Cross-dressing, gender bending and body swapping are tried and true staples of Anime. While often used as comedic devices for some cheap laughs, a thoughtful approach to this genre can offer true insight. Series, like Hourou Musuko, commentate on the conflict of societal and personal definitions of gender roles. I won’t get ahead of myself and say Kokoro Connect shares the same lofty objectives, but it indicates the hallmarks of a considerate approach to these themes.
The cast of delightful characters carry Kokoro Connect’s first outing. Within twenty-four minutes, the episode was able to shade in some depth to its students. While Iori and Taichi get a brunt of the development, subtle strokes are drawn for Yui, Himeko and Yoshifumi.
Impressively, the storytelling doesn’t use body transfer as a crutch. It is just a single, albeit important, element that helps give the plot cohesion. Sometimes it’s difficult to be reserved when utilizing such a device. The show draws upon it to fuel some very funny moments and little else.
While it’s easy to mistake utilizing body transfer would pigeonhole a series into examining the contrasts between male and female, Kokoro Connect focuses on the dichotomy of public and private life. In a high school setting this translates to school and home life. The show has the potential to explore the disconnect between these two worlds using soul switching as a means to bridge their wide gaps.
I am clearly excited by the small taste offered, but to be fair the opener did have its share of shortcomings. While the character models could be put on par with Tari Tari, the backgrounds did not display its polish or attention to detail.
At times it felt like some jokes overstayed their welcome. While not necessarily a deal breaker, I’m not to keen on this sort of humor. Once you’ve dropped the punch line there’s no need to dawdle.
Maybe I am expecting too much from Kokoro Connect, which might end up falling back on tropes instead of opting for originality. It’s a gamble worth taking.