The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: Himeko Inaba

Anime Night at the Archives: What happened to Papa no Iukoto o Kikinasai!, Kokoro Connect and RDG: Red Data Girl?

“Sir, finishing this fight.” —Spartan John 117

I typically see things through to the end, to the best of my ability, so while looking through the more ancient sections of this blog (dating back to the summer of 2012), I realised that there were three anime that I began watching, and wrote the first episode posts to Papa no Iukoto o Kikinasai!, Kokoro Connect. At that time, my old website was still being maintained, and I imagined that I would eventually find some time to write a proper review there for these shows (as I did for Ano Natsu de Matteru and True Tears). However, both anime had unique circumstances that led them to fall by the wayside. A year later, I reviewed RDG: Red Data Girl‘s first episode on a brand new machine, but also failed to give it a final impressions talk here and at the old website. While these posts would likely be missed by all but those with an uncommonly solid power to recall things, it’s high time I dug back into these anime and provide my thoughts on the anime. In this post, I will merely be reviewing them based on my memories of what I can remember feeling while watching said anime: it is not the best use of my time to go back through them and watch them a second time.

Papa no Iukoto o Kikinasai!

I started Papa no Iukoto o Kikinasai! officially in mid-July, just a few days before the K-On! Movie came out, and watched the episodes several at a time during the mornings prior to my MCAT courses. When I finished, I saw a series where the protagonist, Yuuta Segawa, overcame difficult odds to look after Sora, Miu and Hina. Though somewhat unrealistic, seeing the dedication and lengths to which Yuuta would go to keep their family together was touching. In the end, Yuuta’s efforts are recognised as genuine, and he’s provided with the resources to look after everyone without unnecessary burden to his degree. It’s a classic tale of overcoming the odds to do what is right for children, and although there might be a few scenes that toe the line for credibility, on the whole, it was a fun anime to watch.

  • Given that some three years have elapsed since I’ve actually watched Papa no Iukoto o Kikinasai!, I cannot fully recall all of the details for the anime, and therefore, won’t be going into great detail about the screenshots I’ve elected to show here.

  • Raika’s paper fan apparently was quite the object of interest when Papa no Iukoto o Kikinasai! was airing: she uses one to discipline Shuntarou Sako for his perversions.

  • Despite its frequent use of comedy, Papa no Iukoto o Kikinasai! did not hesitate to depict the grittier side of things, whether it be the girls’ grief surrounding Shingo and Yuri’s deaths or the financial difficulties Yuuta encounters as he tries to care for Sora, Miu and Hina.

  • In spite of these difficulties, Yuuta’s friends do their utmost to help him stay on top of things. His neighbour, Kurumi Atarashi, is a voice actress and also helps Yuuta by watching over Miu and Hina.

  • The fine balance that Papa no Iukoto o Kikinasai! strikes between more realistic elements associated with their situation, and the more lighthearted moments, together signify the value of family.

  • Papa no Iukoto o Kikinasai! was based off a light novel that concluded just four months ago. There’s definitely material for a second season, and I would probably pick it up out of curiosity. The first season was worth watching, so I would probably see such a continuation through to the end.

  • I vaguely recall that Papa no Iukoto o Kikinasai! is set during the summer; university students do not typically have lectures during this timeframe and consequently, Yuuta is able to direct all of his time towards earning enough money to keep everyone together.

  • Mid-series, Sora and Miu’s efforts to help Yuuta out lead them to become exhausted, as they also have activities from their daily lives to handle. This leads Sora, Miu and Hina’s relatives to intervene and take custody of the children, but ultimately, Yuuta’s earnestness convinces them to change their minds.

  • Thus, while the outcome of Papa no Iukoto o Kikinasai! is not probable by any stretch, it is an ending that the characters deserve. As the main season wraps up, Yuuta is given the deed to the girls’ old home, which solves the problem of shelter (rent constitutes a large portion of one’s income) and presumably allows him to balance caring for the girls and his own studies more effectively.

  • My memories of Papa no Iukoto o Kikinasai! are largely positive, and consequently, I will swing by at some indeterminate point in the future to do a discussion for both of the OVAs.

