Kobato. (こばと。) premiered in Monthly Sunday Gene-X in January 2005. Seven chapters were released under the title of Kobato.(Kari) (こばと。(仮) Kobato. ("Temporary title")), but the series was put on hiatus in late 2005. It returned to publication in Newtype magazine's November 2006 Japanese edition; the story has subsequently been restarted at an earlier point in the original timeline. The story features a mysterious young girl, Hanato Kobato, who works in a local kindergarten.
The first volume of the manga was released by Kadokawa Shoten on December 26, 2007.
Kobato is a sweet and perky girl, but also extremely naive about the world around her. She has a "mission" to fill her mysterious bottle with people's hearts she heals so her wish to go a certain place can be granted. However, the restriction is that she is not allowed to fall in love with any person whose heart she heals.
As Kobato attempts to fulfill her mission, she is accompanied by Ioryogi, a spirit in the form of a dog plushie. Because Ioryogi is responsible for a punishment that has been applied to him and his friends from the spiritual world, he must guide Kobato and ensure that she succeeds her mission so he and his friends might return to their true form or else, they will never return to thier true form.
- Kobato Hanato (花戸 小鳩 Hanato Kobato)
- Voiced by: Kana Hanazawa (花澤香菜 Hanazawa Kana)
- A strange and naïve girl with a kind heart, never wanting to see someone suffer or get hurt. She is very innocent and dedicated. It is also noted that she is a beautiful singer. Despite her role as the titular character, she is a bit of an enigma within the series, as her origins have yet to be explained. She seeks to heal the hearts of others, resulting in the filling up of a mysterious bottle called a "flask" with the suffering of those people's hearts so that someday she will be able to go to a certain place that she really wants to go. It has been implied that she came from another dimension. She seems to have no memories of her past.
- She has several restrictions: it appears to be that she cannot fall in love with anyone she heals the heart of and she cannot tell anyone of her wish. Curiously she is not allowed to take off her hat in public, due to the fact that she has a spiritual crown upon her head that was revealed in episode 23, which represents her death. Kobato has a very cheerful and enthusiastic outlook in life and her wanting to aid others in need is very heartfelt and sincere. However, she can also be clumsy, rather clueless, and rash with her actions, and often trips over her own feet, much to Ioryogi's annoyance. Currently she works as an assistant alongside Fujimoto at the Yomogi Nursery run by Sayaka. Kobato struggles through the series with her feelings for Fujimoto and comes to realizes that she is in love with him. Unfortunately, Kobato is forced to pick between two options - complete her wish and never be with Fujimoto or stay with Fujimoto, keeping Ioryogi and the others trapped in animal form.
- At the conclusion of the anime, it is revealed that Kobato's hat conceals a crown-shaped mark above her head indicating that she is dead, but is in a liminal state where she was not alive either. When she finally fulfils her task to fill the flask, she is reborn without any memories of her past life until she meets Fujimoto again several years later.
- In the manga, it is revealed that Kobato had died due to the war caused by Ioryogi and the gods. The angel Ioryogi fell in love with felt pity for the girl who died before her time was up and transferred her soul into Kobato, stopping her time. The time limit Kobato has is the time before the angel disappears.
- Ioryogi (いおりょぎ)
- Voiced by: Tetsu Inada (稲田 徹 Inada Tetsu)
- Kobato's companion, who appears as a stuffed toy dog that she carries around. He's actually very foul-mouthed, short-tempered, and cruel, his features twisting horrifically when aggravated or enraged. He tends to scathingly criticize or hit Kobato for her naïveté and stupidity and often calls her "Dobato" (lit. Stupid Dove). Despite the lack of respect he shows Kobato, he will always acknowledge her efforts when he feels she deserves it, and seems to be set on helping Kobato achieve her goal. He is harsh to her and scolds her constantly but is seen to really care for her and comforts her in his own way when she is down, such as patting her head to encourage her. Ioryogi was originally Tsubaki Nekoi's mascot on Clamp's self caricatures.
