Kokoro Connect – Narration, Selflessness and Fond Memories

Kokoro Connect has been a fascinating series so far, providing a relatively light-hearted school romance while also looking in greater depth at the problems that each character has had to deal with in their past and present. What is particularly interesting about these events are their almost benign nature, they were not designed to hurt or destroy any in the group, rather, they are a neutral part of the story. Each character reacts to these incidents in a different way, with some affected more than others, however, it is a personal problem and while the events clearly had some impact upon our characters they remain neutral throughout. Similarly, Heartseed is not a malicious or bad character, their actions do not appear to be deliberately nasty, and the various situations that they continue to create are set up in such a way as to help rather than hind the central group of characters. Instead as the series has progressed the central characters of Iori, Yui, Inaba, Taichi and Aoki have begun to learn far more about each other than they once did. In essence Heartseed is showing them who they truly are and bringing them together in a close-knit group of friends who truly know and understand each other.

Each event, starting with the body swapping, then the released emotions and now regressing to childhood everyday has affected the characters in different ways. The first arc saw Iori affected far more than the others, she nearly withdraws into the shell of different personalities that she had created, suggesting that by swapping bodies with other members of the same club she has begun to lose something essential. This first arc appears to have been deliberately designed by Heartseed to break down certain barriers within the group, giving everyone a chance to see things that they never even knew about. Personal lives are suddenly laid bare, with individual characters secrets becoming common knowledge within the group. Yui’s shock at finding that Iori spends the majority of her time at home alone due to her mothers busy work schedule (and very possibly a boyfriend) demonstrates their complete lack of knowledge or understanding about each other. Iori in particular puts on the front of a cheerful and energetic girl; however, underneath all of this she was hiding her feelings, her fears and her abject loneliness.

In a similar vein, the revelation that due to a (thankfully) botched rape attempt in her past Yui now suffers from Androphobia comes as a shock to everyone except Inaba (who had already been told). The rest of the group are shocked at discovering this, or more accurately, they are shocked that they never noticed the symptoms. Yui never told anyone because she wanted to live a ‘normal’ school life, so she keeps her fear under control, even when she is in the same room as Aoki and Taichi. While such a phobia could be potentially very damaging to someone, Yui tries to control it, she doesn’t want to be treat differently or ruin the social lives of others by telling others about it. Much like with Iori and her own problems, Yui wants to maintain the air of normality, she wants a ‘normal’ school life and to be treat as a ‘normal’ high school girl. This, along with Iori’s own issues clearly demonstrates the willingness of many in high school to hide their own problems and issues n order to keep up the appearance in school of being a normal high school girl. The importance of appearing to be exactly like everyone else further demonstrates the pressures of school life and of being a teenager, the per pressure and feeling that if your terrible secret were found out many of your friends may begin to avoid you or treat you differently leads these characters to hiding their problems and perhaps making them worse.

The second arc affected Inaba and Yui more than the others, although it is Inaba who arguably comes off the worst. While the first arc brought to light various secrets and parts of their lives that these characters wanted to keep to themselves, this arc was about emotions. Everyone keeps emotions, feelings and actions under a certain amount of control (although many are not especially good at it), to simply say what is on your mind all the time would be to make your life very difficult. While our central characters have begun to open up to each other, there still remains a barrier between them, they cant say what they truly think. By letting their emotions get the better of them numerous people are hurt, with the main characters, and in particular Inaba and Taichi berating others for their stupidity. We see how particularly Yui fears her impulses to hit, kick and generally beat up men/boys who try and get close to her or her friends. In some respects we see here that Yui doesn’t necessarily fear men as much as you might have thought, rather she fears herself and her own skills in karate. Similarly, Inaba withdraws into herself during this arc, shutting herself away in her home and perhaps inside her head. During the first arc it becomes clear that Inaba cannot trust anyone, at least according to her own words – her terse replies and frosty attitude directly comes from her own fears that people may use and abuse her good will.

