Kokoro Connect (TV) Blu Ray Review

Somewhat of a cross between Freaky Friday and K-On!, Kokoro Connect is a fun, sometimes cringeworthy series about a bunch of friends who try to maintain their secrets and composure after body-swapping with friends.

"There’s a student exchange problem in the Cultural Study group.
You’ve heard of foreign exchange in high school, but body exchange? 

Having seemingly been caught up in the whims of a supernatural character called Heartseed; Taichi, Iori, Himeko, Yoshifumi and Yui are about to learn more about each other than most. Not only are they switching bodies, they’re switching genders!

Now they’re truly discovering things about each other, including stuff that go beyond basic anatomy. Every member of the Cultural Study group is hiding something, but how long can it stay a secret when their body is no longer their own, and they can't keep watch 24/7?

It just might be time for them to face their demons" - Hanabee

The cringeworthy moments in this series are totally deserved and they're delivered on purpose. The thought of High School friends swapping bodies with their friends while retaining their personality is bad enough but, you know, boys... Yep. It's these sort of moments that make your skin crawl but they also lead to some pretty good character developments with certain members of the group acting in contradiction to what you'd expect. Considering that this is only a 13 episode series, there's a fair amount of character development, more than enough for the characters to grow on you and to become emotionally invested in them. In To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee wrote, "you never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb in his skin and walk around in it". My English teacher would be so proud!

Unfortunately, the entire premise is built upon a flimsy foundation with supernatural elements that are never fully realised and just seem to get in the way. The wackiness does start and finish with body-swapping, which is another slight frustration. Being a 13 episodes series, a more basic story would have been advantageous. Instead of switching from one supernatural trope to another, we could have been treated to a more drawn out, in depth look at the effects of these situations on each character. That said, for all of the chopping and changing, the characters are rather well developed and manage to be the highlight of the series.

There are some striking visual similarities between the characters in
Kokoro Connect and the gals from K-On. At first I assumed (wrongly) that it must have been because of the studio but it turns out that Kokoro Connect isn't animated by Kyoto Animation at all (wrong again). Instead, the similarities are due to the involvement of Yukiko Horiguchi who worked as the character designer for the Kokoro Connect visual novel series, and as a character designer on K-On! for Kyoto Animation. While the animation and character designs are great, the similarities in setting and aesthetics sometimes make it hard to discern the two series. That said, long time readers of Geek of Oz will know that I was a massive fan of K-On! so it's not all bad. The animation quality is, for the most part, quite good. Never to the lofty standards that we've become used to, but it never wavers from above average.

Kokoro Connect isn't a bad series by any measure. The story is engaging, the characters well developed and the animation is pretty darn good. Sadly, it could have been so much better. For a series with 7 different theme songs there is nothing remarkable about either the theme songs or the score. Furthermore, the sheer volume of supernatural genre tropes that are squeezed in wind up detracting from the story and disrupt the series' pacing making for a good series that could have been great.

- Ryan

Kokoro Connect the OVA is available now on Blu Ray and DVD


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