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Kokoro Connection: Original Anime Selection (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 30, 2013 by  



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“Kokoro Connection” is a series about friendships and the five teenagers being tested by unknown entities. Will these five friends work together and help one another in conquering their fear or personal problems? But most of all, end the phenomenon courtesy of Heartseed? Find out in “Kokoro Connection: Original Anime Selection”!

Image courtesy of © 2013 Sentai Holdings, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Kokoro Connection: Original Anime Selection

DURATION: 100 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, English subtitles

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: October 22, 2013

Originally Created by Sadanatsu Anda

Original Character Design by Toshifumi Akai

Directed by Shinya Kawamo

Series Composition by Fumihiko Shimo

Music by Yasuhiro Misawa

Character Design: Toshifumi Akai

Art Director: Koichi Monma

Anime Production: SILVER LINK

Featuring the following voice talent:

Takahiro Mizushima/Greg Ayres as Taichi Yaegashi

Takuma Terashima/Clint Bickham as Yoshifumi Aoki

Hisako Kanemoto/Emily Neves as Yui Kiriyama

Aki Toyosaki/Monica Rial as Iori Nagase

Miyuki Sawashiro/Luci Christian as Himeko Inaba

Asuka Ōgame/Brittney Karbowski as Rina Yaegashi

Atsuko Tanaka/Molly Searcy as Reika Nagase

Ayane Sakura/Tiffany Terrell as Anzu Kiriyama (secondary)

Keiji Fujiwara/David Matranga as Ryūzen Gotō

Shizuka Itou/Carli Mosier as Maiko Fujishima

They’ve already had their bodies swapped like musical chairs, had their ages changed at random, and experienced their deepest desires taking control of them without warning, but if you thought Heartseed was finished with Taichi, Iori, Himeko, Yoshifumi and Yui, you’ve got another think coming! Now there’s a new affliction going around, and the name of this peculiar bug is emotion sickness. As in, suddenly your emotions jump out of your body and sic someone else!

Needless to say, that’s more than simply awkward if you’ve got a deep-rooted phobia like a fear of men or repressed emotions that you’ve been trying to keep hidden, but in some situations it can literally be deadly! What is Heartseed up to this time, and why is he making our heroes involuntarily share their innermost dirty laundry?

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In 2010, writer Sadanatsu Anda and illustrator Shiromizakana released their light novel series titled “Kokoro Connect” (which translates to “Hearts Connect”).

Since 2010, the duo have produced a total of 11 volumes published by Enterbrain, two manga adaptations and in July-September 2012, a 13-episode anime TV series adaptation aired on television followed by four OVA’s.

Sentai Filmworks has released the TV series on Blu-ray and DVD in Oct. 2013 which will be followed with an OVA collection to be released on Blu-ray and DVD in December.

“Kokoro Connect” revolves around five teenagers and together, the five form a club at school known as the Cultural Research Club:

  • Taichi Yaegeshi – Taichi is a teen who is always wanting to help people and a big fan of pro wrestling.
  • Himeko Inaba – Himeko is the vice president of the club and often seen as cold and abrasive and tends to distrust others. But she also has feelings towards Taichi but pushes Iori to go for Taichi.
  • Iori Nagase – The president of the club, she lives with her mother and has feelings towards Taichi but doesn’t want to be in a relationship until the phenomena is over.
  • Yui Kiriyama – Yui was heavily into martial arts but has developed a phobia towards men (androphobia) due to something that happened in her past.
  • Yoshifumi Aoki – Taichi’s best friend who is carefree and not serious about anything. But he has fallen for Yui.

As the five students try to become a cohesive club, something unusual happens to them when Yoshifumi and Yui switch bodies temporarily while they were about to sleep. As the two try to tell the club members of what happened, the other three are skeptical until Taichi and Iori switch bodies.

Now believing that something unusual has happened, the four try to convince Himeko who is still skeptical until the following morning and Himeko, Yoshifui and Yui switch bodies. And it affects them at school which worries their teacher Mr. Goto. While the three revert to their original bodies, Taichi and Yui end up switching bodies and in the process, their teacher Mr. Goto swaps bodies with a mysterious entity known as Heartseed, who tells everyone that he is responsible for switching their bodies.

