Sunday, July 29, 2012

Kokoro Connect - 04

[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 04 [720p].mkv_snapshot_03.17_[2012.07.28_10.16.53] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 04 [720p].mkv_snapshot_17.01_[2012.07.28_10.30.50] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 04 [720p].mkv_snapshot_21.51_[2012.07.28_10.35.39]

That episode really didn’t work for me, but I feel kind of bad for saying so.

[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 04 [720p].mkv_snapshot_00.28_[2012.07.28_10.15.03]I admire the fact that Kokoro Connect is setting its sights higher than its competition in many respects.  This is a show that’s really trying to tell a serious story, and to craft something that’s both plot and character-driven into a cohesive whole.  It isn’t just trying to be fun, or funny, or create a whimsical and relaxing atmosphere of innocent times at school.  But the downside to that is that there are times when the show’s reach exceeds its grasp, and this week was definitely rife with examples.

[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 04 [720p].mkv_snapshot_02.43_[2012.07.28_10.16.19]There are a lot of things about this episode that really bothered me, though I have to temper that with respect for the fact that the writer really is trying to do something difficult here.  The exposition around Yui’s character last week mostly worked – apart from the silly crotch-kick and the implication that it “cured” her deep-seated trauma.  But for me the “revelations” surrounding Inaba and Nagase totally fell flat.  They sounded like actors reciting dialogue, completely unnatural, but I don’t think the seiyuu were really the problem.  It’s more a question of format – the whole thing had an “OK, first it’s Nagase’s turn” quality to it.  Where Yui’s interaction with Taichi flowed from the story in an organic way, this week’s events felt completely forced and artificial.

[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 04 [720p].mkv_snapshot_05.14_[2012.07.28_10.18.50]I also have several issues with the implications of all this on the characters themselves.  In the first place, another problem with the dialogue is that it sounded way too self-aware for adults, never teenagers.  Yui sounded halting and unsure, but I could never in a million years believe Inaba and Nagase reciting the litany of their personal melodramas the way they did this week.  It sounded rehearsed, if nothing else – and Inaba’s story particularly had a self-importance to it that far exceeded the merits of what she was saying.  At the very least, the rest of the group deflated her bubble at the end and made her realize just how absurd she’d sounded.

[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 04 [720p].mkv_snapshot_09.21_[2012.07.28_10.22.57]Of equal concern to me is the comment an episode like this makes on the gender roles.  Effectively, KC seems to be telling us, the girls are all wrestling with deep existential trauma, which they all heroically expose to Taichi by bravely baring their souls.  The guys?  Well, Aoki so far is just a buffoon, and Taichi’s great secret?  He uses the girls to jerk off to.  This is a fairly ugly – and silly – stereotyping of gender roles, and it doesn’t reflect well on either the girls or the guys.  Taichi’s role in the story is reduced to being a father-confessor – a guy so selfless that he’s willing to rack himself to help a girl in need and listen endlessly to every girl’s trauma – and then his dignity is completely undercut by painting him as a typically shallow teen male obsessed with his junk.  And Aoki never had any dignity to begin with.  So the girls are all tortured souls, and the guys are all basically subtle as a sledgehammer and obsessed with sex and wrestling, existing mainly as foils for the girls.  That kind of nonsense is one thing in a silly harem comedy, but in a show purporting to be a serious character drama it’s totally unacceptable.

[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 04 [720p].mkv_snapshot_10.37_[2012.07.28_10.24.13]Essentially this is a serious show, and I like that about it – that totally worked in episodes 2-3.  This time serious became self-seriousness, and that’s never a good thing.  I liked each of the characters less after this episode (not so much Aoki and Yui, as they were barely in it) – especially Taichi and Inaba – and that’s definitely not a positive development.  When characters become devices (Taichi is the worst example, but not the only one) problems inevitably follow – and I really hope this is a bump in the road, and not a roadblock.  Given the statement of purpose  KC has made in the last two weeks and the preview for episode 5 I don’t expect it to step back to dealing with less dramatic conflicts in the weeks ahead, so I guess the best thing to do is hope it regains its footing in how it presents the drama.  And a huge step in the right direction would be to move past the extremely limiting gender stereotypes the characters seem to be trapped in after this week.  Can it succeed in doing so?  There’s still every reason to hope so – but plenty of reason to worry, too.

