Kiznaiver Series Review – The Power of Friendship Overcoming Pain

Kiznaiver Series
The cast - Kiznaiver Series Review
Test subjects, unite.

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. Writing a Kiznaiver series review is significantly less about self-discovery and more an exercise in reflecting on disappointment.

Kiznaiver Series Review

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.



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.

kiznaiver6
People should really learn to listen when life or death matters are being explained.

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.

Advertisements

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.

kiznaiver9
Not one of their brightest moments.

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.

kiznaiver7
Never in the history of anything has telling someone to calm down actually calmed them down.

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?


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


Tuesdays Top 5: Disappointments from 2016

Tuesday's Top 5

Having covered some of the best from 2016 I kind of felt I should look at the shows that weren’t necessarily bad but ended up being disappointing before I move on to non-2016 specific lists. Actually, this was probably the hardest list to write because there were just so many shows that had so much potential and they just never delivered. My selection criteria this week was that the show still had to be functional as a show (so probably not one of my worst of the year shows) but due to execution it just hasn’t pulled off what it might have aspired to be. Some of these shows are actually pretty good as they are, but they had the potential to be better. Obviously this is a highly subjective list so feel free to list your disappointments in the comments below.

Please Note – There will be spoilers below.

Honourable mentions go to: Trickster, 91 Days and Joker Game.

Number 5: Food Wars Season 2

Okay, I already know some people are going to dislike this choice but honestly I found this second season a severe let down. Individual moments in season 2 still capture some of the fun energy of season 1 but the competition just drags on and on and to be honest I’m just not that interested in watching continuous cook offs with some of my least favourite characters from the show. It would have been great to spend more time with the support cast and more time just having character moments rather than watching an endless array of food preparation (which I know is a petty complaint given it is a show about cooking).

Number 4: The Morose Mononokean

I’ll admit, my disappointment with this show was entirely my fault. Right from the start it reminded me of Natsume but never quite captured the magic Natsume had and the comparison didn’t do this show any favours. Going forward though this show didn’t really manage to create its own identity and seemed content with being watchable rather than ever really striving for more. Key moments of tension were deliberately wasted and the characters never really got fleshed out beyond a few hints that there were other stories to be told. All and all, this show has a cool premise, is really pretty, is perfectly pleasant and watchable but is equally pretty forgettable.

Number 3: Flip Flappers

I’m surprised as well that this is only number 3 but I guess the reason this didn’t disappoint me more on reflection is because I kind of predicted from the start that unless this show managed to pull everything together it was kind of going to be pretty but not a lot else. When that ultimately happened I was still disappointed but not surprised. Flip Flappers, the early episodes, is fun, energetic and visually stunning. Unfortunately, eventually they have to try to explain why anything is happening and then they feel the need to introduce an antagonist who serves no real purpose and seems to undermine a lot of what they had built in the series. While there are definitely worse shows out there, the way this ends I just don’t see the point in watching it.

Number 2: Izetta: The Last Witch

This one took me by surprise. I really expected this to be one of the shows I would recommend from 2016 after the first 2 episodes. Unfortunately from that point forward the show continued to slide into deep mediocrity. It wouldn’t be fair to say it actually becomes bad because if you compare it to something like Big Order or Taboo Tattoo, Izetta works as a narrative, is visually appealing, and has a range of semi-interesting characters who mostly serve their function. My disappointment again comes from my own expectations on the show but these were built by the first two episodes. It promised one thing and then stripped that away and gave us a watered down version of it. Also, I really didn’t like the introduced antagonist late in the series (so it has that in common with Flip Flappers).

Number 1: Kiznaiver

I really, really wanted to like Kiznaiver. A medical experiment on students to force them to share each others’ pain sounded like a great premise for a story. And there are some really good moments in Kiznaiver but the overall narrative kind of devolves into we should all make friends kind of thing and the experiment itself is mostly nonsense and serves no real purpose. Again, this anime is perfectly watchable and some people really enjoyed it, but I just kept wanting more from it than it was willing to give and so I finished this series deeply disappointed.

Those are my 5 biggest disappointments from 2016.


Are you a fan of 100WordAnime.blog?

