Sunday, July 22, 2012

Kokoro Connect - 03

[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_06.37_[2012.07.21_11.36.12] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_16.51_[2012.07.21_11.46.52] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_20.51_[2012.07.21_11.50.52]

It’s certainly not perfect, but Kokoro Connect continues to do many more things right than wrong.


[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_00.41_[2012.07.21_11.30.45]If a couple of things annoy me in what’s otherwise a very good anime episode, I like to talk about them first and get them out of the way – finishing with the good stuff always feels better.  And there were a couple of issues with this ep for me, the most obvious being a pretty steep dip in background detail – and visuals have not been a strength of this show anyway.  I thought the pacing was a bit too fast, too – and that has been a strength – but the biggest problem I had was with the scene were Taichi kicked “himself” in the crotch.  Plainly put, it was silly, and felt like a cheap stunt (predictable, too).  I mean honestly – I find it hard to believe any high-school girl wouldn’t already know that the weak point for males is between the legs, never mind one who was afraid of men and trained in martial arts.  It was done for effect (both comedic and otherwise) but didn’t make sense in context.  Someone will surely argue that knowing and feeling are two different things and Taichi was trying to really make Yui understand – but no, sorry.  And a guy’s not going to do that to himself knowing he’ll be back in the saddle in a few minutes, unless he’s a hard-core M.

[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_03.17_[2012.07.21_11.32.12]With that out of the way, almost everything else worked quite well for me, and this was another very solid ep.  The aftermath of the unfortunate crotch scene seems to confirm something hinted at in the last episode – that these body-switches  (whether controlled by Heartseed or someone else) are not random, but executed with a quite deliberate sense of mischief.  Whatever intelligence is behind this seems to want to to create maximum stress for the test subjects to see how they’ll react (sort of like Nagilum from the ST: TNG episode “Where Silence Has Lease”).  This would explain why most of the switches have been cross-gender, and the particular emphasis on exacerbating the complicated emotional stress within the group.  I mean, if you were after causing trouble for its own sake, you could hardly do better than taking the already fraught with peril issue of teen romance and adding body-switching to it.  Within out happy little group, this is one pretty messed-up dynamic already:

  • Inaba likes Taichi
  • Taichi likes Iori
  • Aoki likes Kiriyama
  • Kiriyama is scared of boys, but has just fallen for Taichi, and may also like Iori
  • Who does Iori like?  Kiriyama?  Maybe Taichi – which would be the only mutual attraction in the group?

[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_05.20_[2012.07.21_11.34.41]I could definitely see Kiriyama falling for Taichi after what he did for her, but I hope we’re not to believe than her Androphobia was actually cured that quickly.  Something that deep-seated – caused by an attempted rape in middle school – isn’t going to go away just based on an act of chivalry and some shared pain.  Taichi’s messiah complex is definitely a major focus of the episode, as hinted at by the volunteering for cleanup duty – he obviously sees himself as someone who thinks of others first, and oddly enough has idealized pro wrestling as a sort of exemplar of truth and justice.  Inaba’s insistence that all this irritates her was pretty transparent, since it could hardly be more obvious that she’s in love with him herself.  What is it about anime girls that makes them try and push the guy they like together with their rival (anime guys do it too, to be fair)?

[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_07.36_[2012.07.21_11.37.10]One element of Kokoro Connect that stands out is that it seems to be that rare school drama that actually treats the females and the males as equally important.  Perhaps it’s because it’s a plot-driven exercise rather than a true “school life” show, but it’s refreshing to see a series really explore the emotional challenges of both the boys and the girls with equal gusto.  Indeed, I think KK is definitely working better as a drama than a comedy – the latter mostly feels a little flat, but the plot is genuinely involving and seems to be building towards some very in-depth character study. 

[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_08.30_[2012.07.21_11.38.17]At this point the boys seem to be holding up better than the girls – Inaba says Iori is the “closest to breaking”, but like so much with here this is mostly a cover – the last scene seems to indicate she was the one about to break (as if she hadn’t flagged trouble clearly enough moments earlier with “I guess we’re doing just fine!” comment).  Nazo no Kanojo X explored the importance of empathy in adolescent relationships through the use of magical realism, and perhaps KK is doing something similar here – maybe this seeming curse will help the boys and girls to obtain an understanding of each other that makes their relationships and outlooks healthier.  There are still a lot of mines out there, above and beyond the presence of a force that’s somewhere between malevolent and mischievous – I suspect a growing element here might be the kids intentionally deceiving each other about who they are at any given moment for their own emotional advantage.

