Who are Kotaro’s Parents in Kotaro Lives Alone?

Updated October 14, 2022 by Ernie

Anime is filled with husbandos and waifus that we are willing to throw our lives for and even spend a few of cash for them! However, there is another classification that really touches our hearts. 


When it comes to anime kids, we anime fans just get weak to our knees. We can’t help how irresistible and adorable these characters are! That chibi-styled art, huge eyes, small figure, and cutesy voice! We just want to pinch their cheeks and hug them tight! We’ll even squeal whenever they are on screen! We can’t help it! Cute as a button every single one of ‘em! 

But as we fawn over these cute characters, there is one in particular that we might want to hug tighter and longer than the others as he is a precious boy AND WE MUST PROTECT HIM AT ALL COSTS!


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Kotaro Lives Alone History

Kotaro Lives Alone is an anime and live-action series available for streaming on Netflix. It was originally a manga illustrated and written by Mami Tsumura. It has been serialized under Shogakukan’s seinen manga magazine, Big Comic Superior ever since March 2015. It was then adapted to a 10 episode anime under TV Asahi back in 2021 and was picked up by Netflix this March 2022 as an Online Net Animation (ONA) as addition to their selection of anime series. 

When it was available for streaming on Netflix, it took the internet by storm not just because of the art-style and character design, but because of the unusual and tear-jerking premise of the show. It became one of Netflix’s popular anime series and an unforgettable anime series in general. 


Kotaro Lives Alone Story

It centers on Kotaro’s daily life as he lives by himself in his simple apartment. Along the way, out of concern and genuine care, he is supervised by the tenants namely, mangaka Shin Karino, divorcee Isamu Tamaru, hostess Mizuki Akitomo, and Lawyer Ayano Kobayashi. We see the hijinx and the story Kotaro encounters. Though all of the characters have interesting backstories and motivations, Kotaro’s journey steals the show, as it is unusual and REALLY tear-jerking… like what I just said a while back.

It starts off with Kotaro giving tissue boxes as a welcoming gift to his neighbor, Shin. The kid returns and asks about the absence of a bathtub in his unit, Shin tells them that they take a bath at the local bathhouse. Satisfied with the response, Kotaro leaves for the bath house. Feeling a wave of guilt after watching a child abduction case in the news, Shin felt obligated to look over him out of conscience and the rest is history! From then on it’s like they can’t be separated from each other.

It might seem like one of those innocent and comedy one shot anime but as the story progresses (particularly in Episode 3) we see that this is a story of a victim of emotional and physical abuse, yet we see the child facing the world-headstrong.


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Kotaro’s Past 

Kotaro may seem too mature for his age. He speaks in formal Japanese, he buys food for himself, he goes to places all by himself, and he even fends for himself. He does all the chores and maintenance needed in order to live alone in a small apartment. He acts like a feudal lord, maybe from watching his favorite kid anime, Tonosaman. Though, at first we, as viewers, just think this is some quirky characterization just for the kid to stand out more among the eccentric casts, however the answer is deeper than that. 

Throughout the series, before Kotaro moves into the Shimizu apartment, we see how Kotaro lived by himself. He either depended on the kindness of strangers or had to learn things on his own. There are times that he had to eat tissues in order to survive. We are left to wonder, where is this kid’s parents and why would they let their child be this way. They seem to be a mystery, as Kotaro would just say they are ninjas on a mission, but soon, we get the answers that we need. 

There might not be any reveal on their facial appearance, but on multiple occasions, both parents have black hair and a slender figure. 

In episode 3, we got to see the glimpse of the state of Kotaro’s parents. In one segment, when Mizuki, Shin, and Kotaro were having a picnic, Kotaro was hesitant to take a picture. He covers his face or runs away just so he won’t be seen. The act was seen as cute by Mizuki but for the kid it has a deeper reason. 

