Kobato. (こばと。?) is Clamp's latest manga series which premiered in Monthly Sunday Gene-X in January 2005. Seven chapters were released under the title of Kobato.(Kari) (こばと。(仮) Kobato. ("Temporary title")?), but the series was put on hiatus in late 2005. It returned to publication in Newtype magazine's November 2006 Japanese edition; the story has subsequently been restarted at an earlier point in the original timeline. The story features a mysterious young girl, Hanato Kobato, who works in a local kindergarten.
The first volume of the manga was released by Kadokawa Shoten on December 26, 2007.
Kobato is a sweet and perky girl, but also extremely naive about the world around her. She has a "mission" to fill her mysterious bottle with people's hearts she heals so her wish to go a certain place can be granted. However, the restriction is that she is not allowed to fall in love with any person whose heart she heals.
As Kobato attempts to fulfill her mission, she is accompanied by Ioryogi, a spirit in the form of a dog plushie. Because Ioryogi is responsible for a punishment that has been applied to him and his friends from the spiritual world, he must guide Kobato and ensure that she succeeds her mission so he and his friends might return to their true form.
- Kobato Hanato (花戸 小鳩 Hanato Kobato?)
- Voiced by Kana Hanazawa (花澤香菜 Hanazawa Kana?)
- A strange and naive girl with a kind heart, never wanting to see someone suffer or get hurt. She is very innocent and dedicated. It is also noted that she is a beautiful singer. Despite her role as the titular character, she is a bit of an enigma within the series, as her origins have yet to be explained. She seeks to heal the hearts of others, resulting in the filling up of a mysterious bottle called a "flask" with the suffering of those people's hearts so that someday she will be able to go to a certain place that she really wants to go. It has been implied that she came from another dimension. She seems to have no memories of her past.
- She has several restrictions: it appears to be that she cannot fall in love with anyone she heals the heart of and she cannot tell anyone of her wish. Curiously she is not allowed to take off her hat in public; in the anime, due to the fact that she has a spiritual crown upon her head which represents her death (no reason has yet been given in the manga). Kobato has a very cheerful and enthusiastic outlook in life and her wanting to aid others in need is very heartfelt and sincere. However, she can also be clumsy, rather clueless, and rash with her actions, and often trips over her own feet, much to Ioryogi's annoyance. Currently she works as an assistant alongside Fujimoto at the Yomogi Nursery run by Sayaka. Kobato struggles through the series with her feelings for Fujimoto and comes to realizes that she is in love with him. Unfortunately, Kobato is forced to pick between two options - complete her wish and never be with Fujimoto or stay with Fujimoto, keeping Ioryogi and the others trapped in animal form.
- At the conclusion of the anime, it is revealed that Kobato's hat conceals a crown-shaped mark above her head indicating that she is dead, but is in a liminal state where she was not alive either. When she finally fulfils her task to fill the flask, she is reborn without any memories of her past life until she meets Fujimoto again several years later.
- In the manga, it is revealed that Kobato had died due to the war caused by Ioryogi and the gods. The angel Ioryogi fell in love with felt pity for the girl who died before her time was up and transferred her soul into Kobato, being able to since they are both have the same soul but belong to different worlds. The time limit Kobato has is the time before the angel disappears.
- Ioryogi (いおりょぎ?)
- Voiced by Tetsu Inada (稲田 徹 Inada Tetsu?)
- Kobato's companion, who appears as a stuffed toy dog that she carries around. He's actually very foul-mouthed, short-tempered, and cruel, his features twisting horrifically when aggravated or enraged. He tends to scathingly criticize or hit Kobato for her naïveté and stupidity and often calls her "Dobato" (lit. Stupid Dove). Despite the lack of respect he shows Kobato, he will always acknowledge her efforts when he feels she deserves it, and seems to be set on helping Kobato achieve her goal. He is harsh to her and scolds her constantly but is seen to really care for her and comforts her in his own way when she is down, such as patting her head to encourage her. His real name is "Iorogi," but has forced to respond to Ioryogi only because Kobato has been unable to pronounce his name correctly. Ioryogi was originally Tsubaki Nekoi's mascot, Iorogi, on Clamp's self caricatures.