[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_09.34_[2012.07.21_11.39.35] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_09.43_[2012.07.21_11.39.44] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_11.12_[2012.07.21_11.41.13]
[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_12.35_[2012.07.21_11.42.36] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_13.07_[2012.07.21_11.43.08] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_13.36_[2012.07.21_11.43.37]
[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_15.26_[2012.07.21_11.45.27] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_16.56_[2012.07.21_11.46.57] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_17.01_[2012.07.21_11.47.02]
[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_17.06_[2012.07.21_11.47.07] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_18.04_[2012.07.21_11.48.05] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_19.17_[2012.07.21_11.49.18]
[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_19.27_[2012.07.21_11.49.28] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_20.10_[2012.07.21_11.50.11] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_21.48_[2012.07.21_11.51.49]


16 comments:

  1. I'm loving this series. This drama is exactly what I expected K-On to be before it aired. There's a lot to write about.

    -- Yui --

    The main star of the episode. Her problem was exposed and she is now trying to overcome her fear. Brave girl. I don't know if there's more about her character to discover.

    -- Aoki --

    "My policy is to enjoy life as I go". This guy seems like the only real victim here. It's like he's an already developed character. Maybe he will play a bigger role in this mess when Romance starts to kick in.

    -- Iori--

    It seemed that her mother was giving her some good news, maybe re-marrying. But I don't think Iori was honest about her
    reaction on the matter. As Inaba said, she may be the weakest one out of all the group.")

    -- Inaba --

    'Everyone but you youtself is an enemy'. This fits with what I though about her having low self-esteem issues (Link 1, she fits with the profile). She lives being hard on herself about a lot of things, and this body swapping situation built a lot of stress on her. She clearly stated how big of a problem this was in her eyes. So, when she saw something positive to come out of all this, a heavy weight was lifted from her shoulders and shut down completely (psychological explanation, Link 2 - Cause: Sudden onset of extreme emotions). That or she just has physical health problems, anemia or something. Maybe both.

    Link 1: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-esteem#Low_self-esteem
    Link 2: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vasovagal_syncope#Cause

    -- Taichi --

    Episode 3 was very interesting because it shed more light about Taichi's character, the "selfless freak". There are no good extremes, and being extremely selfless may be Taichi's main flaw as a human being. He lives by transforming into what others need him to be. It's not really a bad thing but it crumbles at very simple life questions: What is it what I need for me? What do I need to do for myself to be better than before? How can I help myself, if I only know how to help others?

    How can you know love if you don't love yourself first? Love is a concept alien to him. That's why he won't notice anyone's feelings for him nor even his own feelings for anyone.

    PD: Re-posting my own thoughts from another site.

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    1. This post are the "thoughts" I was referencing to under "Inaba".
      http://www.reddit.com/r/anime/comments/wk00p/kokoro_connect_episode_2_discussion_spoilers/c5e0gxt#c5e0lbt

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  2. You said that Taichi's crotch hitting action was that of an M person.
    But he previously mentioned that he particularly likes jobbers (the guys who get beat up and lose in wrestling)cause of their high endurance levels. Seen in that context it's not that out of character and inexplicable as it would be for almost any other guy. Taichi may have no problem getting beat up if he thinks it is for some noble cause or to help others.

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    1. Beat up and power racked are two different things...

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    2. I don't see where those are very different. People do the things they do because it makes them feel good. Taking Taichi's view of jobbers at face value (ignoring the fact that a lot of pro wrestling jobbers are guys who don't really want to be in that role, they just can't get a starring role) they get fulfillment out of playing that role. It makes them feel good. It doesn't have to be any sort of sexual pleasure or gratification to be masochistic, just emotional.

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  3. I'm less than thrilled with how this was played out, and I'm hoping that Yui isn't just totally cured of her trauma now. That would be...not good.

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  4. This was literally my exact expression when I watched that scene, one eye wincing in pain while the other continues to watch the show. Nice touch by the animation studio. Taichi has got some serious balls.

    I enjoy the direction KK is taking right now, drama/character development with a sprinkle of comedy.

    "...kids intentionally deceiving each other about who they are at any given moment " <- I agree with this completely. If anything, I think the scene with the phone recordings is most likely foreshadowing of this.

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    1. " Taichi has got some serious balls."

      I see what you did there.

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  5. I'm a sucker for emotionally involving dramas like KK and I would put it alongside SAO as my favourites for the season and one of my top ten for the year so far.

    I guessed the myriad of relations and that Yui's androphobia came from a sexual assault, a much more real reason than that of Inami from Working!, last week mostly because it was a bit of obvious and Yui was scared about being alone in Iori's house.

    GE I disagree with the idea that Yui has fallen for Taichi after that though. Grateful, yes, but in love no. I think that she just opened up to him in a way that she couldn't do before because of her problem and that she may show a similar attitude to Aoki, if a bit more reserved because he likes her.

