Why Was CLAMP’s Kobato So Short-Lived in Popularity?

Not every series can be popular. Sometimes it's due to the content of the series, sometimes it's just timing and other times, it could be a myriad of other reasons. CLAMP is known for creating some of the most well-known anime and manga such as Cardcaptor SakuraTsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle and Chobits. However, one title in particular was quickly forgotten. Kobato, despite its positive reviewsis one of the artist group's lesser-known works, with fans usually forgetting about it or even not knowing about it. So why was it forgotten so fast?

Kobato was first published in Monthly Sunday Gene-X beginning in 2005. Seven chapters were initially released, but the series then went on hiatus and didn't continue publication until November 2007 in Newtype. These chapters would be collected into six volumes. An anime adaptation was released in 2009 by Madhouse, running for 24 episodes.

Kobato and Ioryogi

The series follows Kobato Hanato, a young woman who works at a kindergarten but doesn't remember her past. She helps those around her and by doing so, she collects their suffering into a bottle called a "flask" as part of a contract to fulfill a wish. A stipulation of her contract also requires her to always wear a hat when out in public. Throughout the series, characters from CLAMP's other titles appear, such as Kohaku from Wish and Chitose, Freya and Elda/Chi from Chobits, although they are not the same versions of themselves from those series.

At Kobato's side is a stuffed dog named Ioryogi. It's hinted that this isn't his true form and that he has connections to the Spirit World. He shows little respect for Kobato, often calling her names and belittling her. However, he does praise her when she accomplishes something important. There's also Kobato's coworker Kiyokazu Fujimoto, who is handsome but sarcastic. Kobato develops a crush on him despite not being allowed to fall in love while completing her mission. Slowly, her past and relationships with those around her are revealed, and she begins to question whether she really wants to fulfill her wish if it means losing the one she cares for.

Despite the popularity of other titles from CLAMP, Kobato is one of their least popular and least-known works. As to why this may be, it could be due to the hiatus that the series was put on. When the series restarted in Newtype, it was restarted earlier in the story than it originally began during its initial run. This could have worked against it in the long term. The anime was picked up by Crunchyroll in 2012, two years after its initial release. Even for those who watched the series, it rarely comes up when talking about the success of CLAMP as a group.

Kohaku from Wish and Kobato

It could also be that fans weren't as captivated by the story as they were with other CLAMP works. Cardcaptor Sakura was a magical girl series that captured the imagination, Chobits asked philosophical questions about what it means to love and identity, and Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle was a drama that had fans asking if Sakura and Syaoran would ever be together again. That's not to say Kobato was bad in any way; indeed, it received mostly positive reviews from critics. It's just not as popular as other series from CLAMP -- and that's okay. Not every series is going to garner the same amount of popularity and fame, even if it's by the same group of creators as other titles.

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