Disclaimer- this review takes into account the 4 episode "sequel" to the show
With the massive rise in access to entertainment and media/pop culture, we have gotten to the point where our options on what to watch are so stratified that we have the privilege of not liking something because its not our particular taste. In the world of anime and manga this leads many to disregard shows that simply don't fit the criteria of what we find entertaining. However, this does not mean that certain shows are objectively good or bad, it sometimes means that a show is an excellent version of whatever style or genre it is supposed to be.
Kokoro Connect is a perfect example of this concept. I am relatively new to Anime, and (despite my actual list) my tastes range from the classic DBZ (im old) to my new favorite Spice and Wolf (season 3 please!). I try to watch each show objectively recognizing how it is supposed to fulfill its role in its particular genre. Aside from Toradora (the show that made me pay attention to slice of life shows) i cannot think of too many shows that do such a great job of showcasing compelling drama, laughs, and heart warming romance. For what it is supposed to be, Kokoro Connect is almost perfect.
The story of Kokoro Connect (KC) revolves around a supernatural conceit that drives the drama of the story. Simply put, a group teenagers (already known for not having the best sense of control) are put in a position where they no longer truly control their own bodies. Over the course of the story this takes on several different forms (some more compelling than others), but the awesome thing about it is that the writers were clearly creatively inspired by this seemingly silly premise. A show that could have easily went on an ecchi, slapstick, "accidental pervert" fest, decided to use this as a way for the characters to learn more about themselves and each other, and we as the audience end up doing the same. Toward the end the show does wander into some of the inane melodrama that plagues a lot of animes, but understanding that this is an inherent characteristic of the medium, such things cannot be helped. To put it in perspective, this is the first anime i was able to get my completely uninterested wife to watch (most of it at least).
As a relatively new serious fan of anime (i had been a casual fan for decades) I really can't speak from confidence on sound and art. I have not developed a discerning eye for these things. Ill just say that i personally enjoy clean, smooth, and crisp visuals/sound in my anime. I have seen my fair share of shows in the past few months, and with many, i just cant get past the visuals. Whether it be an awkward and uninteresting art style, (Bokura Ga Ita) bland sound (Kimi No Todoke) or dated visuals (Peach Girl). Kokoro Connect is great in all categories, its just not anything spectacular (Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions).
I am an English teacher by trade (writer by fantasy). I know what good character development is and how it is supposed to be done. Although the techniques are gimmicky, and there are a few one note main characters (Aoki) i was still very impressed with the amount of depth delivered by the characters in this story. More significantly, this was not the typical anime that made me roll my eyes at their behavior (most of the time). When the inevitable love triangle presents itself, it makes sense. When the guy starts choosing, it makes sense, when people get hurt- it makes sense. When the drama and tension rises- it makes sense. All of the characters motivations are not fully developed, but they are developed enough to make you care and not swoon over how contrived they are. Again, for the genre and medium, this was an amazing job of characterization.
I have a short attention span when it comes to anime. So when i actually watch all the episodes of a show (instead of wikipedia searching the plot til it gets to the good parts) i have to give that show high marks. My favorite thing about this show is that it is an almost perfect length. They dont draw out the inevitable sooooo long (I love you Toradora but im talking to you) and they dont end it anticlimactically (every 3rd SOL romance does this). The second to last arc was a little weak and less compelling and funny than the first two, but it was short and still entertaining. Again, if you are looking for a SOL/romance/comedy anime that doesnt make you embarrassed to be a fan with ridiculous characters, gratuitous fan service, and a blah ending. You cant do much better than this.