[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 04 [720p].mkv_snapshot_12.13_[2012.07.28_10.25.49] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 04 [720p].mkv_snapshot_13.13_[2012.07.28_10.26.49] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 04 [720p].mkv_snapshot_15.10_[2012.07.28_10.28.59]
[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 04 [720p].mkv_snapshot_16.25_[2012.07.28_10.30.14] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 04 [720p].mkv_snapshot_18.53_[2012.07.28_10.32.42] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 04 [720p].mkv_snapshot_18.59_[2012.07.28_10.32.48]
[HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 04 [720p].mkv_snapshot_19.06_[2012.07.28_10.32.55] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 04 [720p].mkv_snapshot_19.53_[2012.07.28_10.33.42] [HorribleSubs] Kokoro Connect - 04 [720p].mkv_snapshot_20.15_[2012.07.28_10.34.04]


30 comments:

  1. I agree that this episode was not as good as the rest but I still really enjoyed it. Doing both Nagase and Inaba in the same episode really did have a rehearsed, forced feel to it and was not very good story telling but I am hopeful that now that the information is all out there for the girls they do not have to use that weak of a device again. The gender stereotypes are bugging me because Aoki just sucks and really has zero purpose in the show at the moment and Taichi is acting way to much like a VN lead having no personality. With most of the series still too go they still have plenty of time to work the male weaknesses into the story and make all the characters more equal versus gender stereotypes. I didn't feel that the masturbation secret was that ugly. I thought it worked great as a secret in the context of what they are saying. What he did was probably the most embarrassing thing he could have said to her which is usually not what you tell people during a conversation about trust issues. I also though that her revealing the same about him was a way to balance the gender field as I believe outside of Yogusa no Sora (which is in a quite different context) this is the only other time I have seen female masturbation discussed in anime and I thought it made Taichi's confession of it less male stereotyped. All in all this episode felt very information dump and I view it as probably just a short hold up versus a roadblock.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm hoping that they did this just to get the exposition out of the way, and move on to more drama. The preview was kind of ominous too :ohdear:

    ReplyDelete
  3. So.. it would be better for this to be set in a college setting? That may be true, it feels that they don't speak their age.

    About Taichi, I think that the father-confessor role is in itself, his main issue. The day someone tells him to do what he wants to do for himself, he may end up in Iori's situation. And that would be an interesting development.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Personally, I think Iori's story needed more show and less tell. While talking about it is what they would do in real life, the only example we know of her having no personal identity is that she didn't pick out a club for herself.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I sort of get what you mean.

    Like these revelations could have been handled better and Inaba's especially was something that should have been revealed slowly over time, more through observations like with Yui rather than that awkward confession. Iori's as well could have been done like that, with Taichi asking her about why she keeps acting differently rather than a simple confession.

    Also I bet Taichi has the biggest trauma and will probably revealed after the half way point. Hopefully it'll be a better reason than Touma. I would also think that as they are five friends they would work together to help solve the traumas that they each have, rather than weep to Taichi. If Taichi was allotted as the main character from the beginning it would have made sense but as it wasn't clear then it did hurt these last two episodes. Knowing what to expect though will probably help ease the suspension of belief (I was going to type SoB but that may have been taken differently)

    KC hasn't been handled as well as it potentially could have been and this week really showed that, but hopefully the story picks up and we get a better pacing for the rest of it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. The way the use the first 10sec of the ending song is the preview is really good. Plus from the preview it looks like Aoki will step up from being a pointless character (I Hope)

    I thought that Inori and Inaba's issues should have been treated in separate episodes, but their issues weren't really solved as conclusively as Yui, especially Inori's so I believe later episode will expand on that

    ReplyDelete
  7. I too found myself thinking that this episode was severely lacking while watching it. Especially how it started off with Inaba telling Taichi to help Iori, and Iori just spilling the beans about her trauma. Iori's talk with Taichi was highly unsatisfying. I know it'll probably get rehashed later, but it seemed almost pointless. Inaba's problem just made me facepalm. They probably tried (hoping this is true) to cram all of the story's flaws into one episode, so that they can get to the good stuff for the rest of the series *crosses fingers*. I did like the Taichi and Inaba reveals on masturbation though (although only after Inaba made her reveal because the writer just used Taichi as a punching bag again).