What happened to Papa no Iukoto o Kikinasai!? I finished in late July: by this point in time, the MCAT preparation course had concluded the in-class sessions. I therefore spent most of my days reviewing concepts and doing practise full-length exams. Between the studying, I could barely find the willpower to write about (or even watch) anime- breaks were directed at watching Survivorman or playing Team Fortress 2 (with a bit of MicroVolts). By the time exam day rolled around, my thoughts were a million klicks from Papa no Iukoto o Kikinasai!, and soon fell from my mind after the exam concluded: I spent the remainder of the summer on a publication. However, these circumstances notwithstanding, Papa no Iukoto o Kikinasai! was able to tell a rewarding story of how Yuuta manages to keep Sora, Miu and Hina together as a family: this anime would earn a recommendation if it were to be reviewed in full.

Kokoro Connect

July 2012 also saw me begin Kokoro Connect. I admit that the K-On!-style artwork grabbed my eye first, and the premise (switching bodies) seemed quite interesting, potentially leading to discussions about what constitutes as identity, whether it’s our physical bodies, personalities, or the unique combination thereof. Later episodes dealt with Taichi and the others hearing the thoughts of their friends, acting on impulses and even changing ages. These phenomena are perpetuated by a mysterious entity only known as Heartseed, and while various aspects of human nature are touched upon, the main theme in Kokoro Connect appears to deal with the immeasurable complexity of love and how some phenomenon, prime facie appearing to help individuals comprehend love, merely serve to obfuscate its understanding further. This is demonstrated through the stresses each of Taichi, Iori, Himeko, Yui and Yoshifumi experience. Their friendships win out over the drama (overcoming even a kidnapping), and the events strengthen their bonds with one another.

  • I recall watching Kokoro Connect on one of the hottest days of 2012 after a full morning’s worth of MCAT review, and had taken a walk to the local Subway for a sandwich. After a memorable first episode, I took up Kokoro Connect, and three episodes in, I saw an interesting anime that merited following.

  • Kokoro Connect cannot be said to be particularly deep after the first arc’s body swapping, which raised questions about how dualism might play a role in determining how individuals identify themselves. However, despite lacking any philosophical and academic merit beyond the first arc, Kokoro Connect does a spirited job in illustrating the implications associated with the stresses of constant assaults on one’s identity.

  • The second arc involves releasing each character’s inhibitions at random, leading them to act in ways that they would otherwise contain. Ibara’s actions most strongly suggest that, far from focusing on the meaning of identity, Kokoro Connect intends to be about “Connecting Hearts”, a not-so-subtle metaphor about love.

  • The only character I had any sort of antipathy for was Heartseed: this unfathomable character simply couldn’t be cracked, and its motivations for triggering these phenomenon is limited to its own amusement, and as such, is a catalyst for would otherwise be an unremarkable love story. However, the outcome itself allows for love to be explored in a relatively novel manner.

  • The body-swapping arc ended five days before my MCAT, and August 2012 was a month that saw me relax while preparing a publication. Soon, September arrived, and with it, Kokoro Connect moved into the age arc. The body-swapping arc had the strongest impact on me, accompanying me as I revisited concepts as disparate as Diels-Alder reactions and how to best take on verbal reasoning.

  • The aging arc proved to be one of the most interesting stories, as the group is forced to relocate somewhere quiet to keep their age changes quiet. By the time this arc began, my final undergraduate year began, and I started to draft the research proposal to my thesis project. Kokoro Connect takes an intermission here, and I set about working on my thesis project, resolving to return and write about the series as a whole once the final episodes had aired.

  • All four episodes released on December 30, 2012, a mere two days before 2013 began. The phenomenon for this arc was the random transmission of emotion from one member of the group to all the others: this puts a severe strain on the group when their emotions lead to ugly rumours propagating around their school.

  • While an interesting arc, the unknown hooligans’ motivations were not mentioned, and in the absence of motive, appear quite irrational. Some suggest that the sheer ridiculousness of the situation is intended to illustrate just how far gone Iori was, if this is what it took to restore her to her original state.

  • Kokoro Connect‘s episode titles bear a great deal of similarity to the quasi-contemplative titles found in OreGairu, although the former’s light novels ran between 2010 and 2013, whereas the latter started in 2011 and is ongoing. Kokoro Connect ended on volume four, and there are eleven volumes in total.

  • With three years having elapsed since Kokoro Connect first began airing, and limited discussion about any continuation since then, Kokoro Connect has largely faded into obscurity now. If there’s a continuation, I will probably pass on it if it fails the three episode test, and with that, I’m pretty much done talking about this anime.

