First Impressions – Kokoro Connect

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Body switching episodes are one of the most common anime tropes, but rare indeed is the series that attempts to build an entire show around it.

OP: “Paradigm” by eufonius

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[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_00.27_[2012.07.07_17.02.50]Given that this is the second series of the season (or the first, if you count the pre-aired half-episode) to feature a high school club setting with three girls and two boys,  it’s only natural to want to compare Kokoro Connect to Tari Tari.  You might even consider stacking it up against Hyouka, for that matter.  But this has a fantasy element that sets is apart from those two series.  I would also say, based on the first episode, that the writing lacks the sharpness of those two series, and when you’re matched up against KyoAni and P.A. Works you’re going to come up a little short on the visual side, too.

[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_00.43_[2012.07.07_17.03.06]That’s not to say Kokoro Connect is a bad series – far from it.  But connect is exactly what the first ep didn’t quite do for me.  As in, the characters didn’t quite establish a presence like they did in Tari Tari, and the humor didn’t click like it did in Hyouka.  On the other hand the scenario here is arguably the most interesting of the three shows, even if we are dumped right in the middle of it, and it marks quite an interesting change in visual style for Silver Link.  Oonuma Shin is listed as “Chief Director”, but unless he’s switched to decaf it seems that the series is very much in the hands of Kawamo Shinya, as it lacks the jitters and tricks of Shin’s Shinbou-copycat style.

[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_01.11_[2012.07.07_17.03.34]Our five kids are Yaegashi Taichi (Mizushima Takahiro), wrestling fan and series POV character, Aoki Yoshifumi (Tersashima Takuma), wannabe player and general loser, genki girl and bloomer-flasher and possessor of Lancer’s mole, Nagashi Iori (Toyasaki Aki), uptight blonde Kiriyama Yui (Kanemoto Hisako) and organized and hot-tempered Inaba Himeko (Sawashiro Miyuki).  The vehicle that brings them all together is the Student Culture Society, which seems to be a sort of catch-all for misfits and a place for them to hang out and verbally abuse and troll each other after school.  But the real story here is that, for no reason which is readily apparent, the students in the Culture Society start switching bodies with each – start, as in the very first scene of the series.

[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_01.25_[2012.07.07_17.03.48]Some of the stuff that plays out through the body-switching stuff is pretty amusing – in fact, I was most entertained by the reaction of the one member who didn’t get switched out, Inaba.  Aoki and Yui (who he has a major crush on) are the first to switch, in the middle of the night, and they seem more embarrassed about it than anything else.  Taichi and Iori switch the next day after school, and as these two are a little more interesting, so is their body swap – Taichi immediately starts feeling himself up, before he’s rudely interrupted by a grabby fellow student with yuri goggles on.  Apart from Inaba  everyone’s reaction to all this seems a little too low-key for the circumstances, but that may change in weeks ahead.

[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_01.43_[2012.07.07_17.04.06]I think the problem with the episode for me is that none of the characters really engaged me enough to draw me into the strange events that were happening to them.  At first glance they seem like a pretty two-dimensional bunch, and while the cast is competent it’s one of those seiyuu groups that’s a little too old and a little too polished to sound like convincing teenagers.  There’s a slightly tired air to the whole thing for me – just not enough energy or enough snap to the dialogue or humor to really grab.  It may be that as we get to know the characters better and start to explore the phenomenon (it looks as if there will be at least some focus on family and friends outside the club, possibly including involvement in the phenomenon) Kokoro Connect will enjoy a “tortoise vs. the hare” effect and slowly work its way up to being really interesting.  For now, it’s very much a wait and see for me.

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ED: “Kokoro no Kara” by Team. Nekokan [Neko] feat. Junca Amaoto

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  1. A

    Personally, I found the best part to be the BGM, which swept me along with the antics.

  2. I

    I think Otaku have had enough of watching a bunch of girls having fun and instead want to invade their bodies and see what its like as this is becoming a bit of a trend (Sket Dance, Haiyore).

    Still since I think this is a character comedy it'll only get better as we learn more about them.

  3. F

    What with the Tari Tari cast and the Kokoro Connect cast already having the same number of boys and girls, they also look really similar. Specifically, Miyamoto = Kiriyama and a combination of the two dark-haired Tari Tari girls = Nagase. It was even more confusing since I watched the pre-air of Kokoro Connect before and the second half after watching Tari Tari. It's not gonna be easy to remember all these names, haha.

    This debut episode was pretty good, but it would definitely have been better if they let us get to know the characters for at least half an episode before getting to the body switching. It was hard to remember the dynamics between each of them, which is essential to making body swapping fun to watch. Kokoro Connect has a more interesting plot, but Tari Tari's first episode was better planned out and the characters were more memorable. Looking forward to more of both, if not just to see which one will be better…

  4. H

    I felt there was a little inconsistency in the show. The intro portrayed them as seemingly close friends, but then the rest of the show showed there's definitely some distance between some of them, like Inaba and, well, everyone else.

    I was kind of surprised to see the characters had such a 'messy' look to them, especially for "moeblob" characters. Nagase's beauty mark on her chin (and her mom's), Aoki's overlarge suit, stuff like that. I think it added a bit of 'realism' to the show, that they're not just typical characters.

  5. l

    I had negative expectations for the show. I only watched it because I could do so easily and had some spare time. Probably because of my low expectations, I was surprised that I liked the show. I have complaints namely that I would have preferred more time to get to know the characters before they started switching. It was hard to tell how the switch affected them because I didn't know "them" beforehand. Maybe the switching should have been held off until episode 2??

    I liked the fact that the switching was temporary and apparently randomly selective. I hope the show keeps up this pattern because it adds uncertainty to the switching. When will the next switch happen? Who will be the switchees next time?

    The show is unlikely to become a top-tier must-see for me. But if the first episode is any indication, it'll be a solid second tier pleasant watch.

  6. That's about how I see it, for now. But it could be a late bloomer and surprise.

  7. D

    Personally I thought the characters were better established than the Tari Tari ones (aside from the teacher in Tari Tari, and a bit for the main character's interaction with her best friend). The family interactions at the beginning and end of the show, while brief, felt more solid than the fairly bland interactions in Tari Tari.

    I'll agree that the humor wasn't done as well, particularly the grabby yuri-goggle girl (there were at least two better ways of handling that, depending on that girl's actual relation and feelings).

    For overall premise, Kokoro Connect seems to have better potential as an interesting short story (10-13 episodes; it would be painful at 20+ episodes).

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