    ReplyDelete
  8. I guess I'm in the minority. I really liked this episode. Taichi's confession was hilarious.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are not alone. I find this show infinitely more entertaining to watch than the other SoL Tari Tari. Probably it's because this show's more plot driven and also because I can't stand Konatsu. I think the mileage may vary for people; anyone who's never been forced to smile in front of relatives or family friends have no idea what it's like to be Iori. It's like JGL in batman; it's almost like putting on a mask.

      Delete
  9. I can see where the gender roles complaint is coming from, though I wasn't struck by that immediately while watching the episode. I was grateful that Inaba didn't have some traumatic past, especially after Nagase gave the whole schpiel about a step-dad who threatened her with violence when she was in the freaking first grade. But after all the melodramatic confessions from the girls, Taichi's confession actually grounded him as a much more relatable character. It's true that the boys and girls have been drastically segregated as far as personal drama goes, but in a show that featured a character who narrowly escaped rape in middle school, another who faced domestic abuse, and a third who had some weirdly deep-seated trust issues (I was really lost during that bit), a boy who's deep dark secret turned out to be that he masturbated to some of his female friends actually turned out to be refreshing, as strange as that sounds.

    That being said, the thing that really jumped out at me this time around was Nagase's fear of completely losing her identity. It was a problem I hadn't considered before, but one that seriously creeped me out when I gave it some thought. The idea of not one, but all of the students losing their sense of self and somehow collapsing into some vacuous group unconscious really has me itching to see where the series is set to go next, especially now that we're hopefully done with this "all the girls spill their guts to Taichi" arc.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nagase's fear was fine - it was the way it was presented that lost me.

      As for Taichi's "confession" what would have been refreshing if he was presented as sensitive and emotionally self-aware, and that had come from one of the girls. As it is, it's just annoyingly cliché.

      Delete
    2. Oh, the presentation was all off. The lack of creativity that went into setting up both conversations was probably the episode's chief weakness. But while the info about Nagase's family was melodramatic and rather boring, the fear itself hit home for me chiefly because it was a very frightening implication I hadn't considered yet.

      I can't argue that the ending wasn't as simplistic and borderline sexist as the groin-attack solution from last week, but I also can't deny that given the friendliness and sensitivity Taichi has shown so far it didn't degrade him as a character in my eyes.

      Delete
    3. Maybe it's just because I was a philosophy major, but loss of identity was the first thing I thought of back when the show became serious in episode 2.

      That said, this was an incredibly clumsy way to bring it up, and trying to cram two different "personality defining problems" into a single episode just seemed lazy. Hopefully this was just a plan to get the exposition out of the way so we can have more interesting stuff later, but even that wouldn't change the fact that it's a weak episode.

      Regarding sexism, I assume we just haven't got around to the guys yet. While they may not have traumatic pasts, they probably have at least something along the lines of Inaba. A poisonous way of thinking, perhaps. Taichi's selflessness is the most obvious choice, but I can't help but feel that Inaba's analysis of it is absolutely wrong. She just feels like that kind of character.

      Delete
  10. Yep, currently Taichi is pretty much a plot device to me. He's way to nice and self-sacrificing. The girls on the other hand, spill their beans far too eagerly. Things just seem to be solved a bit too conveniently but like you said, the writer is really trying something difficult here so despite all these flaws the show has me hooked on what comes next.

    This show also seems to be quite a dialogue driven show too so I sometimes wonder what it could be like if they did more visual driven story telling

    ReplyDelete
  11. Enzo, they are high school students. Of course they think about sex all the time!! Are you telling me that you never fantasized about your female classmates?