And as the five being switching bodies, they learn more about each other especially Yi’s androphobia, Iori’s family problems which begins to bring the five closer together. But when Heartseed switches bodies with Iori and has her jumping into a river and nearly dying, Heartseed appears in Mr. Goto’s body and warns everyone that Iori’s body will die in 30 minutes, unless the other four decide who’s soul will die and they can easily switch with Iori to die in her place.

Will the five find a reason to Heartseed experimenting on them and find out what his main intentions are? And through this experience, will it bring the five closer together or cause problems in their friendship with each other?

The four OVA’s featured in “Kokoro Connection: Original Anime Selection” is the conclusion to the series and focuses on the relationships of the club members as founding member, Iori Nagase has grown distant from her club members, friends and people in class.

She has changed to become very cold and distant.  What has happened Nagase and why the drastic change?

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VIDEO:

“Kokoro Connection: Original Anime Selection” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio). It’s important to note that although an OVA, there is not a huge difference in production quality compared to its television counterpart.

Character designs are colorful, art backgrounds are well-detailed and you do get a good number of location areas, thus more backgrounds featured in the OVA episodes.  Art backgrounds are nicely painted and character designs are also well-done.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Kokoro Connection: Original Anime Selection” is presented in Japanese and English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. The series is primarily dialogue-driven, so the soundtrack is appropriate for the series. Voice acting for both Japanese and English soundtracks are well-done and dialogue and music is clear and primarily a front-channel driven series.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Kokoro Connection: Original Anime Selection” comes with the Japanese promos and clean opening and ending animation.

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During my review of “Kokoro Connection: Complete Collection”, part of my concern was that the 13-episode anime series left with no closure.

The anime series revolved around five high school students who are club members who begin experiencing phenomena. From switching of bodies with one another, to reverting to a younger version of themselves, these five start to work together and help each other out through their transformations but also by knowing more about each other, being there as friends to assist them during their time of need.

While I enjoyed the relationship between these five friends, It was a series that obviously needed more episodes to bring in some closure or some answers of who Heartseed is and why there are two of them. And why are these two mysterious entities putting these five students into these situations.

Fortunately, these five and their strong friendship despite having their fair share of obstacles and the manage dealing with each other’s fears. May it be Yui’s phobia, Iori’s problems at home, Himeko’s problems with distrust, Aoki’s carefree attitude and while noble, Taichi’s insistence of helping anyone in need also becomes problematic for the group. But together, they are there for each other.

But fortunately the conclusion to the series continues in its final episodes presented as OVA episodes that revolve around Iori Nagase.  As the club members have overcame many challenges as a group and have worked together to take on Heartseed’s challenges, for some reason, Nagase has grown cold and distant.

She no longer wants to be anyone’s friend.  She rejects Taichi’s love.  She doesn’t want to be around the club nor her friends at school.  And she is now the most talked about student, but not in the good way.

The four OVA’s focus Nagase’s change, the others trying to reach out to her but does Heartseed have anything to do with this?  And how can the group end the phenomenon?

So, fortunately what people will get is the ultimate conclusion to this storyline.

While the best part of these OVA episodes is pushing these friends to the limit and confessions being made, the final episodes featuring Heartseed was not as climactic as I was hoping for.  There was no major excitement that concluded with the primary antagonist but fortunately, the storyline surrounding Nagase was good enough to conclude the series.

Especially how things ended up for each of the five primary characters.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality was good as one can expect from an OVA release.  While not too far from its TV counterpart, nor does it look like a big production as one would expect from an OVA episode, “Kokoro Connection: Original Anime Selection” featured more detailed location scenes (especially backgrounds) for the characters, retained its colorful look and didn’t see any artifacts or banding this time around.

While I wished “Kokoro Connection: Original Anime Selection” was included with the complete collection, for those who did get the complete collection will no doubt want this Blu-ray release to complete the series and get the closure they want to the Heartseed storyline.

Overall, “Kokoro Connection” is a series about friendships and the five teenagers being tested by unknown entities. Will these five friends work together and help one another in conquering their fear or personal problems? But most of all, end the phenomenon courtesy of Heartseed? Find out in “Kokoro Connection: Original Anime Selection”!






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