- His origin is still unknown (in the anime he comes from the Spirit Realm), but he can produce a powerful fiery blast from his mouth when offended, like when he protected Kobato from the perverted old man in an early chapter of Kobato, though he also often uses it on Kobato whenever she messes up. It has been heavily implied that his stuffed animal appearance is not his true form. Ioryogi's true form has yet to be revealed but several 'shadows' of his original form have been seen. One being that of a sinister, large, wolf like creature with horns, which manifested during one of Ioryogi's sparring matches with Ginsei. Another form appears to be a man with spiky hair and a long, battered looking cape or coat, manifesting when he watched over a sleeping Kobato. It is implied that Ioryogi's current form is a 'punishment' from causing some sort of serious trouble back in 'Heaven'. In the anime, it's mentioned that his punishment was for attempting to start a war with Heaven. The exact reason is still not clear but Ioryogi started the war for love. Being from the other world royal family, he was rude and careless and skipped an important meeting where the three worlds were meeting. He met an angel sitting in a tree and helped her out when she fell. In return, she sang for him a song so sweet, he instantly fell in love. The manga's 20th chapter has shown this angel to have Kobato's hair, clumsiness, and wonderful singing voice, but her face was hidden.
- When Kobato is removed from the Yomogi Kindergarten and the memories of all the humans there, Ioryogi remains as a stuffed toy so he can be with Kobato when she is reincarnated, which happens immediately. To his surprise, however, Kobato has retained her memories of her previous life, and he re-introduces her to the supernatural beings at the baumkuchen shop. He also goes with her when she re-visits Yomogi Kindergarten, and then learns that Suishou, his angel, is still inside Kobato's body, keeping her previous illness at bay. However, Suishou states that when Kobato is re-born again, she will by then be healthy enough to no longer need angelic aid, and Ioryogi and Suishou promise to meet each other and start again then.
- Kiyokazu Fujimoto (藤本 清和 Fujimoto Kiyokazu)
- Voiced by: Tomoaki Maeno (前野 智昭 Maeno Tomoaki)
- A blunt, sarcastic young man working at the same kindergarten as Kobato. He is also Kobato's neighbor, living in the same complex under the ownership of Chitose. He has known Sayaka for many years and appears to have strong feelings for her, showing much concern over and being fiercely defensive of her. Upon first meeting Kobato, he is rather suspicious of the unusual girl, as he does not want Sayaka to be hurt by another person. He often pokes fun at and teases Kobato, which is unusual as he generally ignores people he does not like; as a result, Sayaka interprets his actions toward the girl as affection. Regardless of his initial distrust of Kobato, he has shown signs of warming up to her and now seems to care about her well being, demonstrated when once she pretended to have a cold to cover up for Ioryogi, and Fujimoto in response discreetly passed on a bag of cough drops to her. Kobato notes that he appears to be hiding some emotional pain of his own.
- As a child, Fujimoto was an orphan taken in by Sayaka's father and did not get along with his peers. He had been studying to become a lawyer, but stopped going to his college classes when it became apparent Sayaka's need for help had become increasingly desperate. He works at various part-time jobs throughout the day in order to help support the kindergarten, as he is attached to Sayaka and feels indebted to her family for taking care of him in his youth.
- However, when Kobato cries after singing to the children, he feels stricken, and buys her some cakes from the Tirol bakery, dropping them by Kobato's apartment. The following day, he hesitantly asks whether Kobato particularly liked any of the cakes, and starts to offer to get her her favourite, before angrily trying to cover up his attempt. But when Kobato goes to speak with Kazuto Okiura privately, he rushes headlong, and mutters to himself, "Why does that guy always, always get his hands on my..." before stopping and wondering what he was about to say about Kobato.
