I haven't posted anything particularly editorial in a while, nor have I landed a new FuwaReview in a while; I've been busy with one thing or another, and also I just haven't had that much to write about. However, today I finished reading new shiny new Kokoro Connect: Hito Random release, and when I finished, I knew I had to write something up about it.
I first watched Kokoro Connect way back when I didn't know who to ask for recommendations and was still finding my way around anime. I was mostly just going through things that were highly ranked on AnimeNewsNetwork's overall rankings, that were accessible without pirating, and that sounded interesting. But I didn't pick it up without some trepidation. Back then, I was a little put off by fanservice in general, and the show's description was selling the perverted body-swapping angle really hard, so I was concerned it was just some shallow fanservice show. Still, I decided to take the plunge anyway, thinking there had to be more to it given the show's reception, and boy was I ever glad I did.
Nothing pushes my buttons like Kokoro Connect. The story it tells is as closely tailored to my own preferences as anything I could ever ask for: coherent and interesting characters, immensely human drama, realistic romantic development, clear story beats and plot arcs accumulating to bigger themes, and a little spritz of magic to grease the wheels of the plot. Hell, the anime even got a great dub, featuring the immensely talented Luci Christian as best girl Inaba. It's an all-time favorite for me, something I can happily recommend to anyone.
One of my favorite elements of the show is that each arc feels so complete. In 3-5 episodes, a new twist emerges, a plot unfolds around it, the characters grow in response, and at the end it resolves fully, always in a satisfying way. The one season and the OVA together had four such arcs all together, and while I was immensely satisfied with where it ended after each one, when I finished the last OVA, I still thought to myself, man, I wish there was more of this. What I eventually learned, when I finished the show and went to read about its origins, was that the reason for the tight storytelling was that the show was based on an existing series of light novels, of which the show only covered the first four out of ten (eleven of you count a volume of short stories). There was a whole lot of content out there I hadn't seen yet! Except, it wasn't available in English...
And that brings us to today, when I got to read the first English volume of the English release. And let me tell you guys, it is gooood. The translation is fluid, natural, and well-written. The characters pop right out of the page, and the narration is consistently solid and occasionally beautiful. Props to the localization team on their work here! I do have a couple minor gripes, of course: leaving people's heights in centimeters, which is totally bizarre in an American English translation (sure I can do the calculation, but talk about kicking you out of the immersion. Fortunately this only happened once); and not translating the per-volume titles ("hito random" ain't exactly my idea of a punchy title).
So how did it hold up, revisiting the material again after all these years? It's still awesome! I had to stifle my laughter a few times so I didn't look like a weirdo laughing out loud in the middle of a plane flight. And on the opposite end of the spectrum, I felt tears welling up in my eyes at a couple of particularly touching scenes, and had to fight just as hard to hold them back.
And while there's nothing major that's new here, versus what you'd see in the first five volumes of the anime, there are little bits and pieces that make it worth the time, especially in the narration, something inherently missing from an anime.
So what are you waiting for? There's a criminally neglected property out there finally getting a great English release, and it deserves your attention. Go out and give it a try! https://j-novel.club/v/kokoro-connect-hito-random