    On Taichi, I think that he likes both Inaba and Iori, or at least has more feelings for them than Yui and I'm more on the Inaba front after this episode, because of Taichi's lack of reaction when Inaba said that Iori loved him and Taichi blushed a bit at the end with Inaba.

    Inaba is obviously feeling that she can win against school idol Iori and pushes Taichi down that road for his own good, because she's prettier and more alive with her, but we always notice how those that we love act with others and seldom with ourselves. So I think Inaba's proclamation that Taichi and Yui are a good fit is because she can't see how she is with him.

    Iori is still a bit of a mystery. Family problems like father running out, being alone all the time, problems with her mother's possible boyfriends or stepfather to be. I also suspect that her mom might be someone who works as a call lady or something similar, possibly giving birth to Iori, which she feels sorry for. I would also add rape or at least child abuse as something that Iori has gone through and unlike Kiriyama, truly does hide well.

    KK is a lot more deep than I thought it could be and as a romance one of the best this year. Love Saturdays.

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  6. After reading the review, I feel a bit bad for laughing as hard as I did at the crotch-shot scene. Based on Kiriyama's lines after the fact, it does seem really contrived, though I still think some drastic comedy was needed to break the tension after what she had just revealed. I had assumed she was the victim of rape or molestation, but I was surprised to have it laid bare the way it was.

    Much as I like Taichi, I still think Aoki needs to be developed further. As things stand now, he's not much more than a foil for Taichi. After this episode, Iori has also become, as others have noted, something of a mystery. I know Inaba's guilty of projecting her own issues onto others, but based on her one scene this time around I think it's certain there's a lot of truth to what Inaba said at the beginning of the episode.

    One of the most interesting things this time around was a brief look at what is perhaps the most interesting thing about the whole premise. The complete loss of privacy the body-swapping entails hasn't been touched on much, but here Taichi was swapped into Yui while she was in the middle of something intensely personal, and while that seems to have worked out alright it is pretty unnerving to think about.

    So far this series has by far exceeded what struck me as a fairly shallow premise. I'm hardly following any series this season, but I'm glad I stumbled into this one.

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    1. Don't feel bad, I laughed tons as well :D

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    2. "I know Inaba's guilty of projecting her own issues onto others,"

      I was surprised this wasn't brought up in the review. I felt that was the main point of the episode, honestly. Inaba tells Taichi that he has a Messiah complex, when she the one who really does. As much as she likes telling herself that she's alone, she's clearly trying to take on the responsibility of protecting the entire group, up to and including matchmaking them without their permission because "Iori needs someone like you."

      Not only that, she thought Iori was closest to breaking, and while we don't know enough about Iori's problems yet to properly judge that, Inaba herself was the actually closest to breaking, as we see in the end of the episode. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if her impression of Iori's feelings towards Taichi come from exactly the same place.

      Overall, I get the impression that she's much less on top of things than she wants to think she is. She seems to think of herself as the only "sane, responsible" person, but that itself is her weakness.

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  7. I think this is a good episode. There are some loopholes in the story but the whole package is still good for me. Sometimes anime should just be enjoyed as it is.

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  8. I think Taichi tries to to show Yui how effective an attack-to-groin is by having her experiencing first hand and therefore restores her confidence. We already know that she is strong, but after such traumatic experience she was losing her confidence. She felt that no matter how strong she was, men will always be stronger.

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    1. Well, I think it's important to think about the whole situation. Yui was a 13-14 year old girl who is pretty slight of build. She's been in training in a martial art which can be usable for self-defense, but is mostly for rules-based combat. So when she got in a situation of grabbing / grappling, she just had no brute strength to counter that. In one encounter, she goes from someone who thinks they are able to deal with anything to the shocking realization that she's not. That's why I think there was more than losing confidence, and going all the way past 'men are stronger' to 'men are creatures to be feared'.

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  9. I was actually struck by the change in Taichi from the first episodes to this one with respect to his display of emotion. They all, particularly Inaba, made a huge deal about his lack of emotional display. Yet in his discussion with Inaba in this episode, he was much more, well, animated (sorry). I'm waiting for the remainder of the characters to pick up on this, as it shows that he's had as much development through their ordeal as anyone, or maybe more.

    Another question brought up by a comment in passing while asking about Yui's fears: Her body reacts in a non-volitional way when someone else is possessing it (Aoki made the comment). How much of their emotional state is contained in their consciousness that transfers, and how much is non-transferring? I almost wish there had been more examination of this when Yui and Taichi switch at the end: He notices tears, but what if he was also suddenly feeling like he was sad enough to be crying? Did Yui switch into his body and continue crying?

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