Posted on 30 September 2012 with categories: Anime Reviews



Here is my policy on reviewing series that still have important DVD specials coming up: I do not include those DVD specials in these reviews. The reason for this is quite simple: I guess most of you know that my blogging style is very spontaneously: I write down whatever comes to my mind. Most of those DVD specials take months to arrive, some even half a year. At that point my memory of the series in question just isn’t sharp enough to write an accurate review. Kokoro Connect is a special series: it has four episodes scheduled on DVDs that tell its final arc, a procedure that I very much encourage, but this review does not take those into account, other than ignoring the unfinished ending. I’ll talk about it later when everything has finished.

Especially because Kokoro Connect created some very interesting memories during the past season. I mean, every season I watch a ton of bad romantic comedies when every series starts, to the point where I’ve become a bit too biased on some of the clichés and early warning signs. The victim of this was Kokoro Connect, which started off with half an episode of school girls whining and delivering bad sex jokes (just like so many other shows out there do). I completely wrote off this series, and then it turned out to be this genuine and insightful drama. Talk about a surprise here.

So yeah, give this show a chance if you want drama that takes a very deep and close look at its characters. The thing with Kokoro Connect is that it consists out of three arcs, each of them throwing the cast into a situation completely beyond their control, and designed so that they are forced some of their deepest issues. The first arc for example has the cast switch bodies. This brings out tons of interesting issues, both with it shedding a serious look on what it would be like to spend time as a different gender and delving into the characters and their problems.

The first arc is particularly good at this, mostly because of its incredibly sharp dialogue that cuts right to the chase. This sharpness is unfortunately lost on the later arcs, but these still are really good and chock full of character development. The weak link is the second arc in the middle, which just ends up too forced. It’s nothing but the characters yelling at each other, and the creators make too little use of it. It also breaks up the pacing a bit after how good the first arc was: you’d expect something of the same quality, but the end result just doesn’t match up.

What also made this such a surprise is the studio behind it: Silver Link. My opinion of this before this show started was as a collection of bad Shaft-wannabes. That definitely changed with this series: they stopped trying to adhere to their Shaft roots and instead try to go with their own style (albeit slightly inspired by K-On). The animation ends up surprisingly good. Perhaps not Hyouka-levels, but the attention to detail still is quite impressive. The voice acting also is quite good, and unlike any of Silver Link’s previous hammy series. They really did something different here, and while it suffered fierce competition this season in the drama department (Natsuyuki Rendezvous, Hyouka), it held its own and delivered a high school drama that actually managed to stand apart from the rest.

Storytelling: 8.5/10 – The dialogue at worst is pretty forced. At best however it’s incredibly sharp and insightful.
Characters: 8.5/10 – Excellent cast of characters, with issues that play off each other really well and lead to quite some interesting drama.
Production-Values: 8.5/10 – Good animation, though it does still look a tad generic.
Setting: 8/10 – Um yeah. Perhaps this gets explained in the final arc but things just… happen. It’s done believably, but this is one example of a setting that exists just for its characters to develop. Nothing wrong with that, but it also doesn’t get extra points for that.

Suggestions:
Natsuyuki Rendezvous
Asatte no Houkou
Hourou Musuko

23 Responses

  1. Alterego 9 says:

    Actually, the animation wasn’t K-on inspired at all.

    The original light novel character designs were, because they were done by the same lady who was the character designer of K-on, but Silver Link itself had a rather different aimation style from KyoAni.

  2. TheUltimateReaper says:

    Well for an ending of this nature I am surprisingly at ease. Even unfinished the cut off was done pretty well, and knowing I can finish absorbing this story later is great. I always like shows that push characters to the edge and deal with inner human nature. I feel like many series these days suffer from flat underdeveloped characters, or else wise don’t provide any new insights. This was great. I look forward to finishing it later.

