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The ESP Society. From left: Hiyori Moritani, Yoshihisa Manabe, Haruka Kotoura, Yuriko Mifune and Daichi Muroto (bottom-right corner).
Kotoura-san is a web-published yonkoma manga by Enokids which has been adapted into an anime by AIC in the winter 2013 season.The story follows Haruka Kotoura, a fifteen-year old telepath who can't turn her ability off. As a child, she naively blurts out sensitive information and personal thought. This causes her to be unjustly labelled a compulsive liar; her friends and classmates reject and bully her; and her parents divorce because they cannot understand her special ability or how to deal with its repercussions. After years of persecution and ostracizing, she transfers to a new high school, where she meets Yoshihisa Manabe, a good-hearted boy who is transparent and honest and not scared of her ability.Viewers in USA, Canada, South America, United Kingdom, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden can watch it legally on Crunchyroll.
Actually Pretty Funny: Haruka tells off Manabe for giving her an embarrassing photo of Moritani, only to crack up while alone and have a hard time not laughing around Moritani the rest of the next day.
Bedmate Reveal: Happens to Manabe and Hiyori in episode 7, after the psychotrophic effects of Hiyori's bad, bad cooking. They slept together naked with Haruka on the same futon, with Manabe in the middle. Manabe thought he had a Three-Way Sex and had a Heel Realization. Hiyori thought she had sex with Manabe. Both were not true, but Haruka lectured them nonetheless.
Big Bad: Kumiko Kotoura is the closest thing to one in the anime. She abandons Haruka during her childhood and dismisses her as a mistake, cruelly claiming that she ruins people's lives with her powers. Even when she reunites with her daughter after years of separation, she treats her rather poorly. Of course, come the last episode, it's eventually revealed that she deeply regretted leaving her daughter behind, and towards the end, she starts to lighten up to her little by little, eventually making her a plate of eggs over easy for breakfast (as she did when Haruka was a child). The "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue suggests that she is now living with her daughter in her apartment, and that their relationship is slowly starting to heal.
Big Fancy House: Haruka's grandfather's house. Particularly exaggerated in Episode 6 when the ESP Club members went there—turns out it has a private beach, and Zenzou built a theme park just because Haruka brought friends back for the first time...
When Yuriko found her mother hanged herself in the manga.
When Haruka saw a vision of a violent scene in episode 8's stinger, in which she immediately collapsed due to Heroic BSOD.
Blatant Lies: Haruka seems to be hard to tell lies, so there's a few examples.
The first on anime's promotional video, in which Haruka spent several minutes downplaying what telepathy does to her.. while having increasing amount of nervous sweat on the face, and she found she can't go on any more at the end of the video. Of course, she's in no position to spoil the Downer Beginning.
Manga-only: After Manabe and Haruka came back to Haruka's apartment in Chapter/Episode 1, the first thing Manabe asked was why Haruka lives alone, and Haruka wants to avoid telling him her broken past...
Haruka, blushing and sweatdropping: "My, my parents went on a worldwide trip..."
In episode 2, when Haruka and Manabe enters the ESP clubroom.
In episode 4, when Haruka found the ESP club members had came to "catch" her, with Glowing Eyes of Doom.
Book Ends: The anime both opens and ends with Haruka going to school. The opening was Deliberately Monochrome, people are avoiding her, and she has Dull Eyes of Unhappiness. The ending was colourful (if not overexposed), and with her friends saying hi to her. No guess about what the symbolism is.
Breather Episode: Episode 5, which follows the ESP club as they enjoy some time together and at school.
Brick Joke: The weird purple thing that Manabe dreams about in the first episode does make a reappearance in the last as a prize in a claw machine that Manabe plays while on a date with Haruka.
Brought Down to Normal: In episode 8, Haruka's telepathy stops working due to a cold. She gets better, but her powers don't come back until the very end when she accidentally reads the mind of a violent criminal and faints.
In episode 4, when the monk mentioned his relationship with Haruka, there was a flashback from episode 1, when Haruka's mother brought the girl to him, asking him to exorcize Haruka.
In episode 12, Haruka said to her mom in sleep that she wants eggs over easy. This is in fact, the same line as the first time she read people's mind in episode 1.
In episode 6, Hiyori apologized to Haruka after recalling the former's bullying of the latter in episode 2.
Cerebus Rollercoaster: There are some surprisingly dramatic and rage-inducing moments intertwined with the comedy.