    I agree that it would have been better to present Iori and Inaba's problems in two separate episodes. But judging from the preview, it seems that Iori's problem is far from being resolved.

    I also don't think that Taichi is a masochist. He is just trying to help his best friends to solve some issues. Sure, kicking yourself in the balls is a bit too much but the other things he did are nothing special.
    Confessing that he masturbates to his female friends? As if it wasn't the norm!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To be fair, I think Enzo's problem wasn't that Taichi confessed to masturbation, it's that the confession came directly on the tail end of a stream of melodramatic revelations where the girls all turned to him to reveal their deep-seated anxieties. I personally didn't think it was as big a problem, but I have to agree that we didn't really see the characters or the writing at their best this time around.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous BanzaiJuly 30, 2012 at 5:15 AM

      Eh I have to agree with the awkward editing in the episode.
      There's supposed to be a 1-week off screen time gap between the Iori Talk and the Inaba talk that shows the latter getting physicall sicker and sicker. Plus they cut out a ton of dialogue during the Inaba talk session to save time. So yea... the transition might have been smoother if only the anime has more time.

      Delete
  12. Preview suggests Taichi's hero complex will be addressed, and we'll see what's up with Aoki. Let's not forget that Aoki can be surprisingly perceptive/insightful for being the idiot in this band of five, so I wouldn't exactly say he has no dignity.

    I am curious as to what about Taichi's confession is normal/stereotypical. Unless this is meant to be an ecchi anime- and even then, I've never seen a male lead of that genre actually confess to masturbation-, I'm gonna scratch my head and wonder. I mean, yeah, guys masturbate, but it's more like an open secret, and (I don't know about Westerners) but back in high school, neither I nor my mates confessed if we fapped to our classmates.

    The whole point of his confession is that he trusts Inaba, who he really should have no reason to when Inaba casually threw out Iori's secret. It's a huge thing especially to an Asian high schooler. It's one thing to say "I masturbate" and another to say "I masturbate to you and our other friends". But hey, Taichi's the type of person who can't ignore anybody in need, and so he'll do whatever he can to help out, even if it means crotch-kicking himself and the like to prove his point.

    Regarding the quick resolution to everyone's problems, I could be wrong but I think they're all not fully solved. Inaba's might be- she's just a pessimist. Iori and Yui's on the other hand, we shall see.

    I believe Yui's comfortable only with Taichi, while when Iori's mother introduces daddy number 6 (my theory for the talk those two shared in previous episodes), her life will turn hectic again. At most, Taichi's given them a new perspective and a pep talk. We haven't seen if his words will hold.

    The presentation of Nagase's traumar does seem forced but let's not forget that there was an instigator: Inaba. The same Inaba who's been forcing Taichi and Iori together, and the same Inaba prone to over-thinking situations. Inaba probably thought 'hey, Taichi solved Yui's situation, let's see him do Iori's as well' and just plowed ahead.

    After dropping that bomb and knowing that Taichi can't leave anyone be, Iori never really had a choice but to explain her situation. I guess the more common reaction would be to run away in that situation (expanding pointless drama), so I find it to be surprisingly mature of Iori to explain her situation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Let's not forget that Aoki can be surprisingly perceptive/insightful"

      fucking lol

      Delete
  13. Fuck this review.
    "As for Taichi's "confession" what would have been refreshing if he was presented as sensitive and emotionally self-aware, and that had come from one of the girls. As it is, it's just annoyingly cliché"
    Cliché!?

    Is taking a shit in the toilet cliché? What do you expect, f'ing rainbows? I might or might not shit in the toilet, but I don't want to portray myself as cliché stereotypical male by telling you Enzo.

    You're blind, Enzo, or a fool. Taichi's problem is right in front of you. He's too selfless, and he'll end up hurting people because of it. Just because it's in the open, doesn't mean his problem is less important than Inori's or Inaba. And you're ridiculing Aoki because of him being less mature than the others (but averagely mature vs all other males his age), as if his feelings are less worth because of it. Like as if fighting the male stereotype is your freaking prerogative and you need to do so in every situation possible.

