Review: Kokoro Connect


When picking out anime to watch I tend to go for action heavy shows with lots of drama, conflict and intrigue. Every so often however, I feel like it’s worth rewinding, picking up a slice of life school drama and enjoying the ride it provides. Kokoro Connect was a show I decided to watch in just those circumstances.

Background and plot

The world of Kokoro Connect is, to no one’s surprise, largely a high school club room. The Cultural Research club is essentially the place for students that didn’t really fit into anything else, a situation which is taken advantage of by the ‘villain’ of the piece.

Serious issues and comedy are mixed together perfectly.
Serious issues and comedy are mixed together perfectly.

But what is the show actually about I hear you ask? Well, on one completely normal day two of the five club members swap bodies only for it to later be revealed that the event was not a one off and other similarly strange occurrings happen. The reason? A vaguely supernatural being known as ‘Heartseed’ wants to conduct experiments and thought the group were particularly interesting candidates.

Despite its supernatural element we shouldn’t forget that Kokoro Connect is essentially a romantic comedy and because of that the supernatural element, though done very well, is really just a cover for the development of the relationship of the five characters.

The first phenomenon the group face leads to some interesting situations.
The first phenomenon the group face leads to some interesting situations.

In terms of pacing, Kokoro Connect gets things absolutely spot on for its original 13 episode run. The dramatic parts of the story build well throughout the season but don’t ever take away from the real point of the story.

In the final few episodes, I couldn’t help but feel the show lost some of its comedic value and just became a bit too serious, especially in the four episode special that followed on from the main serious. There’s no problem with a show mixing in the drama and comedy, but when it completely forgets it’s meant to be funny you get problems.

Characters

There are several characters that come in and out of Kokoro Connect but on the whole there are five main characters – the five members of the Cultural Research Club: Himeko, Iori, Taichi, Yoshifumi and Yui.

At times the different phenomenon stretch the usually close group to breaking point.
At times the different phenomenon stretch the usually close group to breaking point.

For the first nine or so episodes the show unashamedly delves right into the back stories of all 5 members of the club. As far as development goes with this amount of main characters, I don’t think I’ve seen it done as well anywhere else. Through the stories innovative premise we’re given a real insight into motivations, fears and aims of all five characters.

It’s also refreshing to see that all of the characters have funny moments without it ever really seeming as if they were trying overly hard to be funny – apart from those inevitable times (as in all anime), when someone tries and fails to be funny purposely and gets a laugh because of that.

The interactions between the main characters and other peripheral characters is also done very well. I particularly thought the involvement of Fujishima added a lot to the show.

For the most part, even the side characters were around for a good reason.
For the most part, even the side characters were around for a good reason.

Sound, artwork and animation

Kokoro Connect is quite clearly a very slickly made show. Everything is very clean and well done, if not spectacular – though that is perhaps not a bad thing being a high school slice of life show. The soundtrack isn’t bad, but equally it’s not something I’m going to be going away to listen to in my spare time now that I’ve finished the show.

Favourite Episode

Episode 10: Putting into Words

One of the best things the whole series of Kokoro Connect did very well was mixing the comedic aspects with the serious aspects of the show. That said, I’ve gone for episode 10 because I felt it really shows off the drama and romance that is central to the story of the show while not forgetting that it’s meant to be funny at the same time.

Please tell me you saw this situation coming?
Please tell me you saw this situation coming?

Best piece of music:

On the whole, I don’t have a lot to say about the soundtrack to Kokoro Connect other than it does its job. In all honesty it’s how I view the genre’s music generally – however, the first opening (on the blu-ray at least) was just a delight. Incredibly cheerful (with an adorable opening animation to boot), it’s just what you want to hear in a show like this. It’s Kimochi Signal – Sayuri Horishita.

Overall:

There’s no doubt in my mind that Kokoro Connect is a fantastic anime. Honestly, I just wanted to watch more and more to see the way the characters dealt with their problems and how the romance elements grew. Unfortunately, that is just where the problem with Kokoro Connect lies: in the extra four episodes. It isn’t that I found them to be bad episodes, but the tone changed so dramatically I found it hard to enjoy the show quite as much as I had done up until episode 13.

That said, there’s no way you can ignore the show up to that point and as a whole and really great and most importantly enjoyable piece of work. In a way this is what all anime is about and I urge you all to go and watch it now!

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