Aug 16, 2014

Anime Review: Kokoro Connect: Michi Random

Kokoro Connect: Michi Random title/logoI’m only a year late to the party, especially considering my undeniably positive review of the TV-aired portion, but the additionally adapted LN of Kokoro Connect released in OVA form is definitely cause to say “More please!” If there was ever an indication that a second season is warranted it’s this. I realize, of course, that doesn’t make it financially viable but… well… I’m a fan not a financier.

The main cast of five in the club room after school all looking at the viewer with surprise concern because Heartseed just arrived

This four episode continuation adapts another arc of the story, this time dealing with an emotional transference phenomenon, aka random unintentional telepathy. The major plot point hinges upon Iori completely breaking under this new pressure and turning into an apathetic wise-cracking jerk-off. This ends up being the second weakest part of the arc, as a callous Iori is both an uninteresting and annoying Iori, even though it makes sense and fits her character’s development thus far. But that’s another problem: of course Iori would be unable to deal with true feelings being made known to the other five randomly, and of course at the worst possible times. It’s not like that facet of her personality wasn’t made painfully clear to us in the first (if not second) arc of the TV series. But okay, unsurprising but logical I can’t exactly fault them for. Yet it spends so much airtime showing the other four cast being baffled at her sudden 180.

Kiriyama and Iori seen from above sitting across from each other at a cafe drinking tea bathed in orange light

But I said it was the second weakest aspect: really, it is that this is the entire antagonism of the arc outside of a really stupid first half of the fourth episode. You see, we’re basically just waiting three episodes while Iori acts like a dick and everyone just keeps being appalled by it until the eventual showdown and things resolve in the fourth episode. There’s very little development outside of that, to be honest.

Inaba with a mix of surprise, worry, and embarassment on her faceAlthough, the little that does happen outside of Iori being a bitch is quite satisfying. If there was ever any doubt that Sawashiro Miyuki was an absolutely fantastic voice actress and that, correspondingly, her character Inaba was hands down the most interesting of the five main characters on Kokoro Connect this OVA arc seals the deal. (You’ll note I said just as much when reviewing the TV series as well.) To be clear: of the non-Iori drama bits, Inaba proves to be delightful and endearing. I don’t want to spoil anything but damn, she already was my favorite of the bunch and this extra story just sends her way above that even.

Kiriyama turning her head around suddenly on the way home from schoolNot to say the rest are slouches: granted, some of the cast just don’t really manage to get their time in the limelight and so don’t stand out so much (this would be, unfortunately, Aoki and to a slightly lesser extent Kiriyama). There’s a lot of excellent drama and well written dialog, which is what made me praise the original televised series so much. It’s still just as spot-on but, admittedly, the phenomenon and the tension this time around are a bit secondary and forced, respectively. Most of the focus isn’t on the far more interesting telepathy bit and what is the focus is a much too dumb “Iori is being difficult because... stuff” angle.

Look, I get that her story is she feels compelled to be the person that others expect. As I said before, we learned that early in the first season after all. I also agree that it is entirely believable that she would just snap and not want to bother anymore. It’s believable, but that doesn’t make it an entertaining point. Unfortunately, Iori just comes off as a cunt the whole time who won’t fucking stop being a difficult ass until she finally has an “epiphany” conveniently in the fourth episode and just decides to get over herself. It’s like we’re all waiting around for her to get out of a bad mood. Which is a disservice to the serious point about getting sick of pretending to be what everyone expects all the time. That’s a legitimate and sympathetic point but the execution is just… eh.

Extreme perspective of Taichi standing up from the couch suddenly with a look of determination as his sister sits looking on

Despite that major complaint, I still enjoyed the hell out of re-joining my beloved five friends and getting another [short] ride on the drama-coaster. If anything, it reminded me again why I enjoyed the TV series so much. It’s too bad then that this ends up being one of the weaker arcs (even compared to the weak third and last arc of the TV series with the age regression bit). This is despite having some truly delightful performances and the development of Inaba.

Granted, even as the weakest of the four animated arcs so far, Kokoro Connect: Michi Random is still probably a lot better and more satisfying than a lot of the fluff I’ve seen lately.

A horizontal shot of Iori sitting alone at night at a cafe table with tea and her coat and bag on the chair across from her as she looks out big windows at trees lined with lights

Unfortunately, this additional arc was a home release only so Crunchyroll doesn’t include it with the TV broadcasted episodes. But you seem like the resourceful type so I’m sure you’ll have no trouble finding it.

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