Episodes 14 and 15 aired at a special event at Cinemart Shinjuku from November 19 to 25, 2012. Episodes 16 and 17 aired at a special event at Cinemart Shinjuku from December 10 to 16. All four episodes aired on AT-X on December 30.
The first and second pairs of episodes will subsequently be released on Blu-ray on March 27 and April 17, 2013.
Before I'd like to start my review, I'd just like to give a few reminders.
First of all, a happy new year to everyone! I hope everyone had fun last year and will have fun this year. For this year, I decided that in my new year's resolution, I will start writing reviews in the anime I've watched, primarily those which have struck me with awe. In other words, this is my first review so please be easy on me. Secondly, I apologize if my review may seem long as, reiterated, it's my first time and I tend to pour myself out on stuff like this.
Lastly, we all have subjective opinions so let's not start arguments over my review please in the case that I pull up something controversial.
I have a different grading system when I rank anime compared to the standard one given so with that being said...
1. ARTISTRY: 9/10
"Artistry is the quality that appeals to one's sense of beauty."
This refers to all the technical visual things shown in the anime - animation, personalities, sounds, all of those. I'm not exactly looking at how the anime is, how it looks and all that, I'm the type of person that tends to look more on the inside rather than what's on the outside. However, even so, artistry is an important factor as it usually leaves the first impression, at least in my case.
Kokoro Connect though did very well on the artistry, I believe. The animation is fine, in fact, it's very impressive. The mood of the scene reflected well on the animation as well, which would contribute to enticing the viewers.
Not only that, the characters were nice as well. Each character had a unique personality. It's not like those cliché personalities such as the over-moe ones and the all-the-way tsunderes. Everyone had new aspects that I haven't seen before or rarely seen such as Inaba Himeko. It's hard to sub-classify her to the classifications of anime characters we have right now. Her good looks and her cool, grown-up attitude and behind those is a clumsy girl with the capability to make her look beautiful, hot and cute all at the same time is very rare in the anime world.
Another factor I'm mysteriously interested in is the voice acting. I am just so dumbfounded when I hear the voice actors and actresses expressing the character's feelings to the fullest in each dialogue they speak out. In Kokoro Connect, I'd have to say they did an amazing job in this aspect. All the characters, their feelings and their dialogues, it was expressed in such a way wherein which you are just left with amazement. This is yet another commendable aspect in terms of the artistry.
Lastly, the plot. The way the story was laid out, the way each new problem and conflict was presented, the way each problem was solved by the help of teamwork was perfect. These kinds of plots just give you the urge to continue watching more and more episodes consecutively due to its excitement and interesting turn of events.
2. INTELLECTUAL VALUE: 10/10
"Intellectual value refers to the anime stimulating thought. It enriches our mental life by making us realize fundamental truths about life and human nature."
When I watch anime, I closely keep in watch for this quality. This usually determines if I'll like the anime or not.
No doubt, I learned a lot from this anime. New truths about life itself and about us, humans. We're very powerless if we settle things all by ourselves and we need help from others at some point in life. Life works that way. Every individual should work together and united, they shall stand.
With that being said, intellectual value in this show is yet another commendable factor seen in Kokoro Connect.
3. SUGGESTIVENESS: 9/10
"Suggestiveness is the quality associated with the emotional power shown and experienced by the audience."
Let's focus on Nagase Iori on this one, shall we? Did you feel the pain Iori felt as she continuously isolated herself from the Cultural Research Club and its members? Did you feel anguish and anger or perhaps any feeling when Iori showed an antagonistic and negative behavior towards her own friends despite how nice they were to her? My main point is, the very fact that you, the audience, expressed intense emotions during those scenes is already the fact that this anime succeeded its purpose in expressing suggestiveness to the audience.
Not only did Nagase leave a strong emotional power but also practically everything shown on the show. Every dramatic moment in Kokoro Connect was intense and it left strong emotional power, leaving you astounded and moved in your heart. That, itself, makes me give this a 10/10.
4. SPIRITUAL VALUE: 10/10
"Spiritual value is the quality wherein which the show elevates the spirit by bringing out moral values which make us better persons."
I would be killing myself literally if I were to say that Kokoro Connect failed to inspire its viewers to become better persons or change their perspective on life. This has got to be the strongest point shown in the anime.
Society is cruel. Hardships come and go. At some point, you will feel like you've reached the lowest peak in your life. Yet, in the end, your friends will always be there to pull you up. The concept of friendship was indeed highlighted in this show.