In a flashback, a father was demanding to see his son as he saw him on the orphanage’s website. He insists that his kid is inside and he persists to get him as he is his father. The scene cuts to Kotaro cowering in the corner as the man continues to scream for him. The kids around him confirm our suspicion that the man outside was Kotaro’s father and hinting that he was abusive. From then on, he makes sure he will not be tracked by anyone, for his safety. 

While in episode 6, when a certain Aota moved in for business purposes  and then became close to Kotaro, Shin, Tamaru, and Mizuki became weary. Aota then revealed that he was a private investigator paid by Kotaro’s father to find him, as he wants to be with Kotaro. It was also revealed that there is a restraining order against Kotaro’s father and he was willing to disobey it just to see his son. This further supports that Kotaro’s father, Mr. Sato was, in any way abusive to him, thus the reason for him to live alone. 

In the same episode, episode 3, a lawyer, Ayano Kobayashi was assigned to deliver Kotaro’s weekly allowance. She was thrown a welcoming party and even given a gift. Thinking it might get her guard down, Kotaro asks where the money is coming from. As instructed, Kobayashi states that it is from a generous benefactor, but in reality, it is from his mother’s life insurance implying that she has died of unknown circumstances. 

In episode 8, in Takei Sumire’s debut, Kotaro’s mother had a contagious disease that she had to wear gloves in order to hold him. In episode 10, the last episode, Shin discovers that Kotaro’s mother has died, most likely due to the disease, but the kid has no idea. 

Throughout the series, sadly, Kotaro blames himself for his parents’ actions, saying he wasn’t strong enough to be worthy of love. He hopes that one day, he will become strong enough to be loved and he and his parents can live together

He forced himself to be mature and headstrong just so he can have his parents back. He carries the burden of his parents’ neglect and as a result he missed out on things children should be doing. 

He wants to be dependable so at such a young age, he knows how to take care of others. Like giving Mizuki ice for her swollen eyes (Kotaro Lives Alone, Episode 2) and how he gave his classmate orange so he will get better (Kotaro Lives Alone, Episode 7.) 

This resulted in tendencies wherein he represses how he feels just so he wouldn’t be seen as weak, much to the worry of Shin and the other tenants. He also feel the responsibility to fix the people around him, like Mizuki’s problem and potential physical abuse from her boyfriend in Episode 6, Takei’s discomfort towards children in Episode 8, and Ryota’s debt in Episode 9. 

There are also instances wherein he seeks for validation from people, like when he went shopping with Tamaru in order to look cool, asking strangers if he looks cool so he would have a lot of friends (Kotaro Lives Alone, Episode 5) and how he asks a total stranger (a scammer) on a call to tell him that he is “doing a  great job” (Kotaro Lives Alone, Episode 7.) 

All these are a manifestation of parental neglect and abuse. Kotaro had to endure the hardship of being alone. He carries the burden everyday, telling himself that his situation is his fault. He is unaware of concepts of abuse and death, that regardless of the treatment he had from his mother or father, he still loves them unconditionally. He dreams of purchasing a castle where everyone he loves, Mizuki, Tamaru, Takei, Kobayashi, Shin, and his parents can live together. 

But does this mean his parents never loved him? No. There are memories of Kotaro’s that he cherished the most. In Episode 8, when he was showing of his “treasures”, Takei would notice a box of gloves. Kotaro would explain that his mother needed to use those gloves in order to touch him and change his clothes. For him, an act of love from his mother. In the same episode, on a rainy night, Kotaro shares his umbrella with the passengers. 

Takei notices how he carefully covers his “clients” even if it wets his shoulder. When it is brought to the child’s attention, Kotaro simply says that it is a badge of love. It cuts to a flashback of his father, sharing an umbrella with him, his same shoulder wet, and saying the same “badge of love.” 

Kotaro carries all these memories as a memory that even if he was left by his parents, he knew that at some point of his life, he was truly loved by them. It is just unfortunate that he needs to regain his worth to be loved again by them.