What happened to Kokoro Connect? As one of the anime during the Summer 2012 lineup, I watched this in conjunction with Tari Tari, and each week proved to be a modestly suspenseful adventure. One could never be sure what Heartseed’s intentions were, or how Taichi and his friends might react to the various phenomenon. It might’ve been simple to review the anime in September, after thirteen episodes: during this time, I was starting my undergraduate thesis proposal, and my schedule was quite light. However, there was one caveat: Kokoro Connect was not truly over yet, and by the time the final arc aired, it was the new year, and I was completely occupied with my thesis work. The time delay meant I’d also forgotten most of what had happened prior to the intermission, and admittedly, my eyes were on Girls und Panzer at the time. From what I can recall, Kokoro Connect‘s strengths lay with depicting how the characters each learnt more about themselves and their friends through the phenomenon, but weaknesses lay with how the narrative devolved into a love story. Moreover, the handling of the last arc felt a little out of place (with respect to Himeko’s kidnapping). Taken together, Kokoro Connect would earn a neutral response if I were to return and review it in full (“I think it’s not a waste of time to watch this, but I won’t argue in favour of this anime”).

RDG: Red Data Girl

After Tari Tari, I decided to try out P.A. Works’ then-latest work, RDG: Red Data Girl, which followed Izumiko’s transfer into Houjou High School and discovery that she is the vessel for a Shinto Goddess. Despite a rough start with Miyuki, he and Izumiko eventually grow closer to one another in this coming-of-age slash supernatural story. This is about the upper extent to what I can remember of RDG: Red Data Girl, and my limited recollection naturally precludes extracting a theme from it. What I do remember is that Miyuki was a disagreeable character, and that all of the factions at Houjou High School had ulterior motives that were inadequately explored and interfered with what would otherwise be ordinary high school events, culminating in a culture festival fraught with tensions.

  • All truth be told, of the three anime to discuss, RDG: Red Data Girl is probably the most difficult. When this anime finished, I found myself lacking the motivation to write about it; this is why I have no review of it by the time July 2013 rolled around.

  • Even having Saori Hayami providing Izumiko’s voice (i.e. of Tari Tari‘s Sawa Okita, OreGairu‘s Yukino Yukinoshita and Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka?‘s Aoyama Blue Mountain) cannot save RDG: Red Data Girl from my verdict.

  • We recall that my assessment here is based purely off what I can recall of RDG: Red Data Girl. It is quite conceivable that, if I were to go back and re-watch the anime again, with smaller gaps between the episodes, things might make slightly more sense.

  • What if I were to begin a series of posts called the “Terrible Anime Challenge”, which encompasses my watching shows that are outside my domain of interest? I would pick anime that have seen reasonably widespread discussion on other anime blogs. If there is enough interest in my doing so, I will consider re-watching  RDG: Red Data Girl to see whether or not the show was unenjoyable on a shortcoming on my part.

  • Granted, the title “Terrible Anime Challenge” is rather provocative, but it would be interesting to see if I can find positives in anime that do not constitute what I would normally watch. The concept was inspired by Matimi0’s “Terrible Weapon Challenge”, where he would run with poor loadouts or self-imposed challenges to see if killstreaks were possible.

  • I’ll probably drop by in August to discuss the “Terrible Anime Challenge” in greater detail, so for the present, we’ll return to discussions about  RDG: Red Data Girl. Curiously enough, RDG: Red Data Girl was also adapted from a light novel, and the novel concluded before the anime adapation aired. Apparently, the anime only scratches the surface of what the light novels cover.

  • With this, it’s quite amusing how all of the anime in this here post are actually adapted from light novels. Light novels appear to offer a lower barrier-of-entry for aspiring authors compared to novels proper, and consequently, most of them are unlikely to hold a candle against Tom Clancy or J.R.R. Tolkein’s works. With that being said, there are some light novels that are well-written out there.

  • P.A. Works is said to be an studio that never goes back and do sequels: all of their continuations thus far are set somewhere in the middle of their respective anime’s runs. Assuming trends continue, it is most unlikely that they will air a continuation to RDG: Red Data Girl.

  • In the unlikely event that a continuation of RDG: Red Data Girl were to come out, I would probably skip it. I’ll elaborate more on what made RDG: Red Data Girl unfavourable for me in the main paragraph below, but one must wonder which parts of this anime did come across as being positive for me.

  • The superior animation and artwork P.A. Works has put into RDG: Red Data Girl, alongside an above-average soundtrack means that, while the story was a challenge to follow, the anime nonetheless looked and sounded good. I understand that some people did enjoy this anime: while I didn’t like it, I certainly won’t object if others liked it.

