Kokoro Connect – 17 (Fin)

The three thugs tie up Inaba and take her to a warehouse and summon Setouchi. Inaba is able to use the phenomenon to tell the others where she is. They storm in and Yui takes care of two of the three thugs. The third pulls a knife on Inaba, and Iori makes her move, pretending to betray the others so he’ll let his guard down. They knock him out and escape with Setouchi. Iori forgives, hits, and apologizes to her, then asks if they can be friends. While the five reunited CRC members walk home, the third thug runs at them with a pipe. Taichi shields Inaba and gets knocked out.

While unconscious, Taichi has a conversation with Iori using the phenomenon. They’re both glad the other fell in love, but after all that’s happened, they agree to reset their relationship. When Taichi wakes up, Inaba is by his bed. Her thoughts scream her love for him, and he asks her out right there. She accepts and they start dating. Heartseed tells Iori the phenomenon is over. Their club presentation goes off without a hitch, and Gotou decides to advise both clubs. Life returns to normal, with Inaba and Taichi a couple, Yui and Aoki drawing closer, and Iori becoming popular on her own terms.

Fun Fact: Every high school in Japan has an abandoned warehouse nearby where delinquent students can kidnap classmates and hold them there until they’re rescued by friends. Was this an incredibly silly development? Sure, but it does give the finale some much-appreciated action elements. Yui shows the importance of a young lady being trained in self-defense while Iori gets out of bed and does whatever the hell she wants to do, which is save Inaba from the shitstorm she wrought. Using her powers of deception (and her sex appeal) to lower the thug’s guard was some awesome, heroic shit. Inaba and Taichi told Iori to be her own person, and that’s what she does.

And the real her is amazing. She sees that Setouchi is in the same boat, and befriends her so they can work through it together. Everyone seems to have found themselves and one another. Iori and Taichi work things out…in their heads. The girls do the presentation in cosplay after all…because why not? Yui teaches Inaba a submission hold, because let’s face it, Inaba can get into trouble sometimes. Taichi and Inaba (or rather “Dereban”) end up together, and they work beautifully. The episode is replete with satisfying scenes that are payoff for all the teeth-gnashing and emotional discord. It’s a well-earned happy ending.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

 

Advertisements

Kokoro Connect – 16

After getting told off by Iori, Inaba can’t argue with anything she said. Yui keeps her and Taichi and Aoki focused on completing their work for the presentation. When the rumors in class persist, led by Setouchi Kaori, Taichi tells the class he came onto Iori, causing the radical change in her attitude, in an attempt to stop the rumors. Kaori doesn’t buy it. After finals, the club room is ransacked and all their work sabotaged. They vow to start over, but when Iori sees the room, she goes after Kaori and has to be held back by Taichi and Inaba.

They get Iori in a room, where Inaba confesses every embarrassing detail about her love of Taichi. Iori is initially unimpressed, but the emotions transmitted between the three result in her confession that she’s really a very dark and cold person who got into the habit of acting like the opposite, and can’t do it anymore, especially in light of all of Heartseed’s experiments. Finally understanding, Taichi and Inaba tell her she’ll have their friendship no matter what. She asks for time to think. That night, Inaba comes across boys who ransacked the clubroom and confronts them, and they grab her.

Whew, sorry for the long synopsis, but a shitton of stuff got done and said in this episode entitled “Determination and Resolution” that we just happen to be reviewing the day after resolutions are made going forward into a new year. The dramatic heart of this episode is a lengthy confrontation between Iori and Taichi, with Tachi backing up the latter. Inaba’s painfully honest confessions intended to trigger an emotional catharsis end up provoking another diatribe by Iori about how she’s fed the fuck up with maintaining the Iori everyone’s known. That’s not her.

Iori is tired of being the “tragic heroine”, but like it or not, it’s what she is, victim of both the happiness she derived from acting happy and cheerful around everyone, and the torture of Heartseed’s machinations, which have nearly cost Iori her life and sanity on more than one occasion. Heartseed destroyed any chance of the “ideal Iori” surviving, and without that, Iori felt she didn’t deserve the love and support of the others anymore. That shame, and her frustration with nobody understanding the true cause of it, has her at her breaking point.