- His origin is still unknown (in the anime he comes from the Spirit Realm), but he can produce a powerful fiery blast from his mouth when offended, like when he protected Kobato from the perverted old man in an early chapter of Kobato, though he also often uses it on Kobato whenever she messes up. It has been heavily implied that his stuffed animal appearance is not his true form. Ioryogi's true form has yet to be revealed but several 'shadows' of his original form have been seen. One being that of a sinister, large, wolf like creature with horns, which manifested during one of Ioryogi's sparring matches with Ginsei. Another form appears to be a man with spiky hair and a long, battered looking cape or coat, manifesting when he watched over a sleeping Kobato. It is implied that Ioryogi's current form is a 'punishment' from causing some sort of serious trouble back in 'Heaven'. In the anime, it's mentioned that his punishment was for attempting to start a war with Heaven. The exact reason is still not clear but Ioryogi started the war for love. Being from the other world royal family, he was rude and careless and skipped an important meeting where the three worlds were meeting. He met an angel sitting in a tree and helped her out when she fell. In return, she sang for him a song so sweet, he instantly fell in love. The manga has revealed that Kobato and Ioryogi's angel share the same soul because they are the same person belonging to two different worlds.
- Kiyokazu Fujimoto (藤本 清和 Fujimoto Kiyokazu?)
- Voiced by Tomoaki Maeno (前野 智昭 Maeno Tomoaki?)
- A blunt, sarcastic young man working at the same kindergarten as Kobato. He is also Kobato's neighbor, living in the same complex under the ownership of Chitose. He has known Sayaka for many years and appears to care deeply for her, showing much concern over and being defensive of her. Upon first meeting Kobato, he is rather unkind and cold to her but eventually comes to accept her. He often shuts Kobato down but he also comes to respect her dedication and optimistic attitude. Kobato notes that he appears to be hiding some emotional pain of his own. When Kobato regains her memories of him, years later, Fujimoto remarks, "You've kept me waiting so many years," after which he embraces Kobato.
- As a child, Fujimoto was an orphan taken in by Sayaka's father and did not get along with his peers. He had been studying to become a lawyer, but stopped going to his college classes when it became apparent Sayaka's need for help had become increasingly desperate. He works at various part-time jobs throughout the day in order to help support the kindergarten, as he is attached to Sayaka and feels indebted to her family for taking care of him in his youth.
- Sayaka Okiura (沖浦 清花 Okiura Sayaka?)
- Voiced by Fumiko Orikasa (折笠 富美子 Orikasa Fumiko?)
- The teacher and principal of Yomogi Nursery, a local kindergarten where Kobato works. She has known Kiyokazu since he was seven, which is when her family adopted him. She also went to the same high school as Chitose. She is a kind and trusting person, willing to let Kobato assist her at the school even with Fujimoto's obvious mistrust of her. Upon meeting Sayaka, Kobato wishes to heal the apparent emotional pain in her heart. Sayaka is in debt due to an event in the past involving her father; in spite of this she continues to try her best at keeping the school going. Sayaka was once married to Okiura, the debt collector who frequently pesters her to close down the school. Despite having already divorced him, she has yet to change back her last name for unknown reasons.
- Chitose Mihara (三原 千歳 Mihara Chitose?)
- Voiced by Houko Kuwashima (桑島 法子 Kuwashima Houko?)
- The kind and generous landlady of Kobato's apartment and Sayaka's old classmate. She is married and has twin daughters, Chise and Chiho. Fujimoto also lives in Chitose's apartment complex. She is a cross-over character from Chobits but not the same person, as the dimensional theorem of xxxHOLiC.
- Voiced by Megumi Nakajima (中島 愛 Nakajima Megumi?) (as both characters)
- Mihara Chitose's twin daughters, presumably age 11-12. Like their mother, they are crossover characters from Chobits, known in that series as Freya and Chī/Elda. In Kobato, they are normal girls and live with their mother and father. Like many children in the series, they are apparently very fond of Kobato. In the anime, while the two had helped Kobato find an owner for an abandoned kitten, the two had begun to remember how lonely they were. Kobato sings a song to cheer them up, and their hearts are healed.
- Kazuto Okiura (沖浦 和斗 Okiura Kazuto?)
- Voiced by Shin'ichirō Miki (三木 眞一郎 Miki Shin'ichirō?)
- A debt collector who appears at the end of the fifth chapter, a man who has some association with Yakuza. He is noted in the series for smiling a lot and smoking. Okiura appears to be responsible for the constant impending closure of Sayaka's kindergarten and is also Sayaka's ex-husband. He seems to enjoy pestering and aggravating Fujimoto, the latter whom despises him for hurting Sayaka in the past. He seems to have developed an interest in Kobato following his first meeting with her. Despite his cheerful and collected nature, he has shown hints of a slightly more sinister side, possibly due to his Yakuza background. Okiura seems to show what may or may not be some genuine concern for Sayaka, despite his continuous threats to close down the school. His given name has yet to be revealed in the manga, though is given as "Kazuto" in an article pertaining to the Kobato anime.