- When Kobato disappears from the Yomogi Kindergarten, although his memory of her has been erased, Fujimoto finds himself crying helplessly, and he tells Sayaka and Kazuto that he feels he just "lost something incredibly precious." Years later, when Kobato (in a new body that looks exactly like her old one) comes to the kindergarten to interview to help out, Ushagi descends, and Fujimoto's memories of Kobato are restored, making him drop his briefcase and turn to Kobato, finally confessing his love for her. Fujimoto's memories are returned due to a wish from Ginsei, who allowed himself to be turned into a stuffed toy so this could be possible.
- Many readers have compared Fujimoto to an older Syaoran Li, and there are some similarities in the way Fujimoto acts with Kobato to Syaoran and Sakura in CardCaptor Sakura. Both boys initially have a romantic interest elsewhere who is already in love with another (Fujimoto is smitten with Sayaka, while Syaoran has a crush on Yukito). Both act somewhat combatively with the girl-- Syaoran doesn't accept that Sakura is the Card Captor, while Fujimoto fears whether Kobato will inadvertently hurt Sayaka, or may be disreputable. Both extend gestures to the girl, yet make love confessions to their original object of affection soon after (Fujimoto gives Kobato cakes, while Syaoran leaves the teddy bear he made with Sakura and tells her to keep it), but both also come to accept their true feelings after being rebuffed by their original "love". There are other parallels, but that's enough to see why the comparisons are made.
- Sayaka Okiura (沖浦 清花 Okiura Sayaka)
- Voiced by: Fumiko Orikasa (折笠 富美子 Orikasa Fumiko)
- The teacher and principal of Yomogi Nursery, a local kindergarten where Kobato works. She has known Kiyokazu since he was seven, which is when her family adopted him. She also went to the same high school as Chitose. She is a kind and trusting person, willing to let Kobato assist her at the school even with Fujimoto's obvious mistrust of her. Upon meeting Sayaka, Kobato wishes to heal the apparent emotional pain in her heart. Sayaka is in debt due to an event in the past involving her father; in spite of this she continues to try her best at keeping the school going. Sayaka was once married to Okiura, the debt collector who frequently pesters her to close down the school. Despite having already divorced him, she has yet to change back her last name for unknown reasons.
- Chitose Mihara (三原 千歳 Mihara Chitose)
- Voiced by: Houko Kuwashima (桑島 法子 Kuwashima Houko)
- The kind and generous landlady of Kobato's apartment and Sayaka's old classmate. She is married and has twin daughters, Chise and Chiho. Fujimoto also lives in Chitose's apartment complex. She is a cross-over character from Chobits
- Chiho Mihara (三原 千帆 Mihara Chiho) and Chise Mihara (三原 千世 Mihara Chise)
- Voiced by: Megumi Nakajima (中島 愛 Nakajima Megumi) (as both characters)
- Mihara Chitose's twin daughters, presumably age 11-12. Like their mother, they are crossover characters from Chobits, known in that series as Freya and Chī/Elda. In Kobato, they are normal girls and live with their mother and father. Like many children in the series, they are apparently very fond of Kobato. In the anime, while the two had helped Kobato find an owner for an abandoned kitten, the two had begun to remember how lonely they were. Kobato sings a song to cheer them up, and their hearts are healed.
- Kazuto Okiura (沖浦 和斗 Okiura Kazuto)
- Voiced by: Shin'ichirō Miki (三木 眞一郎 Miki Shin'ichirō)
- A debt collector who appears at the end of the fifth chapter, a man who has some association with Yakuza. He is noted in the series for smiling a lot and smoking. Okiura appears to be responsible for the constant impending closure of Sayaka's kindergarten and is also Sayaka's ex-husband. He seems to enjoy pestering and aggravating Fujimoto, the latter whom despises him for hurting Sayaka in the past. He seems to have developed an interest in Kobato following his first meeting with her. Despite his cheerful and collected nature, he has shown hints of a slightly more sinister side, possibly due to his Yakuza background. Okiura seems to show what may or may not be some genuine concern for Sayaka, despite his continuous threats to close down the school. His given name has yet to be revealed in the manga, though is given as "Kazuto" in an article pertaining to the Kobato anime.
