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)