Kokoro Connect – 15

Iori rejects another boy harshly, drawing the ire of another girl who likes him. Rumors of her worsening attitude spread across the school, and she doesn’t help her cause. Taichi meets with Inaba when her thought about disbanding the club reaches him. He decides Iori’s rejection of him was his fault alone, and he’s going to move forward. Nobody knows what to do about Iori, who stops coming to club. Yui’s talk with only makes things worse. Heartseed visits Yui, who stands up to him, boring him. She chastises Taichi for his inaction. Inaba confronts Iori, who calls her selfish and blames her for ruining things with her and Taichi.

Everyone’s an emotional train wreck with this emotion transmission business, but they all seem to be keeping it relatively together, with one exception. Nagase Iori has gone off the deep end. Thanks to the phenomenon, her heart has been exposed like everyone else’s, and she cannot hide behind her cheerful, friendly facade anymore, so she doesn’t bother. Both the writing and the acting by Toyosaki Aki do an excellent job giving Iori this new dark edge without pushing her into emo angst or evil villain territory. Everyone feels betrayed by her, and she is being nasty and short with everyone, but what choice does she have? To her the gig is up: those are her thoughts and she can’t change them. It’s a stark transformation, but not unexpected, considering she’s always had identity problems.

After visiting Aoki last week, Heartseed comes to Yui, but she’s steadfast and defiant like he was, irritating him. He should really just go to Iori, since she’s the one being affected most negatively by his works. Meanwhile, Inaba has been absolutely killing it this week in her adorable interactions with Taichi. But the notion that loving the same guy Iori once loved at the same time was perfectly okay goes straight out the window, and Iori confirm’s Inaba’s suspicions that she’s partly responsible for what Iori’s going through. Iori is merciless in the way she turns Inaba’s argument around on her. While everyone’s worried about what’s gotten into Iori, no one stops to think it was always in her to begin with, and it’s done hiding. So…what’s gotten into them?

Rating: 9 (Superior)

Kokoro Connect – 14

It is Valentine’s Day, three days after Heartseed started a phenomenon that allows the thoughts of one person to be transmitted to a random assortment of the others. The sender will know who hears their thoughts, but the receivers won’t know who else heard them. When Taichi confesses to Iori, she rejects him. Word gets back to Inaba, who is upset. Hearing one another’s thoughts only seens to make things worse, but when Heartseed confronts Aoki, calling him “the most useless”, he hears Yui thinking of him, and vows to keep fighting for her and everyone else’s sake, by being himself.

Three months after the last episode broadcast, Kokoro Connect is back and man, this newest phenom by Heartseed (or is it “Balloon Vine?” we’ll stick with the former…) is a doozie. I mean, having your thoughts, which are supposed to be private, transmitted to others, including the one person you don’t want hearing them? People may not always say what they mean, or say what they’re thinking. They can bail themselves out by saying they misspoke, or were only joking. But isn’t the very definition of thoughts “what people mean,” without any pretense? We have no choice but to “mean what we think,” right?

Things better left unsaid are being said, and it’s wreaking havoc on Iori’s psyche. She believes that she, more than anyone else in the CRC, hides her true self in her thoughts. The Iori she lets the others see – the one Taichi fell in love with – isn’t really her. When Inaba tells her their decision-making process is impaired during this phenom, Iori puts it to her: what’s so different about the phenomena and other external influences? The experiences they’re going through under Heartseed’s spells are no less real than others. On the positive  side, the phenomenon seems to be strengthening the bond between Taichi and Inaba, as well as Aoki and Yui. Go figure.

On top of all that (or rather below, because it doesn’t seem like that big of a dilemma compared with the other stuff), they’ll have to fight the jazz club (which is really good) if they want to keep Gotou, their faculty advisor, and thus their club autonomy. Now they’ll have to justify the club’s existence with a presentation that includes actual cultural research. Their ultimate idea sounds pretty bland; we think if they made a presentation based on the crap Heartseed’s put them through, they’d beat the Jazz club handily…or get referred to psychiatrists.

Rating: 8 (Great)

Kamisama Hajimemashita – 13 (Fin)

Tomoe sends his fox flames to scour the town for Nanami, but she’s wearing a concealing talisman. When she hears two girls excited about the upcoming shrine festival, she races back to the shrine. By then, the seals around a box are dissolved by Otohiko’s miasma, unleashing the even larger, more powerful misasma of the Earth Spider, defeated by Mikage centuries ago. With a little help from Mikage himself, she uses a Kagura dance to re-defeat the spider, and the shrine is restored to pristine condition. Humans and spirits alike amass at the night festival to watch Nanami’s Kagura dance. After it’s over, Tomoe praises her and “contracts with” (kisses) her, this time from the heart.

