Kokoro Connect – 07

[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 07 [720p].mkv_snapshot_04.30_[2012.08.18_10.16.37] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 07 [720p].mkv_snapshot_13.47_[2012.08.18_10.25.54] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 07 [720p].mkv_snapshot_19.10_[2012.08.18_10.31.17]

Devious Heartseed, very devious…

[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 07 [720p].mkv_snapshot_00.19_[2012.08.18_10.13.18]Despite its sometimes clumsy execution, Kokoro Connect never fails to be interesting, and this week was certainly no exception.  I think that’s because the writing, if not polished, has an unerringly keen emotional compass – it always manages to cut to the chase and find a sore spot that rings true for both the characters and the audience.  The cast for this show has received a lot of praise, and while I actually prefer the voice work in Tari Tari – it’s a much more naturalistic acting style as contrasted to KC’s highly affected, dramatic approach – I think it could be argued that the cast here (like the writing) is always taking more chances.

[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 07 [720p].mkv_snapshot_02.12_[2012.08.18_10.14.19]This particular “Kizu Random” arc is actually a much more devious one than the body-switch scenario, if you ask me.  Both play with the question of identity, but in this instance there are no excuses.   We’re always being told to “be yourself”, especially when we’re kids, but Heartseed’s little trick has a kind of involuntary “Monkey’s Paw” quality to it.  It’s Yui who most clearly articulates the heart of the matter – even if it’s Heartseed’s interference that’s releasing the inhibitions, the actual desires come from the kids themselves.  He isn’t doing anything but freeing them up to do what they really want to do – and sometimes, that’s something they’d rather not admit to, even to themselves.

[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 07 [720p].mkv_snapshot_03.12_[2012.08.18_10.15.19]What a terrifying prospect for an adolescent, if you think about it.  Each of these kids now has to face themselves in their pure, unadulterated form – and it’s not always a pretty picture.  I won’t harp on it but I’d certainly like to see Taichi granted the privilege of having more interesting desires than sex, sleep and martyrdom – even Inaba calls them out as very boring – and Aoki, as usual, is pretty much restricted to “Me want Yui.  Heartseed bad – must kill!”  We do see through his outburst at Inaba that Taichi’s martyr impulse is not a put-on – it’s definitely intrinsic to his nature (but what I really want to know is, why?).  As for Nagase, we’ve seen enough of her to know this situation has some interesting possibilities – but they’re not really touched on this week, as she’s also largely used in the comic relief role – though she does let a bit of herself slip when she unloads on a classmate asking after Yui.

[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 07 [720p].mkv_snapshot_03.28_[2012.08.18_10.15.36]That leaves Yui and, especially, Inaba as the source of the drama – and Inaba is obviously going to be the main focus of this arc.  But it’s Yui who’s the first to openly confront the reality that her true desires aren’t something she’s proud of.  As is her tendency she retreats into a shell, afraid to go to school for fear that there’ll be another incident where she hurts someone.  When the rest of the gang go to her house to try and coax her out into the light, Inaba unloads on her for her selfishness in trying to foil Heartseed by cloistering herself, thus possibly putting the entire group under threat in the process.

[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 07 [720p].mkv_snapshot_03.38_[2012.08.18_10.15.46]The reality for Inaba isn’t especially pretty.  While she does raise the valid point that Taichi’s messiah complex could put him in danger – he was willing to die for Nagase when he was under his own influence – it’s Inaba whose unleashed self is revealing the most danger.  I don’t especially like Inaba as a character, truth be told – I’ve never liked girls whose casual violence against guys was played for comedy, and while she’s obviously whip-smart she has a way of assuming she knows better than everyone else that would drive me up the wall.  She’s not much fun to be around – but the reality of course is that she’s not supposed to be.  The fact is, there’s a lot of anger in Inaba even when she’s not under Heartseed’s influence – and her self-loathing could be the stuff of legend.  Take the limiters off, and it’s kind of ugly – this is already a girl who’s too disgusted with herself to openly express her desire for the boy she likes, instead pushing him into the arms of her best friend.  As someone with severe self-esteem problems, she probably harbors a secret desire to bring down the derision on herself that she subconsciously (and in her case, sometimes consciously) thinks she deserves, and we’re starting to see the evidence of that express itself.

[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 07 [720p].mkv_snapshot_04.25_[2012.08.18_10.16.32]It’s very insidious, this little game.  Yui’s rage against injustice comes off as blind violence.  Taichi’s selflessness comes off as pious arrogance.  Inaba’s stern practicality comes off as bleak, despairing hopelessness.  If one were so inclined, they could interpret the message of this arc (so far) to be that all of our desires, no matter how they might seem superficially, are ultimately selfish.  All we really seek to do, even by helping others, is to satisfy some urgent need within ourselves, something no more noble than hunger or sexual desire.  That’s a fascinating notion to explore, and one that’s preoccupied philosophy, religion and psychology for as long as there’s been recorded history.  Even if Kokoro Connect isn’t taking the most sophisticated path in exploring it, I give it major points for having the courage and ambition to try.

