GENRE: Romantic Comedy, Drama, School Life
DIRECTOR: Masahiko Ohta
STUDIO/PRODUCER: NIS, Nippon Ichi Software
MSRP: $51.99 (USD) (http://store.nisamerica.com/the-troubled-life-of-miss-kotoura-complete-premium-edition)
RELEASE DATE: Aug. 4, 2015
LENGTH: 2 Blu-ray Discs, 12 episodes, 288 mins.
AUDIO/VIDEO: This Blu-ray set is geared to be played, and watched on an HDTV. It sports 1080p visuals on an AVC MPEG-4 16:9 scale. The colors are vivid the animation is clear, and the characters look amazing doing their thing on the widescreen in HD. As far as the audio goes it is a LPCM 2.0 Japanese soundtrack with optional English subtitles. The menu system which house all of the anime greatness is easily accessible, and contains a "Play All" option, a "Scene Selection" option, and even an "Extras" option for viewing the opening, and ending song sequences.
CAST: *ACTORS/CHARACTERS* Hisako Kanemoto (Haruka Kotoura), Jun Fukushima (Yoshihisa Manabe), Kana Hanazawa (Yuriko Mifune), Yuriko Kubo (Hiyori Moritani), Hiro Shimono (Daichi Muroto)
Before I get into the thick of this review I'd like to say I had tons of fun watching the troubled life of miss Kotoura unfold before my eyes. In a way I can relate to her loneliness, and situation in life like a lot of you will be able to. Feeling like the odd one out is definitely no fun, and having no one to turn to equally as so. The series really touches base on that aspect of life as well as a lot of like-minded serious situations relating to relationships, the cruelty of people not understanding someone, and the sometimes harsh reality of the world in general. At the same time it doesn't linger too long on the sad moments within, and does show us indirectly that there is hope even for the most lonely, and singled out person. The cast of characters in the vivid, and heartfelt tale are charming, and Haruka Kotoura herself is delightful in her own withdrawn ways. Watching her open up, and let people into her life was an adventure I won't soon forget.
In "The Troubled Life of Miss Kotoura" we watch as the main protagonist, a reddish-blonde haired girl named 'Haruka Kotoura' is born into the world of Japan, and is seemingly accepted into a loving life by her initially welcoming parents. As she grows, and comes to a point where she can say what she's thinking Haruka's gift, or curse if you rather begins to interfere with her various relationships. At first her parents laugh at her ability to guess what they are thinking before they even have a chance to say it. People shrug the coincidence off due to the cuteness of her innocent peeks into their psyche, and don't think twice about it being strange. It isn't until Haruka starts school, and begins blurting out private things without thinking that she inadvertently begins hurting friends, and family on a social, and personal level. As a child still of young age she does not understand the repercussions of her actions. With friends, and family hurt, and angered Haruka soon finds herself alone in the world. No matter what she does to try, and make amends for what she has unknowingly done Haruka Kotoura just can't find forgiveness.
It isn't until her first day in high school that the now alone, and emotionally hollowed Haruka Kotoura has a chance meeting with a male student that will change her life forever. After classroom introductions the humbled, and broken Haruka heads to her seat only to catch a glimpse of the absent minded, and much less cruel thoughts of a boy named, 'Yoshihisa Manabe'. After the two get to know each other better through the thought related poking, and prodding that comes along with a romantic courting relationship Manabe finally wins Kotoura's friendship over, and in doing so opens up her mind to the possibility that not everyone might think the worst of her odd nature. Manabe himself is a bit of an odd character in that he's often times daydreaming, or fantasizing about perverted situations, especially those related to the kawaii miss Kotoura. Though oddly mismatched the duo that is Kotoura, and Manabe soon become an inseparable team that tackle heartbreaking situations, and the trials of the relationship oriented high school life. It takes a while for Kotoura to warm up to the affection, and perverted nature of her male admirer, but she does eventually get there.
While miss Kotoura, and Manabe are the main characters of interest in this roller coaster ride about relationships they do find themselves mixed up a few episodes in with a high school ESP club led by the odd pair of teachers known as, 'Yuriko Mifune', and 'Daichi Muroto'. They themselves have their own agenda as well, and their recruiting of Haruka Kotoura was no mere happenstance as you'll find out if you buy, and watch this amazingly produced Blu-ray collection. You didn't think I'd spoil it all for you, did you? Just know that there's plenty of laughs to be had along with the more serious tears that you'll likely shed. This is an up, and down experience that doesn't take things too seriously, but does try to keep it serious enough to relay an important message to the viewers. I hope that if you are one of the lonely few out there, and are seeking an anime you can relate to that you give this one a chance. I don't think you'll regret it even if you are dude! It's like a kawaii version of "Goldenboy"!
Premium Edition Extras
For $51.99 you will definitely be getting your money's worth with this premium edition anime boxset. It comes complete with a very thick, and sturdy artbox that houses both Blu-rays in their own separate cases as well as the exclusive 64-page art book that showcases character art, and other things relating to the anime series. The two Blu-ray discs contain all 12 episodes of the series, and spans a total 288 minutes. As you would find with other anime DVDs, or Blu-rays the disc set does include extras like clean opening, and ending trailers as well as the original Japanese trailers on Blu-ray disc two. Keep in mind this is a subtitle 'Region 1 (US)' set. This means that the spoken audio maintains the original Japanese voice acting, but comes complete with optional English subtitles. I personally like subs over dubs as I feel the Japanese voice acting carries a far more emotional range than that of the English voice actors, and actresses.
The Verdict ...
From the heart, and from a guy who has become all to familiar with being the lonely odd one out I can recommend this as a purchase worthy item without a second thought. It is truly awe-inspiring, and relatable on a personal level. Even though it does start off on a serious note, and maintains that seriousness throughout it still does good to embed the visual journey with lighter, and more laughable moments. Haruka Kotoura, and Manabe make the perfect love interest, and the ESP club presidents serve to add that certain mystery that will keep you guessing till the end. It's the type of anime story that will draw you in, hook you, and make you want to watch it all in one sitting. As far as the premium edition goes It's a steal at the $51.99 price mark. If you know anime like I do standard edition sets will usually set you back this much, and without the bonus items. This is a premium edition, and for the same price as a standard anime box set you get an impressively built illustrated art box to hold everything as well as the hardcover 64-page art book that is of a higher quality itself. If you liked anime series like 'Goldenboy' then I think you'll definitely enjoy what "The Troubled Life of Miss Kotoura" has to offer. It's like 'Goldenboy' meets the awesome storytelling of Studio Ghibli's Hayao Miyazaki. Only with a more recent style of animation!