So, why don’t Inaba and Taichi just say “Fine, nice knowing you…fuck off, bitch?” Because they really do still consider her a friend, even if she deceived them. And it’s not like she didn’t have good reasons to do so. Of course, it isn’t enough that the other four CRC members forgive and accept Real Iori; her words and attitudes toward other classmates has stirred up a storm of hate. The scorned Kaori tells some boys to ransack the CRC clubroom, and when Inaba finds those responsible, she can’t control her temper and confronts the three of them, alone, at night. Bad, bad move.

Other details we want to mention (whew, we’ve written way too much here. That’s what Kokoro Connect does): it’s interesting to see Yui’s relatively quiet transformation to the strong club manager keeping everyone focused on the task at hand. She even prods(shames) Taichi into action, as he attempts to dispel the Iori rumors and repair her reputation by sacrificing his own. That’s the “selfless freak” we know, and it seems to work on everyone except Kaori and her two aides. It’s also hilarious. Inaba and Taichi have been very generous with the embarrassing confessions in these extra episodes. Also, the scene in which Gotou stops by and for once he isn’t Heartseed – very nicely done.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

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)

Kokoro Connect – 13 (Fin, till the Blu-ray)

Himeko forces Taichi to tell them what he knows, and #2 punishes them by making the age reversals totally random. They stay holed up in the abandoned building to avoid further exposure. But Iori is worried about her mother after they agree to let her violent ex-husband stay with them. Taichi, Himeko, Yui and Aoki back her up, but both Aoki and Iori both revert to babies, scuttling the first attempt. The first Heartseed confronts them with news he has ended the phenomenon and sent #2 away.

As an apology for what they went through, he says he’ll let Iori go back in time to redo her childhood. Taichi and Himeko take her hands and she declines, as going back would erase the person she has become through her original past. The six go back to Iori’s house, where they both thought they were making one another happy, when neither of them wanted the ex there. Her mom shoos him off herself. Yui makes up with Chinatsu and gets back into karate, and life goes on with the StuCS.

When the cold open ended with Iori suddenly shuddering, we feared the worst: that not only did Taichi age-revert, he also switched bodies with Iori – meaning everyone’s ages would jump around along with their bodies, out of sync and at random, forever. But such a complicated development would be nigh impossible to pull off – not to mention border on silly. Instead, the episode has a better idea: just the time and duration of the age-reversals become random. But the phenomenon isn’t even the major issue here: it’s only the means by which Aoki, Yui, and now Iori are pushed into making decisions about their lives, having been rudely reminded of pasts they thought they’d put behind them.

At first, Iori wants a fresh start; a reset button, but she rightly realizes that wouldn’t solve anything, and the product of it wouldn’t be any more the “real her” that she is now. She IS the real her, both the good and the bad; all of her experiences, choices, and interactions. Changing them would be a cheat. And once she sits down and talks with her mom, both are shocked to learn that both of them were trying to make each other happy at the cost of their own happiness, so no one was happy. Now everybody’s happy, but at the very end of what could well be the last episode for a long while, Iori wonders if she feels for Taichi is really love. A nice teaser for what’s to come after a very satisfying conclusion to the third arc.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

Kokoro Connect – 12

Yui, Aoki, Iori and Inaba continue reverting to earlier ages, with Iori reverting to a baby. Mihashi confronts Yui again, calling her weakling who broke her promise; they fight and Yui loses, and becomes distraught. Later, she reverts to the moment after a man tried to molest her. When Hisashi comes calling again, Yui tells her off; Aoki tries to help and he and Yui get in a fight. Aoki decides to visit Nana with Taichi to confirm his love. When he returns, he tells Yui she’s the one he loves now. He gets her out of her funk, and she gives Aoki a big hug.

This newest phenomenon continues to stir up past memories, and in Aoki’s case, past feelings of another love. He remembers that after losing a close friend in a car accident, he decided he would live life carefree and have fun so he wouldn’t regret when his end came. Yui, meanwhile, remembers she promised (a very pushy and annoying) Mihashi she’d face her in the national karate tournament, but never followed through. She stopped caring about winning all the time, to the point she now sees herself as worthless, pathetic, and unworthy of love.

Of course, none of that is true, and while Aoki’s pep talk/re-confession is a touch platitudinous, he tells Yui everything she needs to hear in her vulnerable state, and lets her decide to take a chance and embrace life – and Aoki, too. Her tearful, trembling hug with Aoki is a nice touch and represents progress both in their relationship and in her dealing with her fear of men and refusing to lose. But while some good has already come out of this phenomenon, it isn’t something that can be allowed to go on forever, so Taichi needs to be exceedingly careful how he responds to Inaba’s demand to tell her what he knows.


