Kokoro Connect Ep. 13: A number two of a finale

There’s this outrageous story floating around right now linking Kokoro Connect to a bullying incident. I’m told it’s true, and it’s supposed to explain why the show ends so abruptly. In the end, however, I can only judge what’s in front of me. If you’re curious about the bullying incident, it’s everywhere so it’s not like it’s hard to find. Besides, it’s not as though Kokoro Connect was reaching some high point before having its life cut tragically short. I firmly believe the first arc was the best arc, and as such, it should’ve been the only arc, if that makes any sense. If not, I’ll try to explain what I mean.

I suppose it’s first necessary to address the content of this “final” episode. Iori’s mom sounds like she’s in trouble, because her second husband is a deadbeat wife-beater. Iori blames herself, but her friends convince her otherwise. So even when Heartseed #1 offers to send Iori back to any point in time in order to fix her domestic situation, she refuses. Heartseed #2, we’re told, “will no longer be able to meddle with [the five friends].” Is this a rush job because of the bullying incident I mentioned above, I can’t really tell. It is a wholly unsatisfying conclusion either way. Speaking of unsatisfying conclusions, Iori then has a chat with her mom and… that’s it. Like a Sunday morning cartoon, all’s well that ends well. A simple talk fixes everything, the deadbeat wife-beater is thrown out, and then the episode–… no, the entire show ends.

I need more shots of the friends walking in a line!

As much as its fans would like to toot the anime’s horn, the problem with Kokoro Connect is that its problems never get very deep. As soon as something intriguing is about to develop, the arc essentially finishes and the story starts over. In my mind, the first arc was the best as it seemingly spawned the best discussions. With all the body-swapping going around, the anime had a chance to deconstruct not only gender roles vis-a-vis anime, but also the character stereotypes that typically plague these types of shows. For instance, it would seem as though Taichi’s bland, gotta-help-them-all personality could actually be his downfall.

But none of this is fully explored as we instantly jump to the arc where everyone’s “innermost desires” are realized. I put those words in quote because the characters never come close to even actuating their ids. Oh, you yelled at a friend when you’d normally just bottle it in? Oh, you ate a bunch of snacks when you really wouldn’t have pigged out? These examples are all very mundane, but in Kokoro Connect, they’re somehow supposed to be life-changing incidents that our five friends are supposed to learn from. But if the lesson is “Well, sometimes friends fight, but we just have to stick together,” c’mon… what are we? Twelve?

…I want more…

The format, however, is largely to blame for the uninspired writing. If you know you’re only given three or four episodes at most to introduce a problem and resolve it, are you going to throw something complex out there? Some series can handle this, some can’t. Kokoro Connect simply can’t. The characters thus have to act stupidly just to make a serious problem out of a simple one. Case in point, Inaba scolds Yui for isolating herself from the group because it might lead to drastic consequences. The characters know from experience that the Heartseed isn’t reluctant to exacerbate the situation for its own amusement. So what does Inaba do for the rest of the arc? Isolate herself. Taichi yells at Inaba for abandoning the club. So what does he do? Abandon Iori. The characters are forcing themselves to be stupid just for there to be any drama whatsoever.

Like I said, I would’ve just focused on one of the problems and made it the entire series. As such, I would’ve picked the body-swapping stories. It’s not everyday that you get to see characters experience the world through the eyes and bodies of the opposite gender. But even the second arc could’ve been interesting if not for the horribly contrived stupidity. Given proper development time, maybe we’ve would seen something truly id-like from any of the five characters rather than, y’know, punching some mean boys for being mean. The final arc is the shortest of them all, and doesn’t even feature two of the five characters (Taichi and Inaba). They’re like side characters while the other three rush through their epiphanies.

…dammit Iori, get back in line!

I’ve heard the excuse before that Kokoro Connect is enjoyable because the character interactions are top-notch. Hey, whatever floats your boat, right? This, however, just isn’t enough for me. I see an anime with a whole lot of potential — decently animated and acted to boot — but we can’t live on potential. Kokoro Connect is not a terrible show, but I can’t say it’s a good one.


21 thoughts on “Kokoro Connect Ep. 13: A number two of a finale

  1. Honestly, I think it would have been on BD/DVD anyways, because of the new Fall shows coming in and taking its time slot.

    Also, I think I reacted more negatively than you did regarding Kokoro Connect. Just not a fan of shows that want to be intelligent whilst playing it safe at the same time. There are some I’ve liked, but this isn’t one of them.

    1. Honestly, I think it would have been on BD/DVD anyways, because of the new Fall shows coming in and taking its time slot.

      Sounds money-grubbing.

  2. The episodes would’ve been on BD/DVD whether this scandal had happened or not. As for the second opening, however, the scandal might’ve been a reason… who knows though.

    I agree completely with your point about focusing the enitre show on only one problem. 26 episodes of bodyswapping! Booyeah, I would love that.

  3. This show was a boner kill. When I first saw pictures of this show, I thought it’d be a K-on-type show, but when I decided to watch it, it definitely caught my attention. I thought it would be like an anthology of outrageous events, but after the first arc, my hope for it dropped. I’m glad the show ended early, it was hard to endure the push to finish it.

  4. I agree that the show could have definitely made more progress if it wasn’t rushed and had this need to be deep when it really wasn’t. The ball-kicking episode, though, honestly left a rancid taste in my mouth and, honestly, just how they developed Yui in general (although it’s mostly personal problems).

    I honestly liked the concept of Kokoro Connect but maybe if they had more episodes (possibly 20 to 26?) they would have more time to delve in deeper with the characters. I really find Yui and Iori fascinating and I really would have honestly liked Aoki’s character a bit more if they also developed him. But should’ve, could’ve, would’ve and that’s what I get for having high expectations.

    1. I’m surprised you like Yui as much as you say considering how poorly-developed you found her character. I just found it odd to end on two episodes of Yui and Aoki, then a single really rushed episode for Iori. I always felt like Yui and Aoki were B-level storylines at best, and was expecting more out of Taichi and Inaba.

      1. Perhaps I should have made it clearer that while I do find Yui’s character fascinating – I didn’t like how her character was handled, especially during the Desire arc. I completely understand her rationale however – I just didn’t like how it was used to cause Inaba to have the ~desire to call her out. If anything, I would love to explore Yui and Inori more because they have interesting backstories while the rest really didn’t. I was kind of hoping they’d focus on those two a bit more (especially with all that build up).

        Taichi & Inaba… they were as dull as I thought they were so no real surprise or disappointment there.

      2. I always thought she was like a typical girl even when it was revealed what happened to her (although I didn’t like how it was revealed either – I have a lot of feelings towards this series) and she displayed quiet strength. Her past didn’t define her until it was brought up.

        Of course, this could very well be projection on my part.

  5. Totally agree with you, this anime just fell apart after the uncontrollable desires arc. The characters were not really in a big pinch compared to the body switching thus lack of suspense. Final episode was just bad, yeah turning into kids is a problem but not if your stuck inside an abandon building all day long. They should really put something unexpected at the end or maybe I just have high hopes from the initial impression.

    1. Final episode was just bad, yeah turning into kids is a problem but not if your stuck inside an abandon building all day long.

      Ah yes, you pointed out another thing I felt but forgot to mention. The characters just didn’t really do anything.

  6. I have no words, for they have been stolen and put to better use in your post. Kokoro Connect is quite the mediocre anime.

    The first episode of Shin Sekai Yori is out, by the way. Fall season is coming fast.

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