Kokoro Connect
Animation: Silver Link Airing Date: July 8 – September 30, 2012
Production: King Record Company Limited MSRP: Free or $6.95/month
Publisher: Crunchyroll, Sentai Filmworks Episodes: 13

Start with five fairly normal high schoolers, add in a mysterious, supernatural being called Heartseed who can alter their lives at will and you get Kokoro Connect. As the show runs through three story arcs in 13 episodes, is there enough time devoted to each to make for a good series?

The show opens with Taichi Yaegashi, Iori Nagase, Himeko Inaba, Yui Kiriyama, and Yoshifumi Aoki the five members of the Student Cultural Society (StuCS) meeting together in their club room. The night before, Yui and Yoshifumi both had a strange dream where they ended up in each other’s bodies. The catch is, it wasn’t just a dream. As they discuss their experiences, loathe as they are to admit it, they come to realize that they exchanged bodies in the middle of the night. Their theory is confirmed moments later as Iori and Taichi make the switch at school, and soon Heartseed shows up to tell them that he’s the one in control of the situation. And so begins the first arc of Kokoro Connect, known as the “random person” arc (Hito Random). As the story progresses, and the swaps continue, Heartseed appears here and there, always taking over the body of someone (usually their homeroom teacher), to let them know what he expects from them. Once he feels sufficiently amused he decides to let them be… for a while. Three months later the “random wound” arc (Kizu Random) begins, and the students find themselves unable to control their desires. In group of five hormonally charged teenagers you can imagine what kind of things start to happen, though the show keeps it clean. The third arc “random past” (Kako Random) sees the StuCS club endure randomly being changed to different ages in their childhood. One day Yui might be 10 years old, the next Iori might be five, etc. As a side-effect of these transformations to their childhood, when they regain their current age, the club members remember things from their past that they had long forgotten or buried. As a result of all these transformations, the StuCS crew is forced to face their fears and come together to help each other through the seemingly endless ordeal.

Heartseed, in the body of the homeroom teacher

Throughout the series, the five StuCS members certainly grow into their own. Each member has their own realistic hangups and skeletons in their closet, and with all the transformations going on, they can only rely on each other as they try to keep the situation secret from everyone else. As their personal secrets become revealed to the group as a whole, the Student Cultural Society all band together to help them get through it. The characters flaws are all eminently relatable for just about anyone, as I know I grew up with people who went through most of their issues. The story tackles each character’s growth in turn as each type of transformation allows a different member to come into the spotlight. It’s a very well-executed mechanic.

The first and second arcs were each given five episodes while the last arc only received three, and the third arc did suffer a bit from being given short shrift. The first two arcs were strong, perhaps being worthy of a 10, but the way the last arc was handled, while not horrible, was not up to par with the start of the series. Being handcuffed into only 13 shows definitely hurt the storytelling overall, but just a little. The show does kind of wrap itself up at the end unless you watch the epilogue to know that there’s another arc to come out someday, rumored to start next spring.

Even with so few episodes, each arc has its own ending theme and there are two different openings. The first opening, “Paradigm” by Eufonius, ran for ten episodes. The song has Eufonius’s distinct light-hearted pop style seen in other openings over the years for shows such as Kashimashi and Futakoi. The second opening, “Kimi Rhythm” by Masaki Imai, covers the last arc and has a bit more of a top 40 style to it. Each of the endings, all done by Team Nekokan, are tailored to their respective arc and the accompanying video fits well with what goes on in each. The first “Kokoro no Kara” is much slower than the openings, and the video shows off each of the characters disappearing and being replaced by one of the other StuCS members. The video for the second song “Cry Out” follows Inaba for the most part as she is the main focus of the arc in many ways. The song itself is decent, but perhaps the weakest of the soundtrack. “Salvage” has a driving rock beat and much more guitar than any other song, making it stand out from the rest. For those who like that style of music, it’s actually a pretty good tune. The video features each of the characters paired up with their younger selves that you see during the show.

StuCS members Yui, Inaba, Taichi and Iori

The art is above average, but not breathtaking. There were not any major glaring issues with the animation or character design, but at no time was I in awe of the artistry either. The character designs are good for the show, with the main characters looking like relatively average high schoolers, and the background are pretty well detailed at times. The subtitles were well-localized and didn’t have any glaring errors or omissions.

All in all, Kokoro Connect is a really good show. The biggest complaint I really have about the series is that the show ends after 13 episodes. The ending of episode 13 indicates that there is a fourth arc “random track” (Michi Random) that is only just beginning, but these episodes won’t be covered until an OVA is released. Other than being left hanging, this show was fantastic and arguably one of the best of the season. Definitely worth watching if you don’t mind yet another show being set in high school.

If you want to check out Kokoro Connect you can find it available for streaming on Crunchyroll.

Art: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆
Music/Voice: ★★★★★★★★★☆
Characters: ★★★★★★★★★★
Story: ★★★★★★★★★☆
Intangibles: ★★★★★★★★☆☆
Overall: ★★★★★★★★★☆

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Full Disclosure: This series was reviewed using an account provided by Crunchyroll.

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