Reading from some blogs, it seems that quite a few people is quite liking the path that Kokoro Connect is taking recently. I also have personally spoken in flavor of it back in week three of this season’s Anime Power Rankings (on episode 2), but had started to rate the show lowly right after episode 2, with it not even making it to my top 5 any more. In contrast, I first had doubts of Tari Tari, having it not appear in top 5, but with Wakana’s being the focus for both episodes 5 and 6, my rankings for it suddenly jumped to first place for both weeks. Ironically, episode 5 didn’t do too good on last week’s APR. So are the people that liked the recent development of Kokoro Connect is wrong and I’m right (no), or maybe I’m just hipster with my tastes (hopefully not).
Similar setup, different paths
Kokoro Connect and Tari Tari are even worth comparing in the first place is because of how similar they both seemed at first. The main cast of the two shows is 2 males and 3 females, with each of them being a part of a dysfunctional club (Tari Tari involved a club that integrated badminton club and choir club, with one of member only a part of the club in name; the club that the 5 leads in Kokoro Connect is in was formed because each of them wanted to join a different club that did not exist [or something]). However, the similarities ends there, as Kokoro Connect turns for a more serious plot while Tari Tari keeps a more slice of life feel to the show and does things slowly, showing the differences in each show’s strengths and weaknesses.
With the quickly progressing plot, the constant relation of either the character’s troubled past or the crap that Heartseed is throwing at them, and the quick resolution of the issues that rose with the character’s troubled past, Kokoro Connect was more interested in presenting a decent plot and presenting many interesting ideas and questions for the audience to ponder upon. This is evident in how bloggers are able to take and expand on some of the plot presented in the show (ie draggle’s post on Kokoro Connect episode 5). What seems lost to me in all these was the characters themselves. Yes, we were given quite a bit about the characters’ past (actually only the females’ part) and each character do get quite a bit of screen time (with Yoshifumi being constantly shafted), most of the time it is about them trying to solve their issues and not really about the character themselves. Also, while the characters’ past do clearly have an impact to the said character’s personality, it just seem to be there just for the plot and not really about the character. The fact that episode 3-5 had the structure of Taichi solving each girl’s problem didn’t help the cause. Hence, this is why I think that the character themselves are one of the weakest aspect of the show.
Compared to Kokoro Connect, all we got after 6 episodes of Tari Tari was Konatsu forming the new choir club, do a duet with Sawa, integrating the choir club and badminton club, doing the singing competition, Taichi losing the badminton competition and Wakana remembering her mother during her mother’s last months. Obviously, none of it, maybe with the exception of Wakana’s situation, is anywhere near as serious as what Kokoro Connect had. Also, mixed within those main plots, the show spends a lot of time showing the character doing just simple things, hence that is why it has this slice of life feel to it. With those simple events, plot is not Tari Tari’s strong points, since even Wakana’s issues seemed a bit cliched. However, since there were so much time was given to show Wakana’s struggles even when the show was involved in the other characters, when episode 5 and 6 happened, audiences like me who have seen Wakana’s struggles and actually cared for her will at least find those two episodes a bit heart-breaking. Aside from Wakana, the show does a good job in using the time to slowly develop not just character background, but unique characteristics for each person, making the audiences more likely to care for the characters.
And hence, despite the similar setup, the two show went to with two completely paths to appeal to the audiences, one by making an interesting premise and intriguing plot, while one spend time to make intriguing character. Both have its pros and cons, with each having their own respective fans. Knowing that I like Tari Tari more than Kokoro Connect, I guess I’m someone that values the characters more than just the plot. This goes accordance with my biased toward comedy and slice-of-life, and hence my dislike for Kokoro Connect is not because it is bad, but it is just it doesn’t fit my tastes.
This divide in also seen in the difference in Sword Art Online (more on plot and not enough in character for me to really care) and .hack//Sign (slow moving plot since it is spending massive of time on the characters) despite some similarities. However, I also do not believe that the two can’t coexist, as seen in the most recent arc of Hyouka, where while it does spends a substantial time on the character themselves, it also spend times in making an interesting plot.
Also, I guess I’m just weak against any shows that explores the effects of the passing of one’s parent. (I really liked Tamayura).