Kotaro Lives Alone is a Netflix Original anime series that follows the story of a 4-year-old boy named Kotaro who moves into an apartment compound by himself. Despite his age, he acts like a dependent adult that manages everything, his food, school, and even cleaning duties. He made friends with his neighbors and other adults. People are still surprised by Kotaro’s mature behavior but it keeps them worrying and wondering where his parents are.
The series seems like your usual slice of life comedy but its title immediately raised some questions. As someone who grew up without a father and an always absent mother, only raised by adoptive parents, I was able to relate with Kotaro. Even Kotaro’s design reminds me of the character I drew during my counseling session which means a lonely kid.
What I love about this anime is that it manages to balance comedy with its melancholic theme. Kotaro’s mature behavior will leave everyone in awe but looking deeper into its context, we’ll realize that these actions are results of neglect or even child abuse. It gives its audience an understanding of how a kid handles trauma, loneliness, and grief. While also teaching adults and the community how to act on it. These dynamics of genres are rarely portrayed in a show which makes this unique and special.
It is common to see in many shows or movies an adult-kid dynamic where the kid usually learns or gets inspiration from an adult. However, this show gives the opposite. Kotaro somehow radiates inspiration to the people around him. He always notices someone’s problem and has some wise words for that.
Shin, your best neighbor
Kotaro’s neighbor Shin is one of the best anime characters that ever existed. He may not be your typical badass powerful character, not as good-looking to have a fanbase, and he doesn’t even have that one inspiring scene that makes everyone love him. What Shin have is being a proxy for the audience. Shin asks the same questions the audience has about Kotaro. He also acts the way most of the audiences will do when seeing Kotaro’s situation. Shin is also a relatable character. He only minds his own business. He’s lazy and struggling in his mangaka career.
Shin slowly turned his life around after knowing Kotaro. His observation and words from others give him a subtle understanding of Kotaro’s past. He steps in as Kotaro’s guardian, He cleans his apartment, and became inspired to continue his mangaka career. As a proxy to the audience, Shin’s character growth also has the potential to inspire us and grow along with him.
Kotaro Lives Alone has 10 episodes available on Netflix. Directed by Tomoe Makino, written by Hiroshi Sato, and animated by Liden Films. It is an adaptation of the Japanese manga series of the same title. Written and illustrated by Mami Tsumura.