|Overall||Art||Animation||Character Design||Music||Series Story||Episode Story||Reviewer|
Kokoro Connect focuses on five high school students who find themselves subjected to mysterious phenomena that lead them to develop a better understanding of themselves and one another throughout the ordeals they face. Pretty much, this is a character-driven series that focuses on the relationships between the five students as they come to better connect with one another through the phenomena that affect them, said events often getting on the serious side as they push the group to their mental limits. The events devote focus to the personal problems and flaws that face the five that help strengthen the bond between the group and allow one to better connect with their characters, which helps give them more personality than just being tacked on with an archetype as many recent anime offerings tend to do. |
The show only has a few issues that keep me from wanting to give it a Buy. The biggest of these flaws is that while the contributor to the problems faced by the five students in this series, Heartseed feels more like a plot device to trigger events and incite drama onto the group than a threatening character. Granted that the reactions of our five leads are believable in dealing with these problems, but the events triggering them still felt contrived and poorly elaborated on. Minor quibbles for me would be the show's hit-or-miss comedic delivery and a lack of proper resolution as implications are present that the five had yet to see the end of Heartseed's meddling in their lives and there are signs of romantic developments with most of the group.
Flaws aside, Kokoro Connect is still a solid comedy-drama that does well at looking into the personal issues and bonds that are explored with the five students making up the Cultural Research Club. It's not perfect, but the series does offer enough engaging elements to make it stick out from many recent anime offerings.
Last updated Tuesday, November 12 2013. Created Tuesday, November 12 2013.
(13 episodes watched):|
This looks like fun. At first it seemed like just another school comedy, but then it got a bizarre twist. The characters seem to have carefully planned personalities; although not much development takes place just yet, you can get a hint of it by reading the comments on the blackboards behind them during the OP sequence. The body switching is confusing at times because each person's body keeps using its usual voice even though another mind has taken control, so it's tricky to keep track of who's who at the moment. The question is, where will things go from here? Will this body switching capability be played for laughs, or will some serious emotions become involved, or what? Will the characters react to their mind-blowing experiences in a plausible manner (or at least a funny one)? Whatever the case may be, I've got a feeling that I'll be watching Konnect to the end.
The series preview seemed distinctly disturbing, with hints of despair and suicide; and things are starting to get strange in episode two, with some mysterious entity, 'Balloon Vine', being behind the body swapping in order to 'observe' the teens. Is he an alien? A few questions are asked, but we don't learn much. Afterwards the five teenagers don't bother to ask each other many questions either. There seems to be an unwritten rule that characters in animated television don't have to react to mind-blowing events in nearly as realistic a manner as actors in live-action would attempt to do. But despite the preview, for now the tone of this show seems far more comical than dramatic; will a long, slow change in the mood of the series gradually take place? If it weren't for the preview, I'd laugh at the notion that something sophisticated and daring like that might happen.
Episode three reminded me of how confusing it is to keep track of who's who at the moment. I have a hard enough time keeping track of names and characters in ordinary series, much less ones where identities are being switched. No doubt this is partly my fault, but this show doesn't seem to be trying very hard to make it easy for me. New scenes begin, and often there's no telling whether people really are who they appear to be, or if they have already switched personalities. There is no sign of Balloon Vine in this episode, instead one of the characters experiences a miraculous healing from a long-held phobia--exactly how and why escaped me. I really wish I could keep track of the shifting identities, because this show does have an interesting premise, after all. It is still unclear whether humor or tragedy will have priority. And again, if the characters themselves don't discuss what's going on, and try to make sense of it, how am I supposed to do so myself?
It seems that each character has some sort of emotional problem--a phobia, one or more 'personas', whatever. This is fairly interesting, but it seems to be shifting attention away from the bizarre body swapping. At times I even wonder if there was any need for the body swapping at all, when the characters had such complex personalities even before that began. And of course the fact that they aren't all that flustered by the swapping (I think I would totally freak out) doesn't make the problem any better. A critical piece that is missing from this series (and numerous other series about mind-blowing occurences) is the questions which the characters would surely ask themselves, about what they can still trust and take for granted, and what they can't, and the conclusions they draw.
In episode five things almost turn very grim and tragic--but a surprising reversal turns things around and returns the story to the usual somewhat less serious mode. Was that a good idea or not? Would the series have been better if it had made this daring but risky change, or if it continues on more-or-less as it is? It feels like we are granted some good short-term news, but the result might be a lessening of the long-term quality of the show. Almost like a cop-out. Otherwise, this was a remarkably powerful and moving episode, which raises some intriguing new questions about Balloon Vine/Heartseed. There was what I call a 'thrill moment'--a moment when you are awed and say to yourself 'that was brilliant'. Needless to say, these don't happen often.
In episode six the mind switching seems to be over, but a new form of bizarre behavior takes its place. What I don't get is why the characters seem bewildered at first, and can't for the life of them guess what's going on. It seems to me, wouldn't the first thought that would cross their minds be that Heartseed must be behind this as well (even if that doesn't turn out to be the case)? Still, after the last episode I've got a feeling that this arc will likewise build to a powerful and moving conclusion, even if it doesn't make complete sense. In spite of all the minor problems, Konnect remains one of my favorite series of the season--perhaps the favorite--because it has likeable characters and sets up a strange premise and delves into it. The reason I point out so many problems isn't because I'm unhappy with it but because I'm intrigued, and fearful that the show might not live up to it's full potential. Even if I would have done it differently, the way characters deal with bizarre circumstances like these is interesting.
Well, the second, 'uncontrollable desires' arc seems to have died not with a bang (like the first one) but a whimper. I didn't even realize it was over until a new problem appeared and took it's place. It's frustrating how a show with such potential manages to employ so little of it. At least the cast quickly realizes that Heartseed is behind this third odd behavior problem. Time travel of a sort is now going on. I felt that this alternate persona business hadn't been explained well enough to avoid my being confused and having a hard time seeing what meaning there was to it.
What happened to episodes 14 onwards? Fansubs abruptly stopped appearing after number 13. Here's what BlackSol at myanimelist.net had to say:
"This is to explain about what happened recently involving members of the cast of Kokoro Connect. Basically what happened was employees of Silver Link (the studio that does Kokoro Connect) and some cast members have been linked to a prank where they created a fake audition for a small supporting role on Kokoro Connect. What happened is they gave the role to newbie VA, who was then told that the whole thing was a fake and was given a job as a PR person as compensation. As a result, there has been a large uproar pretty much ruining any chance for Kokoro Connect to succeed. There have talks to boycott the show and even chances that it will stop airing. As of now, the cast members linked to it are Takuma Terashima (Aoki), Hisako Kanemoto (Yui), and Takahiro Mizushima (Taichi). To sum it up, their careers are fucked."
That's a pity. For all the confusion and frustration I got from it, there was something intriguing about this business of some unknown power screwing with the minds of teenagers. I always looked forward to the next episode of KC, and was disappointed to learn that there probably won't be anymore. I might even rewatch the incomplete series someday, at least the first arc and its awesome ending.
Last updated Friday, November 02 2012. Created Wednesday, July 11 2012.
|Domain for the franchise||http://kokoro-connect.com/|