[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 07 [720p].mkv_snapshot_05.48_[2012.08.18_10.17.56] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 07 [720p].mkv_snapshot_07.03_[2012.08.18_10.19.11] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 07 [720p].mkv_snapshot_07.09_[2012.08.18_10.19.17]
[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 07 [720p].mkv_snapshot_08.38_[2012.08.18_10.20.45] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 07 [720p].mkv_snapshot_10.49_[2012.08.18_10.22.57] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 07 [720p].mkv_snapshot_11.00_[2012.08.18_10.23.08]
[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 07 [720p].mkv_snapshot_13.44_[2012.08.18_10.25.51] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 07 [720p].mkv_snapshot_14.07_[2012.08.18_10.26.14] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 07 [720p].mkv_snapshot_16.18_[2012.08.18_10.28.26]
[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 07 [720p].mkv_snapshot_17.27_[2012.08.18_10.29.35] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 07 [720p].mkv_snapshot_18.11_[2012.08.18_10.30.18] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 07 [720p].mkv_snapshot_18.25_[2012.08.18_10.30.33]
[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 07 [720p].mkv_snapshot_19.03_[2012.08.18_10.31.11] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 07 [720p].mkv_snapshot_19.49_[2012.08.18_10.31.57] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 07 [720p].mkv_snapshot_20.13_[2012.08.18_10.32.21]
[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 07 [720p].mkv_snapshot_21.03_[2012.08.18_10.33.10] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 07 [720p].mkv_snapshot_21.25_[2012.08.18_10.33.33] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 07 [720p].mkv_snapshot_21.33_[2012.08.18_10.33.41]


  1. E

    One thing I find interesting: From episode 4 onward, Taichi's "saving-people-thing" is treated with remarkable consistency as a character flaw, not a character trait. By episode:

    3: He helps Yui — in an idiotic way that results in him injuring himself. Since his real success was in communicating the sentiment, virtually anything else would have worked.

    4: Taichi overcommits and makes a promise to Iori that he can't keep. Taichi has to learn with Inaba that some people don't need saving, or that they can't be saved from those problems — and, despite that, is unable to put that lesson into practice.

    5: He volunteers to die, and admits that his drive to protect people is a way to protect himself from seeing others suffer. Inaba calls it a "very gentle form of insanity."

    7: Inaba has to warn him to be careful, or the "unleashed desires" phenomenon might get him killed. He's surprised but not incredulous — he seems to tacitly admit that it's possible. Unleashed desires show that his attitude pushes him to be overbearing and judgmental, even if he usually keeps from expressing it.

    Aoki's still flat, but Taichi is a little like F/SN's Emiya Shirou: They both play with the flat archetype in a way that gives it genuine depth. We know Taichi has issues, we just don't know why. In some ways, I'd actually say he's one of the more screwed-up people in the cast; he just has the dubious fortune of having his dysfunction seem like a positive trait at first glance.

    In that light, I think it's significant that the current arc is depicting all of Taichi's victories thus far as fleeting. Yui's still afraid of men (and now afraid of her own reaction to them), Inaba still has her issues with trust and self-loathing, Iori hasn't made progress with her sense of identity, and the last arc's romance plot hasn't gone anywhere either. If his selflessness was meant to be a positive, it would have had more effect by now.

    With all of this reading in mind, Taichi's probably the most interesting character this season to me. I hope that I'm right. If I am, then I think Kokoro Connect is going to go very interesting places with Taichi.

  2. I hope you are Einander – though truth be told, I wouldn't hold Shirou up as a model of a character with real depth! Just MHO.

    I think Taichi's intervention has made some headway with Nagase, though I agree with your larger point – his martyr complex is presented as a flaw pretty consistently, but what I want is for the series to show some interest in actually exploring the reasons behind it the way they have with the girls.

  3. x

    But the comparison is fair in this case.

    The entire F/SN visual novel is 80% about Shirou's self-less freak syndrome.

  4. A

    Excellent insight, Einander. Altruism is a virtue only in moderation and judiciously.

    Shirou consists of 80% why I stopped watching F/SN.

    Kokoro Connect continues to be the surprise of a largely underwhelming Summer season, despite for all its flaws.

  5. A

    I realized that there rarely are real arguments depicted in anime. The last one I remember was episode 14 of Nichijou, and it felt somehow good to watch Taichi and Inaba really yell at each other (now I'm imagining Kagerou from InuXBoku yelling "Essu!"). It made me feel what Inaba was feeling very well.

    We first got to see her truly on the attack at Yui's place, and at the end we saw her defend her cornered self.