"Like I care! Do whatever you want! It's your life!," as said by Inaba. A very motivational and inspiring quote indeed. You are entitled to everything you want and can do and no one has the right to bother around with what's yours.
Kokoro Connect taught me that you can't live life all by yourself. No one can. Everyone needs someone to be at their side to be with them, guide them, shoulder their pain and burden and everything else. It's a human instinct, we linger for love. This human instinct was shown on Nagase Iori, despite her persistent attitude.
5. PERMANENCE: 10/10
"Permanence is shown when a great show endures time and space. Thus, it immortalizes its maker along with the show itself."
Permanence, in my opinion, is one of the greatest qualities every anime has to focus on. Every anime should strive to leave an impact to the audience in order for them to not forget about it for a long time and hopefully recommend to their friends. It is also a pretty drastic quality, as it also interconnects and interlocks with spiritual value and intellectual value.
These last 4 episodes, in my belief, indeed succeeded in engraving a memory of how wonderful this anime is in the viewer's hearts.
The concept and idea of friendship and teamwork, I will never forget the fact on how much that was highlighted and shown during the whole course of the Kokoro Connect series.
OVERALL: 9.6/10 or 10/10
TL;DR? All in all, I'd like to say that this is a wonderful and commendable show. I would indeed recommend this to my friends if they are looking for an anime to watch. Every anime should strive to be like this one, Kokoro Connect deserves to be a role model. However, regardless of the fact that it's amazing, I still wouldn't say it's the epitome and magnum opus of shows and all that, as some shows still encompass this anime but shows as nice as this are rarely seen this days so in conclusion, I highly suggest you watch this series. You won't regret it.
There's nothing better than having a good friend, enjoying the time as well as the memories you make with them, or someday be able to progress that friendship into something more. This is especially true in high school where friends, love, and connections are established. It is where our youth lives expand and we explore ideas like never before. It's an experience that most of us may never forget. These experiences are formed by our thoughts. Sometimes, thoughts from our minds doesn't speak by itself. Yet, we try to tell someone precious of our feelings. Other times, we keep it to ourselves. From the friendships
we make and establish comes forth what we can call connections.
Welcome back to Kokoro Connect where the Cultural Research Club encounters some strange events, things we don't see every day especially in the real world. Kokoro Connect: Michi Random is a series of four episodes that expands from the original series. It is based on the same setting, characters, artwork, and by the same author of the light novel, Sadanatsu Anda.
The series continues directly from the original title that aired a few months ago. Thus, all the characters return but with some new twists. Here's where the supernatural element part kicks in. Apparently, thoughts from the inside of their heads can no longer be concealed. Their deepest thoughts and secrets becomes an echo. With this new supernatural gag kicks off the major drama that spawned in these episodes. It gets intense and is not random because every one of those thoughts becomes a moment that causes drama. In fact, it affects the relationship and connections the characters have worked hard to build on.
Bring on the roller coaster of drama once again.
In fact, there is major tensions between the main male protagonist, Inaba, and Iori in these four episodes. Love plays a major factor in this ride as feelings and thoughts the girls tries to conceal becomes a public display with the new supernatural gag. The new dilemma established brings forth challenges as the characters tries to play off their displayed thoughts as a joke. Yet, it's easy to tell that it's not a joke as the connections these friends have built are put on stress as their secrets are exposed that leaves painful scars. In particular, Iori Nagase seems to suffer most from the stress as result of the new supernatural gag. Often known as a friendly, energetic, and outgoing girl, she becomes much more reserved in these episodes. Later on, these emotions gets to her and she even becomes enraged after hearing some thoughts she doesn't like. It becomes a crisis as these friends are finding it quite difficult to go back as things were once before. Even Inaba becomes affected to a degree despite her mature personality. Rather than love in the air, it's filled with drama. In fact, this drama escalates later on to even a bit of violence that results in collateral damage.
The characters in these episodes mostly retains their original personalities but displays a tenderness as result of the new supernatural features. The love triangle between Inaba, Taichi, and Iori escalates to a boiling point. It's painful to watch but life often takes unexpected routes when certain events occur especially in regards to love. With that slice of life feeling still added to the episodes, it becomes a short emotional journey. The atmosphere of the episodes retains its tone and edges however. Despite the emotional roller coaster, the episodes still has that general lighthearted theme. It is meaningful because it doesn't try to side track itself from the main story/arc as some series have. Instead, it continues from a emotional roller coaster that's set to reach a peak point when some of the deepest thoughts are revealed. Talk about some hardcore drama to be honest.
