Kokoro Connect – 06

[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 06 [720p].mkv_snapshot_21.40_[2012.08.11_11.32.13]

Not since Level E have we seen an anime which so gleefully celebrates the fine art of the troll.

I’ve often – probably too often – analyzed Kokoro Connect in context of how it compares with Hyouka and Tari Tari.  These shows naturally seem to group themselves together as a function of setting and schedule, but as I watched KC today I was actually reminded of another series that was part of another trio of shows that similarly begged comparison – this past Winter’s Mouretsu Pirates, Rinne no Lagrange and Senki Zesshou Symphogear.  I don’t want to take this too far, but I do see some natural comparison between the two subgroups.  Mourestu was perhaps an analog to Hyouka in being beautifully animated, intellectual and sometimes a bit slow, and Tari Tari lines up with Rinne in being quirky, whimsical and striving for a balance between light and serious and between plot and slice-of-life.  That of course leaves Symphogear as a pair-bond with Kokoro, and I think the comparison holds pretty well.

For me, the essence of the comparison is in emotional tone.  Kokoro Connect is at heart built on drama, just as Symphogear was.  “When it doubt go big” seems to be the Hippocratic Oath of both shows – lots of big emotions, loud voices and tears.  Like Symphogear, KC isn’t especially lavish or detailed in terms of animation, and sometimes the writing tends to bite off more than it can chew.  It shoots for the moon in character drama and fails – at least to some degree – a good percentage of the time, but I give it full points for trying.  The greatest strength of both series goes hand-in-hand with what can be a real weakness – the writing can be clumsy and overly theatrical, but there’s an undeniable sincerity to both shows that ultimately makes me like them a lot.

All of that is a roundabout way of getting to this point: I don’t think this episode worked terribly well, but I still had a lot of affection for it.  As happens sometimes with KC, I think the ideas (or better yet intentions) behind the episode were better than the execution.  That’s not to say there weren’t some very strong moments, but there were also some scenes that felt stiff and artificial – Kokoro Connect has a bad habit of falling back on the soliloquy too often, which grinds things to a halt.  And the show is definitely better off steering clear of trying to be funny, as it did several times this week, because I can’t think of a single attempt at comedy in six episodes that’s really worked for me.

Again, full praise for the idea.  I think the concept of taking a group of teenagers and “unleashing their desires” is full of potential, a subtler and more interesting notion than the body-switching if they can pull it off.  It was pretty clear almost from the beginning that what was happening was an induced lowering of inhibitions – I pegged that as the hook not when Inaba was “seducing” Taichi, but by her reaction when the others walked into the room.  For a series that’s basically built around trolling it seemed natural enough that Inaba was simply trolling Taichi, so that was a good head-fake even if the jig was up pretty quickly. 

Again, it’s really going to come down to what the show does with the idea.  Frankly the first batch of released desires wasn’t all that interesting – Inaba wants to jump Taichi’s bones.  Taichi wants to be with Nagase, and pummel Fujishima for suggesting she “rent” Nagase for two hours.  Yui releases her anger (twice) at the notion of a boy threatening a girl, and Boy B Aoki vents his own anger at seeing Yui hassled by the fuzz.  And Nagase – so far – has revealed little except that she wants to be with Taichi.  But there are subtler hints here that are interesting: Nagase’s feeling that this might actually be a good thing because it’ll help bring the real Nagase to the surface, for example (Heartseed himself suggests that this exercise will help the kids “discover the real you”).  The obvious implications of unleashing desires in a group of basically good kids in an age group where desire is generally uncomfortably close to the surface anyway should be explored, no doubt – it’s a stretch to believe this sort of thing wouldn’t lead to hanky-panky given how much sexual tension exists in the group to begin with – and there’s an obvious potential for drama when Aoki and Yui’s unleashed desires collide.  But will this development lead to some real insight into the true character of the kids – especially the boys, who’ve so far been explored as nothing more than plot devices?  There’s only small hints so far, but I certainly hope things go in that direction.