Last week we wondered why Nanami totally ran away so suddenly, but then we realized she’s still very young and prone to rash not always rational action. Tomoe also could have been a little more tactful in telling her to sit tight, so she wouldn’t feel useless. Fortunately, she snaps out of it before the earth spider totally levels the shrine. And as it turns out, there’s a lot more power within Nanami than anyone imagined. Everyone except Mikage, of course, who chose her (and left the spider in the box behind) for just this situation. Is the shrine and its grounds fully restored a bit too easily? Sure, but these are supernatural forces at work, so we’ll give it a pass.

What’s important is that Nanami came through in the clutch. Her Kagura standoff with the Spider shows that she’s willing and able to face and battle threats to the shrine rather than cower and let others save her (though she still trips). The festival is a nice way to end, with cameos by all the other deities, spirits, and classmates whose lives she’s touched. And in the end, Nanami gets what she’s always wanted from Tomoe: a nice long kiss that expresses his love for her, not just his obedience. Her deadbeat dad may have abandoned her, but in doing so, Nanami was able to find a purpose and a home that are truly her own.

Rating: 9 (Superior)


Whether you see (or saw) the first sunset from the horizon, or from the top of a nearby building, or sleep right through it, doesn’t matter; it’s still pretty. The people who misrepresented the Mayans were wrong, dattebayo! Anyway, here’s hoping 2013 is an even better year for anime than 2012 was.

End-of-Month Rundown – December 2012

Well, that’s about it for Fall, the final season of 2012. It’s been an entertaining and at times awesome season. There was a lot of solid romance, a fair share of darkness, and far more tanks than we initially expected.

12. Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse – Complete (6.091 ▲) – The Red Shift fiasco is dealt with satisfactorily, but the Beta threat, numerous human enemies, and the love triangle remain, suggesting a sequel in the future

11. Girls und Panzer – 10/12 (6.300 ) – Most surprising to us is that even when tanks weren’t front-and-center, this was still a very decent, watchable slice-of-life, in which the main circle of friends/colleagues have mini-arcs parallel to the tank action

10. Btooom! – Complete (6.750) – Like Muv-Luv, a lot of loose threads remain, and no one’s off the island yet, but Taira finally gets a half-pathetic, half-noble death, and Ryouta and Himiko commit to leave the island together

9. Jormungand: Perfect Order – Complete  (7.000 ) – A series in which we root for the supervillain, whose master plan for world domination has been hinted at and slowly built up since the beginning. A compelling reinforcement of the truism that information trumps ammunition (but having both is even better)

8. K – Complete (7.385 ▼) – The city is saved and the mad Colorless King defeated through the sacrifice of kings – Weismann/Shiro and Mikoto. A neat and tidy end to a series that looked good but for better or worse didn’t take any big risks

7. Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun – Complete (7.538 ▼) – What started as a strong, well-paced romance started wandering in circles a bit with Shizuku and Haru, which you could say is realistic considering their personalities. The Yamaken factor didn’t accomplish much, and the side character romance was cute but ultimately a dead end

6.  Sword Art Online – Complete (7.667 ) – Kirito scores a total victory over Sugou in both the virtual and real worlds, finally meets Asuna in the flesh. The  final episode allows ample time to say goodbye to everyone

5. Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! – Complete (7.833 ▲) – Stuck with its guns by keeping the focus on Yuuta and Rikka, which was the right move. Rikka dumps her Chuunibyou cold turkey, but Yuuta vows to help her find a balance between the real and the fantastical

4.Kamisama Hajimemashita – Complete (8.000 ▼) – Adorable, but never sickeningly so, this was a very nice little rom-com with generous helping of the supernatural. Nanami excels as the relatively normal, earnest girl with hidden strength

3. From the New World (Shin Sekai yori) – 13/25 (8.308 – Ends its first half with the reveal that Saki is being groomed for leadership, and is thus learns more of the dark truths about humanity, fiends, and karma demons. Starts its new half with the fallout from that knowledge: her friend Mamoru may be the next victim of the system

2. Zetsuen no Tempest – 12/24 (8.583 ▼) – Things lagged a bit for a while, but at least all the conversation going on for those two and a half episodes was necessary information. Hakaze is finally back for the second cour, and must now try to control the dual threats of Exodus and Genesis

1. Sukitte Ii na yo. – Complete (8.615 ▲) – Ep-for-ep the strongest and most consistent series of the Fall. Many obstacles in the main couple’s relationship are set up but overcome one-by-one, the procrastination is kept to a minimum, and the solid supporting cast plays a crucial role in the couple’s growth, while growing themselves

★. One Off (OVA) – Complete (8.750) – Short, sweet, pretty, charismatic, surprisingly deep, and full of Honda motorcycles