Let's take episode 7 as an example for the extent this trope goes. The previous episode ends in a stinger where Haruka's mom Kumiko watches over Haruka and friends playing on the beach (drama). Episode 7 starts with several comedic scenes, followed by the Monk discussing Kumiko's response one the previous night to Zenzou (drama). The next day starts with Manabe and Hiyori's Bedmate Reveal (comedy), followed by Haruka revisiting the room where she often holed up crying as a kid, with her discussion with the Monk (drama). The second half starts with Haruka unable to call Manabe (drama), Yuriko decide to make up a search for him (comedy), and then Haruka finding Manabe acting suspicious (drama with a single comedic scene). Then we see Haruka debriefing with Yuriko, where Yuriko showed her own backstory (drama), Haruka tutoring Hiyori (comedy turned drama), and ends with the Surprise Party (drama). Seven switches is an episode.
Circling Birdies: Hiyori, after she bangs her head against the wall a few times to get rid of thoughts about Manabe and Haruka she doesn't want to have.
Club Stub: The ESP Society, having two members before Haruka & co. enters.
Cool Old Guy: Haruka's grandfather and the monk, who was some of the few people willing to stand by her.
Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Manabe. He manages to severly beat up 3 members of the Moritani dojo, by himself, even though they are all larger and more muscular than him. He gets beat up even worse in the process, but it's still quite a feat.
At the end of episode 1, Manabe was turned on by Haruka's crying. Dirty Mind-Reading, of course, follows.
Both Hiyori and Yuriko do this in episode 11, although for different reasons. In Hiyori's case, it was finally giving Manabe a Love Confession, only to have him understandably reject her. In Yuriko's case, it was due to Daichi getting hurt protecting her from the attacker earlier in the episode.
Cult: Hiyori's parents run this in the manga, rather than a dojo.
Cutaway Gag: Episode 1 uses this as a weird sort of Meet Cute. After a dark and depressing backstory sequence, Haruka meets Manabe, reads his mind, and she and the audience see...a purple frog-man in a desert doing a bizarre dance to a series of random noises. There's no real point to this freaky daydream other than as a "transition" to the cutesy OP and the much less dark second half of the episode.
Deliberately Monochrome: The Downer Beginning gradually applies the desaturation variety to mark Haruka's life story. It starts with the inverse: layers of white in full color, but more layers of gray add up until the Flashback appears to be covered in black mud as seen before the Flashback. This is most apparent when the elementary school scenes from the beginning and the ending of the Downer Beginning are shown side by side. The saturation ends with a shatter into color◊ upon meeting Manabe.
Daichi gets smacked around by Yuriko in episode 3 after he jokingly teased Haruka about wanting to dissect her while they were alone.
Hiyori gets to beat up Manabe with impunity, which is rather audacious considering she was responsible for sending him to the hospital with serious injuries earlier, escaping all punishment for that caper because she was "sorrowful".
Haruka's mom, generally considered a colossal bitch, also assaults Manabe rather viciously in public without any repercussions, and it is treated as vaguely heartwarming that she still cares enough about Haruka to come to her defense (never mind that she herself is treating Haruka far worse than Manabe ever would).
Easily Forgiven: Hiyori, despite bullying Haruka and nearly getting Manabe killed. However, Justified in that Haruka can read Hiyori's mind and see that she's genuinely sorry for what she's done.
And played absolutely straight by 8 episodes in to the extent that she regularly assaults Manabe without being called on it.
And in episode 12 Haruka's mother, Kumiko, is also easily forgiven by the former. Sure, she read her mind and saw that she cried right after she told her "I should have never given birth to you!", but that doesn't change the fact that she abbandoned her, and wanted to have nothing to do with her for 10 years.
Yuriko had one in Episode 2, when she was reminded about posthumous abuses on her mother's abilities, complete with a Big "NO!".
Haruka endured more trauma than Yuriko was, so this trope happens a bit more common that Yuriko did.
In episode 1, after finding Manabe has no problems about her powers—which was a first for her—she starts to find him desirable as she goes to rest. Immediately she had a flashback which is pretty much the entire Downer Beginning, and decided she should must not make friends with him.
Episode 6 has her recalling the scene when when her mother disowned her. Which foreshadows something at the stinger.
In episode 7, Manabe stopped talking with her for two whole weeks, which got her worried about their relationship. This time she had a flashback about she and Manabe being separated by the crowds, and Manabe morphing into her mom who immediately disowns her.
Manabe, was not amused knowing she was the one responsible for his attack in episode 4, and the credits of the same episode show he is shocked and suspicious when she starts hanging out with them.