- Ginsei (銀生)
- Voiced by: Daisuke Namikawa (浪川 大輔 Namikawa Daisuke)
- A mysterious creature who wears an eyepatch whom shares a history with Ioryogi, though he now appears to be on poor terms with him, and often challenges him to fights. Ginsei also has frequently stated that Ioryogi's current form is not his true form and also seems to be aware of Kobato's mission. He does not think highly of Kobato or Ioryogi's relationship with Kobato. It is implied that he wants Ioryogi to return to 'Heaven' for unknown reasons, as it was Ioryogi who took Ginsei in and trained him. In fact, it has been mentioned that Ioryogi was the one who gave Ginsei his name. Ginsei's appearance, like Ioryogi's, is implied to not be his actual form as when he stands atop a building overlooking Ioryogi and Kobato's apartment, his shadow is that of a young man with short hair. He is from the other world.
- Genko (玄琥)
- Voiced by: Rikiya Koyama (小山 力也 Koyama Rikiya)
- Ioryogi's acquaintance. A bear that runs a baumkuchen (European cake) shop in the middle of the woods in another dimension. One has to walk through the narrow space between the wall and a specific street light pole in order to have access to that dimension. Like Ioryogi, his current name, form and job are not his real ones. By Ioryogi's request, Genko will use his information-gathering skills to find out the whereabouts of Yomogi Nursery School and its employees. Ginsei reveals that Genko is an aristocrat from the other world.
- Hiroyasu Ueda (植田 弘康 Ueda Hiroyasu)
- A kindhearted baker and owner of the Tirol Confectionery (also known as the Chiroru Bakery). He gives Kobato a job at Christmas and gives Sayaka free chocolate on Valentine's Day when he notices how fixated she seems on the box of chocolate she is holding. He makes several short appearances in the Newtype installment of the manga. He and his assistant, Yumi Omura (大村 裕美 Ōmura Yumi), are both crossover characters from Chobits.
- An angel with Kobato's exact appearance and voice. She met Iorogi when she got stuck in a tree and Iorogi was avoiding his duties as a prince of the Other World. They fell in love, and Iorogi started a war with Heaven so Suishou could be with him. However, due to the war, Kobato died, probably due to being "the same soul" as Suishou (a favourite CLAMP theme). Without much hesitation, Suishou merged her soul with Kobato's, begging Iorogi to petition God for Kobato to be given any extra time possible.
- Instead, Iorogi begged on bended knee that both females be given their lives back. God informed Iorogi that Kobato had a "wish", and that in order to fulfill it, she would need to heal wounded hearts. He also explained that Kobato would be extremely naive about many things, and that Iorogi would need to help her fulfill her wish while protecting her from her naivete. If Kobato achieved her wish, both she and the Angel Suishou would be released. However, they would only have as long as Suishou's merging with Kobato would have given the girl, or both of them would die, and Suishou would never be reincarnated.
- After Ushagi appears with a message that time has nearly run out, Suishou emerges from Kobato, and talks briefly with Ioryogi (both Suishou and Kobato can only say "Iorogi" as "Ioryogi"). Ioryogi believes that Suishou helped Kobato earlier, when Kobato intuitively understood that Kazuto was acting contrary to his own desires, but Suishou explains that Kobato understood that without help.
- Ginsei appears to have difficulty accepting that Ioryogi genuinely loves Suishou, and has also come to care for Kobato's happiness, although when Ioryogi learns that Ginsei made a wish on behalf of Kobato, he chuckles.
- Suishou repeatedly says that whlie she found his old form "plenty wonderful", she also likes his current form as a stuffed toy, which Ioryogi dismisses. At the end of the story, she is still joined with Kobato, as the illness that plagued Kobato's former life is still affecting her (though she is unaware of this, due to Suishou's presence). Suishou explains that, however, when Kobato comes to the end of this life and reincarnates, her next body will be healthy enough that she will no longer need Suishou's support, and the pair promise to join each other then.
