Final Review: Kokoro Connect

DISCLAIMER: Anime reviews on this blog will attempt minimal to no spoilers unless otherwise noted. If a review seems dull or shallow, it’s because I’m trying to make sure not to go into too detail for those who are actually interested in the show before or after reading the review or those who have yet to finish the title. If you want further details, there are usually tons of reviews that can be found elsewhere on the internet. Furthermore, anime reviews in general are the sole opinion of the author writing it and thus differ across the users. There is no such thing as a “right answer” only a majority agreement. You are free to have your own opinions and thereby free to state and/or argue/debate in the comments section below or on the Fansub TV Forums. The review is not necessarily meant to serve as a recommendation but rather a personal opinion of having completed the series.

Kokoro Connect is based off a series of light novels with essentially each volume dealing with a different “problem” among a group of friends in the Cultural Research Club. The series is 17 episodes long and adapts the first four volumes of the light novels. The series began its run in Summer 2012 and had the last four episodes aired back to back on December 30, 2012. The first 13 episodes were simulcasted by Crunchyroll and licensed by Sentai Filmworks.

Kokoro Connect doesn’t have a story per say but rather it’s a slice of life series with drama and mysterious/supernatural phenomenons thrown in and broken up into various arcs depending on the phenomenon. The phenomenons seem very simple and basic yet the way the show is able to twist it into a heart-wrenching drama at times is truly what makes this show shine. From body swapping to mind reading, everything seems to be thrown way out of proportion but in a seemingly good way. Hito Random is the first arc of the series that has the most simple concept of all, yet gets you really hooked with the show in about five episodes by effectively telling you , “we can make one of you die to fulfill our interests.” Kizu Random is more of a Yui/Inaba character development arc, though far more emphasis on Yui despite supposedly being more about Inaba also crushing on Taichi. Kako Random is the rushed arc of the TV series by effectively expanding on a few portions of Kizu Random, which is a bit disappointing since this arc was far more interesting in its setup. Lastly, we have Michi Random where we get to learn about who Iori Nagase really is after all the hints dropped about her difficult life throughout the series. Within each arc, we get quite a lot of substance and its nice to see a large portion being carried over in each arc as well.

Art is basic for the most part and character foundations are all the same as well. Animation is by Silver Link, which is effectively SHAFT version 2. Granted that very few of their works ever meet actual SHAFT quality, especially the more recent titles, I’ve often considered them a decent studio in terms of animation. However, in the case of Kokoro Connect, it’s not exactly the prettiest I’ve seen. Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu as well as C3 and Tasogare Otome x Amnesia all top it in terms of overall quality. Character movements are nice and fluid but outside of that, the setting animation and scene transitions are god awful. Shots are also generally distant, which basically make complex animation moot if you can’t see it happening. That said, it’s certainly not atrocious and definitely watchable. However, in terms of standard, you could call it a new approach by Silver Link or you could just say it’s worse in quality.

OP1 is by eufonius and OP2 is by Masaki Imai. Both are quite solid titles but I prefer had they kept eufonius on the entire time (if it only weren’t for that scandal…). ED themes change for each arc and in generally they’re all okay. Background music is solid while sound effects are average. Seiyuu is very good for this show. Takuma Terashima as Aoki, Miyuki Sawashiro as Inaba, Hisako Hanemoto/Juri Aikawa as Yui (ala Cure Peace), Aki Toyosaki as Iori, and Takahiro Mizushima as Taichi.

Enjoyment? A very wild ride and a good one at that. It feels like it’s been a long while since I could really say that. Kokoro Connect is definitely one of the titles I enjoyed most in 2012, especially when one considers how terrible the year has been overall, let alone when comparing to 2011. Every week was worth waiting for this show, especially the last four episodes.

Overall, Kokoro Connect can be a lighthearted watch or a tear-jerking drama or both depending on how you view it. It’s an interesting watch as very few (if any) titles exist in this space. While leaving out a number of (smaller) details from the novels, Kokoro Connect gets to its points smoothly and concisely. With the exception of the third arc where things jumped around quite a bit, everything else seemed great for the most part and of course, a sequel that will adapt the remaining novels (I believe volume 10 is the last and soon to be published) is certainly more than welcomed.

 

Story and Character:

  • Premise (1/1): A different approach at a slice-of-life, drama
  • Character Personalities (1/1): Great all around
  • Character Development (2/2): Solid
  • Character Usefulness/Presence (2/2): Small and memorable cast
  • Pacing: (0.5/1): On and off at times
  • Reasonable/Plausible (1.5/2):  Iori jumping off the bridge at having almost no problems seems a bit off.
  • Conclusion (1/1): Michi Random was an arc I disliked in the novels because of how overly cliche it was but seeing it animated was much better than expected.
  • Total: 9/10

Art and Animation:

  • Backgrounds (1/2): Average
  • Character Designs (1/2): All use the same base
  • Fluidity (2/2): Solid overall
  • Visuals/Special Effects/Flashiness (1.5/2): Above average colors.
  • Art and Animation “Expectation” (1/2): Weak relative to many other Silver Link titles in the past year or two.
  • Total: 6.5/10

Sound and Music:

  • OP/ED/Insert Themes (2/3): Decent OP/EDs
  • Background Music (2/2): Solid
  • Sound Effects (1/2): Average
  • Seiyuu (3/3): Fantastic
  • Total: 8/10

Enjoyment:

  • Amusement (2/2): Good balance of comedy and drama
  • Weekly/Next Episode Anticipation (2/2): Looked forward to this every week, including the 3-4 month wait for the last four episodes.
  • Presentation: (1.5/2): Arcs are not standalone and build on each other. Good that they reincorporate events from previous arcs.
  • Re-watchable (0.5/1): Yes to some degree. Great cast. Not many surprise elements
  • Recommendation (1.5/2): There are better slice-of-life dramas but Kokoro Connect is unique in its own right with the mysterious phenomenons.
  • Value (0.5/1): Some due to the unique setup.
  • Total: 8/10

Preliminary Score: 8/10

Final Score: 8/10

1 Comment

  1. daft27 Said,

    January 3, 2013 @ 5:53 am

    There is a problem with the anti-spam plugin that’s enabled on all the blogs. I just put a patch in place that should fix things for the time being.

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