Rating: 8 (Great)

 

Kokoro Connect – 11

Fujishima notices Taichi and Inaba with small children who look suspiciously like Aoki, Iori, and Yui. Flash back to the end of the second term, when a cryptic message on the board lists everyone’s name but Taichi’s and the time “12pm- 5pm”. During that time, between two and three club members revert to a younger age, complete with their personalities at the time. Heartseed, inhabiting Taichi’s sister, tells him only he won’t change, and he’s responsible for the others, but can’t tell anyone, or it will never end.

Wait…what? What is this? Kokoro Connect puts its characters through another phenomenon experienced by those in Natsuiro Kiseki; namely, Baby Mode. Once we got past the audacity of this, it actually wasn’t that bad. It’s also a different situation from the Natsuiro gals in many ways: Inaba & Co. didn’t wish for this, it just started happening out of the blue, as a new, second Heartseed starts to put them through the wringer, and assigned Taichi as their “knight”. Also, Aoki, Yui, Inaba and Iori aren’t just shrinking – they are literally re-wound to the age they look.

This leads them to ask Taichi very deep questions, since whenever they return to their normal age at 5pm they retain some memories from that age; memories they’d forgotten. Iori, for one, would like to redo her life if given the chance, while Aoki, remembering a lost love (who resembles Yui), asks him what it is to truly love someone. Yui forgets a promise she made to a karate rival, while a young Inaba is painfully shy. Meanwhile, Inaba and Iori’s friendly rivalry is in full swing, and it’s very fun watching them bounce off each other and Taichi. His primary challenge is keeping Heartseed’s plans a secret from his friends, while keeping his friends’ condition secret from the rest of the world…or else.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Kokoro Connect – 10

The field trip begins with Iori all over Taichi, but when Inaba cuts her finger, Taichi tries to help, and she runs off. Iori follows her, and realizes Inaba is in love with Taichi too. Eventually losing her patience, Iori demands an explanation. Himeko didn’t want to break up the group, so suppressed her feelings. Iori insists she fight her for Taichi; Inaba agrees. Heartseed inhabits Iori to tell Inaba Taichi fell. Fearing the worst, Inaba races to him, but it’s only a minor fall. Back at school, she confesses to him, announces she and Iori will both fight for his heart, and kisses him. The unreleashed desire episodes cease.

Can Heartseed manipulate horoscopes? Because Inaba was warned she wouldn’t be able to hide her feelings for Taichi from everyone any longer, and Taichi’s worst possible luck on the day of the field trip invariably leads her feelings indeed being exposed, but not to Taichi, at first, but to Iori. The central setpiece of this episode is an intense, highly emotional argument between Iori and Inaba. But Iori doeesn’t get mad because Inaba likes Taichi, as Inaba fears: she’s angry because Inaba has such a low opinion of herself and believes her friends will abandon her if she tells them the truth. The powerful, well-acted verbal sparring shows Miyuki Sawashiro and Toyosaki Aki at the top of their games, bringing more life than ever to the characters.

We’re totally okay with these two deciding to engage in a [relatively] friendly, fair fight for Taichi’s heart. “Let the best girl win”, and all that. We now understand and appreciate Inaba’s dogged insistence on suppressing her feelings (the StuCS members are the only real friends she’s ever had) but also give Iori a lot of credit for setting her straight (she’ll love Inaba no matter what). And what can we say: Inaba’s confession and kiss are friggin’ adorable as all hell – especially the aftermath when she’s short of breath and in a state of crying-laughing bliss and surprise at her own audacity – another wonderfully acted scene. Now, everything’s out in the open. Will it all be smooth going? Of course not; love triangles rarely are. But if we have to have a triangle, we couldn’t have asked for a better one.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

Kokoro Connect – 09

Taichi meets with Iori to apologize for hurting her and to voice his dedication to sticking with the group no matter what; she accepts. He and Aoki also apologize to one another, while Iori tries to work on Inaba, with little effect. Aoki then gets an idea, and he and Taichi visit Yui and finally successfully convince her to come back to school, promising to “protect her” from her urges should she lose control. Heartseed pays a visit to Inaba, telling her she hasn’t been entertaining, and notifying her he’s “shaking things up” by forcing Inaba’s hidden feelings for Taichi to the surface.