  6. E

    Oh, really? It's interesting that you don't consider Shirou to be deep. Are you working off of the anime adaptation or the source? I don't think I've ever seen a character study as long or involved as the F/SN visual novel. This isn't the best forum for that discussion, however. (Long, contentious, spoiler-ridden, from a well-known series and off-topic! Prime derail material.)

    I'd be surprised if the source of Taichi's issues was addressed sometime before a major climax, and in all likelyhood, it'll still be a while yet. I'd argue that it's as central a framing device as Heartseed. Heartseed exacerbates the conflict, but Taichi involves us in it, because his mentality won't allow him to be uninvolved. Because he doesn't say "it can't be helped," we learn more and can have development from even smaller problems.

    In my opinion, a good writer can and should milk this for all it's worth. Since Taichi naturally involves himself in conflicts, the resulting situations can serve to illustrate and develop the details of his mentality. It's a prime opportunity for show-don't-tell. This is especially important for someone like Taichi, who recognizes that his mentality is abnormal but doesn't consider it to be wrong. If he'll develop and change, it'll be as a result of his involvement in the development of the others.

    If you were an especially good writer, you would have the Inaba scene in Episode 4 serve as the foundation for further parallelism and paired development. As Inaba said then, Taichi and Inaba are alike in that their abnormal mentalities haven't arisen as a result of trauma. (Or so his reply to her then suggests, anyway.) Those mentalities manifest in opposite temperaments and attitudes, and just as Taichi's issues push him to involve himself in the problems of others, Inaba's push her away. You can get a lot out of good writing out of a contrast like that. (It would be a very good argument from story structure for Taichi and Inaba to end up together, for one. That kind of conflict can make for interesting romances.)

    It still remains to be seen how well it'll be executed, but from what I've seen, I believe that Kokoro Connect has a good writer. (Perhaps not the best direction or prose, but good story structure and thematic development — the parts I'd consider the "writing.") So I'd expect anything on Taichi's front to be slow, gradual, and intertwined with the others.

  7. E

    Oh, sorry. I meant to post this as a reply to your comment above, Enzo, but I had my computer crash while I was working on something else. Ended up pasting my saved copy in the wrong comment box… Well, that'll show me for trying to multitask!

  8. When it comes to F/SN my reaction is strictly to the anime (which I confess, left me flat to the point where I never finished it).

    I wouldn't be shocked to find out that there is some trauma involved in making Taichi the way he is, but either way, I'm going to be very pissed if we don't find out.

  9. E

    Ah, really? That's a shame. There's a screenshot Let's Play of it archived online if you're interested in reading F/SN. The anime only covered Fate, which is more an introduction than anything, and it didn't do it very well. Unlimited Blade Works in particular is fantastic, and the movie didn't even come close to doing it justice. (Should the link not work — some blogs are picky about trimming posted links! — "Seorin" returns it on the first page of Google results.)


    And I've about exhausted my current thoughts on KC, save a "we can only hope." But I'm optimistic!

  10. Thanks for the link, I'll check it out!

  11. S

    Awesome posts Einander, I agree!
    Kokoro Connect has a good writer. In a way, the whole story is an excuse for the writer to go full into the depths of emotions and personalities, bordering on insanity. It's an ingenious way to go bizarre and mad without losing credibility (and looking bizarre and mad).

    Aoki however is too flat. There was an unexplained scene before ("I messed up" in ep 2 or 3), but he doesnt get much development and even at this point, put frankly, nobody would care if he died.

    Oh and Enzo: I haven't seen anything dislikable about Inaba, but that's just me. Otherwise, a good review.

  12. B

    Have to agree with the comparisons between Taichi and Emiya Shirou. VN Emiya is a far far more interesting character than anime Emiya. Since Enzo has only seen the anime I can understand why he thinks he isn't an interesting character but VN Shirou and Taichi have a lot of very obvious parallels.

    Overall I find this arc much more interesting than the first. Heartseed wants to know: What would happen if the id was granted the ability to temporarily veto all decisions made by the ego and superego? Freud himself would be very interested in this experiment I reckon.

  13. H

    As someone who is not quite an Objectivist (but I've never read Rand, so don't pin that on me), I've long felt that "all of our desires are selfish". Even Taichi, whose attitude has been described as "selfless freak" from the first episode of the show, has admitted that he does it for selfish reasons (as are all altruistic impulses). It makes HIM feel better to sacrifice for other people. It makes him feel bad to not help other people. The key is that it's not self-deception: He knows why he helps other people, and is not telling himself that it's for their benefit. I like Heinlein's description of this as 'Enlightened Self-Interest' the best, really.

  14. A

    did anyone else spot how the scenery outside the window randomly changed from "sunset" to "blue sky with clouds"? It occurred after Aoki's outburst about not forgiving the heartseed and before Taichi's must-save-yui urge scene

Leave a Comment