After been completely turned off of anime for about month thanks to a recommendation by a friend, I was finally able to muster up enough strength to break one of my rules and drop the aforementioned anime. It’s name was Heroic Age. It wasn’t bad per se. It was just… really boring. The characters, the setting, the animation, and the everything. I tried watching it, in vain, three times but I always fell asleep.
Anyways, after a string of many lost games in League of Legends last night, I finally decided to get back into anime again. I spent a good while thinking about what to watch. Then, suddenly, Kiznaiver came to mind. I wanted something good. Something interesting. I knew Studio Trigger would deliver. Good or bad, whatever they make at least has you interested.
Unlike most people who went into Kiznaiver thinking it to be another Kill la Kill or Inferno Cop (lol), I watched it knowing what to expect. Quite a number of people who watched the show while it was airing complained that it was rather slow, never went anywhere, or the characters were one-dimensional. Hell, some viewers even lamented the fact that it was nothing like Kill la Kill. Absolutely no fan-service whatsoever.
Kiznaiver is Trigger’s first attempt at trying something different. All of its shows till now have been either parodies, focused on action, or both. Even Little Witch Academia follows this. I, for one, am glad that Kiznaiver is very different from Trigger’s usual works.
Synopsis from MyAnimeList: Katsuhira Agata is a quiet and reserved teenage boy whose sense of pain has all but vanished. His friend, Chidori Takashiro, can only faintly remember the days before Katsuhira had undergone this profound change. Now, his muffled and complacent demeanor make Katsuhira a constant target for bullies, who exploit him for egregious sums of money. But their fists only just manage to make him blink, as even emotions are far from his grasp.
However, one day Katsuhira, Chidori, and four other teenagers are abducted and forced to join the Kizuna System as official “Kiznaivers.” Those taking part are connected through pain: if one member is injured, the others will feel an equal amount of agony. These individuals must become the lab rats and scapegoats of an incomplete system designed with world peace in mind. With their fates literally intertwined, the Kiznaivers must expose their true selves to each other, or risk failing much more than just the Kizuna System.
Simply put, Kiznaiver is a mild case of character study. It doesn’t just lightly touch it’s subject matter nor does it go fully into psychological territory. It is very apparent from the second episode of Kiznaiver that it is a show meant for fun with a bunch of melodrama here and there. Exactly what I thought it would be.
So how come, you would ask, Kiznaiver interested me so? Well, other than the characters themselves, it was mainly because of the huge plot device that is known as the ‘Kizuna System’.
The Kizuna System is basically just having surgery performed on the seven main characters so that if one of them has pain inflicted on them then they all feel. Over the course of the show, as the Kizuna System progresses, if one of the ‘Kiznaivers’ feels any strong emotion then that emotion is felt by all of them. Then we go into reading the heart. Interesting concept, no? But, like I said before, the Kizuna System is just one big plot device. Without the Kizuna System, the anime would just have been an over-dramatic slice of life. This plot device helps create a balance – giving you the false illusion that something evil is afoot. This helps keep the oddities of the characters and their behavior in check and helps the anime not into Korean soap-opera territory.
Now, to the meat of Kiznaiver. The characters!
Katsuhira Agata is the main focus, in regards to the characters, of Kiznaiver. He is devoid of emotion and cannot feel physical pain. An emo without the trademarked black look. Along with his childhood friend, Takashiro Chidori, he and a six other students from his class are abducted and chosen for the Kizuna System experiment. They are told they have to expose themselves to each other for the sake of the experiment. For the sake of world peace.
A point to note: no matter what angle you analyze the Kizuna System from, there is no logical explanation for HOW it will help attain world peace. Even the show doesn’t explain how. So, while being an effective plot device, the Kizuna System is also one of Kiznaivers biggest cons.
Anyways, back to the characters.
Tenga Hajime is the thug who secretly has a huge heart. Yuta Tsugihoto is the spaz who pretends to be what he’s not – an arrogant tool. Niyama Niko is an eccentric Hollywood blondie who pretends to be eccentric because she thinks she isn’t (whewie). Maki Honoka is… well it would be a spoiler. And, finally, Hisomu Yoshiharu is a masochist in denial who, in my opinion, is the most rational character in the show.
All of these guys and gals are gathered by Sonozaki Noriko who is adamant in proving the success of the Kizuna System for it has already failed before.
Seeing of all these characters interact with each other and step out from their single dimension into the third is a fascinating treat. With grounded and witty dialogue, the characterization comes out just great. Exactly what it feels like when I talk to my friends. Yes, even Nico.
It’s a shame that a lot of viewers just went with the first judgment of the characters and deemed them to be caricatures till the end of the show. Kiznaiver is slice of life disguised as action (but there is no action at all) so a lot people were left bored during the middle of the show which was just character development for the finale. I’m not really sure if this is a fault in direction, script, or Trigger’s image itself. Oh well, you win some and you lose some.
Kiznaiver’s music is OK, I guess. The opening ‘Lay Your Hands On Me’ by Boom Boom Satellites which bloody amazing for me since that kind of electronica and rock usually doesn’t sit well with me. The ending wasn’t bad – just that I’ve heard a lot of songs like it so I just skipped it. As for the background music, nothing special. The hard violin, techno and beats certainly suited the show but overall, nothing memorable.
The animation is gorgeous. For once Trigger got its budget under control and created a show with no slacking in animation. The character designs are a neat break from the usual fare you see in modern anime. Light and long bodies with a lot of curves and fluidity topped by a bright color palette. Good stuff.
If Kiznaiver had a thorough quality check for its plot then it would truly have been something special. But, the Kizuna System’s flaws and the contrived wishy washy ending deal a serious blow to it’s overall goodness. Also, the world building needed some polishing too. No matter how good the characterization in a show is, without a properly fleshed out plot you’re not going have many heads rolling and that’s a damn shame.
Right as the show ended, I thought it was an 8.5/10 in my book. But, today after giving it some thought, I think it objectively deserves a 7/10 at most. But it’s a 7.5/10 for me thanks to the fun I had watching the characters grow.
Recommended for those slow nights when you suddenly feel like ringing up some friends but can’t because they’re busy. Or if you don’t have friends and feel like wanting to make some.