Things were getting quite grim by last week, but a talk between Fujishima inspired Taichi to reignite his efforts to keep the group together, person by person. He starts by listing all his flaws and apologizing for the wrongs he’s done to both Iori and Aoki of late. Both are receptive to his contriteness and reciprocate in kind. And finally, the tough cookie that is Yui was finally worn down into returning to society after some very logical (and brave) propositioning from Aoki combined with perceptive “gibberish” from Taichi, who after hurting Iori, understands how Yui feels. In the case of Taichi, Iori, Yui and Aoki, it’s a matter of making sure their desire to not hurt each other is stronger than their other, more dangerous desires. We particularly like Taichi’s point about Yui never experiencing the pain of hurting someone until the episodes began, since she’d really only done so in karate. The looks on their faces when they thought Yui was agreeing to a night in a love hotel with Aoki? Priceless.

Yui may have seemed like the obvious choice for Heartseed to visit last week, but now that she’s out of her room and fighting over food with the others, it’s Inaba, the final holdout, whom he visits. She may not be literally hiding in her room, but she is hiding something; he knows it (he knows everything). He’s hoping he’ll get maximum entertainment out of the experiment by making Inaba reveal her love of Taichi, which will break the group up, at which point he thinks she’ll try to “destroy the world.” Whatever that entails, it indeed sounds more entertaining than teens moping in their dark bedrooms. When Inaba shows up the morning ofthe field trip, she looked like a bomb ready to go off, ruining all her friends’ progress.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

Kokoro Connect – 08

Taichi apologizes to Inaba, who isn’t ready to return to the clubroom. Taichi and Aoki get in a heated argument about how to deal with Yui; Iori tries to break them up but gets shoved by Taichi. The next day Taichi decides to focus on studying. No one goes to the clubroom after school. The day after that, Class Rep Fujishima announces a class field trip, and puts herself in a group with Nagase, Inaba, Taichi and Watase. Nagase waits for Taichi in the clubroom, but he is recruited by Mr. Go to help him grab a new lectern. Afterwards, Fujishima advises him to keep talking with his friends. He arrives at the clubroom, but Nagase is gone, having left a friendly note on the chalkboard about visitng Yui.

When Fujishima (far less annoying this week) tells Taichi that she belives humans were meant to hurt each other, she didn’t mean they were meant to constantly slam each other into tables with our backpacks. She meant that solid bonds of friendship aren’t merely forged in times of mutual fun, but in the crucible of conflict and pain. Sometimes friends hurt each other – sometimes deeply – but they make up and keep moving, growing closer in the process. This is her advice to someone who’s seen the bonds of his four friends fraying and on the verge of destruction thanks to the episodes that have stemmed from their unleashed desires. Fearing they’ll hurt each other even worse, they are all following the same path as Yui; removing themselves from proximity to one another.

About Yui: this is the first episode where we don’t even see her once, underlining the dire straits the group of friends is in. She is the subject that leads to Taichi’s row with Aoki, and the interesting thing is, he wasn’t having an episode at all until right before he Chris Browned Iori. Poor Iori is again a pillar of strength, continually trying to reach out to everyone else, but it’s no use. Will Fujishima’s field trip tactics lead to relief, or only exacerbate things? All we know is, if everyone does what Yui does and stops interacting with each other, Heartseed will punish them, because that’s not entertaining.  The only way is forward: mending their friendships by keeping in contact and working things out…even if it means hurting each other.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Kokoro Connect – 07

At first, the unleashed-desire episodes seem mostly harmless, like Taichi oversleeping or Iori shouting “Yahoo!” during a pop quiz. But gradually the effects of the episodes take their toll: Aoki must fight the urge to take revenge on Heartseed for hurting Yui, Iori suddenly snaps at a classmate who asks about Yui, and Yui herself has holed herself up in her room and won’t leave. The club visits her, but while reprimanding her Inaba goes to far and makes it worse. Later when Inaba doesn’t show up for club, Taichi confronts her and he too goes too far.

If we didn’t know he was so hard to please, we’d say Heartseed is quite happy with the way things are turning out. The club’s unleashed desires are causing unpredictable outbursts of far higher entertainment value than, say, simply observing them with their self restraint intact. Moments of interpersonal tension and drama are accelerated with the lack of any filters. There’s a lot of shouting, but it isn’t of the bawdy Sket Dance or Binbougami type – nobody is capable of pulling back before their words cause deeper wounds than they intended. The mood of the episode deteriorates rapidly as the club starts to come apart at the seams.

