Anime Review: Kokoro Connect

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Well, this is the most surprising, huh?

Usually, when it comes to anime, I do not really cover any series that have not ended, with the exception of Detective Conan, which has over 500 episodes that contain cases that I have not delved into because I have not reviewed the first 26 volumes of the manga, nor do I plan on going over any cases that happen between volumes 20, which is where FUNimation’s dub ends, according to my case list in the fifth season set review, and volume 27 until FUNimation does dub episode 124+ (Japanese count).

Unfortunately, it looks like I have to make another exception, which will be explained later on, because a show that I got from iTunes recently is one that technically has not ended.

Today, I will be reviewing that show, which is Kokoro Connect.

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At Yamaboshi High, everyone seems to go about his or her daily life by attending classes, attending club activities, and hanging out with friends without a care in the world.

However, when five first year students who could not really find a club come together as a cultural club, their lives are plagued by events caused a certain entity that will test the bonds of the five club members.

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I enjoyed this show. From the very first episode, I was pulled into the world and did not want to stop watching. I also felt like over the course of the series, I got to know each of the protagonists individually. I wish that things were like this with every series, but because each of us, including myself, is imperfect, I know that it is not possible. Still, there would rarely be a bad show out there if we could get to know characters on an individual level, even if there was not a whole lot of action or some kind of eye candy, which many movie studios in my country seem to think is more important. In fact, Sword Art Online would have probably been a better series overall, when taking both the anime and novels, with the latter being the worst due to the first book going through an entire arc without really letting us see what the protagonists were like, into account, had we gotten to know the characters like we do here. As a result of being able to get to know the characters individually, I felt like I could sympathize with what the characters were going through. For example, seeing them struggle with things like personality swapping, or as I think it should be called, since it makes more sense, body swapping, I got the feeling that I would not want anybody to experience the challenges in my life that came about because of disease or neurological disorders. After all, even though they might be understand what I live with better than they do right now, I do not really think that anybody could get used to my problems within the 30 or so minutes that the characters in this show had to put up with a different body, nor would I be able to get used to going through life with full range of motion in all of my limbs, including fingers and toes, or even being able to do demanding tasks for much longer without experiencing fatigue of some kind. Then again, the characters in the show do not have to deal with problems that severe, even though one of them was not really feeling well during the body swapping incident. I also liked how mysterious things were throughout the entire series. At first, when one mysterious entity came about saying that he wanted to be entertained, I was kind of annoyed that the main antagonist would crop up so early like that, especially considering that the series as a whole has less than 20 episodes, according to TheTVDB.com, which both XBMC, now called Kodi, and Plex both like to use as a default scraper for metadata. However, the way he acts later on and even that there are more than one kind of being like him made me question what that entity’s true objective was and what the others like him want, especially since one of them wanted the cultural club members to learn something from every incident they went through, whereas the other did not seem to be around long enough to have any interest in teaching the kids something. Speaking of the person who seemed to be evil wanting the cultural club members to learn something, I liked how they seemed to grow stronger both individually and as a group during each incident they went through. It reminded me of how of Edward Elric learned during the course of FMA Brotherhood that even with alchemy there were things that could not do on his own, eventually leading him to give up his ability to perform alchemy to bring his brother, Alphonse Elric, back into the world. In the case of this show, if I had to take a guess, I think that the biggest lesson that the members of the cultural club learned, other than the importance of relying on each other, is what exactly makes a person who they are. While there are other lessons present in this show, this biggest because it tends to come up the most often. For example, during the body-swapping incident, the characters begin to question if their voice and bodies are really what defines a person, since that is how we normally recognize each other in society. Even if I had not watched this show, I would say that our personalities themselves are very different. Yes, there are things that can happen to us it real life that can change our personalities, our voices, and even affect our memories, but people still do not act the same as any other person, because we each have our own way of solving problems beyond what people tell us is the norm for our gender or age and some of us still act very much like kids, despite being considered adults, according to the law. In addition to appearances and voices, another reason I think that this the biggest lesson the cultural club members learned is that the fact that the final incident showed over the course of the series had them remember things from their past. During that time, Iori expressed a desire to change how things were in her past, but then realized that she has the life she has now because of the decisions she made. I too have things that I regret, since nobody can live as long as I have without some kind of regret, but even with those regrets, I am pretty much content with where I am right now and that is all that we can do to become stronger, aside from learning from those mistakes. The thing that I think that I like most about this show was that eye candy, such as fan service and action, and the usual beach and/or hot spring episode were not that prevalent in the series and I still enjoyed it. Yes, there were some instance of things that people could say were fan service, no matter whether it was gratuitous or not, but the fact that the some of the other typical stuff found in anime was not present and that my attention was still held makes this series really stand out in a way. Outside of those things, I cannot really think of anything else that I liked, even out of the funny scenes that were present. The fact that I felt like I got to know the protagonists enough individually to be able to sympathize with their problems and they each grew both individually and together throughout the whole show, as well as the fact that the show was interesting without too much eye candy or a few of the typical stuff found in anime, made this series very enjoyable.

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Although I liked the show, there are some issues. However, only one thing comes to my mind. The show does not really end. Now, some of you may be saying that it does indeed end and I do get the feeling that the last episode I saw was an ending, but it was not even considered the last episode by any means because there was nothing really to signify that it was over when the episode ended. I still had questions about what the beings that caused all of the cultural club’s troubles really wanted and Iori was even questioning how she really felt towards Taichi. Not only that, but despite that fact that Sentai Filmworks did eventually release the final four episodes in December 2013, according to Rightstuf, almost a year has past since then and those same four episodes are not even available on iTunes, which is the only way I can get anime in HD, since my computer is too old to have a Blu Ray drive built in and I never bothered to purchase an external one either, at the time I posted this review. Really Sentai? You expect me to go out and buy the DVD or Blu Ray to finish a show I got from iTunes? If I had to compare this with how FUNimation only released the dub of A Certain Scientific Railgun S (part 1 and part 2), which was released only in SD format, even though iTunes sold the subbed version in HD, I find this to be much worse. Rightstuf says that those four episodes have been dubbed already, so these episodes should have been up iTunes. Then again, the recent titles Sentai claims have been delivered on iTunes rather poorly (e.g. no more season passes and at least one series costs $50+ dollars, even in SD quality). Still that does not give them an excuse to do things like this, just as it is stupid for the rest of Black Butler season 1 to not be on iTunes. Unfortunately, iTunes is not the only one lacking the final four episodes, since even The Anime Network, which streams stuff licensed by Sentai Filmworks, and Crunchyroll do not have those episodes either, as of the date I posted thist. The fact that these things are hard to find is one of the reasons piracy exists, aside from the inconvenience of DRM for legitimate buyers. While not everyone is going to pay for what they want in this age of digital piracy, there are still people willing to buy what they are really looking to get. While there was only one issue obvious, it was bad enough to hurt the quality of this particular release of the show.

Despite the fact not all episodes were available through all channels, the good outweighed it enough to make this series worth watching. I recommend this series to those that want a show that does not rely completely on the usual stuff found in anime to be enjoyable and actually see the characters grow during the course of the show, as well as those that want to see what anime can be like. However, it might be best to buy this on DVD or Blu Ray, because that is the only way one can see all 17 episodes, without resorting to sites that are considered illegal streaming.

What are your thoughts on Kokoro Connect? Did you enjoy it or did you hate it? If you were lucky enough to watch all 17 episodes, did it make you enjoy the series more or less? Was there anything that you liked or hated about the show that went unmentioned? Feel free to comment.

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Copyright © 2015 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.