The latest volume of light novel series Kokoro Connect is here! With a story taking place just before, and during the New Year’s festivities, this latest release is timely and set to see you through the holidays. Let’s find out what supernatural incident has befallen the Yamaboshi High School Student Cultural Research Club members this time!
Our story begins in the height of chaos, with the group dealing with a troublesome phenomenon that results in them regressing to younger versions of themselves (what age they regress to varies each time) – except for Taichi, who appears to be exempt from the problem. This incident also has set rules unlike those before, where the characters only regress between 12 pm and 5 pm everyday. The rules are helpfully given to them up-front on the club’s blackboard, something that Heartseed has never previously done, but that only makes them question things more. Whatever the case, the members of the CRC are going to have to overcome a completely new kind of challenge.
It’s quickly revealed to us that this incident hasn’t actually been set up by Heartseed. Instead, another troublemaker has turned up, known as The Second. This entity reveals to Taichi the terms of its game. As long as Taichi doesn’t tell his friends about The Second, he will be exempt from its test and only two of the group will regress at once. However, if he breaks the rules then anything could happen. Taichi doesn’t want to lie to his friends but the alternative of telling them seems like a terrible idea. All he has to do is keep this encounter to himself, but will he be able to when surrounded by the people who know him best?
What I liked about this volume of Kokoro Connect was that it introduced a physical issue that wasn’t easy to get around. In the first book the cast were body-swapping, and while that was difficult for them to handle, as long as they mimicked one another, it wasn’t obvious to those around them. In the second volume, the characters were acting out their innermost desires being unleashed, which, too, was controllable with the right methods and could ultimately be rationalised for family and classmates. However, the act of turning into younger versions of themselves is much harder to hide and poses a whole new difficulty to the group which had yet to be explored with the previous incidents.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Kokoro Connect without some mental anguish, and that’s here in full force. When Aoki regresses into a young teenager, he mistakes Yui for a girl he had a crush on at that age. Yui had only recently begun to open up to Aoki, and when the other members still recognize their friends, even upon regressing, she begins to believe that Aoki doesn’t love her as much as he claims to. As you’ll know from the previous volumes, Yui is afraid of males and Aoki has been helping her to overcome this slowly with his persistent declarations of love toward her. With this crutch removed, Yui finds it difficult to cope and, as always, this is where Kokoro Connect really shines: with its characters.
I love the cast that author Sadanatsu Anda has created and the challenges they’re presented with from book to book. It’s easy to fall back on simply giving the group psychological phenomena to deal with, but I think the real test is upping the ante with every book. This is something that Anda is successfully doing and pushes Kokoro Connect from being an average light novel to a truly splendid one. It’s all in the strength of the writing.
This volume of Kokoro Connect once again comes to the west thanks to J-Novel Club and continues to be translated by Molly Lee. The translation is once again problem-free and a great read.
Overall, Volume 3 of Kokoro Connect continues to offer a compelling read with new and difficult tasks for our cast to overcome. Giving them a bigger, physical hurdle to overcome works extremely well and poses the types of challenges many of us have been waiting for. Next up is Volume 4 of the series, which was the final one adapted into anime – so I’m excited to relive that and then move on to fresh content!