Kokoro Connect is the probably the most underrated anime of 2012. Though its low rating is mostly because of the huge amount of hype surrounding it, and as with most things, hype ends up with expectations nothing can ever meet. Still, now that the both the hype and hate are dead, it is realized that Kokoro Connect isn't really all that bad. In fact, its pretty damn good. The genres are wrongly tagged, It isn't about comedy (though it is funny at times) and it isn't about the supernatural. While, yes, the supernatural is used a lot, it really just serves as a plot device. Kokoro Connect is really more close to Angst, Love Polygon and Slice of Life, if you can't handle even one of what I listed above, walk away now. That said, let's get to the heart of it (not gonna include Micchi random here, it gets its own separate review).
The artwork in Kokoro Connect is reminiscent of moe culture, and it really is quite good. Now, I have never been a fan of moe, but it works very well for the series.
As you can see, the character faces are quite cute (like, K-On! cute), and the character models are great too. Its not outstanding, but its something you can't really complain about. Some people might think that moe and angst don't go together, but Kokoro connect makes it work. No, wait, it doesn't make it work, it actually works pretty damn well. The expressions go hand in hand with the great voice acting and the animation is just icing on the cake. Almost flawless.
Tears, joy, surprise, no matter what emotion needs to be shown, its portrayed in that sweet spot.
The environment, is also just lush, detailed and colorful. What else can a guy ask for?
Silverlink really pulled all stops on this one.
Sound and music (9/10)
Perfection, perfection. The voice acting is downright brilliant in terms of portraying emotions. Even though I don't really understand Japanese, the voice acting just somehow bridged that barrier and reached out, it almost breathed life into the characters single-handedly. The voices actually get hoarse after shouting a bit, and the sobbing is as real as anything I have ever seen. It is further complemented by great background music which is soft when it needs be and intense when required.
Then of course, we have the music. Kokoro Connect has a overwhelming 3 OPs and 4 EDs for its 13 episodes. While none of them are bad, my favorites are ED01 and ED02. The first OP is also very good, but it needs a bit of getting used to. All the OPs share the same music video while the EDs have different ones. This is probably one of the extremely rare cases where an ED is better than an OP.
Firstly, the genres. As I already mentioned, KC is closer to angst than comedy, so someone coming for the comedy will be repulsed by KC, which is bad considering that Kokoro Connect is the probably the best in the Angst genre. Yes, wrong categorization sucks.
Premise - The premise of Kokoro Connect relies on five members of the cultural research club who are great friends, but one day they realize that their personalities have started exchanging, which means A is now in B's body and B is now in A's body. This happens at random intervals and stays on for random intervals of time. Yes, its problematic, and now everyone will have to bare their true self to each other whether they like it or not, as their friendship is put to the ultimate test.
A unique and very promising premise indeed. See, that is why I mentioned at the start that it is not supernatural. Even though the the personality change in itself is paranormal, it is just a plot device whose only purpose is to act as the catalyst to the reaction which will destroy friendships. Just like a catalyst, it lowers the amount of drama needed to snap the bonds, which is a good thing. It spares the viewer from needless melodrama and still delivers the slice of life type friction we all know and love. In fact, the supernatural is not explained at all, it is just a plot device, leave it at that.
_ As a minor footnote -Some people think "plot device" is a bad thing. Which it really isn't. Yeah, sure bad plot devices are awful, but clever ones like the one is Kokoko Connect only serve to further the series's greatness. _
Execution - Execution is where most plotlines falter and break, but KC manages to uphold itself with an engaging story and its great character development (I'll ramble about character development in the next section). The strength of Kokoro Connect relies on a surprising plot. It isn't something you can just see coming, in fact there are absolutely no warning signals before Kokoro Connect changes its course. Most people are shocked by the sheer darkness of the plot, but then KC suddenly turns bright before taking another nosedive into darkness. While the brightness is a logical conclusion, you will almost never be able to see it coming, and it will be too late once it happens. In retrospect, such extreme changes can also be seen as bad for those that love angst, but for me, I was just relieved - nay, happy, things didn't go any further south.
One thing that is really wanted in KC is continuation between arcs. It mentions a time frame has passed since the last phenomenon, but it never really looks that way, and the sudden change from one arc to another can be very annoying.
Still, for the first time since Clannad after story, I cried (ep05) thanks to Kokoro Connect. Which is quite a feat in itself.
Most characters are alive and meaningful, with great back-stories, with ulterior motives and childhood trauma. Despite that, I couldn't help but think that something is missing, and then it hit me. The characters development squad's only focus are the females (Inaba, Inori and Yui), while the development is good, it isn't across the board but very specific. Taichi and Aoki get almost no development or history at all (although, this is remedied in Micchi Random), and the support crew is left hanging too. For some reason though, this never once hit me while I watched the series itself, it was more of an afterthought, so I guess you will be fine unless someone tells this to you (Sorry?)
While KC was definitely enjoyable, it wasn't something that is for everyone. You need to have a very specific taste to enjoy KC in all its glory. Its romance is very good, so it will definitely appeal to those that like romance/tragedy. But at the same time, KC's romance can get nerve-wrackingly boring at times. Even so, KC still shines out as one of the best series I watched.
Final Verdict - 87/100.