Reviews: Kokoro Connect

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A series I can connect to
I love high school romance series, but naturally, anything can get old the more you watch it. Kokoro Connect was like a breath of fresh air to me, which I owe to its fantastic, unique story. I say "fantastic," but Kokoro Connect's premise is actually very simple. It's a story about teenagers angsting over the silliest things, kind of like how teenagers are supposed to do.

Kokoro Connect's biggest draw is definitely its diverse cast of interesting characters. They actually seem like your everyday teenagers thrown into a bizarre world they do not understand. They are scared, confused and, being teenagers, are full of hormones, so naturally they will make plenty of stupid decisions along the way. Iori's entire plot point in Kako Random could have been avoided had she just talked to her mother more. In a way it's kind of silly, but also believable since teenagers make dumb, misguided mistakes all the time. I'm sure everyone can relate to at least one of the StuCS members and their individual complexes.

Romance is also handled well. Relationships and "love" do not happen over night. The characters have to carefully nurture it, and sometimes they back off and give each other time when they realize it might be too early for them. Love is treated as something wonderful, but also delicate and kind of scary.

Heartseed's phenomenons provide a fantastic, unique element to the story, giving something for the characters to rally against, but it does not take center stage. The story is not really about a conflict against Heartseed, the focus is always on the developing characters maturing and learning about each other.

There are some breaks from reality, such as Mihashi's fight with Yui. It seemed a bit out of place, like a scene from a shounen manga: "Let's fight for pride!" But it's quite clear Mihashi's life kind of revolves around martial arts, so naturally she solves her problems with fighting. The humor isn't the funniest imo, though it did a good job breaking the tension at the right times. Nonetheless, Kokoro Connect is a wonderful series and a must see for high school romance lovers. Don't be fooled by people promoting it as strictly a comedy, this thing goes Cerebus Syndrome fast!
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I'm not entirely sure what to think.
(This is my collection of thoughts after watching the first three episodes of the anime.)

My feelings of the series are entirely polarizing, even internally. It's hard to remember the last time I've felt this simultaneously positive and negative about an anime. Let me get my biggest problem out of the way first:

It deals with serious issues the same way it does jokes about how old teachers are.

In the episode I just watched, the show dealt with rape and androphobia, and it wasn't believable in the least. The character who was almost raped was just far too positive overall. She angsts for a little bit, but she gets help from another person, and she's suddenly all better, at least from what I can see. It was far too positive - there was none of the complexity or nuance that the issue should've been handled with, making it seem like a slap in the face to anybody who's been a victim of attempted rape.

That said, once you get passed that, the show is actually really, really good.

The characters are the best part. They sort of remind me of something from Animorphs or Everworld - they're based off one central idea, but they're fleshed out beyond that and handled with depth. These are real, genuine teenagers here. I especially enjoyed the show's handling of sex through these characters, despite my complaints about the rape above. I liked that it wasn't afraid to face the fact that, yes, teenagers think about sex the way that most of us think about food: necessary, beautiful, and only allowed in small amounts without disapproval from others.

I also liked the magical realism on display, the way that the supernatural plot backed off when there were personal issues to be faced. The combination of the supernatural and the realistic has been a problem in the likes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Den Of Shadows, but here, it's off seamlessly.

That being said, the core concept made everything a bit confusing. It took me a really long time to get a handle on who was who; due to the constant switching, you couldn't always rely on someone's body to get an impression of who they were. This meant that I often struggled to figure out who was who, making the experience distancing and confusing.

In conclusion, this is a great anime... that really needs to handle rape better.
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