manga before dismissing it entirely. It would probably end up being bunk in the end, but at least, in my defense, I could say that I have actually watched or read it and have ample justification for saying it sucks.

So, Kobato.

Based on surface appearances alone, I should be a big fan of this series. The character is really cute, and has a personality reminiscent of Sakura Kinomoto, my favorite of all of CLAMP’s characters. She even has a talking plushie friend, just like Kero-chan!  The anime version is animated by Madhouse, and even the opening/ending songs are sung by Maaya Sakamoto, thus perpetuating the CCS connections. What’s not to love?

In CLAMP’s various universes, there are two groups of people: the Happy Happys and the Grumpypants. Sakura Kinomoto, Hikaru Shindou, Fai D. Flourite are examples of the Happy Happys; they are outwardly cheerful, exuberant, enthusiastic, and would most probably be smiling all the time. This doesn’t mean that they are never sad, or aren’t just using their cheerfulness as a facade — but on a shallow level, the Happy Happys present to the world that they are, um, happy.  Their counterparts, the Grumpypants, are surly, constantly irritated, sometimes mean-spirited, and too practical for their own good. Kurogane, Touya Kinomoto, and Umi Ryuuzaki are quintessential Grumpypants. These two groups often clash because of the fundamental differences in their temperaments, although in some cases, it is also possible for them to realize the complementary nature of their personalities and work together for a common goal.

So, applying this classification to this series, Kobato is obviously a Happy Happy whereas Fujimoto could be nothing else but a Grumpypants. It’s because of their polar personalities that conflict happens: Fujimoto is constantly irritated by Kobato’s behavior, and Kobato cannot understand why Fujimoto rags on her all the time, just because she’s being herself. Neither can see the situation from the others’ perspective: Kobato doesn’t realize that despite her good intentions, her clumsiness and incompetence sometimes hurts more than helps. Fujimoto, in turn, doesn’t understand that his honesty and pragmatism could be misinterpreted as rude and cold.  Both of them actually are working for the same good,  they just don’t realize it yet.

I’m about halfway through the anime series, and at this point, I’m only sticking around to find out more about Fujimoto. If you can’t tell already, I’m actually more of a Grumpypants myself, and Sakura is the sole outlier in the canon of my favorite CLAMP characters. It is only through Fujimoto’s balancing out Kobato’s personality that I can continue to watch this anime. It’s not that I dislike her, but she’s just too much, y’know.

I’ve read enough spoilers so I know the reason why Kobato acts the way she does. But when the main character of an anime can barely walk a couple of steps without tripping on her two feet, or can’t master the simple task of talking and thinking at the same time… it’s not cute, it’s frustrating.

It also makes it difficult for me to accept the sincerity of her motives for wanting to “heal broken hearts.” I know I’m being nitpicky, but her behavior is mitigated by a reward, a konpeito, and even a score by Ioryogi. From the day she arrived on earth, she publicly announces that she wants to help people, accosting random strangers on the street, asking if they need their heart healed. She constantly has to encourage herself, being her own personal cheerleader, to make sure that she’s on the right track to achieve her goal.

Fujimoto, on the other hand, does good things because it’s what should be done. He works quietly and doesn’t feel like he has to announce to everyone that he’s helping. He has the typical gruff exterior, but even the toddlers in the kindergarten say that he’s a nice and gentle person, being the first to take care of them when they need anything. And that’s why his character appeals to me so much; he and Kobato are equally good people, but I prefer his methods a lot more.

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One thought on “Public and Private Kindnesses in Kobato.

  1. >but she’s just too much, y’know- oh yes, we know… I think she might be one of the worst female characters CLAMP has ever written…

    very clever remarks about personality dichotomies in CLAMPverse!

    does the title of the post reflect the way grumpypants behave?

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