To Hell in a Plushie Backpack
I am a dragon of heaven, and you are a dragon of earth. Fuuma, I… wait, wrong CLAMP series. Yeah, you can tell it’s a CLAMP series if you begin with someone coming to a new town and perching on some high point to oversee the land, all while making some vague comment about things to come. Throw in some cherry blossoms and BAM! There you go, CLAMP stuff.
Unfortunately I don’t think we’ll be seeing any X-styled decapitated-head-cradling in this one. But I do foresee some Chobits-level twisted morality. Let me tell you why.
According to Kobato, she has come to Earth to carry out a series of tasks that will allow her to go to “a certain place.” She’s awfully vague about where, exactly, she wants to go and why. All we know is that A) she’s not from our world and B) she wants to go someplace that we ca only assume is not our world. In order to do this, she must collect “scarred hearts” and place them within the ever-so adorable bottle seen above. The anime would like you to think that she’s going around, Sailor Moon-style, healing people’s troubled hearts with a wave of a magic wand. And I’m sure people will go with this interpretation.
But we have to remember that this is CLAMP we’re talking about. This is the same group that gave us Chobits, a seemingly innocent and cute anime whose ultimate moral was “it’s OK to fall in love with your computer, so long as it’s smoking hawt!” This is also the same group that gave us X and Tokyo Babylon, two nihilistic, apocalyptic, twisted series that involved people flailing almost-hopelessly against fate and being forced to kill loved ones. CLAMP likes the play hard ball. They like to screw with audience expectations. Sure, Xxxholic and Tsubasa were crap that pandered to the audience, but CLAMP has a history of “going there.”
No, I’m convinced that Kobato wants to go to Hell, and she’s collecting the souls of troubled people in order to enter Satan’s kingdom.
Ioryogi is the primary reason why I feel Kobato’s mission is nowhere near as kind as one would believe. His appearance is something of a combination of Snoopy, a punk, and a Street Shark. He speaks in a low-toned, aggressive voice, and when Kobato’s antics annoy his devilish and sophisticated sensibilities, he bellows forth hellfire to turn Kobato into a crispy critter.
He does this quite often, seeing how Kobato offends his ideals with great regularity.
Why in the hell would someone who is a good-will mission to save souls and mend hearts carry around a demon-voiced, fire-breathing plushie who is essentially her master and commander? It only makes sense if she’s not as kind and good-intentioned as we’re led to believe. No, Kobato is definitely an agent of Beelzebub. She’s a devil-in-training, and she needs to acquire the souls needed to broker a deal with the darkness.
“But what about her innocence? What about how she tries to help people? What about how inept she seems to be? How could someone with that smile and those eyes be evil?” Those may be the questions running through your mind at this moment. Don’t let those preconceptions fool you. Kobato is the spawn of Satan.
In the first episode, while Kobato and Ioryogi are in a park, Io tells Kobato that in order to fit in with her surroundings, she must behave “properly.” How does Kobato interpret “behaving properly in a park?” Does it mean admiring the flowers and greeting passers-by with a smile? No! She interprets it to mean “rummage through the garage, get some newspaper, create a makeshift blanket, and go to sleep on a park bench like a homeless person.
Kobato’s mind automatically goes to the worse case scenario. She doesn’t think about the beauty of the park or the people around her. She goes straight to the worst aspect of a park: the fact that they tend to be places where the homeless congregate, and in order to “act properly” in such a place, Kobato attempts to become a homeless person and emulate their ways. Despite her innocent attitude, this is cynicism at its best. Only someone with a cold heart would come to this conclusion.
Minutes later, after Io scolds/scalds Kobato for being too evil and cynical, Kobato runs into a woman who drops her trash in the middle of the street. When she takes the trash to where it needs to be dumped, rather than simply placing it along with the rest of the trash, Kobato’s sinister urges rise forth when she sees a murder of crows hovering about. Out of what appears to be a kind gesture to the crows, Kobato opens up the trash in an attempt to feed them. Chaos ensues.
Yeah, the crows attack Kobato. Doesn’t seem like a smart thing to do, to deliberately provoke something to attack you. You’re probably thinking she must be doing this out of misplaced kindness. No one evil wants to be attacked. That’s where you’re wrong. True evil, much like true kindness, seeks out its goal regardless of personal harm. By inciting a murder of crows into a frenzy, Kobato has sown chaos in the streets of Japan, and ay bodily harm that results from such an act is merely acceptable collateral damage on the path to Hell.
So, no, regardless of what you see in this series, Kobato is not some sort of guardian angel. She is an agent of evil. She is here to reap souls and deliver them to eternal torment. You can ignore all of the scenes where she helps people, sings to little babies, and works in a nursery for no pay. All of that amounts to a clever ruse. She wants your soul, and she wants it now.
Speaking of singing to little kids, yeah, everyone’s right about her voice. It’s pretty painful. Sounds like a goddamned Chipmunk from Alvin and the Chipmunks. She should totally hook up with the Chipette-esque loli elf from Sacred Blacksmith and hit the road as a novelty song act. They can put out Christmas albums and bad parody covers of popular, soon-to-be-outdated Top 20 hits. I’m sure there’s, like, a Lady Gaga song they can do as a duet or something.
And for the record, yes, Lisa from Sacred Blacksmith is so Eleanor from The Chipettes. I even have photographic proof:
For those of you who weren’t kids in the 80s, Eleanor is the chubby one on the left. The two are totally twins.
But yeah, all kidding aside, I’m enjoying Kobato so far, despite its cutsey, heart-tugging, emotionally manipulative scenes. There’s some pretty funny bits when the series forgets about trying to be a soap opera and cuts to the humor. Ioryogi’s making the series so far. Without him, I don’t think there’d be much that appeals to me.
Without the fire-breathing plushie, it’d math CLAMP’s recent down-trend in quality.
Ioryogi is still my god.