What happened to RDG: Red Data Girl? This time, it certainly was not scheduling: the anime wrapped up close to the Great Flood of 2013. Perhaps in part owing to my complete lack of knowledge in Shintoism, I found that there were many elements that simply did not fit. Yes, there were groups coveting Izumiko’s powers, but the reasons or aims of possessing this power were never made clear. Consequently, the overarching idea of competing factions feels inconsequential (in fact, it felt blown out of proportion, considering the age of the individuals involved), and this is why I eventually dropped the idea of providing a review; there was no discernible theme that I could pick out. While there are numerous people who feel that this anime was good, I was unable to find enough positives to outweigh the negatives. The sales figures reflect this, given that RDG: Red Data Girl is second only to Glasslip in terms of fewest volumes sold (the former’s 1556 to the latter’s 584). I don’t specialise in tearing down shows, so in the end, this anime was not given a full review: had it been given a full review, I would have not recommended this anime.

The Kokoro Connect Incident

“We live in a fantasy world, a world of illusion. The great task in life is to find reality.” –Iris Murdoch

Kokoro Connect‘s anime adaptation is now at a pause: the first thirteen episodes have aired, and a remaining four will come out somewhere in December. A series with a lofty premise of four youth subject to supernatural phenomenon and their coping with said phenomenon, Kokoro Connect ended up being an inconsistent series after thirteen episodes – while its body-swapping arc was perhaps the most compelling, the remainder of the series gave viewers antipathy against the antagonist, “Heartseed”. The remaining narrative elements are expected to be resolved in the remaining four episodes, but beyond an otherwise unremarkable anime, Kokoro Connect is likely to be remembered for an incident where voice actor Mitsuhiro Ichiki was falsely enticed into auditioning for a role in the anime for an original character. This audition had been set up by producer Yamanaka Takahiro, who works for King Records. Unlike a conventional audition, the entire setup had been impromptu, and Ichiki did not go through the usual procedures with an audition. At the audition’s end, it turned out that there was no original character, and Ichiki’s recorded dialogue had been remixed into answering questions that, when taken out of context, would appear strange. Instead, Ichiki would take on the role of Public Relations Chief. In spite of this humiliation, Ichiki felt compelled to continue in his role, and the incident disappeared from the public eye until a series of events brought things to light: Kikuchi Hajime of Eufonius made social media posts criticising Momoi Haruko, and in the exchanges, it came to be known that Ichiki’s being deceived was being casually joked about within the industry. Ichiki himself would reference the prank on a talk show, whose host found the turn of events unfortunate.

  • Even in the absence of the power abuse, Kokoro Connect had not been a particularly standout anime, leaving hanging the viewers that did end up finishing the thirteen episodes. I admit that initially, I picked up the series because Iori was voiced by Aki Toyosaki (Yui Hirasawa of K-On!), and the artstyle here resembled that of K-On!‘s, as well: with K-On! The Movie releasing during the summer to wrap up the franchise, I had been seeking a series with a similar aesthetic, although for that, I found myself disappointed.

This prank would come to be known as the Kokoro Connect Incident, illustrating the wretched conditions that those working in the industry faced. The Kokoro Connect Incident indicates that the anime industry is a harsh area, and while a few social media posts have shown one particular instance of the excesses and abuses in the industry, it is probable that such events are of a greater scale than initially apparent. Ichiki had been subjected to similar workplace bullying previously, where lines he had performed during an audition were taken out of context, which could damage his image. That Ichiki himself could not attain recompense for what had happened and merely accepted it also shows how cut-throat things are for voice actors, and it is painful to know that the staff creating the anime, which can inspire and motivate its viewers, do not practise or respect the messages that go into their series. News of the Kokoro Connect Incident subsequently spread throughout the internet, and in the days following, viewers expressing their dissatisfaction with Kokoro Connect planned to boycott the series, its merchandise and anything related to Silver Link, the studio behind Kokoro Connect‘s production.

  • While the general reaction to the Kokoro Connect Incident is understandable, I will note that some otaku, especially those who whiled away their lives on 2ch, have begun uttering threats and slinging insults to the perpetrators by means of social media. Yes, the incident was vile, but wrongs do not beget a right, and this is an overreaction. With the break in Kokoro Connect for now, and my general disinclination to continue, I will note that once the remaining episodes air, I may end up checking them out, although at this time, I am unlikely to write about them in any capacity.