- Ginsei (銀生?)
- Voiced by Daisuke Namikawa (浪川 大輔 Namikawa Daisuke?)
- A mysterious creature who wears an eyepatch whom shares a history with Ioryogi, though he now appears to be on poor terms with him, and often challenges him to fights. Ginsei also has frequently stated that Ioryogi's current form is not his true form and also seems to be aware of Kobato's mission. He does not think highly of Kobato or Ioryogi's relationship with Kobato. It is implied that he wants Ioryogi to return to 'Heaven' for unknown reasons, as it was Ioryogi who took Ginsei in and trained him. In fact, it has been mentioned that Ioryogi was the one who gave Ginsei his name. Ginsei's appearance, like Ioryogi's, is implied to not be his actual form as when he stands atop a building overlooking Ioryogi and Kobato's apartment, his shadow is that of a young man with short hair. He is from the other world.
- Genko (玄琥?)
- Voiced by Rikiya Koyama (小山 力也 Koyama Rikiya?)
- Ioryogi's acquaintance. A bear that runs a baumkuchen (European cake) shop in the middle of the woods in another dimension. One has to walk through the narrow space between the wall and a specific street light pole in order to have access to that dimension. Like Ioryogi, his current name, form and job are not his real ones. By Ioryogi's request, Genko will use his information-gathering skills to find out the whereabouts of Yomogi Nursery School and its employees. Ginsei reveals that Genko is an aristocrat from the other world.
- Takashi Doumoto (堂元崇 Doumoto Takashi?)
- Voiced by Hiroshi Kamiya (神谷 浩史 Kamiya Hiroshi?)
- A friend of Fujimoto, a polite young man. He has been friends with Fujimoto since middle school and has been concerned that Fujimoto has dropped out of college in order to help Yomogi Kindergarten.
- Hiroyasu Ueda (植田 弘康 Ueda Hiroyasu?)
- A kindhearted baker and owner of the Tirol Confectionery (also known as the Chiroru Bakery). He gives Kobato a job at Christmas and gives Sayaka free chocolate on Valentine's Day when he notices how fixated she seems on the box of chocolate she is holding. He makes several short appearances in the Newtype installment of the manga. He and his assistant, Yumi Omura (大村 裕美 Ōmura Yumi?), are both crossover characters from Chobits.
On April 4, 2007 Newtype USA announced a special agreement with manga powerhouse CLAMP to exclusively serialize Kobato, in the pages of the magazine. Kobato began its serial run in the June 2007 issue of Newtype USA, and was to continue its exclusive serialization through the May 2008 issue, comprising 12 installments in total. However Newtype USA ceased publication with the February 2008 issue, having serialised 9 of the 12 installments.
On July 24, 2009 Yen Press announced that they had acquired the license to publish Kobato in English in North America during their panel at San Diego Comic-Con International..The manga will be released in North America in May 2010 in honor of CLAMP's 20th anniversary. In Europe, the series was licensed by Pika Édition for France and Norma Editorial for Spain.
A 24 episode anime adaption aired on autumn of 2009, animated by Madhouse and supervised by CLAMP's Nanase Ohkawa. xxxHolic writer Michiko Yokote is also supervising the scripts along with Ohkawa. The anime began its broadcast on October 6, 2009.
Hiromi Katō, the character designer of Kobato. said that "Kobato. itself is kind of different from past CLAMP works, especially the way the eyes are drawn, we are trying to make it as close as we can to the original. The costumes will change in each episode."
CLAMP in Wonderland
Kobato., along with most of CLAMP's other titles, appeared in CLAMP's second music video, CLAMP in Wonderland 2, which was the first time the characters Kobato and Ioryogi were animated.
Kobato accepts the theory from Tsubasa that everyone has his/her different self but with the same spirit in every dimension. Some crossover characters of stories which didn't happened in modern Japan, the background of Kobato, show new identities in this story. On the other hand, the crossover stories that happened in Japan are actually related to the story of Kobato.
- Chitose Hibiya of Chobits and Tsubasa appears as Chitose Mihara, Kobato's landlady, while Chī/Elda and Freya of Chobits also appear as Chitose's daughters, named Chiho and Chise respectively. It can also be implied, since Chiho and Chise mention their father in a conversation with Kobato, Chitose's husband is Ichiro "Icchan" Mihara from Angelic Layer, who was married to her prior to the events of Chobits. However, this fact is not confirmed and Chitose Mihara's husband has yet to appear.
