Kokoro Connect - Complete Review

Mediocrity with a Twist of Sadism

Posted by: Shere @ 2013-02-17 20:33:29

You would watch episode one of Kokoro Connect and come away with the impression that it's a show about body swapping highschoolers. You wouldn't necessarily be wrong, not immediately, but more accurately one could say: Kokoro Connect is a show about an uncaring higher being that wants to toy with the fragile psyches of a small group of pseudo-friends by putting them through various supernatural trials. The body swapping is only the first stage of a long series of tests, not the overall premise of the show.

Granted that there's enough material in the body-swapping business alone to fill out a 17 episode show, it's rather interesting that this show chooses to condense it and move on. What needs to be understood - or rather - what we can take from this is that the show is not about the phenomena, but about the characters, their reactions to and realizations drawn from these events. Then what will immediately come to mind next is whether or not this series has a set of characters that stand strongly enough on their own for you to care about them for 17 episodes.

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Let's cut to the point: Kokoro Connect is a melodrama, through and through. It's an anime melodrama about teenagers in high school. Did that sentence make you cringe? This show isn't for you. Close the window and find something else. Still reading? The cast of characters is lead by Protagonist-kun whose self-sacrificial hero-complex makes him utterly indistinguishable from an Emiya Shirou. We also have Androphobic Girl, Tsundere Misanthrope, Goofy Guy, and Bubbly-chan. They're all archetypes and the show sets out (with varying amounts of success) to deconstruct each one. The characters aren't all entirely stupid, and actually Inaba was a really cool character since she and the protagonist are the only two grounded in some sort of actual reality.

Each arc leads off with a lighthearted episode that introduces the gimmick and knocks out all the awkward-funny situations that could/should arise from it. For instance, the body swapping leads naturally to a male and female character switching bodies, and the male immediately self-groping his new pair of knockers. It seems like the show does this simply because it couldn't not do it, almost as if to say "Look, here, are you happy? Let's move along". The remaining episodes of a given gimmick are then almost entirely melodramatic, leading to a conclusion where everyone realizes something new about each other and their bonds of friendship are strengthened.

I feel like the reason I'm deconstructing this show like this is because I needed to, probably more for my own benefit than for any potential reader's. It's a good show, but it's soundly in the C+/B- range of good, mediocre good. It takes itself a little too seriously at times, and some of the characters have really stupid, extremely contrived problems. The magical bullshit is hand-waved as magical bullshit, and it requires a hefty suspension of disbelief to get over that. Sort of like how you will need to have hardened your eye-rolling reflex to actually make it through many of the scenes in this show and keep your eyes focused on the screen.

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All in all it's a roller coaster ride of crybaby bullshit, and there are some decent surprises and twists along the way. The various trials are all pretty interesting in a sadistic way, since it's really just easy pickings to do this shit to teenagers. Of course they're going to self-destruct if you make it so they literally cannot control their subconscious desires. The final arc of the series is easily the weakest, which is a shame, but it still stands well enough as a sort of epilogue. It deals with a dangling plot thread and potentially sets up a season 2, which isn't going to happen for various reasons.

The OP/ED are utterly forgettable and entirely unimportant, even when they change. The animation consists of talking heads and is completely serviceable for the subject matter. The few times they have action scenes some awkward, janky shit happens to the quality. The voice acting is actually a strong point for this one, but only because I literally have a crush on Inaba('s Voice Actor). Anyone who says they don't is a goddamned liar.

Verdict: It's firmly within watchable territory, but only if you're immune to the fact that anime melodrama is stupid. I love it, but I actively acknowledge that it's stupid and boring and requires some sort of mental deficiency or defect to enjoy. Either that, or you have to literally be 13-17, you will think it's the deepest most moving shit ever.