Hello, it’s nice to meet you.
I’m Kotomi Ichinose from class 3-A.
I enjoy reading quite a lot.
I would like to become friends with you.
Featured as one of the five heroines in Clannad, Kotomi Ichinose is a character that had her storyline changed drastically for the anime adaptation. In the original work, Kotomi is mostly in the school library and the player has to focus only on her storyline, which does bring Nagisa, Kyou, and Ryou into the game as well. Due to this, Kyoto Animation had to make some changes to allow Kotomi to become part of Nagisa’s (and the main plot’s) storyline. Regardless of the storyline, Kotomi is my favorite heroine from Clannad and my next favorite character. I’ll also mention that this post does contain spoilers for the first Clannad series as well as for the visual novel.
Kotomi is first introduced as a strange bookworm who is fascinated with Tomoya. Ignoring all the others who attempt to talk to her while she’s reading, and only answering to Tomoya’s “Kotomi-chan”, she gives a weird impression in comparison to the other main heroines. It’s only later that we find out that she’s responding to her only friend who left her years ago after the death of her parents. Re-watching those scenes, the hints that Kotomi recognizes Tomoya are clearly evident and help to foreshadow for attentive viewers.
Kotomi is heavily scarred after the loss of her parents. Without Tomoya to come and bring someone new into her life, she shelters herself into a goal of researching like her parents did. She becomes obsessed with keeping every reference she finds of her parents, even going as far to cut out pieces of books that don’t belong to her. She saves all of her extra money to purchase books to study and studies constantly to achieve that goal as a way to atone for what she views as a mistake. It’s only due to Tomoya’s intervention that she becomes able to move onward from that obsession. She builds a mental image of a “bad man” to prevent herself from moving forward from her own guilt.
Through Tomoya’s actions, not only does Kotomi begin to experience the real world for the first time but she’s able to finally move forward from her guilt and accept the fact that it wasn’t her fault for burning the thesis. We’re not shown the alternative timeline where she continually runs away from her guardian and likely never finds the stuffed bear, but given how scared she gets when she sees him, it’s highly unlikely she ever moves on without Tomoya. She’s able to find friends in Kyou, Ryou, and Nagisa as well as a lover in the game itself. In the anime, she’s able to continually bond with her friends and is even shown in After Story to be shopping with Kyou and Ryou. In both media formats, she grows into a healthy individual.
I think that Kotomi’s route could be the main focus of another visual novel by itself and is heavily overshadowed by After Story and Tomoyo After for best arcs in the Clannad series. While other stories are just as emotional, Kotomi’s story hit something dear to me that I can’t put into words. The growth that she shows over time is amazing given how self-secluded she was when we first meet her. Whenever I see a stuffed bear, her storyline comes to mind immediately due to the significance it played and the closure it brought.
When I first re-watched Clannad earlier this year, I found myself paying more attention to Kotomi. One of my favorite scenes in the entire franchise is in episode 4 where she ignores Tomoya’s attempts to talk to her and only responds to “Kotomi-chan”. When she finally realizes it’s Tomoya again, her expression lights up and she twists her entire body over to face him immediately. The animation is so fluid and captures the innocence that she still holds deep inside. Whenever I think of the term “moe”, it’s that scene that comes to my mind instantly. Ever since Kamen Rider Kiva aired in 2008, I’ve had a liking for violins and while Kotomi herself cannot play the violin well, her theme Etude pour les petites supercordes is so lovely composed that I cannot help but enjoy it.
So to conclude, Kotomi’s one of my favorite characters both due to her storyline, her design, and her music. She just appeals to me moreso than any of the other heroines in Clannad, who all are well-written and designed.