Anime Recommendation: Kokoro Connect

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(c) SILVER LINK.

Have you wanted to hear other people’s thoughts? Or ever idolized someone so much that you wanted to be in their shoes? Maybe thought about turning back time to when you were just an innocent child? Well, this series is just for you! Kokoro Connect brings those wishes to reality and you get to see what it would really be like to be in such a scenario.

Kokoro Connect is a Slice of Life anime based on the light novel of the same title. It consists of 17 comedy-filled and drama-infused episodes created by Sadanatsu Anda, animated by Silver Link studio, and produced by Starchild Records and Enterbrain. The first 13 episodes were aired in Japan from July 8 to September 30, 2012, and were simulcast by Crunchyroll. The four remaining episodes aired on AT-X on December 30, 2012. The series follows the experiences, friendships, and youth of the members of the Student Cultural Society. The group’s normal lives suddenly change due to a character named Heartseed, who mysteriously makes them switch bodies with each other. It follows a series of unexplained supernatural events, referred to as the Phenomena, that would soon challenge the strength of their friendship and individual capabilities.

First of all, let’s talk about the plot. The anime’s plot is consistent. It follows the same process in presenting the problem per arc, and it gives the viewers something to look forward to after the initial problem is resolved. Something along the lines of, “I have a bad feeling about this” or “something doesn’t feel right…” These lines let the viewers speculate on how the characters will solve these supernatural problems presented to them, attaching themselves to the characters and their stories, making them stay ‘till the end. It is also worth mentioning that one of the genres attached to the series is ‘Slice of Life’. Usually, anime of this genre make worlds where one can escape to and feel as though they are part of that world; and this is one of the strong points of Kokoro Connect’s story. The scenarios brought to the characters aren’t really what you would call ‘relatable’ since they are supernatural occurrences, but it is how the story carries those problems and how the characters face them which makes it relatable.

Even if an anime is executed well, they’re bound to have some flaws. First of all, the unpredictable and refreshing story of the first arc becomes stale and easy to anticipate, since the plot becomes repetitive after the first arc. Secondly, since the anime was only able to adapt about two-fifths of the entire series, there were a lot of mysteries that remained unanswered. It’s highly probable that some scenes or dialogue, which carry extra information about the plot or the characters, were left out due to time constraints. At the same time, it can also be assumed that the anime’s ending is bound to become open-ended or a cliffhanger. Which is why the final episode didn’t really feel like a good point to end on. It was as though there was more to be explored in that universe…

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(c) SILVER LINK.

After the plot, the next most important thing a story needs is the characters. The main characters of the story are presented with specific personalities at the start of the anime; Taichi, who is considered as the selfless and considerate individual, earning him the title “Selfless Freak”; Inaba, the acting leader of the group with her mature and volatile personality; Iori, the energetic, child-like, and blissful member of the group; Yui, the sweet, kind-hearted, and honest member; and Aoki, the local jokester who often makes silly jokes to lighten the tensions and keep the group from frowning. Although, there are some parts of their personality that did not really help with world-building; it felt like it was just there for decoration. But one thing commendable about the anime was the execution of its character development; the anime did a great job on it. Through the phenomena, the viewers can get a glimpse of how supernatural experiences can affect the human mind. Some of it can be considered over the top, but it sticks true to how normal people would react. As such, it makes the character appear more human. As a result of this, the characters are more likely to gain the sympathy of the audience.

As good as the character development was, it doesn’t seem to be equally distributed. One could say that character development is partially subjective and that different types of people may identify otherwise. But the authors of this article tried to get the general gist of each character’s development. Taichi, who can be assumed as the main protagonist of the story, did not grow all that much throughout the anime. It felt like he was treated as a character for the sake of the plot to move forward. Yui and Aoki also had less development compared to the others. Although they had some moments themselves in some episodes, their growth cannot rival the other three. And the remaining two, Iori and Inaba, were the ones who underwent the best character development among the main cast. These two were the ones who were heavily affected by these Phenomena. It is safe to say that all of their personalities and their relationships with each other were challenged, but Iori and Inaba were the ones who really shone throughout the anime. But then again, it’s important to note that only a fraction of the series was animated. So, it’s highly probable that the important moments of the other three were simply not included in the anime.