The body-swapping and subsequent suicide attempt brought Taichi and Iori apart. We like how their affection for one another is out in the open (at least amongst the other club members), but Inaba makes a good point about Taichi: he was and still is willing to die for Iori, so he has to watch his step, or he could end up dying. Similarly, while she is ultimately too harsh on her, Inaba is right that if Yui stays in her room, Heartseed will punish her and probably everyone else for trying to deny him his entertainment. There’s no sitting on the bench with this: everyone’s in the game, and that game will go on as long as Seedy sees fit. How severely will it affect the club’s friendships?


Rating: 8 (Great)

Kokoro Connect – 06

Three weeks after the body-swapping ceased, the group is focusing on club activities, but they start acting strangely: Inaba makes a move on Taichi; Yui smashes a table and beats up guys; and both Taichi and Iori are unconsciously drawn to one another. They get answers for their behavior when Heartseed pays them a visit: he has unleashed their deepest desires, to the point where their usual self-restraint cannot prevent their bodies and voices from doing whatever their minds want deep down. They agree to stick together and play it by ear, and under the circumstances, Iori and Taichi agree to maintain their distance.

As it turns out, Kokoro Connect isn’t just going to be about body-swapping. That arc got better and better, we like how the godlike being Heartseed is now imposing a new behavioral experiment on the unwitting StuCS, one that further explores their personalities. As a result of “unleashing their deepest desires”, they all start acting like amplified versions of themselves. Inaba’s hidden feelings, Yui’s fiery temper, Aoki’s white knight complex, and Taichi and Iori’s budding romance – all of them come to the surface. We like how gradual this was: starting as a mystery before Heartseed steps in and lays it all out – we also like how the atmosphere of the scence changes whenever he’s around, like his aura is a pall over their lives.

Most interesting is how realistically and rationally Taichi and Iori deal with their new situation vis-a-vis their feelings for one another. Moving too fast could jeopardize their relationship before it can get started, and right now, they’re not sure they can control themselves if left alone together too long. As a result, they limit contact to phone conversations. We must say, other than Hazuki and Rokka, this is probably our favorite couple of the season. They’ve certainly faced some odd challenges, but so far they have the fortitude to brave the storms and stay true to one another. Iori’s anticipation of learning more about her true self through this phenomenon is also an intriguing prospect.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Kokoro Connect – 05

Inaba gathers Taichi and Iori to watch Aoki confess to Yui and ask her out, in an effort to put a jolt into their progress. It seemingly works, as Iori confronts Taichi while pretending to have swapped with Inaba. Taichi chases Iori down, reinforces his belief that she has her own personality, then tells her he loves her and asks her own. A moment later, Iori is taken over by Heartseed, who says they’re too boring, and throws Iori off the bridge.

At the hospital, Iori is in the ICU, and Heartseed returns as Mr. Go. He tells them she will die, but they have thirty minutes to decide whose personality will die with her body. Taichi volunteers himself, but Aoki believes Iori should die in her body. They discuss it with Iori, who agrees with Aoki, then switches from body to body saying goodbyes, telling Taichi she loves him too and they kiss (while she’s in Inaba’s body). She delivers her decision to Heartseed, but instead of dying, she makes a full recovery. Heartseed never meant to kill anyone. The body swapping ceases.

One of the trademarks of a great anime is making you totally forget you’re watching two-dimensional approximations of people voiced over by people in soundproof booths, and truly breathing life and vitality into the characters. After a rough start, Kokoro Connect is proving adept at this, turning in another emotional powerhouse. With a title like “A Confession and Death…” we knew what we’d be getting, but that ellipsis opened the possibility that the episode wouldn’t be that literal, and it wasn’t: we get two confessions and no death. Though at times, we must confess we thought they may actually kill Iori off. Turns out Heartseed is more curiously cruel than pure evil (he even thinks to safeguard her phone by tossing it to Taichi before throwing her off a bridge. How considerate!)

Prior to the game, we liked how one confession spurred on another, with Inaba apparently happy to be the yenta in the middle. We liked the dangerous trick Iori played on Taichi, proving her chameleon skills, but even better was Taichi’s spirited rebuttal of Iori’s misgivings, and his sudden but welcome confession. We’ll admit to getting into the drama; Iori and Taichi’s talk leading up to their “first/last kiss” got us right there (kudos to Miyuki Sawashiro for really channelling Iori), and we pumped our fists when the doctor cracked a grin, despite the fact we knew this was probably all a game/test.


Rating: 9 (Superior)