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Kiznaiver centers around Agata and several teenagers getting roped into a secret experiment utilizing a linked system called the Kizuna System that allows everyone in the group to experience the pain and emotions of one another. Agata's situation, in particular, is a unique one as he suffers from a lack of apathy and an inability to feel pain. |
On paper, Kiznaiver seemed like it wanted to offer a stylish, yet interesting, commentary regarding personal communication between others with the Kizuna System being the means in which this theme is explored. The exploration of this is a bit hit-or-miss throughout Kiznaiver's run, but the positives of this are still strong enough to prominently stick out and I will highlight these before covering the rather significant flaws of the series. A major positive for the series is the character exploration it offers up to several of its characters. A recurring theme with the major characters in Kiznaiver is how each one has dealt with loneliness. Kiznaiver takes some time to explore the personal dilemmas affecting several of the show's teenage cast to show how each have dealt with their issues before becoming involving with the Kizuna System project. This exploration led to some genuinely engaging plot developments with a couple characters, particularly Agata's unique situation and a personal trauma affecting Maki. The Kizuna System as a concept also has its effective moments to highlight the flaws of attempting an inter-linked system for people to know the thoughts and emotions of one another that shows that in spite of the potential barriers that direct communication offers for mutual understanding, it's still a better alternative than compromising your personal thoughts and pains through directly connecting them to others.
In spite of these strong positives though, Kiznaiver's very premise does carry with it some major issues. The premise it attempts is a bit too grand to effectively pull off for a 12-episode series. This is quite noticeable in the anime's second half when its storytelling starts to take a hit quality-wise as it rushed with attempting more heavily dramatic and grand storytelling compared to the more grounded and mundane developments of the anime's first half. Some story elements in the second half explored have their moments they shone through such as more fleshing out of Noriko's character, but it still doesn't make up for the sloppy and rushed execution of the anime's second half. Another consequence of this issue is that a number of characters that make up part of the Kizuna System testing do get shafted in focus and depth due to the anime's limited episode count, thus limiting how much connection the audience could potentially develop with them. Perhaps if Kiznaiver were given a higher episode count or devoted another season to allow itself more time to develop its cast and premise, the series could have been a more cohesive package as a whole.
As it is, Kiznaiver's high moments with its character focus and premise exploration shine through enough to make it an above-average offering as an anime in spite of its very premise being too grand to effectively explore in its 12-episode run. I would still at least recommend checking it out once as it what moments are effectively conveyed still make it a worthwhile watch.
Last updated Friday, July 06 2018. Created Friday, July 06 2018.
(All episodes watched):|
It seems to me that the one problem which sinks more new anime than any other nowadays is shallow, uninteresting characters. If I don't care what becomes of the characters, I likewise don't care how the plot works out, even if it may actually be fairly clever. With Kiznaiver we have something unusual: a show with interesting, well-rounded characters that almost manages to sink itself with a confusing plot.
The title Kiznaiver sounded like a generic mecha or hero show, but fortunately turned out to be much deeper than that. The far-out OP sequence gives a hint of what to expect. At the heart of the anime is the Kizuna System, a hi-tech system which somehow takes the pain which a person experiences and spreads it among numerous people, so that nobody feels too much but everyone has to endure some. A sort of psychological insurance policy which apparently guarantees a measure of immortality, at least from injuries caused by violence. So far, so good; the concept is novel and intriguing. But all sorts of questions spring to mind which the show never really answers. The basic concept doesn't make complete sense; it's not pain, per se, that kills you, it's things like your heart shutting down. If you are feeling pain, it's safe to say that you are still alive. How this pain sharing would work to a person's advantage, and what it will be used for aren't made clear. How does it have anything to do with urban renewal in this city? There are mentions of it being about bringing people closer together, which makes some sense given what happens to the cast over the course of the story, but again that isn't explained very clearly. For a good ways into the series, I wasn't sure if the Kizuna system was supposed to be taken seriously or was just a joke. I also didn't completely understand why protagonist Agata doesn't feel pain, or why his situation changed as the story proceded. Kiznaiver seemed kind of unfocused and confusing. Weird stuff happens, but what does it have to do with the looming problem which will presumably be the climax of the series? So, I was left in the all too familiar situation of not fully understanding the main plot of the show, but liking it enough to keep watching nevertheless.
That must have been because the characters are likeable people with discernable personalities. The fact that the participants in the Kizuna experiment were chosen because each displays a particular character flaw promised fun to come, and the slick and clever manner in which episode one was handled left me optimistic about the remainder of Kiznaiver. This show has a mix of comedy and intrigue which seems to work well enough even if you are often left scratching your head. In episode four the team is joined by about the last person they would possibly want, given the way the Kizuna system operates. This show has some definite style and wit to it. The jokes are more sophisticated than the stuff we usually get from anime, and the characters have far more personality than those in a comedy usually have. I was actually not sure whether comedy or drama had precedence for most of the series, but it worked out OK nevertheless. What happens episodically is fun enough to be worth watching, and it isn't so cryptic that you can't have at least a vague idea of what the main plot is.
In episode nine some things which which had been confusing me ever since the start were finally explained. It gave me an idea of what the true scope of the Kizuna project was, and (who would have thought?), that it was in fact nearing it's modest end rather than growing ever larger. A number of flashbacks which Agata has experienced now make some sense. I still cannot claim to completely understand this bewildering story, but at least this seemed like one episode in which the storytelling was conducted in a fairly easily understandable manner (like I wish the entire thing had been), and therefore was more enjoyable. Better late than never.
The conclusion was as confusing as ever. How did Nori get all the Gomorins to help her seize control of Sugimori City? She's not the supreme commander of the Kizuna Project, is she? How did she manage to plant a bomb on a bridge? Still, a happy ending which you can enjoy even if you have little idea of exactly how things came to work out like this. Kiznaiver strikes me as a show with a sophisticated premise which just didn't explain it very well. It seems like what the viewer gets are many tiny, weak hints of where the story is going but no strong indicators—and sometimes that's what we need. The result is confusion rather than fully understanding the lesson(s) the show is trying to teach. Maybe the makers made the common mistake among artists of assuming that the meaning behind everything would be as obvious to strangers as it was to them. But I don't regret watching. The colorful cast managed to salvage the show. It just goes to show how much confusion I am willing to put up with if a show just has some likeable characters.
Last updated Wednesday, August 03 2016. Created Thursday, April 21 2016.