The second arc makes this worse when Inaba berates Yui for her weak and silly attitude, suggesting that hiding away will not make things better. Inaba is correct in this respect, regardless of having their emotions and desires unleashed by Heartseed they still have to get on with the daily lives. Nothing will be resolved by hiding away, and in many respects the situation will only be made worse, however, her words and feelings are so accurate that they hurt and sting Yui, Iori and Aoki. At the same time Inaba withdraws into herself, she now fears her own desires and can no longer trust anyone, least of all herself. This is partly due to her desire for and sexual attraction towards Taichi, something that has only been strengthened by years of repressing it for Iori’s sake. Inaba cannot and will not accept who she is and whom she loves, but, as Heartseed makes abundantly clear, she is only running away from the problem. By confronting their problems and their desires Yui and Inaba are able to let go of their fears and insecurities. In particular, Inaba’s realisation that she cannot give up on her feelings for Taichi, despite knowing Iori’s feelings for him is a weight off of her chest. During the confession that followed we see a new aspect of Inaba’s character, with deep and powerful emotions moving around under the cool and calm exterior.

However, while each of these story arcs has affected specific characters more so than the others (with Aoki’s turn in this most recent arc) there is one character that remains unaffected, while also being the most affected. Taichi appears to be the least affected by all of these story arcs and events, while simultaneous being at the centre of every single one. Much like in Greek tragedy Taichi takes on the role of narrator while still remaining an active agent within the story. The plot and story arcs are largely told from his perspective, with the events involving Iori, Inaba, Yui and Aoki taking place around him. This has become most apparent in the latest arc where Balloon Vine takes over his sister and explicitly says that Taichi will be the only one to remain unaffected by the age regression. In this arc Taichi is given the role that he has arguably already been playing throughout the series, he is the centre of the story, the person who remains grounded throughout the odd events.

This is essentially what he has been doing throughout the entire series, and while the other characters may shout and yell, and complain about his selfless character and odd ways he has remained the one person who can at least cope with their situation. His selflessness and ability to accept others has helped Iori, Yui and Inaba, giving them someone to look up to and rely upon when things get tough. However, this in itself is a problem that this current arc may have been created to resolve – everyone relies upon Taichi, whether you like it or not. The problem is that because of his fairly easygoing nature and ability to accept everyone Taichi has become the centre of the group but has yet to fully understand the implications of this. Narrators in Greek Tragedy are often important characters in the overall story; sometimes they are the central character, telling the story of their own demise at the hands of the gods. While Taichi is fulfilling a similar role he has yet to truly be an active agent in the story, instead standing on the sidelines, even when he is central the group. By forcing the responsibility of keeping the group together as the change into children again it appears that Balloon Vine may be teaching him an important lesson.

What is particularly interesting about this current arc are the implications that you were happiest when you were children, a time when you didn’t have to worry about the world. At the same time the characters are regressing to a point in their lives when something happened to completely change their perspective on the world. Iori suggests that if she could relive her life until this point she would do everything differently, and perhaps change herself, thus missing the point entirely. She has only arrived at this way of thinking after having lived her life, by changing it the same events would never happen and she may never meet Inaba, Yui, Aoki or Taichi. In many respects this most recent and likely longest arc may be about teaching these characters the importance or embodied experiences. They may have had to go through painful experiences, but for the most part these experiences are essential to their personalities and growth. This goes back to the original point about the role of Balloon Vine as a mediator, a being that is neither malevolent nor evil. Instead Heartseed (there also appears to be multiple existences known as Heartseed) has created the conditions to allow this group of friends to grow and change. Some of their experiences may have been harmful or difficult to deal with, and yet by being forced into confronting them they have slowly begun to change. It will be particularly interesting to see how Taichi deals with the responsibility of being a parent to the others, while also dealing with the increasing advances of Inaba.

About illogicalzen
An Illogical anime fan in a very Zen-like way.

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