Katsuhira can’t feel pain and doesn’t know why. This apparently makes him the target of bullies and an obsessive child-hood friend. However, Katsuhira and six of his classmates are used in an experiment to join their pain and begin a journey of emotional self-discovery. I did review this week to week so if you want to know thoughts on individual episodes, click here.
The premise of Kiznaiver is definitely intriguing and one that had a lot of potential for some interesting exploration. Unfortunately, the premise is the most interesting part about this anime.
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I’m going to admit, there are moments of Kiznaiver that are amazing. There are some superb emotional moments for the characters where the audience really feels for the character and everything just hits that absolutely perfect note where you are blown away by the power of that moment in the story. Some of these characters really do have connections in particular moments where they really understand one another or reach out to someone else in pain. Then we have everything else.
These moments are framed and ultimately overcome by utter and complete moments of rubbish.
The first two episodes of this series introduces most of the cast. Another group member is introduced late seemingly because the writers couldn’t think of anything else exciting for their plot twist of the week other than sending the characters on a scavenger hunt for a missing member. From reading some episode reviews it is clear that there are viewers who quite like these characters and their various quirks. That said, I found the majority of them too stupid for words and generally didn’t care enough about them to be caught up in whatever personal drama they are currently experiencing.
They don’t listen to instructions, they over-react to some things and show no-reaction to revelations that really should grab their attention. They don’t try and reason things out but just kind of meander through their own plot and the few times they try to take control they don’t actually come up with anything resembling a plan. Honestly, it was just hard to care about this cast of characters.
That said, it shows the strength of Kiznaiver when it gets it right that it managed to bring me back into the story and the characters for those moments when it really mattered. The two episodes that focus on Honoka and Yuta remain my favourites of this series. When all the clutter is removed and the characters are allowed to be people for a moment, there was something magical about it. Which actually made the other moments worse because you realised how good this series could have been if they’d handled the characters with more care throughout the whole run-time or if the plot had ultimately made any real sense.
That said, there are some more positives for this series which means it isn’t one that can just be dismissed as a missed opportunity. Kiznaiver is a beautiful anime. From character designs to the various set-pieces, everything looks great and while there isn’t a huge amount of movement the animation is actually pretty well done. On top of that, the sound track is absolutely fantastic. From the OP, which remains one of my favourites ever and throughout each episode, music is an absolute strength for this series.
Plus, for an anime that ultimately wants to tie up its plot with a power-of-friendship kind of deal, a lot of times the emotional payoff actually works even if that is at the expense of logical plot development. If you are more invested in these characters, that might actually be enough to make this series fairly unforgettable.
That said, the breaking point for me was the science and the nature of the experiment that forms the core plot of this anime. It is gibberish and is basically a plot device. There’s absolutely no reason why anyone would run the experiment with the parameters at play here and even if they did approve the experiment they wouldn’t let a damaged test subject run the show. That’s kind of insane and clearly happens just so the plot can.
Also, the power of friendship and entire final episode just missed the mark for me. Largely this was because it made these characters seem even stupider than I’d considered them for the majority of the run time of this series and was the final breaking point for me as I just couldn’t bring myself to care any more. Again, if you like the characters, maybe you will find this a lot more charming and poignant but I’m mostly just wondering how I got through that final episode without my eyes rolling clear out of my head.
I know some people have really loved this series and it actually does work as a character piece provided you like the characters. However, it didn’t really click with me so even though I’ll acknowledge there are some good moments in this show, that final episode has firmly placed this in the list of anime that I have watched but will now move on from.
Have you seen Kiznaiver? What did you think?
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