Kotaro’s New Life 

Is this all there is to it with Kotaro Lives Alone? Just sadness and neglect? NO 

This might be the case of Kotaro but one cannot deny that he is still a child. He might act so tough all the time, but he has moments where he breaks the facade.  He might dismiss the fact that he is not a child and would deny the need of assistance from anyone but in his build and age, he is limited. He might be all that strong, but he still has the innocence and naivety of a child. He still likes playing with toys, participating in games, and watching kids shows, particularly Tonosaman. Sadly, he only sheds his covers when around people he trusts. 

Ever since he moved to the Shimizu apartment, he was surrounded by people who would grow on him and take care of him- people who would willingly stand as a parent for him. Mizuki, Tameru, and Shin (at some point Takei) stood as guardians to the kid. They serve as the kid’s chaperones and even confidants. 

Despite the insistence of the child that he doesn’t need supervision and he can handle himself, his face and expression cannot deny that he still longs for the embrace and love of a parent like his classmates. 

Like in Episode 2, in one segment he scolds a child to enjoy and appreciate being with their parents and in the latter part, he convinces himself that he can go through the daycare’s opening ceremony alone, albeit he won’t admit it, he was overjoyed when the trio arrived on time, and in Episode 4, after he and Takuya, Kotaro’s friend, failed runaway attempt,  he got jealous when Takuya said that “the purpose of running away is to make their parents worried”, deep inside Kotaro he has no one to worry about him, thus for him it was a failed run away attempt. 

But the most heartbreaking scene in my opinion is in  Episode 3, where he pretends to be four different people to get a four free balloon and then asks Shin to draw faces on it. He brings the balloon to the playground and plays with it- the faces where it was  revealed to be labelled as; mother, father, little brother, and little sister, a pretend family

He enjoys the company of the tenants. But he has a soft spot for the mangaka, Shin Karino. Being that he is with him ever since day 1 and that they have done almost everything together! Even the daycare Kotaro is studying in recognizes Shin as Kotaro’s guardian. This builds up to Episode 10 with Kotaro declaring Shin Karino to be his first ever, “loyal subject”. After a long time, Kotaro finally found someone he can trust and confide in. 

The series may have ended, and we still have unanswered questions. Who is Kotaro’s father? What really happened to his mother? How did the landlord allow a kid to live alone

With no news of Season 2, we can assume that Karino and Kotaro are living together as father and son. Karino has become the father figure that Kotaro has been looking for. Kotaro may still be looking for his mother as he thinks she is still alive, and he may still be exercising in order to be strong enough for his father. But one thing is for sure, Kotaro is happy living with Shin. 



Kotaro Lives Alone has some funny moments, but it would undeniably make you cry in the long run. You would get so attached to the characters and most especially to Kotaro. 

It depicts the story of how a victim of abuse finally found his home! As what Kotaro deserves! MY PRECIOUS BABY BOY! But one of the main themes it shows is that raising a child is not a walk in the park- being a parent is not easy. You must be emotionally and physically prepared to be one. Whatever you do to your child, may it be good or bad, will leave an emotional imprint on the kid that they will carry that for life. It will affect how they act towards others and how they view their self worth. 

These may even be hard to unlearn and worse, irreversible. Much like how Kotaro carries the burden of his family falling apart. These kinds of lessons and themes are rarely tackled in anime, which is why I deeply appreciate this series and I hope studios get into this genre. It is also important for this kind of topic to be discussed and represented in the media in a proper manner. This show really begs the question, are you deserving to be a parent? and really solidifies the saying, all children deserve a loving parent but not all parents deserve a loving child. 

Undeniably and obviously by how I am hyping this title up, it is a series worth binging on when you have the time. With 10 episodes, 24 minutes each, you can finish it in one day…. (you might want to take breaks though)… It will really touch your heart and badly want to hug Kotaro! HE DESERVES IT! Just make sure you have tissues ready because BOY YOU WILL BE NEEDING IT AS YOU WILL BE  BAWLING YOUR HEARTS OUT

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