This is review number eighty nine. I’m pretty close to a hundred so yay for me. I’ll be reviewing an anime of the Summer 2012 lineup. It’s Kokoro Connect and this anime is something I am very excited to see. It’s a thirteen episode anime about friendship and swapping bodies. That sounds nice, doesn’t it? I panicked a bit though because MAL listed it as a 17 episode anime but it’s actually only 13 episodes long. The other four is an OVA. It’s a nice anime. It could’ve been better though. Let’s read on.
Kokoro Connect is about five high school kids who were all looking for a club that doesn’t exist in their school. They all decided to create a new club called the Cultural Research Club and they spend most of their free time being together in the club doing random things. That kind of set up would normally work since a lot of anime has done that kind of premise before (Setokai no Ichizon) but the anime didn’t stop there. One day, the members of the Cultural Research Club starting waking up in the body of a different person. Naturally, they freaked out and they soon meet the person responsible. He said everything is fine and they should continue on with their lives. It wasn’t easy for the members of the club because they slowly start to discover different sides of the other members. This body swapping business has revealed secrets that they wouldn’t tell anyone but they soon realized it’s a great opportunity for the group of friends to help each other.
Taking the Pants Off
Kokoro Connect is one of the most talked about anime of the Summer lineup. A lot of people were excited by the premise as well as I. Members of a club is suddenly swapping bodies and they slowly learn about each other. It’s a simple premise and the possibilities are limitless. I actually bookmarked that anime even before I started making reviews. When I did start making reviews, the one thing I learned was that the ones you have no faith on will easily surprise you (AKB0048) and the ones you put your faith on will usually not live up to your expectations (Arcana Famiglia). I usually don’t research my anime so my expectations don’t ruin the anime. Kokoro Connect had a nice premise that will promise a very satisfying story but you can’t always get what you want.
Kokoro Connect did not disappoint on making a first impression. The first episode is strong and it introduced the status quo, the conflict and the characters pretty strongly. The very first thing that’ll capture your attention in this anime is the characters. The anime had five characters, two guys and three gals. The interaction between the characters is very smooth and eye catching. Their blending is so perfect that the comedic aspects of the anime shine pretty brightly. Between the characters, there is also some romantic tension so I already knew this anime will impress me. In fact, the whole body swapping business was just icing on the cake because it was the character’s personality that will make the anime superb. Each and every character had a certain quirk that is special to them so to see them act in another person’s body brings out more hilarity in the anime. I laughed hard when one of the serious characters acted all cute when a boy entered her body. The anime is amazing but the big question will creep up on the enjoyment. Why are they swapping bodies?
The anime explained it all on the second episode and it’s too good to spoil. The anime immediately cut to the chase and brought out the bread and butter of the story in a hurry. The characters swap body and they soon discover something about the other person that they were trying to hide. Each character had a problem or a personal conflict that they were all battling with for a long time now and has decided to cope with it but it slowly began to hound them because of the body swapping business. This is where the two main characters slowly emerge. I consider them the main because they had more screen time than the other characters and they possess certain characteristics of a main. The five members are all equal though when they are together. One of the guys, Taechi Yaegashi, persists that they help each other or at least confide to another person about their problem. He hashes things out with the other main, Himeko Inaba, who is perceptive and can tell if her friends are being bothered. The members of the club do slowly open up to each other and they slowly helped each other out. The romantic tension that was hinted in the first episode even slowly blossomed during the time the characters confide in each other. This is also where the anime had me concerned.
The pacing of the anime is fast. I think it’s too fast that the body swapping business slowly hits its climax at episode four. Normally, an anime would eat up three episodes to establish the plot and everything else so I was a bit worried seeing Kokoro Connect reach a resolution at episode four and solves the conflict at episode five. The romantic tension did blossom and the body swapping business was solved. I was expecting the anime to stretch it out for the entire anime. At first, I liked it. The fast pacing made the cliché dry out so I was basically guessing how the anime will end which is a good thing. The anime intrigued me and kept me guessing until the climax and the ending. The first five episodes of the anime is probably the best bit of the anime and sadly, the anime slowly crumbles afterward. The fast pacing hurt the anime a lot as the second half included two new arcs and the story just couldn’t match up to the first five episodes.
The second and third arc also featured a supernatural phenomenon that is the same as the body swapping business. It also follows the same set up as the first arc. The characters are surprised of the development and they soon faced problems that threatened their friendship. The other two arcs also explore a character’s personal conflict that the other characters tried to help out in. The problem with the second and third arc is that the pacing suddenly slowed down and the development in the first arc was compromised. It was as if all the awesome talks of “we’re your friends so you can trust us” was suddenly thrown out the window and the slate was cleaned. The romantic development was also halted. To be fair, the anime turned it into something awesome. The biggest offense though is that the comedic aspect of the first half, the great blending of the characters personality suddenly left the building and I can only blame one thing for the anime turning piss butter. The magic rock.
