A Crisis of Identity in Kokoro Connect

Kokoro Connect Himeko Inaba Evik Grin

I picked up Kokoro Connect a couple of episodes in, after some prodding from fellow anibloggers. The show’s key premise in these opening episodes is that some sort of supreme spirit is being mischievous, and is using the 5 main characters in a random mind swapping experiment between the bodies. And as a result, their sense of identity is altered. In asking “who are we really”, I’m left wonder how this applies in an online world, we’re we never meet the real “you”.

“Each one of us implicitly has a soul, mind, and personality which contributes to our identity. Now that Nagase Iroi’s soul is inside Aoki’s body, the result is identified as Nagase Iori. However, souls and personalities cannot be seen or touched. That’s why we typically use physical appearance to identify a person. That means that our bodies are the foundation for the identity. But if our bodies lose their significance, because of the personality switching, will we still  be ourselves?”

Kokoro Connect Will We Be Ourselves

This statement comes from Nagase Iori. Here mother’s continual marriage issues have left her in a state of crisis. As a mechanism to deal with changing expectations from the rotation of five “fathers”, she adapts her personality to provide the least amount of friction. And this also affects her relationships with classmates, as she ‘adapts’ to each of them differently to be what they want her to be. But as the body switching occurs, she begins to feel herself unravel, not knowing who she really is.

Kokoro Connect Nagase Iori Unrecognizable

In this day and age where relationships are formed without ever meeting face-to-face, Iori’s identity crisis reflects a much great global phenomenon of identity. When you never meet someone, and are only represented by what people see and read at a social site, who are you really? Twitter is genderless at its core. So what is there that constitutes who you really are? It’s so easy to create an alias, is what you present who you really are?

Social media has, for better or worse, created an identity crisis for some. While most people are online as they are in real life other’s may choose to act differently. This results in a dual persona, much like Iori. The alias I use, JoeAnimated, is a cross between a (somewhat) name of mine and a description of my personality. Those that know me would say I’m very animated in my personality at times. I’m not afraid to raise my voice, speak my mind, or get in your face. Most of the time, this just gets me in trouble.

In writing for WRL, and on Twitter, I’ve chosen to be a bit more subdued. There have been many times when I’ve wanted to virtually reach out and get in someone’s face, but I’ve instead just decided to back down, just so I don’t come across as an asshole. Is that really me? Maybe. Is it a different aspect of me? Who knows. But I’ve chosen to be slightly different from I am normally, for better or worse. And in general it seems to work just fine.

As a repercussion to these dual personalities, societal pleasantries are changing as well. I’m sure we’ve all noticed people who comment and write things online that they would probably never say should they actually be in front of the person that they are replying too. This is changing our social norm. With little to no repercussions, people are choosing to say and do things that might otherwise have resulted in a good been defined as being criminal, or at least gotten them a good beating.

So while Kokoro Connect clumsily tackles tough subjects using kicks to the nuts, it does successfully ask questions on one’s sense of identity too much success. I’m find the philosophical conversation fascinating, and for that reason alone I will continue to watch this show, as well you should too.

About JoeAnimated

-Growing Older, but never growing up. Father, engineer, and all around nerd. Grew up watching the great american cartoons of the 80's, now a casual watcher of Japanese Anime.
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22 Responses to A Crisis of Identity in Kokoro Connect

  1. Andmeuths says:

    Kick to the nuts and sexual confessions seemed to be a rather superficial level issue for this anime, in any case. So long as it did it’s job in highlighting the issues they meant to convey, I Dont’t think it detracts from the anime

  2. MarigoldRan says:

    Personalities are democracies, not dictatorships. “Who am I really” is a silly question because you are ALL of your aspects combined. This question becomes relevant only if you’re having an internal civil war.

    This is why teenagers tend to ask this question more often than other age groups. Teenagers suffer from internal civil wars more often.

    • JoeAnimated says:

      I think discovering yourself goes into your early 20′s as well. I think most of my growth came in college, as I took more risks and met new people. Ahh, to be young again.

  3. Haven’t picked up this show yet, though it appears to be THE buzz-worthy show this season. I think it’s an interesting subject to tackle. And if it does it well overall. I may give it a shot.

    As for the personalities online and real life, I’ve found it pretty natural to compartmentalize my various social groups and personalities. It’s all a matter of degrees. A person can be a great father and a terrible friend, he doesn’t have to be both of those to multiple people though. I think if more people could make peace with the fact that they can act differently around different people, then they’d save themselves a lot of unnecessary grief and angst. Then again, this show brings an extreme situation into contact with a very vulnerable age group. In their situation, I think I might crack, too. Or call out sick for a few days.

    • JoeAnimated says:

      Yeah, being a dad at night, and a project manager by day, while similar roles, requires a whole different approach. I like your idea of “compartmentalizing” based on the situation. That seems to sum things up a lot better.

  4. Never watched Kokoro Connect but I think I should write my opinion here.
    Having a different personality online is normal, I guess. Since we write/chat with a fake name, even if we pissed off some people, we can always create another name. People wouldn’t be needed to behave while online and they let themselves go all out, maybe showing the side of them that is completely different from how they behave in real life. I was reading the Sword Art Online novel and there was a short part where a character’s online personality contradicts the real personality and she later tries to combine the 2 personality into 1 so that she would conquer her phobia.