Kobato accepts the theory from Tsubasa that everyone has his/her different self but with the same spirit in every dimension. Some crossover characters of stories which didn't happened in modern Japan, the background of Kobato, show new identities in this story. On the other hand, the crossover stories that happened in Japan are actually related to the story of Kobato.
- Chitose Hibiya of Chobits and Tsubasa appears as Chitose Mihara, Kobato's landlady, while Chī/Elda and Freya of Chobits also appear as Chitose's daughters, named Chiho and Chise respectively. It can also be implied, since Chiho and Chise mention their father in a conversation with Kobato, Chitose's husband is Ichiro "Icchan" Mihara from Angelic Layer, who was married to her prior to the events of Chobits. However, this fact is not confirmed and Chitose Mihara's husband has yet to appear.
- Mihara is also the family name from characters of Clamp's other works such as Ichiro Mihara and his stepbrother Ōjiro from Angelic Layer as well as Chiharu Mihara from Cardcaptor Sakura. However, the relation between Chiharu and the Mihara family hasn't been revealed.
- The apartment complex owned by Chitose Mihara and her family appears in other works by Clamp other than Kobato ; it can been seen in Chobits (different one in imaginary Japan), xxxHolic (not confirmed the same one in Japan) ,Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle (different one in Hanshin).
- Ueda Hiroyasu, also of Chobits, appears in Exam 3, still as the owner of the Chiroru bakery. He makes another appearance in Exam 5, this time with his assistant, Ōmura Yumi, and again in Exam 7 to give Kobato an umbrella.
- The fortune-teller from volume 2 of xxxHolic (A kind elderly woman who is an acquaintance of Yūko Ichihara's) appears in Exam 4 and plays New Year's games with Kobato. Her fortune-telling pendulum and sand-dish appear as well. She appears in the first episode of the anime with her grandchild.
- Asahi Hinata and Asō Shirō, the two main characters of Suki, appear in Exam 7.
- Suzuhara Misaki, Kizaki Tamayo and Seto Ringo from Angelic Layer and Primera from Magic Knight Rayearth make cameo appearances in exam 9.
- Kakei, Kudō Kazahaya and Himura Rikuō from Legal Drug make cameo appearances as background characters. The Green Drugstore where they work also appears in Drop 5.
- Tōya Kinomoto, Sakura's brother from Cardcaptor Sakura, makes a cameo appearance in Drop 5. He is seen in a bunny costume, working as a mascot with Fujimoto at the Green Drugstore that is seen in Legal Drug. The bunny costume resembles Ushagi-san (usyagi), a messenger from heaven in Wish.
- Toshihiko, one of the children at the kindergarten, has crossed over several times in Tsubasa.
- Kohaku, an Angel, the main character from "Wish" is shown and discussed by Ioryogi and Genko in Drop 13, and also makes an appearance at Genko's shop in Chapter 16.5. In the anime, Kohaku is mentioned in Episode 1 when Kobato was singing. Kohaku and Shuichiro also appears in the 3rd and 4th episode of the anime. It is later seen in episodes 10, 12, 23 and 24. The description about Kohaku and Shuichiro made by Kobaku in Episode 24 corresponds to the storyline of Wish.
- On Chapter 15 while Genko is explaining about the worlds, a picture of Yūko and Clow are shown.
- Kimihiro Watanuki from xxxHolic and the black Mokona Modoki makes their cameo appearance in episode 17.
- In episode 20, the Tsubasa gang-minus Sakura-end up in Kobato's world. This takes place after the completion of the Tsubasa Chronicle manga. Syaoran, Kurogane and Fai travel on to find the cloned Sakura and Syaoran, and the real Sakura decides to stay behind.
Kobato was original published in 'Monthly Sunday Gene-X' in 2005 and was put on hiatus that same year. In 2006 Kobato returned in the magazine 'Newtype' where it appeared monthly.
In English, Kobato appeared in 'NewtypeUSA' but as of February 2008, the magazine ceased to exist.