Kotaro Lives Alone Review

Kotaro Lives Alone image of Kotaro with a birthday hat on

Kotaro Lives Alone on Netflix is a must-watch. Based on the manga by Mami Tsumura, the 10-episode anime has hilarious comedy but an underlying ache because of the circumstances surrounding the story. Kotaro Sato (Rie Kugimiya) is a 4-year-old boy who rents an apartment next door to a struggling manga artist Shin Karino (Toshiki Masuda). Kotaro Lives Alone has comedy, drama, and a lot of heartachingly beautiful moments. However, there is no happy reason a toddler lives alone. 

Character Reactions Lead To Comedy

As the series develops, we learn about the neighbors who try to look out for Kotaro and clues about how he came to live alone. Despite his past, Kotaro finds fortune in his unfortunate situation. What surprised me was how calm most neighbors are when they discover a kid is their new neighbor. I understand rolling with what life throws our way, but their demeanors left me spinning. Even with the underlying sadness, there is plenty of comedy in Kotaro Lives Alone because, although wise in some regards, Kotaro is still a 4-year–old child despite claiming he is an adult.

Kotaro And Shin Are A Pair

Kotaro Lives Alone image of Shin and Kotaro on a subway
Kotaro Lives Alone Shin and Kotaro cr. Premier Pro courtesy of Netflix

He copies his favorite animated show. This show motivates him to speak in the same manner as Tonosaman. Kotaro’s conduct and language create humor, but the comedy grows with the adults of the building. Kotaro’s attitude irritates Shin as he tries to care for Kotaro. Even when Kotaro needs help, he pretends he is doing Shin a favor. Their relationship is the focus of Kotaro Lives Alone, but the show shows each adult’s interaction with Kotaro and how it changes them and him. 

A Story & Characters That Make You Invested

Kotaro Lives Alone image of Tamaru, Shin and Mizuki looking down
Kotaro Lives Alone image of Tamaru, Shin and Mizuki cr: Premier Pro courtesy of Netflix

Kotaro is anything but a typical toddler. Kotaro displays the innocence of a child still wrapped in a perceptiveness based upon his early hardships. Isamu Tamaru (Junichi Suwabe) adores Kotaro and is jealous of anyone who spends time with Kotaro. Tamaru always tries to hug him, but Kotaro uses his toy sword to keep him at a distance. His awareness helps those around him. It propels him to tell his neighbor Mizuki Akitomo (Saori Hayami), a victim of domestic violence. As the neighbors help Kotaro, they become better people. Kotaro Lives Alone is not too sweet but heartfelt, earnest, and funny. 

Yet, for all his awareness, Kotaro is still a child and does not understand the nuance of certain things. He believes to resolve his family issues; he needs to be strong and popular. Kotaro feels he needs to grow up fast, so he tries to do everything to be independent, including registering for school, cooking for himself, etc. Through his neighbors, Kotaro learns that it is okay to lean on those around him for support. His neighbors get closer as well since they share supporting Kotaro. 

Heartache And Joy
Kotaro Lives Alone poster of Kotaro and his neighbors Shin, Tamaru and Mizuki
Kotaro Lives Alone poster courtesy of Netflix

The animation style is not one I’m often a fan of; however, the story and characters reeled me in fast. The animation style, particularly how they draw Kotaro’s eyes, is unforgettable and grows on you. Kotaro is fortunate compared to other children in similar situations because he can live independently thanks to the money delivered to him by lawyers. Still, it does not diminish his reality or the pain of where that money comes from. Kotaro Lives Alone tugs at the heartstrings, making you want to smile and cry a little. I hope there is a second season!

Kotaro Lives Alone trailer from Netflix Anime via Youtube

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