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