As for Heartseed himself, he remains basically an enigma, an entity whose true purpose beyond trolling children for his own amusement is unclear.  There are suggestions that at least to a point, he’s not malicious – like his apology to Nagase “from somewhere around the middle of his heart” – but does he have any line in the sand he won’t cross?  This still feels like a scientific experiment to me more than anything, and one built around depriving the kids of any sense they’re in control of their own lives.  And it makes sense that the new ED is Inaba-centric, because of the group she’s the most obsessed with the illusion of control.  She likes to act the boss, and she likes to feel that she has a plan for everything, like her sensible but naïve strategy for dealing with the current crisis.  She’s always known on some level that this control was an illusion and that she was kidding herself, and she’s already starting to admit that.  It’s likely the breakdown of her psyche that’s going to provide the backbone of this arc, if not the rest of the series itself. 

[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 06 [720p].mkv_snapshot_04.41_[2012.08.11_11.14.54] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 06 [720p].mkv_snapshot_05.04_[2012.08.11_11.15.17]
[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 06 [720p].mkv_snapshot_07.30_[2012.08.11_11.17.43] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 06 [720p].mkv_snapshot_07.34_[2012.08.11_11.17.46] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 06 [720p].mkv_snapshot_08.03_[2012.08.11_11.18.16]
[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 06 [720p].mkv_snapshot_08.55_[2012.08.11_11.19.08] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 06 [720p].mkv_snapshot_09.28_[2012.08.11_11.19.41] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 06 [720p].mkv_snapshot_10.44_[2012.08.11_11.20.56]
[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 06 [720p].mkv_snapshot_11.09_[2012.08.11_11.21.22] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 06 [720p].mkv_snapshot_12.36_[2012.08.11_11.22.49] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 06 [720p].mkv_snapshot_14.53_[2012.08.11_11.25.06]
[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 06 [720p].mkv_snapshot_15.21_[2012.08.11_11.25.34] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 06 [720p].mkv_snapshot_15.34_[2012.08.11_11.25.47] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 06 [720p].mkv_snapshot_18.03_[2012.08.11_11.28.36]
[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 06 [720p].mkv_snapshot_18.35_[2012.08.11_11.29.09] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 06 [720p].mkv_snapshot_18.46_[2012.08.11_11.29.19]

ED2: 「Cry out」by Team.ねこかん[猫]

[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 06 [720p].mkv_snapshot_22.23_[2012.08.11_11.32.56] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 06 [720p].mkv_snapshot_23.04_[2012.08.11_11.33.37] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 06 [720p].mkv_snapshot_23.29_[2012.08.11_11.34.18]


  1. A

    Just my opinion but those comparisons you drew in the first para were just awfully bad. Context be damned.

    Sorry about the outburst, but I found Symphogear and Lagrange to be especially bad. Mouretsu was sluggish and boring as well. Again, sorry about that, lol.

    Anyway, I believe Tachi will definitely be explored since now we know that he's kinda possessive and protective of Iori. It makes me wonder if he'll get violent if anybody so much as touches her.

  2. Let me just make clear that I make the comparison primarily in context of how the shows relate to each other within their own subset – although I do think KC is quite like Symphogear in some respects. I like Hyouka and Tari Tari considerably better than the shows I compared them to – in fact, Symphogear was the only one of that trio I would say I really liked a lot, and that's in full acknowledgement of its faults.

  3. A

    Hey its just me being a dumb fanboy so you don't have to explain anything. You already made it clear that you were drawing contextual comparisons lol. I just couldn't see the similarities I guess because I dropped them all before halfway. \(--)/

  4. b

    Hoho, the caps seem to focus much on the stripping Inaba jumping on Taichi. Whatever does it mean 😛

    Anyways, I liked the episode. I wondered if the body swap will resume but this new situation works too. Still torn between Inaba and Iori as my favorite. And I gotta accept that Aoki may just be delegated to the sidelines and Taichi is the MC. Not that I hate Taichi but I was hoping every character would get equal treatment. Oh well. I still like this show.

