With the previous volume of Kokoro Connect being a short story collection, I admit I’ve been counting the days until the arrival of the next main story entry. With the arrival of Volume 6, not only do we return to the main plot, but we’re also finally into a full-length story not adapted by the anime! With the addition of two new characters, I’m excited to see if the series can maintain the quality it has so far offered.
This volume picks up straight after the end of Kokoro Connect Volume 5 with the new first years Shino Enjoji and Chihiro Uwa joining the Student Cultural Research Club. The second years have yet to tell them about Heartseed, a move which will quickly come back to bite them when a new phenomenon begins…
Heartseed approaches Chihiro and grants him the power to be perceived by others as someone close to them. Heartseed warns Chihiro that if he doesn’t provide entertainment then something bad will happen to him (which Chihiro believes means his death) but our first year is undaunted. With the power to manipulate those around him, Chihiro sets out to destroy the club and the firm friendships our cast share.
Having been through so much together, it’s easy to understand why Inaba, Aoki, Yui, Taichi and Nagase are so close-knit and that’s undoubtedly difficult for others to break into. Chihiro has something of an inferiority complex and between that and his jealousy of the group, the power Heartseed gives him is enough to send him over the edge. Using his new abilities Chihiro tries to drive a wedge between Inaba and Taichi’s relationship, pretending to be Nagase and declaring that she still has feelings for him. Later, Chihiro encourages Inaba to undress down to her underwear and takes photos, posing as Taichi. His actions are brutal and hard to stomach.
However, Chihiro’s actions don’t go unnoticed as Enjoji (who has known Chihiro since before high school) quickly catches on that something isn’t right. Enjoji is too afraid to speak up and approaching Chihiro just ends in him pushing her away, but perhaps with the influence of the CRC’s second-year members she’ll gain the confidence she desperately needs. For their part, the older CRC members eventually catch on to the fact that something is amiss, with their friends acting out of sorts in these ‘encounters’ with Chihiro. Together they come to the conclusion that there are ‘imposters’ going around and although they don’t figure out all the rules of Chihiro’s power, they’re at least on guard. By putting up a united front it becomes more difficult for Chihiro to trick them and when Heartseed piles on the pressure of wanting entertainment, Chihiro begins to crack.
This volume of Kokoro Connect is the series at its best. The idea that one of the characters holds a unique power and messes with the club instead of Heartseed directly is a fresh idea. I also want to comment on how good Sadanatsu Anda’s writing is this time around. After five volumes we as readers are obviously very attached to the existing cast, so Chihiro’s actions hit home all the harder. I don’t particularly care about Chihiro (and Enjoji) yet, but anyone who does harm to Inaba is going to make me angry – as this book did. Anda brings out the emotional response of the reader incredibly well, setting up the perfect situation for a story like this. I may have been mad, but I never once hated Kokoro Connect itself. Instead, I was compelled to keep reading and make sure my favourite characters were going to be okay.
Where the new characters are concerned, Chihiro and Enjoji are both interesting and given some solid development in this volume (although most of Enjoji’s is at the end of the book and hard to talk about!). Although Chihiro gets the short end of the stick in terms of likability, it was interesting seeing how his personality was warped thanks to Heartseed and where he ultimately ended up. I’m hopeful that future volumes will continue to build on the two, as has happened with the existing cast. It looks like the next volume will be Inaba-focused again, judging by the epilogue, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for our first years to suffer this time.
This volume of Kokoro Connect comes to the West thanks to J-Novel Club and has been translated by Molly Lee. The translation reads well and is problem-free both in the pre-pub releases and the finished eBook.
Overall Kokoro Connect Volume 6 brings the series back with a bang. The addition of the new club members keeps things fresh, while the writing ensures you won’t want to put the book down! Once again I find myself eagerly awaiting the next instalment.