Ditto for Zenzou. Who makes Moritani painfully aware that he knows what she's done in episode 6. Also, at the end of the first half when everyone comes out into Harukaland, Moritani's character is inside a burning cage.
Gainaxing: Yuriko deliberately does this to Daichi while on the train in episode 6. He ignores it, much to her frustration.
Genius Bruiser: Some of the men who practice at Hiyori's dojo are college graduates, coming from prestigious universities like Tokyo U and Harvard.
Girls Are Really Scared of Horror Movies: Haruka during the first part of episode 6 when the ESP club is going through an abandoned hospital that her grandfather deliberately left them at. Interestingly, neither Yuriko nor Moritani seem scared of it, despite Haruka clinging onto them.
The Glomp: Yuriko did this to Haruka at the end of episode 2.
Gone Horribly Right: When Manabe and Haruka's grandfather begin digging for a hot spring, they find oil instead. They're not all that happy about it since they wanted to use the hot spring as an excuse to see Haruka bathing, and Zenzou is absurdly wealthy as is.
Green-Eyed Monster: Detective Tsukino, who hates Haruka because the latter has things the former didn't, such as friends in high school. She unconsciously develops an evil alter-ego which attacks those she perceives to be popular.
Ham-to-Ham Combat: Manabe and Haruka's Grandfather get into a perverted argument about Haruka, the grandfather bragging about direct contact with her thighs and butt, Manabe about the joy of seeing her flustered face.
Heiress To The Dojo: Hiyori in the anime, but she dislikes being it. This is why she has a crush with Manabe; he didn't care about her position, similar to how he see Haruka now.
In the yonkoma they did actually get drunk, but since they can't show minors drinking on TV in Japan, it was changed to this.
I Have No Daughter: Haruka's parents disown her, after she reveals that they are both having affairs. It's implied that Zenzou then disowned Haruka's mother, e.i. his daughter, because she disowned Haruka. It turns out that her mom Kumiko regrets the decision.
I'm Taking Her Home with Me!: Played with in episode 2 when Haruka first meets Yuriko. The latter is ecstatic to meet the former, and attempts to carry her to the ESP club room.
In the Blood: That's the reason why Yuriko was bullied when she was younger—a compulsive liar's daughter will also be a compulsive liar.
Ironic Echo: During the anime's Downer Beginning, Kumiko harshly (and dramatically) pushes Haruka to the floor after the latter begs her not to leave. During the final episode, the brief scuffle between the two ends with Haruka pushing Kumiko down in the exact same fashion.
It's All My Fault: Generally, there is at least one person who thinks/says "It's my fault!", per episode. Usually Haruka (who has a Guilt Complex) or Moritani.
She didn't speak it out, but this is how Haruka thinks about the events in the latter half of episode 3, when Hiyori sent dojo members/cult thugs to attack Manabe, causing Manabe to be hospitalized and Hiyori having a My God, What Have I Done? moment. She regressed back to her thinking before (see Jerkass Fašade) and decided to leave for good. Of course, being a Twelve Episode Anime, it doesn't last long.
Haruka's parents abandon her because they just can't deal with the strain of raising her.
Jerkass Has a Point: Hiyori points out that Haruka's mind-reading powers are an incredible invasion of privacy. Does this excuse in any way, shape, or form, the way she and others treat her for most of the story? Not really... but it's still a valid point, although it should be noted that Haruka can't turn off her mind reading or keep some of her findings secret.
Last Name Basis: Everybody towards everybody, even including Manabe and Haruka who are supposed to be stable lovers.
Episode 3 has Manabe beaten up significantly in the anime. In the yonkoma, he got stabbed, and was not conscious when Haruka came to check on him. Also, Hiyori convinces the thugs to go after Manabe by telling him that he's stalking her. In the yonkoma, she tells them he raped her.
In the anime, one story arc has a criminal prowling the streets savagely beating up schoolgirls, resulting in them getting hospitalized. In the yonkoma, the criminal actually rapes and murders them.
Like Mother Like Daughter: The Boyfriends of Haruka and Kumiko Kotoura tend often not to think with their brains, but to let a certain organ ca 80 cm below to take command.
Unusually early in anime. Episode 2. Manabe declared his love towards Haruka when he confronted Hiyori. Haruka fell into tears as she overheard this.
An official one occurs in the end. In episode 12 Haruka finally confesses to Manabe, who in turn confesses to her out loud, as he did not realize that he didn't do so 'till then.
In the manga this happened much, much earlier, as early as chapter three. Namely, it happenes after Manabe's first confrontation with Hiyori. Manabe escorts Haruka home, and confesses to her out loud, and she does the same in turn.