Next up is what the eyes like the most: the visual appeal. Kokoro Connect’s visuals are also something to look forward to. Despite being released in 2012, with contenders such as Psycho-Pass, K, and Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, Kokoro Connect manages to deliver a visually appealing, simple, and relaxing ambient art-style. The anime is sure to connect the hearts of its viewers by using lush and soft colors matching the tone and depth of the character’s emotions.

In terms of character animation, Silver Link is capable of carrying the emotional expression needed to satisfy the dialogue and tone of the show with no awkward, clunky, and unnecessary movements. ‘Simple and clean’ are the two words to describe the overall design and animation of the characters. Silver Link is renowned for their animation on various series, such as ‘Bofuri: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, so I’ll Max Out My Defense’ and ‘My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!’ Before Kokoro Connect, the studio worked on the comedy and slice of life anime ‘Chitose Get You!!’ and the shōnen-supernatural anime ‘Dusk Maiden of Amnesia.’ Silver Link may still be at their early roots during the release of Kokoro Connect, although not spectacular, they were able to achieve a commendable performance.

The voice acting for the show also deserves its praise, especially with the amount of emotional dialogue that the actors had to perform. A good example was done by Iori’s voice actress, Toyosaki Aki. Iori was mostly portrayed as a lively person, but in some scenes during the four episodes, her behavior was a far cry from the previous episodes. Toyosaki Aki flawlessly voiced a scene where Iori seemingly shows a polar opposite of her personality. Moments like these show the expertise of voice actors; when they can seemingly deviate from the usual behavior of the character and still perfectly make the audience believe that it was still the same character with the same voice actor. In addition, the actors also had to portray multiple personalities with one character such as the case of the first arc ‘Hito Random’.

Next up is another element that really sets the tone and the mood of a scene: the music and the soundtrack. The official soundtrack of the show is certainly no joke. It ranges from being upbeat, to emotional, and to just plain out fun music. Kokoro Connect’s soundtrack variety compliments the show’s desired tone, from the group’s quirky moments in and outside the clubroom to the heartfelt and emotional music that plays when the characters go through their dramatic endeavors. The soundtrack was composed by Yasuhiro Misawa, who was also behind the soundtrack for ‘Himouto! Umaru-chan’ and ‘Hinamatsuri.’ Usually, a one-cour anime uses only one opening and ending song in one season, however, since the anime covers four arcs in total, each with its own specific tone, it uses multiple openings and endings to complement each arc. Overall, Kokoro Connect’s opening and ending songs are memorable when you take the time to listen to them. It will undoubtedly prompt you to seek them out once you finish the show. It is certainly befitting of praise for its dynamic range of music for an emotional and fun journey…

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(c) SILVER LINK.

Kokoro Connect is not your average slice of life or romcom high school anime. Misfortune befell the characters, through supernatural phenomena, and they begin to experience numerous struggles and problems. However, the internal struggles they face individually definitely feel human and may be relatable to the average high school experience; from the bonds of friendship to the curiosity brought by adolescence and to the memories that lurk behind each personality. Admittedly, the characters’ reaction to the supernatural phenomena may be perceived as overdramatic or unrealistic. However, this emphasizes how emotionally unstable the characters are despite being your average run-of-the-mill high school slice of life characters. This enigmatic detail allows one to reflect as to how profound an average person can be; that behind every simplicity is a world different from the one we perceive.

After having some knowledge about this anime, Kokoro Connect might be something you may want to add to your watchlist if ever you want a quirky but emotional story that will give you the laughs, feels, and most importantly, a wholesome feeling. A series different from the usual, but definitely a series that’s worth a try. It may be an old anime, but we will never be old enough to forget this masterpiece within our hearts.