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Kokoro Connect – 02

July 17, 2012

As usual I took my time deciding what I wanted to write about this season – I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that due to there being a few interesting shows I actually had a choice, but ultimately I (and the Random Number Generator) decided upon Kokoro Connect.  This show has lots and lots of potential in it, but it remains to be seen if it will fully capitalise on that; this second episode did get my hopes up though.

I enjoyed the fact that our antagonist(?) “Heartseed” seems to be a right lazy git – his entire reasoning for afflicting our quintet with this body swapping phenomena boils down to “for shits & giggles”, and he outright says he won’t really meddle with their lives as that would require effort!  Heartseed’s lack of motivation doesn’t diminish his creep factor though.  The fact that he can possess humans, has superhuman reflexes and is potentially omnipotent with a scary amount of control over the teens lives, is all pretty terrifying. Heartseed’s advice that the teens not over think things and just get on with their lives seems to be the best way to deal with the situation – their sanity is already going to be strained, thinking about the “why” & “how” of the circumstances would just be an exercise in frustration.

What I particularly liked about Heartseed’s reveal was the absolute monotone delivery of his lines and the completely blank expression on Goto’s borrowed face – an entity devoid of the usual human emotions is chilling, and the lighting & music in the scene really heightened that feeling.  However I do think that Heartseed’s telling the teens not to worry too much about the mechanics of the body swapping, is an indication that his existence probably isn’t going to be a major focus in the show.  Which is fine by me really – I’m much more interested in seeing how the teenagers deal with this messy situation.

Kokoro Connect deals with the usual & expected comedy elements that body swapping causes in a fairly amusing, if predictable manner.  The voice actors are doing a sterling job of impersonating each other and the animators are paying attention to how each character moves & holds themselves and making sure to carry that over when they switch bodies.  The characters themselves are getting good at recognising who is in whose body using these visual & auditory cues – I’m sure I’ll pick up on it quickly too.

Most of the comedy stems from run of the mill stuff like using the wrong bathrooms, and in Iori, Taichi & Inaba’s case – messing about with their love lives.  I had to laugh when Inaba (while in Taichi’s body) staked claim on Iori to rescue the other girl from the clutches of the clingy lesbian class president.  However on the whole Kokoro Connect’s comedy isn’t all that strong and is only really saved by its excellent voice actors.

What really grabbed me about this episode was that it actually showed some depth and a willing to ask some meaningful questions about the nature of “self” and identity.  I was particularly surprised that it was Iori that raised the questions first when talking to Taichi; Iori projects a fairly ditzy, happy-go-lucky persona, so having her speak in such an intelligent manner was unexpected.  Hopefully the show will follow-up on this as I am intensely interested to see how Iori’s public persona matches up with her inner one.

Getting back to the question of “what makes me, me?”  We of course would primarily identify our personalities or souls as being what makes us uniquely ourselves, and indeed when the teenagers switch bodies, they still identify as themselves even if their body is now different.  However for those not in the know about the body switching, the body is the primary identifying factor – Taichi may now be in Yui’s body, but Yui’s friends and other strangers still identify him as Yui, not Taichi.

Generally speaking the body is the foundation of the creation of the self – gender and physical appearance directly affect the personality, so Iori finds herself wondering if she will remain unchanged now that her ties to her physical body have been loosened.  It’s a very troubling issue and I’d imagine it being utterly terrifying to have to go through.  The teens seem to be coping well at the moment, but I’m sure the strain will gradually start to wear them down mentally.

The whole body swapping thing also raises issues of trust.  These five aren’t really intimate friends, they’ve only really socialised through their school club before, and are now forced to live each others lives.  Already some cracks have appeared – Yui is concerned about Iori’s rather lonely home life and everyone seems to have noted Yui’s strong negative reaction to men.  The whole situation calls upon the kids to really open up their lives to each other – there is a truckload of potential for drama here.

So yeah, there are plenty of interesting themes in Kokoro Connect, I’m looking forward to seeing how the show deals with some of them.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 17, 2012 9:37 pm

    Excellent. Just, excellent. You writing this post means that I don’t have to, really. Since you touch on everything that fascinated me to no end in this episode.

    • July 17, 2012 9:44 pm

      I suddenly remembered why I enjoyed some of my psychology & anthropology degree back at Uni when thinking about this show; this is some interesting stuff – I may have to dust off some of my old textbooks!

  2. July 20, 2012 11:29 pm

    I watched the first two episodes back to back, after prodding from the twitter community. I was honestly surprised by this series. The fact that it plays the comedy with philosophy so well reminds me a little bit of Drrrrr. I’m not saying this show reaches that level, but I think that this show could be outstanding if they maintain a healthy balance of the different elements while upping the stakes each week. I’m looking forward to reading your posts!

    • July 22, 2012 1:42 pm

      While I don’t think the show will truly address the psychological challenges body swapping introduces, the fact that it was even willing to raise those questions impressed me. I do hope it doesn’t sweep it all under the carpet in favour of silly comedy though – that would depress me!

      • July 22, 2012 6:03 pm

        If it digresses into a silly moe comedy, like yourself, I would be done with this.

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