Kokoro Connect – 03
With this episode it really becomes apparent that Taichi is going to be our central character – he’s involved with everything that transpires and everyone seems to like the fella since he’s so thoroughly nice. Thankfully he isn’t obnoxiously nice or too much of a White Knight – those types of characters really bug me since they usually end up reducing their female co-stars to miserable piles of haremette goo with little discernible personality of their own. I’d really hate to see that happen to the girls in Kokoro Connect, as at the moment they’re much more interesting than the boys.
Inaba is easily my favourite character in the show at the moment – she and Taichi seem to be the lynch-pins of the group. Taichi will trip all over himself to help someone out, and Inaba exudes an air of dependable confidence that makes her a natural leader. Inaba also shows herself to be remarkably astute and good at reading people in this episode. In her conversation with Taichi in the park, she confronts him about his do-gooder attitude and his supposed attraction to Iori and also reveals that she believes Iori to be member of the quintet closest to the breaking point. Why Inaba feels this way about Iori has yet to be revealed, it’s unclear whether Iori has confided in Inaba or if Inaba has just developed that feeling from watching Iori.
I found the whole conversation rather interesting, because I got the distinct impression that even though Inaba was trying to pair Taichi & Iori together, Inaba herself likes Taichi. Taichi seems utterly bewildered by Inaba’s statement that he clearly likes Iori and brushes off Inaba’s remark that the feeling is mutual, and he’s also quite baffled by why Inaba is being a bit nasty about his natural tendency to put others before himself. I can only think that this stems from Inaba herself wanting some of the protection Taichi offers to others so easily.
This became a bit more apparent when Inaba flies off the handle when Taichi tries to defuse the atmosphere by making light of their whole situation. Inaba’s reaction seems to suggest that she is really mentally exhausted by the body swapping, and has been really stressed about the possible negative connotations. Inaba’s statement that everyone but yourself is an enemy, also hints that she has potential trust issues, which reminded me of her slightly stunned reaction to Aoki saying that trust will be very important in this situation in the last episode.
Of course the fact that Inaba isn’t as tough as she first appeared really came to a head at the very end of the episode where she faints in Taichi’s arms. It isn’t clear if Inaba has some sort of medical condition, has swapped bodies without someone else’s soul swapping in or if she’s just so relieved the Yui situation didn’t result in the group breaking down that she lets all the tension run out of her – I’m sure we’ll find out next episode.
The other main focus of this episode was of course Yui’s androphobia, and I don’t really feel this was presented with much tact. I do appreciate the fact that the show actually addresses the issue head on rather than let things simmer and become more and more strained – however the way things seemed to be so easily resolved didn’t really sit well with me.
Taichi & Yui switch bodies and have a heart-to-heart. Taichi’s honest and open personality and the fact he seems uninterested in Yui romantically makes him ideal for this role; Inaba was Yui’s previous confidant but could only really manage to stabilise Yui, not help her take the step to resolving the issue. The fact that Yui’s androphobia stems from a near rape didn’t really feel well handled and the fact that Taichi seemed to resolve the issue with a kick in the nuts, felt a bit cheap.
However I don’t think Yui is ‘cured’ of her issues just yet – she still shook when touching Taichi and it’s unclear how she’ll act around Aoki or other boys yet. At this point Taichi is probably the only man she’ll be comfortable around, which is going to engender a lot of jealousy from the others I’d imagine!
Yui’s androphobia wasn’t exactly subtly hinted at, but it was surprising how it came out. Aoki noticing how Yui’s body shook when near men while he was in her body was interesting – it suggests memory of typical behaviour is tied to the body rather than purely to the soul as I originally would have thought, and raises the question of just how this body swapping will affect the teenagers on more than just a mental level.
The only other character that got any real screen time this week was Aoki – Iori was almost entirely absent. Aoki is mostly a comic relief character at present – his positive, bright personality mean that he’s often responsible for lightening the mood in the show. The scenes were he and Taichi were filming themselves confessing while in Yui & Inaba’s bodies was priceless (as was Inaba’s reaction while in Aoki’s body!) and the way Aoki seems to always let his emotions show on his face is sort of endearing.
Aoki also shows that he can be quite perceptive and rather together, if a bit impulsive. Once he realises that his behaviour was causing Yui discomfort he falls over himself to try to make things up to her – Aoki may act the idiot, but he does seem to genuinely care for Yui, and isn’t all that good at holding his emotions back. Aoki also holds Taichi in high regard – he truly seems to admire how honest and selfless Taichi is, but at the same time sees Taichi as a rival for Yui’s affection – everyone seems to love Taichi after all! It will be interesting to see if Taichi’s budding friendship with Yui causes any friction between the two boys.
Next week’s episode seems to be focusing on Iori & Inaba – I’m definitely interested in hearing more about Iori given what Inaba said about her being close to breaking this week.