Despite the over the line drama, the series does retains some of its cute moments especially for those of you Inaba fans. Her faces, expressions, and dialogue brings giggles to a viewer's face. That and some of the thoughts being echoed are also amusing to watch especially since they occur at random times. It is no surprising too since the title of these four finale episodes are titled collectively as Kokoro Connect: Michi Random. Yet at times, some of those random moments seems to be forced. In other words, these episodes tries a bit too hard to convey that drama to the viewers. The supernatural element known as "now-I-can-hear-you-what-you're-thinking" is also not new to the tv media. Series such as Negima, Chrono Crusade, even live action such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Season 3) has used the theme of live thoughts. However, it is still an interesting concept that remains fiction but explores the reality of its effects.
The artwork of the series remains exactly as it was from the original series. The lighthearted backgrounds of the school and the characters remains intact by the way they are casually dressed. Yukiko Horiguchi deals with the characters designs who is known for her work from K-On and Lucky Star. As such, it is not surprising that some of the characters have similarities in appearances when compared to designs from her mediums.
The musical aspect of these episodes remains intact and lighthearted with its themes. Drama is portrayed in ways that are comedic, dramatic, and emotional measured in volumes of depth. What we see from these depths is a music rhythm that reflects exactly what Kokoro Connect is – an emotional ride. The OP song, "Kimi Rhythm" by Masaki Imai displays a montage of the characters at various stances in which we can see how fun they are having. Yet, in these episodes some of that fun are put on stress under new circumstances.
In conclusion, Kokoro Connect: Michi Random becomes an expansion of the emotional ride the original series has bought to us. Unfortunately, there are still questions that still need answers especially in regards on of its execution. In fact, some of these questions are ambiguous in regards to the drama in which the new supernatural gag has bought towards to the series. But still, the series connected well in the end with a solid finish that is satisfying. For me, this was a satisfying series and satisfaction was achieved.
“The point of life isn’t to be perfect. It’s to do what you want to do. To be who you want to be.” – Iori Nagase
The quote above is the moral of Kokoro Connect’s sequel, Michi Random. Like Kokoro Connect, there are life lessons involved. The ED song "I Scream Chocolate" by Team Nekokan [Neko] featuring Lia also reflects on this moral with lyrics of creative metaphors. The anime also emphasizes on the word “normal” and how it cannot be used to describe someone’s behavior.
Heartseed’s game with the Cultural Research Club (CRC) has yet to end. This time the CRC has to undergo an emotion
transmission in which some, if not all, of the club members can hear what a club member is thinking regardless of the distance. This whole phenomenon mess is taking its toll on Iori. Her personality goes from being nice and cheerful to inconsiderate and downhearted. The CRC members work to discover what’s happening to Iori or how to bring her back to “normal.” Apart from Iori’s personality change, the CRC is at risk of losing their club moderator Mr. Go to the Jazz Band Club. Since the jazz band is quite talented, it will be a tough competition between the two clubs. Whoever gives the best presentation at the school event would keep Mr. Go as the moderator.
One thing I cannot understand is the love triangle between Taichi, Iori, and Inaban. It is great that Iori and Inaban refuse to let their love for Taichi interfere with their friendship. However, it seems weird that they both have the “You can have him if you want” kind of attitude and show little signs of jealousy. Taichi isn’t afraid to admit that he loves them both. Since there is no violence or mean streaks that you usually see in anime that involves love triangles, it may seem awkward for individuals to openly share each other.
Michi Random is more fun to watch, since all of the characters have matured. For example, Inaban isn’t as snobbish as she was in the prequel. Her personality has softened quite a bit, but she’s still a tough cookie. The ending wasn’t so clear and makes you question, “Okay, is it over or what?” No, it is not over. Kokoro Connect’s LN continues past Michi Random and even introduces new characters. So if you become impatient, feel free to consider reading the LN. Although the story continues from Volume 5, the LN seems to be completely different from the anime. For example, the CRC members are not the only ones who are familiar with Heartseed. I’m definitely going to start on the LN soon, especially since it finished in September 2013.
The characters’ voices in the English subbed version is so much better than the English dubbed, which is how I watched the prequel. I love Nagase’s voice done by Aki Toyosaki. It’s not as scratchy and hard like Monica Rica in the English dubbed version. Also, I prefer to hear Taichi’s character voiced by Takahiro Mizushima, the cross-dressing maid Warashibe in Inu x Boku SS, than Greg Ayers who played Sanohara from Clannad. Takahiro plays the part well, since Taichi is supposed to be a rather serious guy. Greg makes Taichi seem too goofy in my opinion, which could cause someone not to take his character seriously.
