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  • Writer's pictureAdam Ryan Chang

On His Own at 4: Kotaro Lives Alone

Updated: Mar 31, 2022

John is a gay Viet Pisces and recommended that I watch Kotaro Lives Alone on Netflix. Jon is also (sometimes painfully; but rarely apologetic) direct and working on prioritizing himself over others. I admire his values.

I'm going to write as I watch the pilot episode. I've never live tweeted anything, but if I did, I imagine it'd be something like all the thoughts gathered below. Let's see how this goes.

Kotaro is 4-years-old and miraculously secures a lease in an apartment. Admirably, he purchases a small gift to introduce himself to all his new neighbors.

Kotaro has a peculiar way of speaking -- in a manner of the "feudal lords" of Japan. I can oddly relate as I've been accused at times of speaking too "proper" and that it can be intimidating. Why does Kotaro speak this way? Because the style is "trending" with him. That's right. Just him.

Am I crazy (I ask myself this almost daily ...)? The original manga writer incorporates a lot of themes from what social workers and behavioral therapists recognize as the "parentified child." This is a child who has had to take on more responsibility at a young age, often skipping critical developmental milestones in order to adopt survival skills. Imagine a toddler who doesn't cry because there is no one to console his feelings who remains stoic because mom or dad is constantly an emotional wreck; or a 10-year-old child who cooks for and bathes her younger sister because parents are absent. Our 4-year-old Kotaro is comical because he takes on such a mature role while maintaining his sweet innocence.

OMG. I hit the nail on the head. Kotaro seems to be a pro when encountering a passed out woman and knows just the remedy. He rushes to the market to gather supplies, but then takes a tumble. He masks his physical pain and reminds himself, "I don't like crying." Yet in explaining to the recovering woman that she can apply a cold compress to puffy eyes after crying, he comforts her (in his feudal lord tone), "I won't dislike you even if you were crying. It's not wrong to cry." I am literally grasping the exterior of my heart. The writing and events are so basic, but the mirror effect that's happening is so poignant!

In another encounter, a Yakuza-type man shows an abundance of affection for our Kotaro. But we start to see that Kotaro, so formal, polite, and caring, doesn't do well with basic physical touch (i.e. hugs). Again, classic traits found in youth who have experienced trauma.

I'm officially hooked. This is a short series and I'll examine each episode with a writer's eye because these topics are the stories I want to write about.

I'm going to assume that Jon resonated with Kotaro as a character. But to suggest this show to me without any additional context, I wasn't ready for this emotional roller coaster. Kotaro is a mirror. Kotaro is Jon. Kotaro is me.

This show is such a creative gift. Thanks Jon!

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