As fast as they started, the attacks of the body switching end. Kokoro Connect decides to do a hard reboot in the beginning of episode 6, showing little care to explore the after-effects caused by the group’s shared trauma or tie up any loose ends regarding relationships. Instead, all’s well at school three weeks later, until (surprise, surprise) a new arc begins. Apparently, Heartseed has gotten as much as it could from the former experiment with Taichi, Himeko, Iori, Yui, and Yoshifumi, and decides to try something different: the spontaneous unleashing of the StuCS members’ inner desires. From the inane craving of sweets, to the lust for flesh, to the uninhibited reactions of fear and anger, the club must now deal with control over themselves as opposed to the fear of being controlled by another.
Kokoro Connect so abruptly abandoning its main conflict had me cursing very loudly at my screen. I thought it a copout. I thought it repugnant. I wanted resolution! But that’s exactly what the show wanted. Much like its viewers, Kokoro Connect leaves characters without any real closure to the myriad issues brought up during the first story arc. Finally free of a spell that forced the friends to be overly open with each other, it’s only natural to assume each would revert to nominal social conservatism (if not regress a step or two further in response to the incursion). If Heartseed was still watching, this explains the nature of the next experiment — forced action on restrained desires — and also compounds the threats involved for all the subjects.
What I like about the second arc, aside from the hesitant love triangle, is how everyone realizes they’re horrible people … or at least have the potential to be such. Unlike the previous arc, where StuCS members had to come together to help each other, this arc makes everyone involved feel as if they have to shove themselves in their own corners to protect those they care about for very unique reasons. Also, I think the series handles escalations very competently. As an example: casual arguments that would grow into shouting matches, into shoving matches, into fisticuffs, into self-loathing. It feels very natural, especially for friends who were just made to feel so considerate of each other. Also, I think the experiment exploits characters’ traits exposed during the last arc, such as Inori’s search for her true self and Yui’s androphobia.
What I didn’t like: Each inflamed situation is resolved way too easily. Sure, it might take someone a couple weeks to come out of his/her room, but subsequent comfort within the group seems to return almost immediately upon reintegration. Someone might realize they can hurt as much as they help, but no lasting consequences ever come from it. And the love triangle? I don’t know two friends who would share another friend who was also a romantic interest in such a calm manner, no matter how unsure they are of themselves. Also, the emotional “gotcha!” ending was predictable to a fault, but the characters’ reactions are completely believable … at least within the over-exaggerated realm of hormonal teenagers under elevated psychological pressure.
Kokoro Connect is now streaming on Crunchyroll.