Overall, I didn’t care for the prequel so much, but Kokoro Connect: Michi Random was so good that I may re-watch the entire series. Also, I’m so anxious to know what happens that I’m going to start on the LN, since it is complete and has a slightly different storyline from the series. If you watched Kokoro Connect, you should watch the final four episodes whether you liked/disliked it.
At the time of writing, these last 4 episodes of Kokoro Connect were ranked #147 on MAL.
Overrated. Definitely overrated.
****Spoilers may be found from here on****
Story (5/10): Michi Random picks up directly from where the main series left off and yet again we find the plot centred on Iori. This time, emotional transmissions galore.
Seriously, guys, why don't we just call it "Iori Connect" already?
To sum it up, Iori gets depressed (AGAIN) because she doesn't know who her "real 'me'" is.
Cue 4 episodes of conversations that go like this:
Random CRC Member (Aoki/Yui/Inaba/Taichi): "Dude, you're not acting like your normal self."
Iori:"That's because you don't know the real 'me'!"
So instead of any steps to solve the problem, we get an endless cycle of melodramatic shit we've all heard before. Then RINSE...aaaand REPEAT.
But WAIT it gets even better in the last episode. Somehow, without thinking, Inaba picks a 1v3 fight with some wanna-be-punk douchebags and obviously gets kidnapped. Girl, WTF did you expect when rushing in like that? You're not Yui...
Cue Inaba getting obviously saved by a ragtag group of CRC members. Really, could things have gotten any more predictable?
Throw in some shallow garbage dialogue about the importance of friends and an unconvincing rehabilitation for Setouchi-san, and you get a package of a plot that promises little and delivers even less.
Yep, the story is without a doubt ATROCIOUSLY average.
Art (5/10): Character art, like the main series, didn't strike me as particularly original or memorable. Taichi still reminds me of Tsuda-kun from Seitokai Yakuindomo albeit with brown hair, and everyone has had the KyoAni moe treatment ramped up on them to a whole new BLAND level. Nothing interesting here.
Sound (6/10): Probably the "best" part of the series, considering the OP and ED didn't kill my ears. "I scream Chocolatl" is a decent listen, but the OST really didn't do much to immerse me to feel sympathy for Iori's plight.
Character (4/10): As I said before, you can slap the label "Iori Connect" on this anime already.
Iori is easily the most developed character in the whole series, and that's because she gets SCREENTIME. Everyone else except maybe Inaba remains a one-dimensional personality. Maybe that's why they can't understand a more complex character like Iori and can only ask her to be normal, rather than asking who she WANTS to be.
To summarise the amount of character development in Michi Random for the CRC members in descending order, we have:
Iori (by a long, @#$%ing way)-->Inaba-->BLAND-->BLAND-->BLAND
It's ironic how much screentime in Kokoro Connect+Michi Random is dedicated to love confessions rather than useful plot devices to actually immerse viewers in the world of the characters and not make them seem so insubstantial. Could it really have hurt the creators to place some more flashbacks on the childhoods for each of the CRC members (yes, even for Iori seeing as this is Michi Random). Everything in Kokoro Connect is just "we tell the viewer this happened to this and this character, and they'll believe us without us showing them..."
Disappointing. It also really does reflect on the laziness of the production staff that the romance aspect ends on a particularly superficial note. But then again, to satisfy the unthinking viewer masses and provide closure Taichi must pick one girl over the another to go out with. Hopefully, there won't be a 2nd season.
Enjoyment (5/10): You'd think that a slice-of-life anime would have ample amounts of humour to balance the slower-paced plot and lack of action. But yet again in Michi Random, the comedy is uncreative and falls flat.
It was particularly insensitive that Taichi tried to cover for Iori by saying he went too far with her in a physical romance. Haha, very funny. But would Taichi really have said this, knowing that Yui had nearly been raped in the past and being the "selfless freak" he is? Definitely insensitive and uncaring.
Yet this was only one of the many contradictions in character in Michi Random.
(I'm not even going to start talking about how Inaba is supposedly good at analysing & manipulating people and situations....mindlessly starting a 1v3 fight? You've got to be kidding me).
Overall (5/10): TL;DR Michi Random and the main series of Kokoro Connect simply doesn't live up to its hype. This anime takes itself too seriously in depicting high-school relationships but does nothing to deliver. Made by lazy creators, it can only be described as disappointing and BLAND. Go look elsewhere for your daily dose of cute girls and guys doing not-so-cute things, and steer clear of this anime. Who knows, you may be rewarded for your wisdom with a more interesting series.