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Kokoro Connect – 05

August 8, 2012

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.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Earthling permalink
    August 8, 2012 11:39 pm

    You’ve scored some great points about Taichi’s problems.

    However, given how stable and stubborn his personality is, I have doubts about the speculation that he would breaks down. What I do think, however, is that his over the top “selfless” personality will be a threat to his relationships with others. Right now, it does seem to help get him and his friends closer to gather and doesn’t seem to much of a problem, but once they develop some really strong bonds or romance, I can see this becoming a disturbing factor. In fact, they’ve already shown sign in this episode:
    – He’s reckless
    – He’s stubborn about it
    – He’s a little pushy about it
    – Finally, there are things that he’s powerless about
    Imagine your best buddy or your love interest always going out of the way or even throwing himself into dangerous situations just to help other people. He might even willingly butt into situations where he’s powerless about. Maintaining any kind of relationship with him can be… stressful and unhealthy. As admirable as Taichi personality is, not everybody can deal with that kind of relationship all the time, especially if he’s stubborn about it. He’s “stability” may backfire on him. Also remember that this is a group of teenagers, not a bunch of heroes with the mental strength of steel.

    I have a feeling that Taichi’s white knight motif will be tackled once he established some strong relationships at their peak, where it is the perfect opportunity to challenge his bonds and explore the theme. After all, human relationships isn’t all about one particular individual, but also as a whole. What I think Taichi might needs i “knowing when to compromise”. I don’t mean “give up”, but “compromise” – do your best but hold when it’s beyond your control, until you have the ability to continue so.

    • August 11, 2012 2:19 pm

      Something the bound to happen with the relationships here and once it does I imagine Taichi will have to face some hard truths about the way he acts.

      In a way Taichi reminds me of Watanuki in early chapters of xxxHOLiC – it wasn’t until the Spider Eye arc of the series that Watanuki fully realised that his self sacrificing ways were really hurting those closest to him. I’d imagine Taichi will undergo a similar revelation soon.

  2. windyturnip permalink
    August 9, 2012 12:45 am

    It’ll be criminal if they keep using as Aoki as comedic relief as he has a lot of potential to develop into a great character. He’s the only character that remains a mystery so I feel we’ll be seeing an episode about him soon.

    If they keep the drama up, Taichi is going to last the longest but eventually fall the hardest. I have trouble believing that this show is already pairing up two characters so I have my doubts about their relationship. I’m convinced Taichi was lying when he confessed to Iori, and I’m sure that’s going to come back to bite him. (If I’m not mistaken, didn’t he confess when he thought she was going to die?)

    The way things are setting up I don’t think there is going to be a happy ending to this story. I think the best we’re going to get is something bittersweet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we get something much worse. Speaking of which, does anybody else find the opening really off now?

    • August 11, 2012 2:24 pm

      I don’t mind Aoki being kept as the only character with no real issues, but he really needs an episode to develop past that “other guy” comedic relief character.

      Taichi confessed before Heartseed chucked Iori off the bridge but after she ran out of the club room in tears. I also think it wasn’t a genuine confession but rather one spurred on by the fact Iori appeared to be breaking again – the kiss was a direct response to her impending death though. The friendship speech Taichi gave in the previous episode wasn’t a permanent fix, so the next step was to offer exclusive romantic support.

  3. August 9, 2012 1:54 am

    I wouldn’t worry about never learning much about Aoki–I at least can’t think of many anime that manage to delve deeply into *everyone* in its main cast in just five episodes. I’m extremely pleased with just how much this show has already covered so quickly–and how it hasn’t really felt rushed, either.

    Taichi has been a very fascinating character to me, enough that I’m a bit disappointed many people are labeling him “generic bland male lead.” I guess because he’s a nice guy? His extreme selflessness reminds me much of Oz from Pandora Hearts, who eventually had to have a “This is Why You Suck” speech to shake him out of his tendency to jump straight to self-sacrifice every chance he could. Inaba has more or less given this sort of speech to Taichi, but it’s taken Heartseed’s machinations to actually move things along further.

    I’m curious to see if this show will maintain this level of drama, and if it will actually have a complete resolution. (I also wonder if there’s a snowball’s chance of the light novels actually getting licensed into English! Now that would be something.)

    • August 11, 2012 2:30 pm

      I’m probably being a bit greedy about wanting all the central characters equally developed – was never going to happen in a single cours show. I’m also pretty happy with the pacing overall in KokoroCo.

      Taichi was straying into bland MC territory a in the previous episodes – it’s only really here that we get a peek at his actual mindset and the fact that he has a personality to speak of. Taichi will need a wake-up call to snap him out of his selfish selflessness – just remains to be seen how that will actually transpire.

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