Originally a manga created by Enokizu, The Troubled Life of Miss Kotoura is a comedic and dark tale. Kotoura was blessed with the gift of reading minds. Since she was a tiny child, Kotoura could read other people’s thoughts. Unfortunately, she would also repeat what she read out loud in everyday conversations. After becoming an outcast by her own schoolmates and accustomed to the life of a loner, Kotoura moves out of her family’s house and into an apartment near her new high school. Now she is far away from anyone who knows her and her ability. At this new school, Kotoura finds friends and a love who appreciates her individual self and doesn’t mind her reading their thoughts.
Warning: There Are Light Spoilers
The Collector’s Edition Boxed Set of The Troubled Life of Miss Kotoura comes with all 12 episodes and bonus videos on two Blu-ray discs. The visibility is crystal clear and sharp, and the white with black outlined subtitles are extremely easy to read. The set comes with a hardbound book with character and scene designs in addition to the interviews with the voice actors and directory. This boxed set is perfect for fans of the series or for anime collectors.
The storyline pushes and pulls between comedy and drama. From the first episode the tale’s dark side creeps in and constantly tries to drown Haruka Kotoura in isolation and oppression. However, sunshine and fresh air reaches her through her first real friend, Manabe. With a story that uses the darkness of Kotoura’s branding title “monster,” Manabe’s pervy thoughts actually make the anime series hilarious.
Manabe is a laughable character, using his funny and embarrassing thoughts to make Kotoura feel more at ease. He is completely in love with the adorable mind-reader and can’t seem to stop imagining her wearing a bikini or nurse’s uniform. His thoughts are always hilariously weird and probably in line with what many high school boys think about. Manabe’s constant chase for a kiss from Kotoura is great lighthearted fun. His thoughts of Kotoura wearing revealing outfits and acting seductively are not overly exaggerated and work surprisingly well with the story. He eventually finds an ally on his quest for Kotoura’s physical affection through none other than Kotoura’s grandfather!
Kotoura’s grandfather, Zenzo Kotoura, is incredibly wealthy and spares no expense on his only grandchild. However, Zenzo is a creepy grandfather who talks about things like pinching Kotoura-chan’s butt, and he’s always criticizing Manabe for not getting more physical with her. He wants to see Kotoura and Manabe become a couple so badly that he calls Kotoura on her phone, only to scream at Manabe for letting an opportunity pass by. It would be a lot funnier if Zenzo wasn’t after Kotoura himself; instead, his own twisted thoughts add a level of awkwardness to the show. The upside to this unpleasantness, however, is that Zenzo and Manabe’s thoughts are never explicit.
The art style of Miss Kotoura is clean, smooth, and very cute. The characters as a whole are physically represented as more child-like and have rounded chubby cheeks to further inspire that idea. Kotoura has the most chibi-looking features of them all and looks much more like a child than a young teenager. In addition, her mannerisms are more like that of an insecure elementary student. This characteristic shows how far the animation team went to show Kotoura’s emotionally-stunted growth for the audience. It makes the viewer realize how Kotoura has been affected by her mind-reading gift.
The Troubled Life of Miss Kotoura does an excellent job of portraying the dangers of reading minds. Kotoura spends all of her childhood as an outcast and a danger in high school. One example of her powers and how dark the show can get is when mind reads someone who is severally beating high school girls and leaving them in dark alleyways. It’s a wild, emotional rollercoaster for the audience. In addition, there are some musical transitions which help the viewers consciously prep for an emotional scene.
The anime’s emotions are well conveyed through the voice actors; their voices match the intensity or the comedy of the moment. It’s easy to hear the actors feeling their character’s emotions and channeling them through their own voices. The one actress who rises above the rest of the cast is Hisako Kanemoto, who voices Harauka Kotoura. Her role must have been difficult to play, and yet she was able to convey Kotoura’s innocence, insecurities, and love beautifully. Even though this series is heavy at times, there is plenty of cheerfulness to make The Troubled Life of Miss Kotoura an uplifting anime to enjoy. I highly recommend it.
A Complete Premium Edition of The Troubled Life of Miss Kotoura was provided by NIS America for this review.