Kokoro Connect – 05
Heartseed comes back to fuck with the teenagers again this week in a rather cruel manner, with the primary focus once again on Taichi and Iori. Overall it was an interesting episode – I hope Heartseed intervenes to mix things up again in the future.
Before I get into the meat of the events of this episode, I just want to talk a bit about Aoki. Aoki has had the least development and screen time so far as he’s mostly used for comedy. I’m quite disappointed that Aoki thus far hasn’t had much presence in the show – I’d have thought he and Taichi would have stuck together much more since they’re the only guys in the club, but that hasn’t really been the case. They’re clearly good friends (since they trade porn and all) but so far Taichi has definitely been the dominant character in the series, with Aoki very much sitting on the sidelines pining after Yui.
In this episode we see a bit more of Aoki’s personality – he’s extremely earnest and doesn’t hesitate to say what is on his mind. We’ve seen him constantly badgering Yui to date him in the past, but this weeks episode opens with him seriously confessing his feelings to Yui in private, and actually getting through to her.
Aoki’s light-hearted manner belies his serious streak underneath – something that was again seen in the hospital when Heartseed told them to decide who dies with Iori’s body. Aoki was the only one to say what most of them were thinking – Iori’s soul should die with her body. It’s the logical thing, but it seems callous to say it, but Aoki’s straightforward and honest personality won’t let him dance around sensitive issues – he would much rather get things out into the open straight away. I do hope we get more on Aoki’s background in the upcoming episodes.
The bulk of this weeks episode was about Iori’s brush with death thanks to Heartseed’s cruel joke – taking her body taken over & flinging her off a bridge was a rather extreme method of shaking things up a bit! The positive side of Iori’s ordeal is that she now accepts that there can be much worse things than having a tenuous grasp on your own personality, and will probably try to avoid stressing herself out so much in the future.
Taichi’s speech about how Iori should accept all her different personalities as being part and parcel of what makes her, her, is very similar to what he told Inaba about her issues – the overall message is to learn to love yourself exactly as you are. It’s a difficult thing to do in practise, but Iori’s near death experience have given her new perspective on life, so we should see changes in her in the future.
I’d welcome a change in her as I found Iori’s manipulation of Taichi at the start of the episode a bit underhanded. It is entirely unfair of her to expect him to recognise her when she is going out of her way to impersonate Inaba. Taichi claimed that he would always recognise her – but that was only when she was being “Iori Nagase”, no matter what new persona “Iori Nagase” decided to paint on at that time. Here Iori is purposely pretending to be Inaba, changing her manner of speech & body language accordingly and Iori carefully hides any of her usual mannerisms – how on earth was Taichi to know any different when the body switching is so very random?
I thought that it was pretty mean of Iori to test Taichi in this manner, especially knowing how he’s kind-hearted and selfless to a fault. To me it almost felt like a calculated move to spur Taichi into action, something that Iori is definitely capable of doing, although I doubt it was done with any ill intent – she just wants his support.
I find myself liking Taichi more and more each episode – he’s not the dull White Knight MC I originally though he was shaping up to be. Taichi has issues of his own – his selfish selflessness is, as Inaba puts it, a “gentle sort of insanity“; there is definitely something wrong with the boy. We’ve seen his stoic mask start to slip in the last few episodes too, and in this episode he actually tears up – shocking Inaba a bit. His stricken expression when he realises that Iori was pretending to be Inaba, and the weak-kneed shock when he realises Heartseed was trolling them all along, are all new coming from Taichi who has been pretty unflappable to date.
I find myself starting to wonder if maybe Taichi is going to be the one who breaks hardest in this series. In this episode he claims that he finds watching others suffer unbearable, and that he would much rather hurt himself than watch anyone else suffer. This body-swapping business has been tough on everyone, but since Taichi is the type to take everything onto himself to spare others, I can’t help but think that this unhealthy behaviour is going to destroy him.
Even in this episode, he tells Iori that he won’t cry or display any emotion because that would hurt her and hinder her ability to grieve – even though Taichi himself is definitely distraught over her impending death. This is probably due to Iori’s little revelation that she’s attracted to the “stability” Taichi projects – she feels that even if she changes he won’t, which probably adds pressure to Taichi to continue to hide his feelings. Bottling up all that emotion isn’t good, and Taichi hasn’t shown any propensity to confide in anyone to date.
This episode also fueled the Taichi x Iori ship by having Taichi not only confess to her, but they also kiss (although Iori was in Inaba’s body at the time). I’m personally having issues accepting this ship because it doesn’t seem healthy and feels a bit inauthentic to me. In the previous episode Taichi stopped himself from confessing to Iori and opted for the friend route, however this failed to stabilise Iori who was clearly still hurting and looking for a rock to cling to – a role that Taichi is prefect for given his reliable & stoic personality. Therefore in this episode we see Taichi rushing after her and confessing to her on the urging of Inaba and Fujishima to be the ‘Hero’ Iori needs.
Taichi must have felt pressured to do something to help Iori - Inaba and Fujishima are clearly expecting him to do something, and so he confesses to her – offering himself completely to Iori. Taichi’s hero complex and the fact he can’t stand to see anyone hurting drive him to constantly give more and more of himself up – it wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine his confession doesn’t stem from any romantic feelings, but rather a desire to help a friend who is hurting. Such feelings are well-meaning, but will cause pain on all sides in the long-term, especially since Taichi seems to be better paired with Inaba – he’s much more honest around her, and Inaba clearly has feelings for him.
I definitely feel like there is going to be a lot more drama to come in this show – Heartseed has said that they have no idea what he’s truly capable of, and the longer this unstable situation goes on, the more mental damage it’s going to cause to the teenagers. Hopefully Kokoro Connect manages to use the fantastic potential for interesting drama it has here.