029: Kokoro Connect
Aired: Summer 2012
Genres: Supernatural, Drama, Comedy, Romance, School, Slice of Life
Date watched: Dec 29 2018 – Dec 30 2018
Series watched: Kokoro Connect (13 ep x 24 mins + 4 ep x 27 mins)
Why I started watching: This one was a direct result of Kotoura-san as well – I was still on a supernatural kick and definitely wanted something a bit more relaxing and “regular fare” after Mahou Shoujo Site. And what could be more relaxing and regular than body swapping, right? Warning: Mild spoilers abound, though I kept the fare light.
This show left me conflicted – I liked its initial premise a lot – the five students would swap bodies randomly and had to prevent chaos from happening while they try to figure things out – but what it fails to tell you is that the entire series isn’t focused around that. Instead, the “phenomenon” that plagues them changes every four or so episodes, so we end up with 4 different phenomena within the 17 episode run that the show has. I liked two of the phenomena far, far better than the other two, which meant that while I could appreciate what they were trying to do, the show ended up with peaks and dips, and entirely lost me at one point as I was impatiently waiting for the arc to be over so the next phenomenon would start.
While the anime overall was decently good, and was probably shackled to the story in the manga, I think the biggest disappointment here is that it had potential to be soooooo much better, if it had just concentrated the entire season on showcasing just ONE of the four phenomema instead of squandering it on splitting the story the way they did. The two arcs that were gripping were full of intriguing possibilities, drama, comedy, misunderstandings, and little nuances that they could have spent ages exploring and end up with one of the most thought-provoking shows ever, and the two arcs I disliked probably could have been better too, if each idea was just given more time to develop. Instead, by changing the affliction up so much, I felt betrayed after the first shift, then was never able to become as invested in what was happening as I was at the start, so Kokoro Connect ended up disjointed and weaker than the sum of its parts.
I liked the five main characters and the student president quite a bit, and I especially love that the seiyuu for the five main characters must have had a lot of fun voicing this show, since they had to act out drastic personality shifts and other.. things. I think they did a bang up job. There’s also an English sub of the show that sounded decent from the little bit I heard of it.
The character design was poor though – while they look better close-up than the zoomed-out picture above does, they also really looked generic in a way that I found hard to describe. Or maybe it was just that the three girls really looked like carbon copies of girls from K-On! – with Himeko on the left being Mio, Yui to her right being Mugi, and Iori in the middle being Azusa. I mean, at least try to vary the trope a little bit. Also, they bring up a number of side characters that then stay woefully underdeveloped, when they could have been used for tons of dramatic tension during the body swapping arc. The characters do start talking about needing to know each others’ backstories in order to seem “legit” in the eyes of their families and friends, but hardly any of that ever really comes into play.
But the most disappointing character in the end was the one who was flagged as the perpetrator of the phenomemon. His presence made no sense, his character never seemed to develop, and he was just a big deus ex machina in the end. While the reactions and development between the main characters was fun to watch, this side character broke the show for me. I don’t know if the manga has further chapters that tell his story, but within the bounds of the anime, the “overarching story” was extremely disappointing. I enjoyed the ending though, which made up for the show’s middle sections. Actually, I realized after Mahou Shoujo Site that the two arcs I liked also were the two arcs that involved darker incidents happening to one of the characters, although I’m not sure if that in particular was what made those two arcs work for me. Hmm.
What did not work for me was the music. They had 2-3 OPs and 3 EDs but they were all serviceable at best, and like the characters, nothing that withstood the test of time. At the end of the day, the show had tons of potential, and I’d love to see more of it, but I felt like I watched the previews for four different and rather interesting shows helmed by the same main characters, instead of one entire coherent show.
Final Score: 7/10