  3. wicked says:

    Different opinions, I’m actually less of a fan of the first arc back when I read it. It’s good, but it’s nothing special either. I think the animation arguably did it better than the book did. I liked the latter arcs better

  4. Aidanak47 says:

    Untapped potential at it’s finest. The idea’s in Kokoro connect are not bad. In fact in the hands of a more competent writer this could have turned out to be quite special. Sadly the writer failed the realize what he had and settled for the lowest common denominator. The dialogue is just terrible. It doesn’t sound like people talking. An argument sounds like someone read a script and is criticizing the characters in it.
    Still it was at least enjoyable and Heartseed was an interesting villain. I also appreciate that you didn’t let that little controversy effect your opinion Psgels.

    • Kaiser Eoghan says:

      I enjoyed the characterization/character development in this series and the second act, given that I don’t mind melodrama at all and it got something out of me emotionally.
      I’m not particular about dialogue in general so I was able to overlook or either wasn’t looking out for poor dialogue.
      I agree with Aidan that this series has a neat concept to it.
      The beginning is mediocre and it nearly made me consider turning off the show but at the same time I’d wonder would it have taken me by much of a surprise had it not started off as such?

    • Taara535 says:

      I agree with you on one key point Aidanak, KC definitely had a lot of untapped potential. Where I disagree with you is with the dialogue. The dialogue was quite excellent in the first arc (imo). It also created tons of potential.

      -SPOILERS BELOW DO NOT READ WITHOUT WATCHING THE SHOW –

      Take a look at the scenes with Aoi where he “body switches.” The reason I say “body switches” is because both the animation and Aoi’s reactions seem forced and almost like he is acting. What an amazing twist it would have been if he was acting sometimes and not body-switching (especially during that very important “switch” when he (with Iori supposedly in his body) and Taichi were at the train station).

      Unfortunately, that potential twist was taken, and instead Aoi was a very flat character for the first half of the season (almost pointless really). The sad fact is that all of the clues were there for such a great twist, but it never happened…

      In the end, KC might be more remembered for its disastrous public relations rather than its content. If I were the novelist, I would be fuming.

      • wicked says:

        Aoki? problem is they are doing a faithful adaptation of the book, so Aoki and Yui arent front and center until volume 3, even then, the author created Aoki to be a fairly drama free guy, because the rest of the cast is all drama

    • Jalapeno Bagel says:

      I actually agree with you on its dialogue, which I think was the only thing holding the series back for me. It was certainly good at points, but at other times, noticeably pivotal points, the dialogue feels pretty scripted and even rushed as they try and get to the point in as clear and quick a manner as possible. thats fine in say like academia, but in a series that relies on character interaction and dealing with misunderstandings/differences in perspective, its out of place.

      nevertheless, was a great series to watch. can’t wait for the next arc to come out.

  5. Taara535 says:

    *that potential was not taken rather

  6. RABUJOI says:

    I’ll watch the extra episodes when they air (as I did with Oreimo), but I’m satisfied with the ending we got with this episode too.

    It may not be able to compete toe-to-toe with the excellence of Natsuyuki Rendezvous, but it blew our relatively low expectations out of the water to take fourth in our Summer rankings, after Natsuyuki, Hyouka, and Eureka.

    Unlike Tari Tari we liked ALL the characters, their trials were far more interesting, their stakes were higher, and adequate time was spent on developing everyone.

  7. K4nr4 says:

    kokoro connect isnt over there still an episode next week. It says its up to episode 17

  8. JaK says:

    ah psgels xD the heartseed problem is still not solved xD the next arc encompasses volume 4 of the novel and currently upto the volume 9 part 1 is out and part 2 is going to be the last in the series, the author really makes us wonder who the heck heartseed is :\

  9. Bunny says:

    I remember when you were like I see 0% potential in this and completely wrote it off only to find heaps of raging comments after telling you to give it another go when the full episode came out. Boy were you wrong!

  10. Kamen Grinder says:

    “The dialogue at worst is pretty forced.”

    It also happens very often. The rest is terrible cheese.

    “Excellent cast of characters”

    No, not at all.

    “Good animation”

    It’s time for you to give up trying to rate this.

    Kokoro Connect
    50/100

    • Avalon says:

      Obviously your opinion is different. Doesn’t mean he has to agree with you. The dialogue wasn’t perfect, but by no means did it ruin the show and the characters were all likable by the end. Animation was fine too. See? I have an opinion as well.