    • JoeAnimated says:

      I know what you’re talking about in SAO. There can be a lot of reasons for “adjusting” your personality based on the situation, as long as it’s not detrimental to your health and welfare in the end.

  5. sadakups says:

    I’m actually watching this show with that other anime that has the 3 girls-2 boys setup. I actually like this one better. Except that part when they “switch” – it’s hard to figure out if it’s the original character who’s talking or somebody else.

    It’s actually interesting what this show is trying to do – it’s basically exposing every dark side each character as, with Taichi doing crazy stuff to help with the girls’ problems. I mean, who kicks their own balls and admits fapping to a female friend just to prove a point? So far, what has been exposed, like Yui and Iori’s circumstances, are actually interesting. Inaba’s was rather weak, though I want to see her broken side, because I think that behind that strong front lies a very broken interior.

    The other dude doesn’t matter, Taichi is the man here. Right now, the show hasn’t been giving hints whether Taichi has his own circumstances too. I guess either he’ll get his later on and that the girls will return the favor to him.

    So yeah, it’s enjoyable.

    • sadakups says:

      So I just saw Episode 5. The switching is over and Heartseed trolled the fuck out of everybody. I just wonder what happens from this point on considering that the main premise is supposedly done. Doubt it though.

    • JoeAnimated says:

      I watched Ep. 5 as well. What an interesting way to finish the arc. IMHO, I thought the way that finished was perfect. And Inaba, her comments at each ending are priceless.

  6. foshizzel says:

    I like this series because of a few things like the voice acting for certain characters like Yui and of course the character designs, but I like the whole body swapping aspect so far and how it comes into play.

    Yeah we already had Yui’s fear of guys even get “cured” with a fancy kick to MC-kuns crotch and it seems that Yui is fine for now, however I bet we haven’t seen the last of her issues. So far it appears like Lori is suffering the most damage or stress over this body swapping business with how she adapts a different personality to meet the other person’s needs? Yeah I was mistaken by calling it multiple personalities in this case nope it is something different or something similar? I don’t really know to be honest with you hahaha

    Yeah I think most ani-bloggers or people on the internet in general probably act a lot like Lori in terms of hiding behind a fake internet identity or persona especially with certain avatars. I have some experience in that department with a few MMORPGS I have played. I met a few members of my guild before and I found 50% of them to act different than they do in the game world for the most part. Personally I think I come off as being just “hyper” online which is fine because IRL I like to make jokes about anything and everything even though most of it turns out to be 100% random and odd lolol

    Nice post Joe!

    • JoeAnimated says:

      The VA is amazing. As I keep saying, you combine the MGX female lead with Inaba’s VA, and I would watch that any day of the week. As for hyper, in reading your posts, and comparing it to the conversations we have in skype, it’s almost like there is 2 of you ;). But I think for you, it seems like you’re just more comfortable at writing, which is fine by us. Everyone would be disappointed if you stopped with the captioned pictures!

  7. I’m really glad the opinion you have of the show–that it’s worth a watch because of a few profound issues it addresses–is becoming more the norm. I was a bit worried at first that very few people would watch it, but that seems to not be the case anymore.

    I think the question of dueling personalities is one that mostly comes down to a person-by-person basis; I, for one, feel like the way I act online is a great deal like the way I act in the real world, albeit with slightly better sentence structure. The existence of internet trolls and the like, however, is obviously something you really can’t deny. I think the whole experience is actually slowly giving birth to a generation of people with a better sense of personality, from the far corners of the internet–the aniblogging community, for instance.

    • JoeAnimated says:

      I think this arc was great for addressing the issue of identity is such a great way. All five episodes, regardless of what some people think, did a great job of it. Body swapping, like time travel, can be terribly done. But this show did it well. I’m interested what is in store next. With my kids, I feel like I need to teach them a whole new set of etiquette rules different that what I learned, simply because the online community can be so different from the face to face one. It should be an interesting lesson to teach!

  8. bluemist says:

    I think you’ll like Taichi’s insight to identity-crisis issues in Episode 5. Everybody wears masks depending on the situation anyway, so why bother being problematic about it? Act as you’d like or whatever. It’s not who you are underneath, but what you do that defines you (yep I stole this from somewhere).

    In my case, “bluemist” is just a mask, but I have totally molded my online presence with a presumption that someday anybody (assuming they’re interested in me) will know who I really am. Someday I would have to answer to any written insight that I have expressed on every existence I’m in online, so I am presumably as “careful” online as I am careful in real life.

    • JoeAnimated says:

      Yes, the way episode 5 ended was just right. The way they were all trolled at the end was great, as it made them face their fear and accept it. That’s a great way to handle yourself online. Leaving a positive legacy is something to strive for, and I’m doing a decent job so far. I’ll have to come by and read through your blog sometime!

  9. megaroad1 says:

    I was intrigued by this show after reading your piece. While a bit clumsy in it’s delivery at times, Kokoro Connect does ask some interesting questions on identity and has moments of genuine humour. So far they’ve refrained from turning into one of those awful bawl-fests which is a definite plus in my book.

  10. Kuro says:

    Never had that identity crisis. Offline, online I am who I am. Kuroshinko, the name that I use online, is merely a name.

  11. Pingback: Kokoro Connect 05: Hurt Me Bad (in a Real Good Way) «

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