I realize that I am publishing this preview almost a week after episode two’s release. Unfortunately, I simply couldn’t make time for it. Life has been catching up to me lately, and therefore to compensate for this preview going live several weeks late, I will do a preview of episodes one and two. Thus without further ado, here is my preview.
Kokoro Connect episode one starts off with the introduction of its five main characters, and they are; Taichi Yaegashi, Iori Nagase, Himeko Inaba, Yoshifumi Aoki, and Yui Kiriyama. All of the characters are shown waking up, eating breakfast, and prepping for school. As Taichi is heading to school, Iori runs into him and they start walking together. On their way they encounter Yoshifumi, Yui, and Himeko, and then the opening Paradigm by Eufonius kicks in.
After that break, Taichi goes on to explain that in school students gather in groups, but there are still some loners out there with their own preferences. For example, he himself who’s a wrestling fanatic and writes the name of a fake club called Professional Wrestling Research Society. He goes on to explain the rest of the main cast’s motives for being loners. Yui Kiriyama loves fancy things and hoped to join the defunct Fancy Club.
Then we have Yoshifumi Aoki, who thought a popular club emerged every day and night and tried to join it. Case number four is Iori Nagase, who simply didn’t want to pick a club (having so many choices), and she left it up to her teacher to do so. And the final loner, Himeko Inaba, who intended to join the PC club but had “creative differences” with its president. All of these high school freshmen end up forming their own Cultural Research Club as a result.
After school in the club room, Yoshifumi and Yui decide to tell of the bizarre experience they had “together” the night before. As it turns out, they both switched bodies for a short time. It simply happened randomly or so they explained. However, their claims fell on deaf ears as nobody believed in them. Eventually after giving up in convincing everybody about their experience, something unexpected happens… Iori makes a sudden announcement of forgetting her notebook in a classroom, and immediately heads over to pick it up.
Having arrived there, Iori looks under he desk; meanwhile Taichi is offering tea to his colleagues, when these two exchange bodies unexpectedly. After this whole mess ensues, Iori (who is now Taichi) begins to act happy-go-lucky, whereas Taichi (who is now Iori) finds himself in a dire mess with a female student named Fujishima. It turns out Fujishima saw a perverted Taichi “exploring” his new body and wants to pitch in a “helping hand.” Once this awkward moment is through, Taichi and Iori go back to the classroom and explain things to their club members, much to the disbelief of Himeko Inaba.
Episode two begins with a sudden body switch between our energetic leads. Right after the opening sequence we find our protagonists in their clubroom waiting for Yoshifumi, Himeko, and Yui to switch back to their respective bodies. Later on that same day, Taichi, Iori, and Himeko are called by their teacher, Ryuzen Goto. Goto, who’s also known as “Gossan” acknowledges that his students don’t really cause much trouble, though it doesn’t justify getting themselves into any. Gossan is surprised that the three skipped morning classes, and that Yoshifumi and Yui (who are not his homeroom students) did as well. A bit hereafter, Taichi and Iori are praising Himeko for lying to Gossan earlier about being tardy for homeroom, when Taichi and Yui undergo an exchange again.
Upon noticing this, Taichi quickly heads over to the boys’ restroom. He suddenly changes his mind and heads to the girls’ restroom instead. Yui on the other hand is starting to freak, however, and they switch back momentarily. Later in the clubroom, Iori confronts Taichi over what happened with the class representative, Fujishima, in the previous episode. Iori claims to feel violated as she clings to the table in the middle of the club room. Yoshifumi asks Taichi what Iori’s breast size is, and surprisingly, Himeko answers with a smile on her face (completely out of character if you ask me). Out of the blue, Gossan shows up on the club room’s doorstep and confronts these club members. Gossan sounds nothing like himself; with vacant eyes and a monotonic voice, it makes it seem like the guy is possessed.
Gossan explains that this entity possessing his body knows about the body swapping and is primarily responsible for it. He calls himself Heartseed and he vaguely explains what’s happening to them. He tells them that they will be randomly switching bodies quite often, and advises them not to inform anybody for their own sake. The protagonists confront him physically and are defeated. Shortly after, they all agree on informing each other whenever they switch bodies and also not telling anyone about their problems. The day after, Fujishima is looking for volunteers for the monthly city cleanup activities.
As Taichi prepares himself to volunteer, he suddenly swaps with Himeko, and thus he enrolls Himeko unwillingly. Himeko now as Taichi is furious, but has no other choice than to participate as well. Iori mocks Himeko (Taichi) and Fujishima grows jealous over it. During the cleanup activities, Fujishima openly confronts Taichi (Himeko) about his relationship with Iori, and he quickly fights back by admitting that Iori is “his” woman and how she needs to keep her hands off her. Witnessing everything on the sidelines is Taichi as Himeko, who feels and looks frustrated over the misunderstanding.
There are several things to note in this anime… For starters this anime is directed by two directors, and these are; Shinya Kawamo, who makes a return to the director’s seat after .Hack//Gift. The other director is the talented Shin Onuma, the man who drove the two Ef animes (one of which I have critiqued already) into special territories. Here Onuma acts as “chief” director, thus I assume he has the final word on whatever goes down. Having said that, I do feel a bit more relieved that he’s more deeply involved in the final outcome, because that way at least I can hope this anime won’t lose itself completely to its cliches.
Another reason why I don’t believe that will happen is because of the involvement of Fumihiko Shimo. This person is responsible for adapting Air, Kanon (2006 remake), Clannad, The Melancholy of Haruhi, and The Vanishment of Haruhi. In other words, Shimo has adapted some of the best works of Kyoto Animation studio, and it is important to note that while these works might have been good independently of its screenwriter (because of its source material), we cannot forgo the fact that Shimo did have a relatively influential amount of input in these adaptations. On a final note, the character designs are done by Shiromizakana, the character designer for K-On and thus the similarities in style.
With that said, I was expecting more out of this anime having known the impressive number of heads involved. So far in the first two episodes, I am still waiting for that final clincher that will seal the deal completely with me, or the one that will at least get clamped around my brain enough to be memorable. There are also several moments of fanservice which are done tastefully, but it’s definitely nothing new. It’s worth mentioning that it is very funny fanservice sprinkled in the right parts of the anime, yet it doesn’t manage to give the overall plot more strength than it should.
While the plot isn’t special whatsoever, I still feel like this anime has some good potential because of its extremely random body swapping plot device. The moment in episode two involving Taichi, Himeko, and Fujishima is a good example of how good it could become. It could also go into the philosophical nature of personal identity (be it sexual or even supernatural), as explored in a conversation from episode two between Taichi and Iori (though uncertain). All in all, Kokoro Connect is solid, yet not completely. It is still bland and soft just like Jello… Where is a deep freezer when you need one?