- Format: novel
- Author: Sadanatsu Anda
- Cover Artist: Shiromizakana
- Translator: Molly Lee
- Publisher: J-Novel Club
It’s been over a year since read the previous volume in the Kokoro Connect series, so Step Time was a great reintroduction to the series for me. The second (of three, it looks like) anthologies in the series, it’s split between the beginnings of the Cultural Research Club, and the current-day Club happenings.
Unfortunately, these stories are all Heartseed-free – no supernatural phenomena this time. Instead, the Cultural Research Club members have only themselves to blame for their awkward shenanigans…
“First Encounter”: This story is exactly what it sounds like: the gathering together of the Cultural Research Club at the start of their first year at school. There’s not much to the plot here, but it was a good character piece, showing how much these characters have, and haven’t, changed over the series.
“A Tale of Two Loners”: Another flashback, to about a month into the Cultural Research Club’s first year. This time it focuses on Inaba and Iori, showing how they became friends instead of just clubmates. This is the most plot-heavy story in the book. It felt a bit weird seeing Iori as she was back at the start of the series; thinking about it, she’s probably the character who’s grown the most.
“DATE X DATE X DATE”: The back half of the volume is set in the present, and is more heavily focused on romance. Iori, the only member of the second-years without a partner, and another member of her class (Kurihara Yukina – I don’t remember her, but I won’t guarantee she’s actually new) are frustrated with the lack of romantic progress for the two couples, as well as another couple from their class (that I believe *is* from earlier books). So they champion a massive group date where the two loveless ones can teach the three couples the ropes.
This is my favorite story in the book. While there’s very little plot, there’s lots of fun character moments for all three couples. And most importantly, they realize at the end that it doesn’t matter if their romance isn’t “normal” – as long as they’re happy, everything is good.
“A Mad Dash Down My Destined Path”: While Iori cheers on her fellow second-year students in their romantic lives, the first-years (with the help of the Love Guru) try to figure out why the CRC seems so “cool” to both them and their fellow students.
Despite being an investigation of the other CRC members, this ends up being more about the two first-years better understanding themselves. There’s always been hints that they’re interested in each other, but now they both seem to finally realize it.
Overall I liked the anthology. While none of the four stories seem particularly essential, none of them were a duff either. They were enjoyable character pieces that helped jog my memory going into the finale. ⭐⭐⭐⭐