- Mihara is also the family name from characters of Clamp's other works such as Ichiro Mihara and his stepbrother Ōjiro from Angelic Layer as well as Chiharu Mihara from Cardcaptor Sakura. However, the relation between Chiharu and the Mihara family hasn't been revealed.
- The apartment complex owned by Chitose Mihara and her family appears in other works by Clamp other than Kobato ; it can been seen in Chobits (different one in imaginary Japan), xxxHolic (not confirmed the same one in Japan) ,Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle (different one in Hanshin).
- Ueda Hiroyasu, also of Chobits, appears in Exam 3, still as the owner of the Chiroru bakery. He makes another appearance in Exam 5, this time with his assistant, Ōmura Yumi, and again in Exam 7 to give Kobato an umbrella.
- The fortune-teller from volume 2 of xxxHolic (A kind elderly woman who is an acquaintance of Yūko Ichihara's) appears in Exam 4 and plays New Year's games with Kobato. Her fortune-telling pendulum and sand-dish appear as well. She appears in the first episode of the anime with her grandchild.
- Asahi Hinata and Asō Shirō, the two main characters of Suki Dakara Suki, appear in Exam 7.
- Suzuhara Misaki, Kizaki Tamayo and Seto Ringo from Angelic Layer and Primera from Magic Knight Rayearth make cameo appearances in exam 9.
- Kakei, Kudō Kazahaya and Himura Rikuō from Legal Drug make cameo appearances as background characters. The Green Drugstore where they work also appears in Drop 5.
- Tōya Kinomoto, Sakura's brother from Cardcaptor Sakura, makes a cameo appearance in Drop 5. He is seen in a bunny costume, working as a mascot with Fujimoto at the Green Drugstore that is seen in Legal Drug. The bunny costume resembles Ushagi-san (usyagi), a messenger from heaven in Wish.
- Toshihiko, one of the children at the kindergarten, has crossed over several times in Tsubasa.
- Kohaku, an Angel, the main character from "Wish" is shown and discussed by Ioryogi and Genko in Drop 13, and she also makes an appearance at Genko's shop in Chapter 16.5. In the anime, Kohaku is mentioned in Episode 1 when Kobato was singing. Kohaku and Shuichiro also appear in the 3rd and 4th episode of the anime, and Kohaku is also present in episode 13 in which she sings with Kobato. It is later seen in episodes 10, 12, 23 and 24. The description about Kohaku and Shuichiro made by Kobaku in Episode 24 corresponds to the storyline of Wish.
- On Chapter 15 while Ginsei is explaining about the worlds, a picture of Yūko and Clow are shown.
- Kimihiro Watanuki from xxxHolic and the black Mokona Modoki makes their cameo appearance in episode 17.
- In episode 20, the Tsubasa gang -minus Sakura- end up in Kobato's world. This takes place after the completion of the Tsubasa Chronicle manga. Syaoran, Kurogane and Fai travel on to find the cloned Sakura and Syaoran, and the real Sakura decides to stay behind.
Lissa Pattillo of Anime News Network finds that the manga "is a delightfully charismatic read that's full of magic and mirth" and "evokes the charm of CLAMP's shoujo series skill and has only just begun unraveling the mysteries of this likeable cast of characters".
Theron Martin sees that the anime version "is often quite funny, not always predictable, and provides a solid story hook for future developments". Summer Mullins describes that the "animation is stellar, the backgrounds are beautiful, and the music is gorgeous". Carlo Santos finds that "the series is either a ridiculous amalgam of fairytale dreck or a poignant slice-of-life with fantasy elements"
- "ComiPress on Newtype USA to serialized Kobato". Retrieved 2007-10-11.
- "Newtype USA Blog - That's all folks!". Retrieved 2008-02-21. Archive copy at the Wayback Machine.
- "Yen Press Adds Kobato, Darker than Black, Romeo x Juliet Manga". Retrieved 2009-07-25.
- "Kobato." (in French). Pika Édition. Retrieved August 20, 2009.
- "Kobato. published in Spain" (in Spanish). Norma Editorial. Retrieved June 2, 2009.
- "List of scheduled episodes of Kobato.". NHK. 2009-12-06. Retrieved 2008-02-28.
- "CLAMP's Kobato Manga Gets TV Anime Next Fall". Anime News Network. 2008-12-06. Retrieved 2008-12-10.
- "Kobato.". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2009-07-23.
- "TVアニメ「こばと。」公式サイト" (Japanese). Retrieved February 17, 2010.
- "Victor artist web site 坂本真綾 【I.D.】" (Japanese). Retrieved February 17, 2010.
- "Kobato". (May 2007) Newtype USA. pp. 56–59.
- Kobato. (manga) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Kobato. (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Kobato Official Website