  5. A

    I'm getting the impression that this show is really about Taichi, Iori and Inaba. I hesitate to call it a love triangle, but that's basically what it is. That's the "core" of the series. Aoki and Yui exist mostly to pad out the cast and provide "examples" of the "affliction of the arc". Yui seemed like she might have been important given that she got an episode to herself, but in retrospect I think that was more about Taichi, to establish him as "the guy who helps people". And of course to demonstrate the kinds of emotional perils of random body switching.

    So yeah, I'm not expecting much from those two in the future.

  6. I basically agree. Aoki is your basic "Boy B" and Yui exists more as a dramatic device than a fully fleshed-out character so far. Taichi, Inaba and Nagase are the ones around whom the series revolves.

  7. S

    "Shoot for the Moon" and Symphogear in the same sentence. Wow, GE, that's BAD by even my standards. That's a category 5 pun alert. Much credit, good sir! (For those that don't know, blowing up the Moon was actually the major plot of Symphogear… sort of)

  8. A

    but you have to admit: Symphogear towers over the competition in the ambition department.

  9. Like all good puns, rooted in reality. 😉

  10. A

    I'm philosophically minded, so when i hear words like "soliloquy" and "conceptually ambitious", I think of monologues from Shakespeare and that's like crack to me XD
    The fact that they take a conceptual idea and run with it (body-swapping/impulse override to illicit self-discovery) are the kind of shows I can sink my teeth into and enjoy immensely, even despite possible flaws in execution.
    On the other hand, shows like TT, when it gets to the point where it feels like hopeless meandering, my brain disengages. It lacks a concept of what it wants to do as a whole (a "Macro", if you will)

  11. E

    The one thing that stood out most about this episode to me:

    Taichi, who has known Inaba is attracted to him sexually for weeks now (or at least finds it plausible enough to joke about it), has Inaba try to jump him under Heartseed's new spell. When he finds it out, he treats it as completely understandable and normal in light of the information he has, to the point where he feels it's no problem to mention it in front of the others. He doesn't over-interpret it as a sign of romantic interest, he doesn't judge her for it, he just nods and moves on. It's just old information in a new form, and he reacts accordingly.

    I spent the entire episode after that braced for 'wacky' hijinks where Taichi would be an idiot about it, but he wasn't. He was a sane, rational human being who acts in accord with information he has been directly given. Even Inaba's reaction is normal, if a bit slapstick.

    They act like normal human beings when sex is brought up. In anime. In reaction to a scene that seems like brainless fanservice bait at first blush.

    I am simultaneously impressed and depressed by the fact that I am impressed.

  12. Be strong – I'm sure anime will disappoint you many times in the next week.

    I suppose Taichi's reaction was rather low-key and logical, though I found Inaba's reaction rather more a typical anime response. I have little patience for the violent girl played for comedy routine.

  13. S

    Inaba reacted violently because that idiot Taichi was spilling the beans before Iori. I think Inaba didn't want to make her friend jealous.

  14. H

    It's taken me a while to realize that Taichi is the sole main character of the show. He's the only one whose viewpoint we ever see, he's the one we followed from body to body. Given that, it's obvious that we're going to see more of Iori and Inaba, the competing love interests. One question is whether Inaba's lust for Taichi is able to transition into more of a complete love. I also need to go back and look at that scene again: What was Taichi saying prior to Inaba's come on? Was it something that would turn her on? Or is she thinking that all the time?

    One hope I have for this plotline is some internal consistency, specifically about what breaks them out of their emotional response. So far we've seen that Taichi is easily broken out, with just a wrist grab from Inaba and a question from his sister doing it both times. Meanwhile, the only other one to be interrupted prior to completing action is Inaba, and that's questionable (could Taichi have stopped her without the interruption from Yui and Aoki?). Yui and Aoki went to jail for completing their impulses, and Iori didn't stop and realize until calling Taichi. The question arises: Can anyone but Taichi break out of it? Does this go back to Taichi's tepid emotional responses from the beginning of the show? We've seen ramping up of emotional response from Taichi throughout the body swapping, towards something more 'normal', but maybe this shows that Taichi is just a less emotionally volatile person, in particular contrast to Inaba, who continually seems to be suppressing emotions. This line of thinking would definitely seem to suggest that this part of Heartseed's meddling will affect Inaba most.

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