Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Anime Review: Kokoro Connect

So that DVD only arc that I was waiting to watch before I wrote my whole review was actually shown on television back at the end of December so hurray I'm writing this review before April! Heck at this point I'm wondering how many people remember hearing about this show since it aired back at the summer, people probably remember the scandal (here, also checking the cast lists it doesn't look like he even had a part in this DVD special arc) more than the show itself. Based off of the initial reviews I wasn't going to try it but after a couple of episodes were out it seemed like people's opinion on it changed and when I got around to seeing the show it was very different from what those initial reactions said it was. 

Kokoro Connect

Summary: Taichi, Aoki, Inaba, Iori, and Yui all make up the Cultural Research Club at school which is more of a way for them to fulfill the requirement of belonging to a school club than a real club per say but they all get along fairly well. Then their club advisor becomes occasionally possessed by a being called Heartseed who says that he is bored and therefore he will mess with the club members until he becomes bored again. From body-switching to random emotional outbursts they're in for a stressful year and none of them are going to make it out without cracking.

The Good: This show is almost less of a story and more of a series of character writing practices, how would X, Y, and Z characters react if A suddenly happened to them but since the show uses all of this to build up character development I think it does hold together and as an interesting one at that. All of the characters have a few issues, larger in the case of the three girls it seems, and none of these issues are completely resolved after a single arc, many of them pop up again later and it's that detail that really makes the show work for me. Yes there are plenty of terribly unrealistic situations here (the general premise of each arc aside) and yes it's a bit awkward when you realize that it's basically Taichi running around to solve all of them (it almost feels like a VN in that way, although apparently one of the later arcs is designed to break Taichi in just that way) but the show acknowledges that character change is slow an incremental a lot of the time and that it's hard to do any of it alone.

The Bad: As noted above, the show has a tendency toward the melodrama (the last arc was about to resolve itself in a very normal way and then they had to throw in some extra drama, again), Aoki and Taichi both seem to get the shaft for character development, the few prominent side characters in the story also come off as rather bizarre, and the character development isn't as nuanced as it could be. That last bit is the part that frustrates me though, I think the writer (of the original light novels took a really good first stab at writing characters who are complex but can change and just didn't take it as far as he could have and that is one of my biggest pet peeves. Still, I stand by my statement that this show turned out much better than I expected and did make an honest attempt at having more rounded characters.

The Audio: I have to commend the main cast for the first arc they esentially had to act as five (and in some cases six) different characters, since each character used the voice that went along with the body when they switched, and they all did a rather good job. I’ve heard some complaints that this studio Silver Link isn’t known for hiring really great actors but I think they did a fantastic job this time (heck, as far as I can tell the same voice actors also did the characters at all different ages, this show must've been a work out for them!). The show also had a different opening and ending theme for each (or almost each) arc and while they fit and sounded nice none of them really stand out to me after this time. 

The Visuals: Nothing to write home about the art here, the designs are pretty basic and share a character designer with K-ON (well, the original designer is the same person but it looks like they had someone else adapt the designs for the show, small difference). What is worth noting however is that the animators made a real effort to give each character body language which really helped in the first arc. Obviously it’s not as detailed as if the show had been live action or if it had been done by a studio with a really large budget but it is noticeable and helped make the body switching a little more believable since you could not only hear it but see it.

So I give Kokoro Connect a 3 out of 5 and would watch more if the last three arcs were animated (sadly it sounds like that scandal killed any chance it had at selling well since 2ch decided to boycott it, read that as part of a blog write-up on the whole thing which I can't find at the moment) and I would like to get this from Sentai when they put it out here (rather curious how they'll do it though, I hope it's in just one set but it's 16 or 17 episodes long which makes it a bit awkward). Everything expect the DVD special is streaming on Crunchyroll and they might get those episodes once the actual DVDs come out, if not I'm sure Sentai's release will have them.