Kokoro Connect: Kako Random

By Sadanatsu Anda and Shiromizakana. Released in Japan by Enterbrain. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Molly Lee.

Kako Random stands for Random Past, and sure enough that’s what we get here – though not from Heartseed for once. A 2nd Heartseed has shown up, possessing Taaichi’s classmate, and later his sister, to explain what’s going on… well, sort of. They pretty much only explain that if Taichi says anything, it will get much, much worse. Then, at club, we find the members suddenly getting younger, at random, for a five hour period. It’s everyone except Taichi, and can be varying ages – including babies. Needless to say, this is far more inconvenient than the first two, and our heroes end up holing up in an abandoned building for several days to avoid families. Unfortunately, the regression also brings with it memories when the person returns, some of which are not always so welcome, especially when Aoki reveals that Yui, the girl he’s professed his love to multiple times, is very similar to a girl he used to date a couple of years ago. Is she just a replacement? And has he really moved on?

Aoki and Yui get some needed depth here, as we knew that if they were ever going to be a real couple sher was going to have to either acknowledge or reject his overtures. The series has been very good at showing Aoki as being not overly creepy about his love, and he has some serious reflection after the regressions start to happen and he’s reminded more and more of Nishino, the girl he once liked. As for Yui, the fact that Aoki might actually NOT be in love with her after all annoys her far more than she’d like to admit. This despite the fact that she’s also dealing with her fear of men coming to the fore again because of the unwanted memories… as well as memories of her martial arts, which are helped along by an old rival that shows up and is pissed off. These two were my favorite part of the book.

Taichi continues to be irritating, as you’d expect – his character development is something that’s going to be happening over the course of the series, so here he mostly hems and haws and worries about telling everyone the bad news. (Honestly, I think it’s a good thing he shut up – as does Inaba, once she realizes what’s going to happen.) The narrative oddly switches to Iori for its climax, as one of her old stepfathers has returned and is being abusive and awful. After reaffirming the power of friendship, and confronting her mother, who turns out to be very much like Iori, the resolution is almost comically easy – though I will admit fairly satisfying. As for Inaba, since she got development last time, here she mostly gets to show off how she’s opened up to everyone since the first book.

This remains an excellent light novel series, especially for those tired of isekais. Also, kudos to Molly Lee’s translation, which is consistently excellent.

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