Kokoro Connect: Clip Time

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

Well, I did ask for more wacky school antics in this volume of short stories, so you can’t say I didn’t bring it on myself. This is definitely a volume that gets better as it goes along. The first story, where Inaba decides to help out two teachers in a secret sort-of relationship by publicizing it over the entire school, is the sort of plot that made me think “and then the club was disbanded and Inaba was expelled”, which didn’t happen. The chapter where Yui gets confessed to by a girl and dates her alternates between trying its best to handle the subject properly and making stupid “OMG, gay!” jokes, which, to be fair, they are teenagers, but it’s still pretty excruciating, especially Aoba and Iori. The third story features Inaba, between the second and third books, working herself into an emotional frenzy regarding the love triangle. It’s fun if you enjoy Inaba flipping out. That said, the REASON to get this book is the final story, which takes up half the volume.

Those two characters on the cover next to Taichi may be unfamiliar to the reader, as they’re new first-years who the Cultural Research folks are trying to recruit to the club… sort of. It’s one of those situations where, were this a normal club, there would be no issues beyond “I like the bond the five of us have and don’t want to risk upsetting it”. But of course, this isn’t a normal club, and our main cast are unconsciously pushing the new recruits away because they are worried about bringing Heartseed into someone else’s life. This is not an easy problem to solve, but they decide eventually that they do want these kids in the club, and that they will tell them about its more supernatural aspects… provided Heartseed doesn’t get there first.

As for the new kids, well, Chihiro is deliberately written to annoy the reader, I suspect. He’s standoffish and arrogant, annoyed at the school’s “you have to be in a club” policy, and not particularly enamored of anyone in the group apart from the “gorgeous” Iori. That said, it’s pretty clear from the narration we get from hi8m that a lot of this is defensive and a front. The cliffhanger implies the next book will delve further into him. As for Enjouji, she’s a very entertaining combination of fluffhead and blunt, and I admire her dedication and her desire to be with those that she admires the most. That said, her obsession with Taichi’s voice is both strange and hilarious. They both look like good additions to the club. It’s also highly unusual to see a major plot point happening in a short story collection, and I once again emphasize that if you’re following the novels you do need to read this one as well.

I’d honestly skip the first two stories in this book (though the Yui story was popular enough to get adapted into the manga AND a PSP game). The final half, though, is very strong, and makes me eager to read the next book in the series.

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