Abba Inaba! Kokoro Connect and the Need for Grace

After nine episodes of Kokoro Connect, I still stand by the declaration I made early on – if there’s one character the series is focuses on, it’s Inaba.  Kokoro Connect is about her journey from a guilt-ridden young lady, unable to forgive herself or trust others, to one transformed by grace.  I’m making some assumptions and predictions here, but I do feel this is how the series will turn out.  We’ll see.

Kokoro Connect
Art by ぴぴんた

One thing there’s no doubt about is that Inaba is one tough nut to crack.  In episode nine, while Yui and others get over their Heartseed-inflicted depressions (maybe a little too easily), Inaba remains closed off.  She’s guilt ridden because of her inability to be a good friend to the others, who she sees as so much more selfless than her.  She’s unable to trust them and, as demonstrated in the closing of the last episode (and really, throughout the series), Inaba has romantic feelings toward Taichi; I imagine she sees this as a betrayal of her friendship with Iori.

Inaba’s friends have already forgiven her once, and without complaint.  Even so, Inaba feels as if she is unforgivable.  She’s rotten to the core and undeserving of the love her friends show.  She desperately needs to accept the no-strings-attached love her friends offer, but is unwilling to do so.

Grace is within Inaba’s reach; she only has to stretch out and grab onto it.

I’m reminded of a “restoration ministry” near my home.  Former alcoholics, drug dealers, and criminals stand on street corners. flashing smiles and greeting cars enthusiastically as they raise money for the ministry through which they cleaned up and came to know Christ.  Those who have been in despair understand the power of grace – that God could forgive them and love them despite the pain they’ve cost themselves and others.

Many of these converts may have felt like Inaba – they were too unworthy to be accepted.  But they came to a conclusion that Inaba, too, must reach if she wants peace.  Though the grace given her may be from her friends (or even herself) instead of the perfect, lasting kind that comes from God, the idea remains the same:

There’s nothing you can do that will make (God, friends, you) love you less and nothing you can do that will make (God, friends, you) love you more.

It’s this realization for Christians, occurring because of Jesus’ substitution for us on the cross, that gives us power over guilt, shame, and sin.  We are free to respond back with love, knowing that despite our mistakes, we are always fully loved.

That message is there for Inaba, too – now we’ll see if she can open her heart to it.

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