If you like this site and you like what I do, please consider becoming a patron.

patreon

Thanks,

Karandi James.

avatar

Tuesday’s Top 5: Opening Themes in 2016

Tuesday's Top 5

One of the things most of us remember about an anime series is the opening theme. Whether we loved it or hated it, listened to it every time, or reached for the remote (mouse) to hit the skip. Opening themes set the tone for the entire viewing experience and yet it is another element I seldom take into consideration when ranking my favourite anime on my weekly lists. This week’s top 5 gave me a chance to reflect on some of the themes of 2016 and to realise it was not one of my favourite years for opening songs.

My criteria for top 5 opening theme is mostly that the song could be listened to as a song by itself and still sound good without the visuals, though also had good visuals to go with it, that it matched the tone of the show, and that it got me ready to watch the episode. Also, it had to be an opening I didn’t want to skip because listening to the song was part of the experience. They also had to be in an anime that aired at some point during 2016 (either continuing on from 2015, completely in 2016, or at least started before the end of 2016).

For patrons there is a list of the 5 openings of 2016 that didn’t particularly impress over on patreon.

Please Note – There probably won’t be any spoilers in this list.

Honourable mentions this week go to: Cheer Boys (because it was fun) and 91 Days (because it set the tone of the show so well). Also, special honourable mention to Raise Your Flag from Iron Blooded Orphans because if that had been the theme the whole way through the show it would have been absolutely perfect.

Number 5: Coolest from Sakamoto Desu Ga

Sakamoto.png

This is the weirdest choice on this list because this is an anime I didn’t even finish watching. However, this opening gives you more or less the entire concept and is fun, bright and over the top which is everything the show itself is trying to be. I probably would have ditched the show and kept watching the opening if that was a viable option really.

Number 4: Bye Bye Yesterday from Assassination Classroom Second Season

Assassination.jpg

Assassination Classroom has continued to have excellent openings that nail the tone of the show and manage to convey the overall emotion the characters are feeling at that point in time. From that point of veiw, Bye Bye Yesterday is the perfect opening during the second season because our characters have moved on from who they were and they are at a critical transitional point. The visuals throughout the song are pretty awesome to with a lot of looking back on where the characters have come from and the events that have shaped them in the series. The fact that the song is still upbeat and energizes you in preparation for the episode is perfect because Assassination Classroom still has that weird back and forth between comedy and real drama so a song that makes you feel sad and nostalgic while getting you energised is exactly what was needed.

Number 3: Lay Your Hands on Me from Kiznaiver

Kiznaiver.png

I know I didn’t end up thinking much of the show but this song was amazing. Actually the entire opening sequence is just an overload on the senses. The song is full of energy and drama and yet you aren’t sure whether it is trying to be optimistic or poignant and overall it just makes you feel like something is coming. Unfortunately for me, most episodes went downhill after the opening but at least I never skipped the song.

Number 2: Re:Re from Erased

Erased.jpg

During the first few episodes, while I enjoyed this opening, I couldn’t figure out why this show had such an up-beat and happy little opening. The visuals hinted at darker ideas but the song itself felt like it belonged on some coming-of-age high school romp rather than a mystery with potential supernatural elements. Turns out the song wasn’t lying as the mystery part of the show falls short and it is the coming-of-age and the finding out who you are that dominates the show thematically in the second half. So great song in and of itself and once you’ve watched the show through you realise just how apt it actually is.

Number 1: History Maker from Yuri On Ice

Yuri2.png

That was probably obvious from the get-go given the theme to Yuri on Ice was probably the only one I commented on (more than once) during my weekly reviews of a show. I couldn’t help it, the song just swept me away each and every time I listened to it. It is one of the few themes that I actively looked up and played just by itself without any intention of watching an episode of the show. And please, hit repeat. Then of course we have the beautiful animation that accompanies it. I also liked that it didn’t really sound like an anime opening. That kind of made it stand out. All and all, this was the perfect opening song for this particular story.

Alright, over to you. What opening themes made you pay attention in 2016?


Are you a fan of 100WordAnime.blog?

If you like this site and you like what I do, please consider becoming a patron.

patreon

Thanks,

Karandi James.

avatar