- Alt. Name
- Kotarou wa Hitorigurashi
- Release Date
- Winter 2022
- No. of Episodes
Kotaro Lives Alone is a 2022 Slice of Life Comedy anime series from Lidenfilms and licensed in North America by Netflix. While being a slice of life anime has no star power compared to any of the season’s most popular action or adventure anime series, that does not mean these series are not entertaining. Can this series make its audience feel emotionally connected to the characters and compel its viewers into caring for them along with the story?
The “apartment comedy with laughs and tears” centers on a four-year-old boy named Kotarou Satou, who moves next door to Karino Shin, an unsuccessful manga artist. Kotarou has no parents and lives alone. Not only does he seem to earn a living, but he also actually seems more put together than his strange neighbors. Hopefully, the shenanigans within the apartment complex walls don’t steer any of them into a bad situation. Can Kotarou learn how to live on his while teaching the adults how to be more mature?
When a story can easily be summed up within a single paragraph is usually a negative aspect of a story. However, when it comes to this story, it somehow works to its advantage since the series is only ten episodes long, the viewer does not need to know every little detail. Though the story may seem like an episodic series, they are well connected. It was rather pleasing to see a simple yet exciting plot that does not rely on special events like action or sexual fan service to keep viewers interested in the anime.
Another positive aspect of this story is that the series is easily rewatchable, which is shorter than a lot of its other genre choices. Having a shorter season can easily be a positive in some respects. For instance, it can’t rely on beach episodes, bouncy boob fan service, and even having a filler episode from time to time. When a series cannot rely on those tactics, they must focus on the story and make it as good as possible to keep viewers interested. Kotarou Lives Alone is not about the fan service like other series but concentrates more on being together and dealing with one’s problems. No matter how old the person is, they still have their demons.
However, Kotaro Lives Alone has some shortcomings regarding its story, and one can quickly turn viewers away. The story is a bit more relaxed when it comes to any Slice of Life anime series, but it takes this to an exciting level. The pacing is spot on, but when it comes to the darker tones of the story, they go from 0 to 100 quickly. If viewers are okay with seeing abuse within their happy-go-lucky anime story, this point is mute. If viewers do not want to watch anything that would trigger them with abuse and neglect, they are forewarned in advance.
Another negative aspect of this story is that the episodes get a bit tedious at times. The viewer will see similar, but not the same, events happening in bits of episodes, making the viewer feel bored and lose interest. Having identical segments is problematic since the story is already relaxed; it heightens the chance of dropping the series entirely. Another section of the story that tags along with this is that even though the series is only ten episodes long, it feels a lot longer than that. The story moves at a decent pace, but when the viewer hits the wall with this series, it feels like it’s moving at glacier speed.
When it comes to the artistic style of Kotaro Lives Alone, one will be pleasantly surprised by what they’ll be witnessing. The colorful yet realistic colors mixed with the exciting and creative character designs are a genuine plus for this series and its viewers. All the characters are easily identifiable, which is a solid plus for any series, but the number of details within each character is remarkable. The character designs are unique and may not be everyone’s favorite, but they will grow on the viewer as they understand that this style was perfect for this property.
Though what sets this series’ production apart from the rest of its peers is that the creators took the extra time to craft every bit of elegance they could for the result. The opening animation is very reminiscent of Highschool Babysitters with its cute style without being overly done. The animation is smooth and showcases all the characters within the show, which does a great job paired with the song. But the real gold star goes to the ending animations! The fact that every episode has a different ending animation shows how creative this show can be, and even though the endings are just a single photo or two, it fits perfectly within the show’s scope.
However, this short ten-episode series has a decent cast of characters within its episodes. Kotaro Satou is the main character of this series, and even though he is only four years old, he is quickly more mature than anyone more than three times his age. He is very childlike regarding emulating seeing things on television, especially his favorite television series. He would describe himself as fearless, but deep down, he is a little scared in certain situations like the dark, whether he will admit to it.
Shin Karino is an unsuccessful manga artist who does not have the best outlook on life until he meets Kotaro. He looks cold and uninterested on the surface, but once people get past the smoke, they’ll notice he is a very caring person who would do anything for his friends. Though he is not the brightest and does not pick up the best at learning other people’s quirks, what he is good at, though, is getting people to go outside their comfort zones and being a good role model.
Isamu Tamaru is one of the funniest secondary characters in this series. He is a divorced dad who looks like a classic gang member on the outside, but on the inside, he is wrapped around Kotaro’s little finger. He would do anything, even hurt someone, if it meant that Kotaro would be happy. His character is sparingly used, which is very good considering if they used him in every episode, it could quickly get boring. He is a caring person others don’t see as charming or even kind, but once someone gets to know him, he will easily be their best friend.
Mizuki Akitomo is the last of the secondary characters and the brightest of the adults. She is kind and thoughtful and very caring towards Kotaro whenever possible. She can easily read the room and his body language easier compared to her cohorts, but she also has some demons of her own. Unfortunately, due to her job, she is not seen as much, but it works out better that way for the story due to her career. While there are other recurring characters within the episodes, viewers will need to care about them mainly since most other characters are used and done.
When the credits of the final episode finish, the viewer will have witnessed something spectacular. The level of storytelling within such a short amount of time is remarkable yet feels incredible. This series showcases that we all have a past of negatives at any age, or whatever the circumstances are, whether it be abusive, homelessness, loss of a child, or even being alone. We all have a history, and that past does not define who we are as a person; we define ourselves. Viewers will enjoy this series so much as this can easily be consumed multiple times within a weekend.
Please don’t underestimate the power of a good Slice of Life anime, especially when it comes to this one. The characters are entertaining, the story is engaging, and even the art style is fun and colorful; what more can a viewer wish for in a series? If viewers enjoy watching something that will quickly become their top ten favorite anime series, then this is easy.
Cody Senpai is the creator of BakaNow, an anime review website that specializes in spoiler-free reviews for everyone. He is an avid anime watcher who has traveled to Japan numerous times to not only experience the culture and history but also to build friendships with people through a common interest. He is an avid animation fanatic from birth and even went on to major in communication to help share the importance of the stories we love to watch and listen to. Cody lives in Denver, Colorado and loves to do anything adventurous.