Kokoro Connect – 02

Aoki, Inaba, Yui, Iori and Taichi continue switching bodies randomly, until they are confronted by a mysterious entity named Heartseed who temporarily controls their teacher Mr. Go in order to explain the situation and their role. He warns them to keep it a secret and go on with their lives and let him observe until he’s satisfied, and he won’t tolerate insolence. The club sets ground rules and goes through a week of switching, making too many mistakes, while Iori wonders if the switching is a detriment to their identities.

The first episode of Kokoro Connect felt a bit distant, as if we were watching it from keyhole. We had five kids who started switching bodies, but we didn’t have any explanation, so it seemed random. Well, this episode feels more like the second half of the first; it cracks open the door just a crack so we can grab a chip with little tongs, but doesn’t quite let us in yet. A supernatural being walks into their clubroom and lays it all out – at least everything he deems they need to know to fulfill their “task.” This Heartseed fellow is thoroughly emotionally detached, and when the likes of karate expert Yui offers a rebuttal to his proclamations, he swiftly neutralizes her. The club has no choice but to go along with him for now, because they can’t stop him.

This episode also did a much better job connecting us with the club members’ emotional plight in the midst of this new normal. Never knowing when you’ll switch, who you’ll switch with, and for how long…this can wear on people, especially high schoolers who don’t quite know who they are anyway. There’s some mention of practical difficulties like going to the bathroom when in the opposite sex’s body, but more important than maintaining the secret is maintaining their personalities. As Iori eloquently puts it (when in Aoki): souls can’t be seen or touched, so humans identify one another by their physical appearance. If that’s constantly in flux, what does that mean for their identities? Can their souls survive that strain? They’re nice meaty questions that we hope get’s explored as the series progresses.

Rating: 6 (Good)

Kokoro Connect – 01

Cultural Research Club” (CRC) Members Aoki Yoshifumi and Kiriyama Yui report switching bodies last night, to a skeptical Inaba Himeko. Then, in the middle of club, Nagase Iori and Yaegashi Taichi switch, leading to an awkward incident with their classmate Fujishima. Reporting back to the CRC, the two prove they have in fact switched bodies, but while discussing how long they’ll stay that way, they switch back, and everything returns to normal…for the time being.

This episode’s first half was a repear of the pre-air episode, which failed to impress or engage us, but the second half, in which the effects of the body switching rather than a mere account of same, was better. It’s clear this first episode was just a quick introduction of the quintet of characters and what they’re about to get themselves into, and in that limited regard, the episode barely succeeded, with the promise of more complex body-switching in the near future.

Taichi and Iori’s seiyus (Aki Toyosaki is the latter’s) did a decent job mimicing the other’s personality in another voice, which is admirable considering we barely know either that well yet. But having just seen Natsuiro Kiseki, a superior series out of the gate which dealt with body swapping quite well, this series will have to go the extra mile differentiating itself. The characters are still pretty bland, too.

Rating: 5 (Average)

Kokoro Connect – 01 (Pre-air)

A motley crew of five students with disparate interests form the vague “Cultural Research Club” (CRC), and find themselves suddenly beginning to switch one another’s bodies. (This was an 11-minute pre-air preview).

Our first taste of Summer 2012 season was a little underwhelming. With so many school club-related series under our belts, repetition is unfortunate but inevitable. Here we have Hyouka-like setting (only not quite as pretty or detailed) involving five relatively normal students. Like Hyouka (and Sket Dance…and Dusk Maiden) they’re in an unusual club.

Like Natsuiro Kiseki, something strange and supernatural is starting to happen, involving their changing bodies. That’s about all we know. There were also a couple boob gags and talk of erotic newspaper articles. We’ll withhold final judgement until after we’ve watched the first episode in full, but nothing novel jumped out at us here.

Rating: 4 (Fair)