Ok, I’m not really talking about a magic rock in the anime. I’m referencing Natsuiro Kiseki that had a magic rock that makes supernatural things to happen to four friends. I cannot believe I am bringing it back up because my review of that anime is sh*t but the concept is the same for Kokoro Connect. Another being like the magic rock is pulling the strings but Natsuiro Kiseki actually took the time to explain the whys and how of the magic rock. Kokoro Connect just had a magic rock that tells them “I’m doing this because I want to” and the characters just follow along. There was no real involvement of the supernatural in Kokoro Connect and the anime could’ve lived without it. The anime was more focus on character struggles and personal conflict that it was enough to keep the anime interesting. The magic rock in Kokoro Connect basically flips a switch then something happens to the characters like body swapping. After the magic rock vanishes for a couple of episodes without any real explanation of its origin, it comes back and flips the switch then everything comes back to normal and the characters don’t question it. The whole damn thing about the supernatural incidents in the anime is really just clutter after the body swapping. I see Kokoro Connect as another Boys Be anime with a magic rock in it and more moe. I actually don’t mind watching a Slice of Life anime with the characters of Kokoro Connect and the personal conflicts the anime it has painted perfectly. The anime had to go ruin itself which is a shame. I personally believe that they should’ve just stretched out the body swapping until the end. Instead we get a great first half and a bad second half.
I do like the personal problems of the anime. The conflict between the five members is very human and something we can all relate to. Each personal problem adds spice to the anime and makes the story more exciting. The humor of the anime is also pretty impressive. The basic K-on like appeal that comes from the random nonsense of the characters is present in this anime. The moe artwork brightens up the interaction between the characters. I also like the mature humor of the anime that comes from the dialogues between the characters especially between a male characters and a female character. The line “I think of you while I masturbate” is still stuck to me and it came out of nowhere that I was really laughing out loud when it happened. The balance of screen time between the characters is a bit unfair though. Taechi gets a lot of screen time compared to the other guy in the anime and it’s a bit unfair. The anime should’ve used his personal problem as a way to put the spotlight on other characters. I like to think there are five main characters instead of two with three supporting characters.
I have mixed feelings about this anime but after eighty nine reviews after starting this blog, it’s not really new. The anime just needed one solid story to tie it all together instead of three arcs. The explanation about the magical rock is also greatly needed because it will bother you and will hamper the enjoyment. The first half is pretty impressive though and I still believe the anime should’ve stretched it out but what’s done is done. Kokoro Connect is good but it could’ve been better.
Sight and Sound
The five characters in this anime remind me of the five characters in Tari Tari which is odd and also coincidental. It helps me familiarize with them pretty easily. The character design is pretty normal with a hint of moe for the girls but other than that, they are the run of the mill kind of characters. It’s good enough to make the personality shine through which is a good thing. The animation in the anime is pretty normal as well. There isn’t really a big action sequence or a scene with brilliant key animation because the anime is mostly dialogues between the characters. The only time the anime shined through is during the climax of the first arc. There is enough solid animation to make the anime look cool though. I love the scene in the first episode where the characters all sync in stepping with their right feet while the angle is in side view. The kissing scenes are also pretty nice.
The anime has some pretty impressive backgrounds but it wasn’t enough. The sunset scene on the bridge in the first half is pretty impressive because the mood is nicely enhanced but the anime needed more. Slice of Life anime pretty much go balls out with scenic shots and detailed backgrounds so it’s a shame the anime didn’t use it to their advantage. The paint to canvas background is pretty nice though. The trees are nicely painted and the scenes are very clean. Silver Link studio should do more because they can make some pretty awesome scenery if they tried. They made Dusk Maiden of Amnesia so they can make stand out scenes if they tried but I guess they want the story to shine more.
The anime has two OP but the last one played on episode twelve which is weird. The first one is “Paradigm” by eufonius. I’m a bit surprised by this song because it’s not the typical OP song most anime would use. The song is pretty laid back with a playful charm. I love eufonius voice because it’s pleasing. The OP sequence is also nice. It featured the characters and captured the Slice of Life appeal of the anime. I love the black board scene in the opening sequence because it was cute and it captured the characters personality pretty nicely. The second OP is “Kimi Rhythm” by Masaki Imai. It has the same vibe as the first OP and I like the acoustic style of the song. Masaki’s voice reminds me of the OP of Natsume Yuujinchou. The OP sequence is practically the same and I appreciate the cheesy scene with the rainbow and the stars. It was cute but cheesy in a good way.
The anime had three ED songs. Ok, prepare for this one. The first one is “Kokoro no Kara” by Team Nekokan [Neko] featuring Junca Amaoto. It’s a nice song with the typical Jpop feel. Junca’s voice is pretty amazing though. The ED sequence featured the five characters playing with a ball of light reflecting the body swapping business of the first half. The second ED song is “Cry Out” by Team.Nekokan [Neko] featuring Atsuko. This song is also nice because of the acoustic feel and Atsuko’s voice playing off each other in a very nice way. The sequence features Inaba waking up with a sketch like animation. The sequence basically explains the conflict of the second half. The last one is “Salvage” by Team.Nekokan [Neko] featuring Rekka Katakiri. This one has some pretty impressive instrumental with Rekka’s voice nicely standing out. You can tell I suck at critiquing music. Anyways, the sequence is done in a white background with a Ferris wheel spinning. The sequence features the characters representing the friendship in the anime.
7/10 “Great first half, subpar second half.”
It’s another anime with great potential greatly squandered. Oh well. It’s still a nice anime with a nice theme of friendship capturing the ups and downs of the relationship. It also captures the feeling of falling in love pretty nicely. The magic rock could’ve used more effectively and the second half was a bit subpar but the first half will easily hook you which is a great thing. It’s a nice anime so I recommend it.