Kotaro Lives Alone comes off as a heartwarming life of slice at first glance. However, the story has a very deep undertone that deals with tragedy, trauma, child neglect, toxic relationships, and so on.
The series is something that represents life itself in a very straightforward fashion. Heavy topics such as these are quite challenging for the writers and seeing them incorporated into a beautiful story is very rare. It is all the more reason why audiences get hooked up to these stories in no time at all.
Kotaro Lives Alone is an anime of life stories where we see a four-year-old kid called Kotaro living alone and taking care of himself in an unusually mature way. As the story proceeds, we see a variety of characters and life from their perspective.
In a way, the series portrays a fine line between drama and comedy that was crossed masterfully by Kotaro Lives Alone. There were plenty of laughs in this anime along the way, but we also get to experience several emotional gut punches while learning more about Kotaro’s tragic past.
The series is episodic in nature, which means we go from one short story to another. Although the series is slow-paced, what truly draws you in is the relationships between the characters and the lessons we learn from every story. Here, we will discuss the top 10 saddest moments in Kotaro Lives Alone.
1. Kotaro Plays with the Balloons
This heartbreaking scene of Kotaro playing with the balloons truly broke the viewer’s hearts. He came across someone handing out free balloons for children. Kotaro took four of them under disguises because of the one per person rule.
The interesting part is that the person giving out balloons saw through Kotaro’s disguises but ended up giving him the balloons anyway since the boy claimed it to be for his family members. Kotaro then went to Karino’s home and asked him to draw the face of a brother, sister, mother, and father in the balloons.
The person who distributed the balloons saw Kotaro playing with them at a park and realized that the kid had lied to him. As the man was mulling over the fact of being fooled by a kid, he saw the drawn images of people and realized how lonely the kid is. He went ahead hoping for the balloons to last a little while longer than usual.
2. Kotaro Refuses to Take his Picture
While having a fun picnic, Mizuki and Karino try to take pictures of Kotaro. However, Kotaro abruptly refuses to get his picture taken, no matter how much the duo requested. In the end, it turns out to be an adorable game of tag.
Karino soon gave up but Mizuki kept trying nonetheless. While they were returning home, she realized, despite having taken so many pictures, that there was not a good one. All of them were and Kotaro’s face was not shown.
In the end, she did find a decent picture of the picture where only Kotaro’s back was shown. Mizuki wants to send this picture to her friend, to which Kotaro agreed. After returning home, Kotaro remembers a traumatic experience from his past where his father had created a ruckus at the orphanage he was staying at.
His father saw his picture with the other kids online and went to find him. All the kids were scared due to the yelling and Kotaro was hiding under a table with his ears closed. The incident left a huge scar on the little kid, so much so that even now he refuses to get any picture taken, no matter how beautiful the memories may be.
3. Tamaru Meets his Son
Tamaru is one of the tenants living in the same building as Kotaro. He is a divorcee whose reputation is bad because of the way he dresses and acts. However, in reality, he is a gentle and lonely person. His ex-wife doesn’t allow him to meet his 4-year-old son so he tries to fill that void by being around Kotaro.
However, he was relatively surprised when his son, Yuta sneaked out to find him all of a sudden. Kotaro met Yuta, at the gate and tried to look for his father with him. But when Tamaru did meet his son, the first thing he said is that he shouldn’t be here. Despite the child’s complaints of not being able to see him, Tamaru sent him away without showing a bit of affection.
When Kotaro got angry at him for his behavior, he explained that he didn’t want his son to grow up thinking it was fine to break the rules. He hated sending him away, but it was something that had to be done. He cried while telling Kotaro that no matter what the latter’s father did, he believes that he loved his child deep down.
4. Kotaro’s Phone Call
On a random day, Kotaro received a phone call from a scammer. The man saw that the number belongs to an old couple, so he tried to act like their son and cheat them out of money. Kotaro told him that the residents of the house are out and they should be back in five minutes or so.
He dragged it on for a long time and every time the scammer called, he would just say the residents will be back in five minutes. Kotaro tried talking to the man about his problems, but the latter was only interested in money, so he had no patience.
When the man finally got annoyed, Kotaro apologized and told him that he wants to him because his voice is the same as his father's when he was still kind to him. The man thought of his own son whom he had neglected all this time while the former was trying to gain his approval.
One-by-one. Kotaro listed down the things he was proud of doing and asks the man to tell him “you’re doing a great job. How Fantastic”. It was Kotaro’s way of seeking validation that he never received from his parents. The scene was extremely heartbreaking as we see a child seeking solace from a stranger because he has no one to rely on.
5. The Dentist Talks with Kids
Kotaro visits a dentist whose examination time for children is a minimum of one hour. After treating the children for about 30 minutes, he would spend the rest of the time talking to them about random things. He would ask them how things are at home and school, if the child ate properly, etc.
The receptionist asks him to reduce the examination time for children, to which he bluntly denied. He told her that he talks with them after the treatment. The nurse didn’t understand why he was doing that, and his conversations seemed more like interrogations rather than friendly chats.