Besides illustrating the extent of abuses in the anime industry, the Kokoro Connect Incident also shows that elaborate pranks and the like have no positive impact on an anime’s performance or quality. While Kokoro Connect had started on a strong footing, unlikeable characters and petty trials rendered the series’ plot weak, difficult to relate to. Cutting the series off here, in conjunction with the fan’s intent to boycott the series, would mean that the remaining four episodes, set to release in December, will unlikely to be watched. This deals the series a double blow: the thirteen episodes already aired are unsatisfying, and if the final four episodes offer a resolution, then the decision to skip these would only leave one’s impression of Kokoro Connect as an unremarkable series – the legacy that Kokoro Connect leaves behind, then, will be one of power abuse resulting in a public relations disaster, and a below-average series that struggles to convey its themes adequately. It’s not a good combination for the series as a whole, and truthfully, even in the absence of the Kokoro Connect Incident, I cannot say that I have a particular inclination to finish this series, and on a broader note, Kokoro Connect shows that studios should not be counting on publicity stunts, least of all those that involve bullying, as a crutch for helping to make an anime series more visible.

Kokoro Connect

The five members of the Cultural Study group that meets in class 401 have spent a lot of time wondering what it would be like to be in someone else’s shoes. But they’re about to learn that there’s a huge difference between thinking about something and literally BEING in someone else’s shoes! Because that’s exactly what happens when, suddenly and inexplicably, they each find themselves inside the body of the girl (or boy) next door! What happens next? Well, besides bringing a whole new meaning to the term “Exchange Student” and the expected freaked out runs to the bathroom, it’s not hard to do the math: Take one wrestling geek, the resident cool girl, the class clown, the popular chick and one sultry maid of mystery, scramble thoroughly and divide, and you can bet that pretty soon they’ll be answering ALL of the questions they never wanted to know about the opposite sex in ways they never anticipated!

That’s a lot to read for a season summary, isn’t it? Now that that’s done, it appears that the outline of the series appears rather questionable on first glance, and upon watching the first few seconds of the episode, one would probably drop it. Fortunately, we live in a world where open-mindedness and patience are both virtues.

Taichi Yaegashi, Iori Nagase, Himeko Inaba, Yoshifumi Aoki and Yui Kiriyama are all members of the Cultural Research Club. One day, Yoshifumi and Yui claim to have temporarily switched bodies the previous night. Although everyone is pretty sceptical of this, it is soon proven to be real when Taichi and Iori end up switching places. After spending the rest of the afternoon convincing Himeko what had happened is real, they eventually switch back to their original bodies.

  • The first thing viewers are treated to is the Google Maps-like opening, and a song that bears resemblance to Ace Combat 5’s Sand Island, giving the show a supernatural feel even from the beginning and contrasting the normalicity seen in the visuals.

  • The character design is reminiscient of those in K-On! This is hardly a surprise, considering that the art was by Yukiko Horiguchi. Those who have noted the relative absence of males in K-On! will note that there are male leads in Kokoro Connect.

  • The entire notion of the Cultural Studies Club is merely the background for the show and is what allows for such a character diversity.

  • I was enjoying a BBQ pork rib-lettuce-tomato flatbread sandwich when watching the first episode, and this scene was sufficiently funny as to have prompted me to put down said sandwich so I wouldn’t drop it as a result of laughing what had been happening on-screen. Kokoro Connect may be a supernatural show, but its comedic elements are definitely present.

  • From left to right, Yoshifumi Aoki, Yui Kiriyama, Himeko Inaba, Taichi Yaegashi and Iori Nagase. Casually note that Iori resembles Mio Akiyama from K-On! and is (ironically) voiced by Aki Toyosaki (i.e. Yui Hirasawa).

Kokoro Connect delivers the story in a fashion such that it is differentiable from other anime with a similar ‘out-of-body experience’ based plot. Instead of solely dealing with the decidedly more questionable elements, Kokoro Connect also explores the psychological impact of switching bodies at random, as well as its consequences on the individual’s interactions with others. Coupled with the character’s personalities, sets up for some interesting and amusing character-driven conflicts. Given that it is episode one, the mechanism and complexity are not particularly great, but future episodes will doubtlessly address what happens as things become increasingly random. This is the part where my (limited) experience with graph theory comes in handy: the idea of body-switching is reminiscent of Futurama, where the switching is unidirectional. Through a quick bit of directed graphing, one quickly realises that the path taken there is correct. Whether or not this will hold in Kokoro Connect will be interesting to see.