  11. Avalon says:

    I was one of the people who was amazed that everybody was shrugging this anime off just after the first half of the first episode. I could see the potential and I’m surprised hardly anyone else did. Honestly, I thought some of the arguments against it were stupid. ANY guy would be curious if he suddenly found himself in a girls body. Their reaction may vary a little, but the average guy would pretty much react in a very similar way Taichi did in that first ep. You can call that part fanservice, which I can understand, but it was also a reaction that would really happen if switching bodies was possible.

    All that aside, I’m glad you stuck with it till the end and that you enjoyed it. I just hope (most) future anime get more than half of an episode to show its stuff.

  12. Eushie says:

    Why do they have to air the last 4 episodes at March, cant they just air them normally? I’m kind of pissed, but at the same time, it makes me more eager to watch.

  13. Inari says:

    After watching Kokoro Connect, my first thought was “What a waste !”.
    I have to say that the 4 first episodes were really good and well constructed. And the announcement when they have to pick one of them to die… Awesome ! I could picture it, a death game when you have to play with emotions and secrets, using other people corpses and stuff. It could have been smashing, as a seinen.

    Unfortunately, the author decide to make a happy end on episode 5 and deceive my hopes… Since this episode, Heartseed doesn’t appear like a bad guy, at contrario. Moreover, we know that it will be a good ending and all the drama twists didn’t work at all. And considering that they will be solved, their problems didn’t appear as painful and realistic as before.

    Nevertheless, I feel myself close to Inaba’s personnality, so I decide to follow the series just for her. And damn, it worths it !
    But except her reactions and her way to change, I didn’t enjoy the serie, apparently aiming for teenagers questing for their inner self.

    As said before, it’s a waste. A waste of a lot of potential.
    But it’ll please people who just watch the show and don’t see what he could be.
    And I still don’t believe you’re that kind of people Psgels.

    Sorry for this rude reply at my first one but KC was my biggest hope of the season and I hate the way they wasted it.
    Furthermore, sorry for my poor English but it’s pretty hard to write a review (even short in a foreign langage).

    Inari

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  • gedata
    (Sunday, Apr 20. 2014 10:14 AM)
    @Juno, you aren’t alone.
  • Juno
    (Sunday, Apr 20. 2014 05:37 AM)
    Because as of this moment, my childhood could NOT be happier…
  • Juno
    (Sunday, Apr 20. 2014 05:37 AM)
    I can’t be the only one FREAKING OUT OVER THE NEW JOJO ENDING THEME, right?
  • K-Off
    (Sunday, Apr 20. 2014 05:32 AM)
    And although everyone said already, the launch scene is gorgeous.
  • K-Off
    (Sunday, Apr 20. 2014 05:30 AM)
    @Friend Man, you are something else. The chapter reeled me into the story. I didnt see any faults with it, except for one typo. The scenes are well composited, and like nyan said, the only “faults” are nitpicky things :)
  • Jalapeno Bagel
    (Sunday, Apr 20. 2014 04:21 AM)
    Yeah, I think this falls more into the category of typesetting than anything else and there’s plenty of different ways that can go depending on preference. If the readers don’t have an issue, then it’s fine.
  • Friend
    (Sunday, Apr 20. 2014 04:11 AM)
    A problem ve faced with american comics is that they usually dont contrast the speech bubble with the surroundings too well. That might be a factor, as large bubbles mean more visibility of the text itself.
  • Jalapeno Bagel
    (Sunday, Apr 20. 2014 04:05 AM)
    ah well, I don’t really mean the amount of content, but a negative space thing. it’s easier on the eyes when there’s a bit of space around the bubble for me.
  • Friend
    (Sunday, Apr 20. 2014 04:03 AM)
    Sure, I was tempted to pack in my bubbles, moreso with my weekly form of several pages. But I figured I should take time to develop each moment.
  • Nyangoro
    (Sunday, Apr 20. 2014 04:01 AM)
    It’s a matter of compressed vs decompressed storytelling. Just a result of how the two evolved, I suppose. It makes more sense when you consider the multiversal approach to mainstream American comics in relation to the isolated worlds found in Japanese manga.

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