The dentist then explained to her something that happened in the past with one of his patients. A girl who was around the same age as Kotaro visited him with her mother. Her teeth were in critical condition and it was clear she didn’t get treatment in time. The child was in terrible pain.
However, her mother didn’t take her to his clinic after that. One day she came alone complaining about the pain but the dentist sent her away after telling her to come back with her mother. That was the last time he saw her. Later, he saw an article of her saying that an emaciated girl was taken under child care custody.
She was the same girl who came to his clinic. He then realized the child was being neglected. The dentist regretted his actions all the more because all the signs of her mistreatment were there but he chose to ignore them. The girl’s cavities were a cry for help, but he sent her to the place she wanted to escape from; her home. After that, he vowed to always pay more attention to any kid who comes to him.
6. Kotaro’s Newspapers Subscriptions
Every day, Kotaro would get five different newspapers delivered to his home. One of the delivery persons got curious about his situation. He liked Kotaro who was a kind and considerate child.
The man thought that Kotaro is probably tricked by someone to get so many subscriptions. He even offered Kotaro his help in canceling all those unnecessary subscriptions. However, Kotaro refused and told him that the reason he gets so many newspapers is that he lives alone.
He requested the delivery person to check up on him if the newspapers keep piling up at the door for 2-3 days. Heartbroken seeing the situation of such a child, the man could agree to that request. Another reason was that Kotaro would look for any news regarding his parents.
He would read all those newspapers before going to school. The child is not yet aware of his mother’s death. So, seeing that there is no news about his parents, Kotaro believes that nothing terrible has happened to them.
7. Mizuki Moves Out
Mizuki was one of the few people Kotaro was very close to. Mizuki cared for Kotaro, not just out of pity, but out of genuine affection. She made a promise that she’d always be by his side. However, Mizuki had problems of her own that she couldn’t deal with.
Her boyfriend would always ask her for money. And would treat her harshly every time. Still, she considered his well-being and would always comply. One day when he struck her face, she broke up with him.
Upon Kotaro’s insistence, she called the police on him. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough evidence to arrest him, so he could still come looking for her. Considering the man knew where she lived, Mizuki feared the safety of her neighbors and herself.
In the end, she moved out while thanking Kotaro for everything he did for her. The saddest part was Kotaro wearing a mask when bidding her farewell. Since the boy wasn’t comfortable showing his emotions to others, he didn’t want anyone to see him crying.
8. The Graveyard Scene
One day, Kotaro asked Karino to take him somewhere. The place they arrived turned out to be a cemetery where Kotaro’s grandparents were buried. Karino realized that gravestone just beside them had Kotaro’s mother’s name on it.
Karino soon realized that the person Kotaro was eagerly waiting for to come back was already dead. He stood in front of the gravestone, using every way possible to keep Kotaro from seeing his mother’s grave.
When Kotaro asked Karino if could ever see his mother, to which Karino assured him that he definitely will. Kotaro wholeheartedly believed him since he trusted that Karino would never lie to him.
Karino knew that it was a lie that will one day devastate Kotaro and the latter may end up hating him. However, it was a lie he had to say to keep the child from despairing, even if it was for a little while. Whether or not Karino’s decision was good is something we can only know in the future.
9. Karino Finds Kotaro Eats Tissues
While visiting the supermarket with Kotaro, Karino saw the boy buying expensive tissue papers. What was unusual was, that Kotaro would check the ingredients and tell them that’s what made the tissues sweet. Karino assumed Kotaro was talking about the smell.
However, while watching television, Karino came across a random interview where the host was asking people to tell one truth about themselves. The interviewee told them that there was a time in his life when his parents stopped coming home for a while. As a child, he had no money or food, not even anyone to rely on.
After starving for a while, he decided to eat the tissues at home. He told them that tissues could taste sweet when you’re really hungry. Karino then realized the truth behind Kotaro’s words. While revisiting the supermarket, he gave Kotaro a bunch of cheaper tissues to buy.
Karino told him that Kotaro was not alone anymore, so there was no need for him to eat tissues. The boy agreed to his words with glistening eyes. It took the viewers back to the time when Kotaro was handing out tissues to the neighbors. Usually, when someone moves in, they hand out food, not tissues. So, this gesture of Kotaro made us realize that he still saw tissue as food.
10. The Gloves Scene
On a random day, Kotaro came across a star-shaped rock and become fascinated. He told Karino that he had a collection of all the unusual and beautiful things he come across and calls them treasures. He likes to admire them while sipping cold milk every once in a while.
Kotaro sent out tickets to the “Museum of Treasures” to all his neighbors. He showcased all the meaningful things that hold precious memories to him. Takei noticed a pair of gloves and asked about them. Kotaro replied that it was the only thing his mother left behind for him.
Not only that, she would only bathe and feed him whenever she was wearing gloves. Takei realized what was going on and wanted Kotaro to throw them out. She said these things weren’t treasures.
She remembered a glimpse of the past where her mother would dress her only while wearing gloves. Takei’s mother said touching her would make her sick to her stomach. Kotaro also knew why his mother would do that. When Takei asked if he still loved his mother despite all that, he agreed without any hesitation.