Marmot madness? Moé madness?
I sincerely hope someone got that first reference, but do not truly expect anyone to have… ah well.
The post title is a bit misleading; I don’t really feel like looking into all the criticisms of Kobato. Instead, I really just feel like going over the charge that Kobato. is simply a bunch of moé shit.
There are a few problems with this, because in calling it such, one is making the presupposition that the intent of Kobato. is to pander, and by pandering, garner an audience. Basically, to say Kobato.’s sole purpose is to pander to the moé-moé rabu-rabu crowd is to equate it with junk like Da Capo or Nanatsuiro Drops. Kobato. actually wants to tell you a story, though, and not get you to tune in to watch the imouto character trip and show off her panties constantly before making her eyes all big and crying.
Am I denying that there is moé in the show? Hardly; but the point of Kobato’s (the character) more thick-headed antics isn’t primarily to draw you in by being appealing, but instead is meant to demonstrate that Kobato is definitely not human, and isn’t from our world. Consider the opposite – the trope of a character falling into or waking up in another world. The characters in these shows then tend to do things that are really seriously retarded in the context of the other world, but not nearly so stupid in our own. I think that the best example of this is Yuuri from Kyo Kara Maoh – when he gets sucked into the other world, he ends up smacking a guy across the face… and so ends up engaged to him. He’s acting like a moron in their context, even if to us it makes sense to smack someone for insulting their mother.
So you should be reading Kobato.’s actions not as evidence of her actually being stupid, but more of her being totally ignorant of the world of humans. The fact that this is an opportunity to sneak some moé in is secondary to the goal of establishing her non-human status.
I would also like to point out that this is CLAMP we’re talking about – you know, those ones who have that massive apocalpytic saga? And who put elements of incest, pedophilia, and homosexuality* into their magical girl story? Subversive is their middle name (but they don’t have a last name…?). So the whole moé element can’t really be taken at face value, just like you couldn’t take the genre label of ‘magical girl’ for CardCaptor Sakura fully at face value; yeah, it was, but it slipped a lot of stuff in there you can’t find in your average magical girl franchise.
There are certainly other flaws with Kobato. However, I think dismissing it out of hand as moé dreck is being myopic about the show, because the moé element isn’t the driving force or meaning behind the proceedings. But, hey, if you want to be that way, fine, I’m just gonna go back to eating rice pilaf and drinking vodka from a canteen cup, and comforting myself with the fact that I’m not crappy and close-minded like you are!
* Please don’t think I’m equating the three – they just happen to all be things you don’t usually see in magical girl shows and are all controversial (even if, honestly, homosexuality shouldn’t be).