Thursday, May 19, 2011

Kobato, Volume 2 by CLAMP

Kobato has a wish, and to fulfill it, she must collect an entire bottle full of pieces of broken hearts that she has healed. While the first part of her journey involved proving she understood certain human customs well enough to her mentor/guardian, Iyorogi, now that she actually has the bottle, she has to go around healing human hearts. Her first attempts at trying to find humans whose hearts needed healing was disastrous, to say the least, and now that she has found employment working for the grade school teacher Sayaka, she hopes to soon fill her bottle and have her wish granted.

But healing human hearts is a perilous business, and by no means as simple and easy as Kobato seems to think it might be. She thinks that simply working for Kobato will be enough, but when several days pass by and no broken heart pieces end up in her bottle, she thinks that this is going to take a while.

But the grade school has problems that might be greater than anything that Kobato can heal. For one thing, strange men show up at the school, claiming that they are there to collect on a debt. It turns out that the debt is Sayaka's, as she borrowed money from a moneylender to open the school, and because the school is so small and has so few students, she is unable to pay back the money she owes. And the moneylender seems to have ties to criminal families or mobs, and so he is resorting to extortion and threatening the kids she teaches to make her pay up or abandon the school, which she is unwilling to do.

The only person that seems to be on Sayaka's side is Fujimoto, who also happens to be Kobato's neighbor where she is living. He's sarcastic and playfully torments Kobato when she is even one and a half minutes late to work at the school, but Sayaka tells Kobato that if he really hated her, as Kobato believes, he would completely ignore her and not speak to her at all. It seems that he works at several jobs in addition to his job at the school, but we don't learn why.

Kobato earns her first pieces of broken heart when she speaks to one of the children at school after all the others have left for the day. He is waiting for his mother, who must support herself and him with a job, to pick him up. This makes everyone think that she must be a bad mother, but when Kobato tells him she thinks his mother is a wonderful mother, that is enough to heal his broken heart.

Kobato still wants to heal Sayaka's broken heart, but when Kobato suggests having a school bazaar, where the students bring in junk lying around their houses to sell and donate the money to the school, will that be enough to earn the money that Sayako owes? And when someone goes around changing the signs for the bazaar to make people think that the school's sale is next week, can Kobato inform everyone and save the day? And can she figure out what the sadness that Fujimoto hides is as well?

Well, another volume, with no real sign of who or what Kobato is or what she wants, but with plenty of background not only on the school that Kobato is working for, and Sayaka, who owns it, but also Chitose, her landlady, and her family. By finding a kitten that was abandoned, she gives the girls a pet, and receives a futon for her troubles. But the troubles at the school will resist such an easy solution. So how will she resolve them?

I liked to see Kobato finally getting pieces of the broken hearts in her flask/jar, although the wish that she wants is still not stated, nor is who or what she is and where is from ever stated. In fact, this story focusses far more on the people, like Sayaka, who Kobato is helping than Kobato herself. While this is good, it often seems that information doled out about Kobato comes in drops from an eyedropper, and the other characters get more time than she does. For this reason, I suspect that we won't find out all about Kobato until the final or penultimate volume in this series.

I like this series a lot, and Kobato is a strange and interesting character. The lack of information we get about her, and about her wish, make her even more interesting, as she becomes much of an enigma, and the little information we do know about her (that she is collecting pieces of broken hearts to fulfill a wish to go somewhere she very much wants to go), only make her that much more intriguing. I find myself wanting to read and learn more, and to know if she will manage to save the school somehow. I recommend this book, and this series.

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