Word to the wise, properly read the description of something before watching it. I research most of my review log by how much the synopsis of the anime brushes my bangles, and based on the Wikipedia description I assumed that Kokoro Connect was a body swap anime, which led me to automatically added it to my backlog. After all, I love the trope of the point where it was a focal point in a narrative I never finished and one I’m currently working on. However, aside from my disappointment from the body swapping stopping at episode five, what do I have to say about the thirteen episodes I dragged myself through?
Kokoro Connect Review
Studio: Silver Link
Length: 13 episodes with an additional four no mentioned
Availability: Subtitled on Crunchyroll
Kokoro Connect is in what I can safely call the third of the medium that focuses on school days. With the main characters being a set of five club members who, after going through a few months where they supposedly gained the magical powers of friendship, experience a series of three strange phenomena at the hands of a monotone demigod known only as Heartseed. Where the five members must deal with their unique circumstances along with, well, this is when things get tricky for me.
Quite simply, I get the feeling that Kokoro Connect is something bigger than it appears to be, but after looking into, throwing out some narrative ideas and whatnot, I really couldn’t find an overarching core goal for the series other than five teens trying to survive in a world of body swapping, emotional eruptions, and age regression, with some personal issues thrown about. Issues that, quite frankly, I didn’t care all that much about.
There is a problem I often encounter with more serious stories where I don’t really care about the characters provided no matter how much you tell me they had a shit life. It is a sense of empathy that I always mentally counter with, “boo hoo, you’re in a perfectly content existence and unhappy, I’m here to be entertained!” I need characters to do something to make them likable, and I really did not find that with the group despite how one of them has personality issues, social issues, issues with men touching her in the lower regions, and issues with caring too much. The later of which strikes me as something that intended to be a nod to the trope of a selfless hero, with the most main of the five being called a Selfless Freak, despite how he fulfills the role of a selfless central male character only a little bit more than most holders of the trope, if at all more.
As the show decides to occasionally be “emotional” I couldn’t help but shake my head and ask if A, there are Therapists of Psychiatrists in Japan. Or B, these people understood the idea of talking about their problems to help solve them. It is possibly C, a cultural sense of pride I might be ignorantly bashing, but so much of the show is filled with people being upset about things they did in the past, are continuing to do, can’t seem to fix about themselves. To the point I was actually hopping in my seat when I heard one of them might die and the teenage depression would be actually fitting.
Which leads me back to Heartseed, a character who could generously be called a villain, acting as a more or less unexplained demigod who causes problems for the main characters to deal with. I am cautious with the term because he is a rather boring and dull characters. Talking in a monotone while explaining that the reason for these phenomenons is for amusement, yet always seemingly like the worst kind of prick, one who expresses apathy whenever present on screen.
The issues tagged onto every characters, well, except for one who I never found to have much of a flaw or much character in general, all feel like they are trying to play it a bit too safe. With one character only “nearly” getting raped as her big dark hurdle, as the one who gets the most attention has to deal with the trauma caused with not being herself in front of her multiple fathers. Both of which are things that do suck, but they are no parental abuse or, well, read Berserk’s first arc, and create a very blah feeling whenever these issues come up.
It is an attitude that is carried over to the most interesting part of the show, the phenomenons. Or to reiterate from five paragraphs ago, an arc where bodies swap, desires are “unleashed” and ages regress. Two out of three are tropes I am familiar with, but none of them seem to be done to the fullest of their potential. With the body swap arc not touching much on the idea of being in, well, another body. The general awkwardness of moving around another person’s arms or walking with a different center of mass. Sure, they mention the identity thing going so far as to have a humorous bit where the thirty minute long swap roulette put the two boys in girls’ bodies so they made confession videos. However, none of them ever seemed to think about masturbation or experience the other sex. Hell, two mention about fapping to one another, why wouldn’t they do it in the other’s body?
Meanwhile, the emotional outbursts are neither here or there, clearly related to the hormones teenagers (excluding me unless you count seventh grade) experience. With the restraints in place for a fairly uninteresting arc of fumbling around with how they can manage this conflict, before realizing that self control and desires to do the opposite are the best way to stop you from calling your mate a spindler. A trait of common sense that is understandably missing from the characters, seeing as how the next phenomenon made it seem like they all had horrendous memories.
With the idea of rapidly aging through offscreen means hiding the physical challenges. The age regression arc does raise a very interesting scenario that has the potential to provide insight on who the characters were before the show began, with their memories being from around the time they regress their age to. Unfortunately, owing to how I get the ultimate goal of the show is not finite enough, it serves more as a few episodes of adorfable kids bringing a sense of joy to a fairly dreary show.
And while the light novel may very easily be a far more in depth and cohesive take on what I still find to be an interesting nonetheless story, I can’t really knock the animation. With a more human looking set of characters, sans the recessive hair genetics, Kokoro Connect is very likely trying to address its subject matter very straightly and adding a coat of realism to drive the phenomenons as something not whimsical of dream-like. However, it never goes into the darker realms narratively or visually, keeping the very stable and unnecessarily safe feeling in both the story and certainly competent animation.
“Kokoro Connect is a story about mildly weird crap happening to boring people who are made only interesting through their mostly dull lives by how the apparently fap to one another.” Is the best way I can summarize the series. When a single throwaway conversation from one episode is the most interesting part of your show, chances are that something should be addressed. And while the show in general might not be fore me, nothing felt as realized as it could be, as it is a tale told with little emotion, and creating an equal amount of emotion within myself.
There are a few high point, yet the entire experience is hampered by issues that outnumber the good. Not the worst, but not all that great.
I have no clue if this is an acceptable review, but I’m just going to leave this here while rustling in my Jimmies over E3! No, I haven’t a clue why I am so excited, but I know lots of things will be done!