Hiyori gives one to Manabe in episode 11, long after he's established a relationship with Haruka. Although she plays it off while he's around, she breaks down in tears after he leaves.
The Maiden Name Debate: Zenzou is Haruka's maternal grandfather. This implies her nameless father married into the Kotouras, likely a rural landed gentry household.
Meanwhile Scene: In episode 7, Haruka haven't been able to contact Manabe and asked Yuriko and Dai'chi for assistance. Yuriko thought he maybe doing This and That with Hiyori, but Dai'chi disagreed, saying she's still still struggling her summer assignments. The scene then cut to the Moritani dojo and we see Hiyori desk was moved to the middle of the hall, being surrounded by trainers.
Mistaken for Gay: Manabe sees this between Haruka and Yuriko in episode 2, nd again in episode 12.
In the stinger of episode 8, Haruka was clearly really happy on her Not a Date with Manabe and would want to "feel like this forever." The next second she saw a vision of a murder scene and fell into Heroic BSOD / Fainting Seer.
Averted with the ending theme, though: there are a couple of different ending songs, seemingly chosen for each episode to fit the tone of the final scene. Contrast it with the opening, which is a very cheerful song that would make unaware viewers assume its a straight comedy show.
Mundane Made Awesome: Episode 7 has a truly heartwarming example, both In-Universe and likely out: Haruka's Surprise Party. Justified for two reasons: One, it was not easy to keep this a secret from a telepath, and the gravitas of the success made everything Worth It from Manabe's perspective; and two, this is likely Haruka's first birthday in years that was actually worth celebrating. It's understandable that she would take the time to enjoy the surrealism of the moment.
This is how Manabe thought at the end of Episode 3, after Haruka vanished because she thought it's all her fault that he was attacked.
And more importantly, Haruka causing her own mother to hate and abandon her pretty much defines who she is today.
The Head Priest feels that his inability to help Haruka after her mother abandoned her was his greatest failure, and vows to bring them back together someday. Unfortunately, as evidenced by her comments in episode 7, her mother still wants nothing to do with her.
Hiyori suffers this after she arranges for thugs to beat up Manabe for choosing Haruka over her. The encounter doesn't go as planned, ending up with Manabe getting injured - stabbed in the manga and sorely beaten in the anime - and sent to the hospital. She then suffers Heel Realization about how much of a Jerk Ass she's been.
Haruka believes she's the cause of all the strife between Manabe and Hiyori, which ended up getting Manabe hurt in the process because of the latter's jealousy.
Yuriko suffers from this after Daichi takes a blow and ends up in the hospital.
Not outright stated but this is the main thought Kumiko had after disowning Haruka.
Naked Apron: Manabe's fantasy when Haruka was cooking in episode 5.
No Sympathy: It's almost comical how fast nearly everybody at the new school writes off Haruka as a monster after they find out she has telepathy. Other then the ESP club, people don't even show any curiosity about her powers!
Not a Date: In episode 8 of the anime, Yuriko forces Manabe to have a date with Haruka as a punishment for his perverted thoughts towards Haruka earlier that episode. Haruka insisted that's not a date, just Manabe's "assigned punishment." The people on the streets disagrees. It's even the title of that episode.
Official Couple: Haruka and Manabe; declared as early as chapter/episode 2.
Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Manabe getting ambushed by four thugs. However, he manages to seriously beat all of them up by himself, forcing them to resort to stabbing him.
OOC Is Serious Business: In episode 9, Daichi stops puffing up his lips strangely in order to discuss a series of serial muggings Kotora might have psychically picked up on.
Parental Neglect: Haruka's father. Let's say, his daughter is having serious social issues at school, and his wife was frantically trying to find a cause, to no avail. His response? Relegated it as "woman's work" and started rarely coming home.
Exploited with much glee by Hiyori in Episode 2, to the point that Haruka vomits.
Daichi does this as well, with...better intentions, in Episode 3. He feeds Haruka images of her strapped to a table and him ready to dissect her, thinking that neither Manabe or Yuriko will be coming...30 seconds before they arrive with lunch and Haruka realizes he was teasing her.
Manabe also regularly does a much milder form of this to Haruka. He readily admits that he'll sometimes fantasize about her (including imagining a bust upgrade) just to get a reaction out of her - it's just a form of playful teasing to him. He even internally notes that fantasizing about her isn't as fun if she can't react, such as when she briefly lost her telepathy due to a cold.
