“The body is but the soule as a clogge tied to the legge.” – James Cole (1629)
Kokoro Connect is arguably rather unusual for most romantic anime titles released in the UK, in that it is not romantic comedy. While there are some comedy moments, this series is on the whole played rather straight. This seems especially odd given the plot devices which are primarily comic, as anyone who has seen the film Freaky Friday will tell you.
The series follows five students at Yamaboshi High School, where one of the rules is that everyone must be the member of a club or society. One of these is the Student Cultural Society (StuCS), which is made of people who couldn’t get into the other clubs: the lead character for example, Taichi Yaegashi, wanted to start a pro-wrestling club but was the only one who joined. The other members of StuCS are easy going society president Iori Nagase; more violent vice-president Himeko Inaba; Taichi’s pervy best friend Yoshifumi Aoki; and cute ex-karate exponent Yui Kiriyama.
One day, on the way to a society meeting, Yoshifumi and Yui claim that they swapped bodies earlier that morning, and then swapped back again later. No-one at first believes it, but soon Taichi and Iori swap bodies for a brief moment. After a couple more body swaps they learn that this whole thing is being organised by a supernatural being called Heartseed, who has the power to possess people. He normally possesses the body of their teacher and club advisor Goto (aka Mr Go) to talk to them directly. Heartseed explains that he is interested in seeing how the relationship between the five friends will cope when it comes across not just this, but many other trials. Later on in the series Heartseed makes them overreact to various desires, and then messes around with their bodies by making them younger for certain periods of time.
As the tale progresses, the friendship between the characters move towards love. A love triangle forms, as Taichi expresses his love for Iori, but later Himeko says that she loves Taichi. Plus Yoshifumi is constantly trying to express his love for Yui, despite the fact that Yui is scared of men after she was almost raped back in junior high school.
While there are a few laughs, normally some comic slapstick or a little bit of fan-service, in Kokoro Connect it is the drama that is the main pull. You have the romantic tension between the characters as stated above. But at times it is rather tragic. For example, Iori may be laid-back, but her ex-stepfather was horribly violent, and there is one point where Heartseed does something terrible to her when he possesses her body whilst she and Taichi are on a bridge.
This is best described as a series that you need to make an effort to watch. You need to put the effort in to enjoy it to its best. You need to feel for the characters in order to like them. If you do that, then Kokoro Connect is a fun anime.
The soundtrack to the series is decent and surprisingly substantial. For an anime that is only 13 episodes long there are more opening and closing theme songs that you would expect: three opening ones and three closing ones. These are “Paradigm” by Eufoniush; “Kimochi Signal” by Sayuri Horishita; “Kimi Rhythm” by Masaki Imai (all opening); “Kokoro no Kara”, “Cry Out” and “Salvage” all by The Nekokan. The only extras are clean opening and closing, and trailers for other MVM titles.