This is the first anime I’ve watched in a while that made me cry. With the style of animation, you wouldn’t think that this would be the case, but it’s true. Netflix’s “Kotaro Lives Alone” is a heartbreaker.
This show is a slice-of-life anime that tells the story of four-year-old Kotaro Sato, who lives alone in an apartment for reasons I won’t spoil. However, it follows him as he gets to know the other residents of his building and many other characters throughout the show. The main one of these is his direct neighbor, Shin Karino. Like many of the neighbors, he becomes a parental figure for Kotaro. He goes with him to the bathhouse every day and just generally looks after him when, on the rare occasion, he cannot do things for himself. As Kotaro is a very mature child, and knows many things, for better or worse, that most children do not, he is very capable but also very closed off. He doesn’t like to talk about his past, but once in a while, something will slip out, and the other characters, along with the viewer, will get a glimpse into what Kotaro has gone through. This is one of the best parts of the show. You get very few flashbacks and have to infer the past through the dialogue.
This is what I’m talking about when I said the show is a heartbreaker. One moment the characters are having a nice time at the bathhouse, and the next, you think to yourself (as are the rest of the characters), “what happened to you, Kotaro!?” He brushes past them very quickly, not wanting to linger on what makes him sad, but this doesn’t mean the characters or viewers can do the same. It’s the contrast between these types of moments, humorous ones and sweet interactions that make the show so good, this and the short-form episodes that create a longer episode. This format also makes the show easy to digest. You can watch part of an “episode” or a whole one if you have the time. However, since the show, so far, is only one season that is ten episodes long, if you’re anything like me, you’ll be binge-watching it.
Some don’t want to give the show a shot because of the animation style. However, I find it endearing. It supports the overall cheerful mood of the show, and when the show DOES get serious, it is more effective, as the viewer doesn’t expect a show that looks like this to be anything more than a happy-go-lucky show about a little kid and his friends. It is very simplistic in both movement and color so that you won’t see anything super detailed, but it is still a show that will touch your heartstrings if you are willing to give it a chance.