Sand In My Eyes: In chapter 1 of the manga, Haruka cried after Manabe mentioned "people who want to leave are going to leave." When Manabe asked, she denied crying and claimed of Onion Tears. Manabe of course lampshaded about how fake it is. The eyecatch that follows have Haruka mentioned she actually keeps onions at home to make up excuses like this!
Self-Fanservice: In-universe, Manabe's fantasies about Haruka always have her being much curvier than she actually is.
The boys in Haruka and Manabe's class put their names under an Umbrella of Togetherness in episode 3. Manabe at first seems offended by it, but rather than take offense that they shipped them together, he complains that they forgot to add hearts to it.
Haruka's grandfather is all for the couple, too.
Mortani is also actively shipping Manabe and Haruka, despite having a crush on Manabe at the same time. Even she finds that to be strange.
Dai'chi's mother ships Yuriko and Dai'chi, even when they're quite young.invoked
Shut Up, Hannibal!: Manabe's confrontation with Hiyori in the second episode. For all the bluster she's ready to give, Manabe cuts through it all in just three lines, ending with a Love Confession in front of nearly the entire class (with Haruka overhearing the entire thing just outside of the classroom).
Haruka's parents could rival Hayate's in jerkassery. To be fair however, Haruka's mother did attempt to see several doctors to discover what was wrong, but none of them could offer any help. Moreover, she also recognized the evil in disowning her own daughter. For all her faults, she does try to get better and that is a huge step above Hayate's parents.
Solemn Ending Theme: The first four episodes uses The Flower of Hope (Kibou no Hana) as the ending theme. While it is not completely sad, it is a more-or-less accurate portrayal of Manabe's effect on Haruka—it starts with How do I stand again/ once I've fallen down?, with a refrain starting with that day you taught me the meaning of life, and gave me the strength to live on.
Special Edition Title: Episode 5 with Theme of the ESP Society and Episode 6 with Flat as a Board, for the two episodes being a bit of a breather compared to the others. The other episodes use the solemn yet heartwarming Flower of Hope.
Spit Take: Haruka does this in the first episode when Manabe sticks some chopsticks on his face in a really funny way. She does it again in episode 5 after Manabe gives an embarrassing picture of a young Hiyori in a photo promoting their dojo.
Spoiler Opening: Those who have watched episode 2 and/or 3 would find the opening and ending spoiling. As you can see in the page image (clipped from the ending), Hiyori would eventually be a member of the ESP Club. This implies her issue with Haruka and Manabe will resolve at some point.
Split Personality: Detective Tsukino has one, due to being bullied as a child. Her evil personality was in charge or revenge and was also the perp of the physical assaults on school girls in episode 10. With the help ofHaruka, the good side is able to eliminate the evil one and she is even ready to turn herself in to pay for "her" crimes, which is refused by her superior, whom she has an apparently close friendship with.
Surprise Party: In the second half of episode 7, Manabe doesn't hang out with Haruka at all, nor does he talk to her very much. She and Yuriko go around town looking for him, and they suspect he's cheating on her, or at least up to no good. Then it turns out he was working because he wanted to get money to give a birthday party to Haruka, since her birthday is September 1st.
Suspiciously Specific Denial: In episode 10, Haruka claims she wasn't thinking about Manabe, shortly after they had a fight regarding her trying to find the criminal attacking high school girls.
Tsundere: Haruka to Manabe. It runs in the family. Her mother is worse, towards Haruka.
Unnamed Parent: So far, the only named parents are Haruka's mother Kumiko, her grandfather Zenzou (who took a parental role), and Yuriko's late mother Chizuru. Other parents are not named, even they may have a speaking role.
Understatement: The first preview video, having Haruka interiewing herself, gravely downplays the effects of telepathy on her. She did say, "I don't really want it," and quoted her constant Dirty Mind-Reading of Manabe as an example. That is actually the least of her problems, particularly considering he's her first friend in nearly a decade. In fact, she started to sweat profusely as the "interview" went on and eventually she decided it's too tiring to go on.
You Are Not Alone: One of the main themes. Consider the situation: Manabe and Dai'chi are the only teen that understands Haruka and Yuriko's psychic problems, respectively. Haruka and Hiyori shares annoyance over Manabe's perversion, etc, etc.
Haruka's parents were cheating behind each other. Kumiko and her boyfriend Tsuyama has been animated, but how about her father? We don't know which women is he with, but Haruka already has a half-sister.
In volume 2 of the manga, it turns out Kumiko's boyfriend Tsuyama has a girlfriend of Haruka's age in the equivalent of the second part of Episode 12.