Who is Heartseed? An Alien is Among Them! (Kokoro Connect)
Kokoro Connect is quite likely the pleasant surprise of the anime year for me. It’s an excellent blend of drama and comedy that utilizes its high school setting and the personality-swapping premise perfectly, delving right into issues of identity and how people interact with one another. There’s perhaps a dozen blog post topics I could write regarding the show’s themes alone, and it would be just as easy to examine each of the main characters both individually, and in how they clash with and complement one another.
Taichi, Iori, Himeko, Yui, and yes, even Yoshifumi are all characters I’ve found myself relating to at least to some degree. In particular I’ve been greatly intrigued by the issues raised by the three “main main” characters. How much should we be willing sacrifice for the sake of others? (Taichi) What is it that actually constitutes our true personalities–our true selves? (Iori) What is the root cause of all our negative qualities, and are we still truly ourselves if we fundamentally change our personalities? (Himeko) Yui and Yoshifumi’s issues are a bit more down-to-earth, but there’s certainly a lot that can be delved into for them as well (or at the very least, I imagine there will be more to come in future episodes).
So let’s just say I wasn’t expecting anything more than a goofy romcom with body-swapping high school antics when I first learned of this series. These five episodes have blown my expectations out of the water, and I can’t wait to see where the series goes next. (You can find my thoughts on episode five here, and all my Kokoro Connect posts with Fencedude and Totali here at Sea Slugs Anime Blog.)
But now the topic at hand: our mysterious alien Heartseed. Okay, so it’s not clear if Heartseed is an alien (in theory, this could just be a [bizarre] person who has developed some crazy technology), but that’s what I’m imagining. And interestingly, we haven’t even seen Heartseed’s true form, or understand his(?) actual motives. What purpose does he have in messing with the lives of these five random high school students? I say random because they all came together randomly, though perhaps it’s possible that even their makeshift club was somehow orchestrated by our enigmatic entity pulling the strings. One theory is that Heartseed is simply conducting an experiment to learn more about human emotions. Heartseed himself seems to not possess any–or at the very least does not express them very well. The idea that he is simply doing all this just for the heck of it seems like a stretch to me, but perhaps he’s immortal and has lived for 900 trillion years, and just wants something to do? =/
Heartseed’s main “spokesperson” is the teacher Ryuuzen Gotou, who seems to have a rather laid-back relationship with his students. If Heartseed is seen with the main characters while in this form, the average passer-by wouldn’t think anything of it–it’s not unusual for teachers to interact with their students. The fact Gotou-sensei is (from what I can tell) not the most animated of people out there, which works well for our energy-saver Heartseed. I’ll be curious to learn more about Gotou-sensei in future episodes though, if the series decides to expound on his character at all. I think it’d be interesting if he were to learn of his situation at some point, at least.
Much like Kyuubey of Madoka Magica fame, Heartseed (essentially) never changes his facial expression, and has a very monotonous way of speaking in general. His machinations are at a much smaller scale fortunately, though I suppose it is possible that his work with the KokoroCo cast is simply step one in a much larger plan, or perhaps a test run of some kind. Whatever the case may be, Heartseed’s deadpan dialogue presents a strikingly stark contrast with the emotional roller-coaster the main characters are undergoing episode by episode. Anguish, confusion, depression, excitement, disdain, love, and the possibilities of love–our main cast is undergoing all this and more, and all the while Heartseed undergoes…… existing. He simply observes. It’s almost haunting just how disconnected he is from the conflicts of this series, despite being the primary instigator of all of them.
But perhaps there is something more to Heartseed than meets the eye? I find it interesting that he felt he had never once brought any misfortune to the main cast (even after forcing Iori to jump off a bridge), and felt he was being considerate in something as mundane as preserving Iori’s cell phone–even when making the main cast go through the trauma of expecting her to die in thirty minutes. This seems to make it clear that Heartseed lacks empathy of any sort–but then it’s interesting to note how he goes on to give everyone a box of cakes as a reward for (I assume) “passing his test.” Is he simply mimicking the human ritual of gift-giving for hospital patients, or does he genuinely care to some degree about his little test subjects? I find the possibilities very intriguing, and I’m looking forward to seeing what direction the series will go from here.