    Now, I may or may not have some input on this episode itself, but this review stinks. And with you're opening sentence in mind, I give zoidberg's take on your review: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jG2KMkQLZmI

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. edit:
      ..And with your opening sentence in mind, I give you zoidberg's take on your review: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jG2KMkQLZmI

      Delete
    2. Wow, really turned on the charm there. I'm glad we can have this kind of mutually respectful discussion.

      Just in case you haven't figured it out yet, I don't engage with people who can't engage in a civil way. If that's the best you can do you're wasting everyone's time.

      Delete
    3. stop treating everybody as a troll. It's an easy and pathetic excuse not to deal with criticism. Did that tourney go to your head or something?

      Delete
    4. I probably wouldn't use his language, but i have to agree that this is anything but cliche. In generally, especially American TV, no one would be willing to touch this subject with a 10-foot pole.

      If you were talking about the way it came to a speedy resolution, i wouldn't so much call it a cliche as i would call it the standard structure of an episodic television show. Something happens, something gets fixed. I would hate for it to be drawn out like a sappy drama, but then again i'm a dude. we're problem-solvers. that's why i empathize with Taichi. These last 2 episodes, i'm sitting there thinking "what can Taichi say to help his friends?"

      I'm glad the girls in this show are giving it to him straight. It generally doesn't happen with dramas. They could have protracted their trauma, but i'd imagine it would only piss off male viewership. Plus, they're friends, not lovers. How much angst do you expect out of friendships? Anymore and it would seem artificial.

      Delete
    5. Thank you for disagreeing in a civilized manner, to which I'm always willing to respond.

      It isn't so much the mention of masturbation that's cliché - I suppose that's still taboo for absurd reasons - but the commentary it makes about Taichi. The girls are soul-searching, deep spirits - Taichi's answer is "I jerk off to a picture of you in my head." And that fits right in with a genre stereotype anime is only to happy to propagate.

      I'm not happy with Taichi - or any male character - simply as a device to help the girls solve their problems. Guys are as emotionally complex (and in adolescence, usually messed up) as girls - they're just trained to keep it to themselves. Kokoro Connect (or any series) would be better off for actually exploring the psyche of genders of both characters, not just the girls.

      Delete
    6. I think it's still too early to say the male characters are just devices. I will agree that so far, not much has explored with the guys, but the previews of next episode suggests that they will delve deeper into Taichi's hero complex. Although i can't say for sure whether he is or isn't a device since it is still speculation at this point.

      Delete
    7. I agree with anonymous above. And a subtext we're both pointing at is that you are writing this anime off way too early. You are hell-bent on proving this is a mediocre drama, and not one of your classics to the point that you are assuming things about the remaining 9(?) episodes. It pisses me off. I'll know if it's mediocre when it happens, not because of your prejudice prediction.

      Now, the episode itself left something to be desired of the storytelling. I predicted nagase's problem earlier, I think it is very logical and fits the story and moves the story ahead, but the scene fell flat.

      I don't care if you (Enzo) don't like my language. As far as I'm concerned, I'll use as many derogatory terms to you as I feel warranted, as long as it gets my point across and my point is valid. Not answering, or giving butt-hurt answers doesnt make me flinch.

      Delete
  14. I have a question (probably indelicate) about the translation of the masturbation confessions. The subs that I am viewing translate Taichi's and Inaba’s statements as “I masturbate to you”. This is a somewhat awkward English phasing that everyone seems to be interpreting as “I masturbate thinking of you”. What if the real meaning is “I masturbate as you”, meaning “I masturbate when I’m in your body”?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I watched Commie's release and I am pretty sure that's what it said. Sounds weird, indeed. It should make more sense if it's something like "I masturbate to your image/pic". I doubt Commie would make make elementary mistake. It's probably a problem of Japanese -> English transition.
      I disagree that this is cliche... but no one can argue that this episode is too cramped.

      Delete