Kokoro Connect Ep. 1: B-words

What gets me is that Taichi borrows porn from Aoki, but he can’t even refer to breasts as breasts. But let’s put that aside for now. For anyone who still hasn’t heard about Kokoro Connect, it has us imagine what would happen if five friends suddenly experienced body-swapping. This premise could go very wrong, but I believe that the show has a lot of potential, and this is not even just speculative potential. I think the ending sequence is actually very well done in how it offers a glimpse of what may entail. Iori, for instance, returns to a dark and empty home. And maybe it’s just me, but something feels sinister about Aoki’s scene.

So imagine, then, that we all have skeletons in our closets that not even our closest friends know anything about. By some cosmic twist, however, we’ve swapped bodies and must now experience and confront each other’s personal problems and traumas. In that respect, Kokoro Connect has something potentially intriguing about it. My hope is that when the characters inevitably swap bodies again, they don’t simply spectate. Rather, they should irreparably (though perhaps inadvertently) affect each other’s lives by the sheer fact that Iori might not act as Aoki would. We can then see if the anime has the balls to put forth an unexpected but not-at-all unrealistic unhappy ending. But I’m getting too far ahead of myself….

If there are any potential pitfalls for the series, however, one would be the penchant in anime in general to almost always cast a milquetoast nipponjin as the lead. Kokoro Connect already admits that Taichi watches porn. And is there anything wrong with that? I’m not going to debate the merits and demerits of porn itself in this post. In so far as young guys watch porn (or any other form of pornography, for that matter), however, this is pretty much normal. What bothers me about a lot of anime is how the main character is just too-fucking-pure as though he has never experienced puberty.

But if Taichi borrows something like Big Jugged High School Girls, he should not be a “too pure pure boi.” The common refrain in the real world is “You need to get laid.” Perhaps for anime characters, it should be “You need to go masturbate.” That might sound odd to some readers since I’ve always railed against anime objectifying its female characters, but I think this is a separate issue. I think male protagonists in anime seem weird because they do not act as real high school boys would. I’m not asking for a hormone-driven, ass-groping alpha male, but if anyone suggests that Japanese high school boys are too innocent to refer to breasts for what they are, that’s a joke.

The scene between Taichi (in Iori’s body) and the bespectacled Fujishima really emphasizes the contrast in how the sexes are portrayed. While the male protagonist is often way too pure, there is inevitably one (gay or bi) female seemingly brazen enough to suggest that fondling another female classmate in the middle of a classroom (and in broad daylight) is something that regularly occurs in the thought process. Since when did yuri-minded girls become such wanton sex predators? Oh, they’re not? You’re just using this portrayal for cheap thrills? Gee, I guess that’s understandable.

I don’t care if some guys are pure or that some girls are sexually forward. But when every male protagonist is pure and there’s always one gay or bi female character ready to grope a classmate, it detracts from the anime. I mean, if you want a psychosexual romp, then do a psychosexual romp. Intelligently executed, that would probably be an entertaining series too. To cast the male lead as perpetually innocent, however, neither subverts nor defies expectations. It’s just having your cake and eating it too.

In other words, the worst character may very well be the narrator yet again. So far, he brings nothing to the table but dull droning and a personality as vibrant as a wet blanket. I’m pinning my hopes on the fact that there will be interpersonal drama to come, and hopefully, assuming that he doesn’t come out of his sterile shell, Taichi can step back and let the other characters shine.

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25 thoughts on “Kokoro Connect Ep. 1: B-words

    1. E Minor Post author

      You’ll want to use img for pictures. With that said, I see this in your previous comment:

      And it goes to nothing for me anyway.

      Reply
        1. E Minor Post author

          Just put html brackets around img src=”blah blah blah” and it should work.

        2. E Minor Post author

          Someone’s going to think this post is cooking up a storm of discussion but nope… nope.

        3. alsozara

          Thanks.

          Hahahaha, someone could be very disappoint if they bother to read this whole comment string. BTW, feel free to delete any/all of this to unclog the comment thread if you like.

  1. thoughtcannon

    Anyway, I rather enjoyed the first episode of kokoro connect as well. I had initially assumed that it was mostly going to focus on the romantic aspect among the 5 protags but I did pick up a little bit on the lonely or troubling nature of some of their living situations. I really liked the way the director used the apparent disconnect they each have with their home lives to show the connection they had to each other. This post makes me hopeful that you are right about having a focus on their external conflicts and skeletons as you said.

    Reply
  2. A Day Without Me

    I can’t really muster much optimism about this, because Iori’s whole thing smells like that good ol’ standard: “Ugh, look at that horrible mother, how dare she work and leave her kid alone! If she were a real mother, she would never do that! And if she were a real mother, she wouldn’t be divorced, either, so she’d be a stay-at-home mom like all mothers should be!” Meh, no thanks.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      Well, it should really be an indictment on a working culture that preaches, “You should never be the first to leave.” But, yeah, I’d be surprised if the anime connected the dots to that extent.

      But anyway, regardless of whether or not the anime will cast aspersions on working women, it’s tough for any kid to return to an empty home. I’m not saying that the mother should just up and quit her job, but Iori’s loneliness is worth exploring as long as the show doesn’t stray into gender norms territory.

      Reply
      1. A Day Without Me

        I don’t have any faith that it’ll manage to avoid that, given that anime is a fairly conservative medium.

        Of course, my bias may be at work here, in that I often returned home to an empty house as a child, and it never bothered me. Roof over my head, food on the table; I tend to think its selfish for older children to resent their parents’ efforts to keep them healthy, safe, and comfortable. It might be a harsh sentiment, but its the one that I have. We could argue about systemic issues and cultural norms regarding the workplace and what work ethics are supposed to be, and how these cut into family time, but debating it doesn’t alter that parents frequently cannot be a consistent physical presence in their children’s lives.

        Reply
        1. E Minor Post author

          Of course, my bias may be at work here, in that I often returned home to an empty house as a child, and it never bothered me.

          Growing up, spanking never bothered me. Lots of cultures spank their kids as well. Still, research tells me that it’s bad for kids’ psychological development. So how will I raise my kids? I mean, it’s a tricky issue. And so is this one. I’m not saying that the mother is in the wrong. Clearly, she has to do what she has to do to raise her daughter. But on the flip side, it’s not as though kids like Iori decided one day to feel sad about their situation. They just do. Not everyone can or should rationalize their emotions away. And in my opinion, it’s better to be upfront about those feelings anyway.

  3. Sora

    I like gender swaping stories to see how the male character reacts and develops/ gets accustomed to the female body, but with such boring male characters, it just seems to take away any potential to be realy interesting, and who decided to make him a pro wrestling fan anyway.-.-

    Reply

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