Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance,School, Slice of Life, Supernatural
“What are people? What is the “self”? So long as you look like someone else, no one can’t tell who’s really on the inside.”- Lori Nagase
Imagine you wake up one day, you get out of bed and stretch and then look around. Something feels a bit off though. Wait. This isn’t your room. You’re in your friend’s room, you wonder how you got there, perhaps you were staying over? You walk over to a mirror and then you freeze, that reflection isn’t you, you see your friend’s face in place of your own. Now, you either had a burning desire to have plastic surgery to look like them or you seem to have traded places. To be honest neither seems to make much sense. Freaky stuff.
That is the idea upon which Kokoro Connect builds upon. It’s one of those anime which will make the viewer ask questions about what they would do if they were in the characters shoes- or in this case, bodies.
The story is purely centred upon five individuals, all of whom for one reason or another failed to get into a school club and hence form their own small club, the school’s Cultural Society. Going to a club is mandatory for them, so they have no real choice but all in all, they become great friends through this club and spend almost all of their time together. One day, two of the members find out they have traded bodies and understandably they are confused at what to do and how to go about explaining it to their friends. Eventually though, the phenomenon of swapping occurs with all the friends at random- however the switching is limited to each other, the friends can only swap bodies with one another. Now none of this is at will and the person you swap with and how long is completely random. Later on, a different being, who steals other bodies and uses those to communicate, appears to tell the children what is going on. He identifies himself only as “Heartseed” and says he more or less is the cause behind the body swapping- however his purpose for this is only for his entertainment.
Now, the kids eventually come to accept they cannot stop the body swapping and put up with it for a while. At first, it’s almost fun and games, since they get to experience each other’s lives and get to do something different. However not all of them lead great lives and the body swapping reveals loads of surprising facts about each other. This forces the kids to discuss their lives with each other and often it works to for the better. The whole experience, while not ideal, helps to bring the kids closer together and one wonders whether what’s happening is entirely bad.
The show has moments of comedy and lightheartedness, which in an anime like Kokoro Connect is a welcome breather- however as with pretty much all comedy it won’t be to everyone’s taste. My opinion of the comedy was that it was okay, to me it was just great to see lighter moments in the midst of so much serious stuff.
Now the body swapping is not the only thing that occurs, later on, there are other phenomenon that help give the story another angle. Things such as forcing your inner emotions to be unleashed and transforming back into a younger version of yourself all bring new quirks to the story. More often than not, these phenomena will cause our characters to revisit tough times that they had once experienced. There are some mature and serious issues dealt with during this show, so it can be very impactful at times.
Overall, the idea of the anime is to show how people aren’t as they first appear and that everyone, no matter what their persona, will have a story of their own. It’s certainly a psychological anime which is driven by a small cast of characters. The characters themselves all fit in with different stereotypes- the overly cheerful one, the caretaker type, the angry yet shy one and so on. While normally, this wouldn’t really warrant a mention, in this show I think it’s great to have stereotypes for characters since you can really exaggerate some points later on. While being stereotypical, I still believe the characters are fairly well done and do help the case of making this a show worth your time.
The idea of the story is to see how the different phenomenon affect the friends dynamic and how they all get on. There is no real direction for the story to go in, so it really is more about seeing how the relationship between the friends develops.
One gripe that I had, which is more to do with me than the show, was that I could not keep track of who was who at the start- so things did not make a whole lot of sense. In a way, it would have been nicer if the show had been able to distinguish the separate characters from the beginning, since it would have made it easier to watch and keep track of what was happening.
The only other real flaw in the series would be that, there was no sense of closure at the end of the show. With the premise and what the show was built upon, it could’ve taken a direction which would have made it stand out, instead, just when the show starts to build up steam, it ends. So while it is very enjoyable to watch the friends, you’re kind of left wondering why they set it all up when they weren’t going to give you any closure at all. In a way, this sort of ruined the experience for me, although the creators did make an extra 4 episodes to tag on add the end as a sort of sequel in another series.
The art is good, there are no stunning visuals but it feels like your standard modern anime palette. The OP and ED were enjoyable but again nothing spectacular.
Overall, the show is good fun and provides a good premise for you to really get stuck into. It would have been nice if the show was longer, since that would have put it up there among the best, however sadly this was not the case. Still a great watch and I would recommend it to anyone looking to watch something a little different.
Final Score: 7.8
Kokoro Connect translates to Connecting Hearts- for those who are curious 😉