Kiznaiver – Preview
Original Air Dates: April 9th, 2016 – ???
Synopsis: Katsuhira can’t feel pain. It’s made him a target of bullies all his life, as they are unable to comprehend Katsuhira. But Katsuhira’s life forever changes when he meets Sonosaki, a strange girl, who tells Katsuhira, along with five others, that they’ve been selected to become Kiznaivers as part of an experiment towards world peace and the procedure has already been performed on them. Katsuhira and the others quickly discover that being a Kiznaiver means your pain is divided among the others you’re connected to. Now this group must come together in order to face the challenges presented to them as Kiznaivers.
1st Episode Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Kiznaiver is Studio Trigger’s big project for the season, with Space Patrol Luluco acting as a little side project. Kiznaiver boasts higher production values, with animation that has the classic Studio Trigger feel, but’s slightly more subdued in its attitude compared to Luluco or Kill la Kill. There’s a vibrant use of color and shading, making the visuals eye catching and memorable. Kiznaiver also has a rather unusual anime opening that makes use of a heavy kaleidoscope effect. I personally didn’t care for it, but with complaints abound about characters needlessly running and posing in every anime opening it can certainly be said that Kiznaiver’s is fresh. The opening song is also an anomaly, feeling much more laid back than the usual opening fair.
Linny: The visuals are definitely going to be the big draw with an eye catching use of colours and unique animation style, especially in the opening credits sequence itself. There’s no denying that a lot of thought and effort has been put into the look of the show and is going to impress many a viewer.
Tom: Once we go deeper than the visuals, Kiznaiver starts to lose me, and it doesn’t help how much Crunchyroll and Studio Trigger themselves have been attempting to hype this show up. The main character, Katsuhira, who’s meant to feel no pain, also seems to have no emotions. It’s boring and something we’ve now seen a gazillion times. While the voice actor, bless him, attempts to portray Katsuhira with more subtle emotions, the fact of the matter is the writing just isn’t there for it. The dialogue screams emotionless, bland and it doesn’t matter how hard the VA tries to convey anything deeper because it just isn’t there in the writing. Even if Katsuhira can’t feel physical pain, surely he has other emotions or feelings? But instead we’ve gone the easy way and portrayed him with as little real character as possible.
Linny: Adding to the tropes is our mysterious girl in charge, Sonosaki, who has been heavily advertised as devoid of emotions. Hmm, two leads, neither of whom can feel pain, both detached and cold, doesn’t make for a warm welcome. There’s a somewhat friendly and caring female friend for our protagonist, but seeing how ‘dead’ he is even emotionally, it’s anyone’s guess as to how or why this girl came to care about him so much. While other characters are shown to be full of life, the show itself pushes them into generic boxes, aka the hotheaded thug, the baby-talking weirdo, etc. Some may argue that this is the show trying to be meta and self referential, but it comes off as too try hard and a little pretentious.
Tom: The cast falls into hard archetypes common throughout anime (and that’s certainly intentional as the show talks of the “modern” seven deadly sins, but we’ll get to that.) But whether it’s intentional or not it makes for a grating watch, unless you enjoy self-referential material. It makes none of the characters stand out as people I want to follow and see progress and evolve. It doesn’t help that, visually, they’re all highly reminiscent of characters from other series, just drawn with Trigger’s particular flare and style.
Linny: There’s a “hilarious” scene where Sonosaki starts to monologue about Kiznaiver’s version of the self declared new ’embodiments’ of the classic seven deadly sins, and the show has Katsuhira himself call her out on it. He claims she’s making no sense and feels like she’s just bad mouthing people, rather than making a point. Now, you’re free to make of that scene what you will, but at the end of the day, it felt like a really good criticism of the show, by the show itself.
Tom: Kiznaiver would like to have you believe it’s treading new water, journeying into territory never seen before across all of entertainment. But it’s all unfounded hype. The reinvention of the seven deadly sins is little more than a thinly veiled criticism of anime archetypes that plague many of the more generic series airing every season. It’s meta and that’s all it is. These seven deadly sins are just gussied up versions of the originals, mixed together and personified by the more frustrating archetypes spread throughout anime as a whole. If you enjoy the meta level reading of Kiznaiver then perhaps it’ll provide amble entertainment, but if I wanted to watch Archetypes I’d just watch archetypes, I don’t need to see them deconstructed to know they’re a problem within the medium as a whole. And I don’t think this industry commentary will sink in with the average anime fan.
Linny: Kiznaiver is still destined to win itself a decent fan following, being a Trigger product, and the studio having its own hardcore fanbase. It has enough of the Trigger flair visually and thematically that it’s sure to send those fans into hysteric happiness. For anyone jaded with the studio, or the kind of heavy handed meta it serves in this series, Kiznaiver is going to be another frustrating experience as the show puts style over substance and struggles to make any sense within the first episode of its own story and set up.
Tom: Kiznaiver talks a big game, even when it’s really just another story about teenagers caught up in a giant experiment who gain something resembling a super power. The concept of sharing pain is interesting, but so far it seems only useful in the most unlikely of scenarios. It’s also a hindrance as even a light punch to your temple causes the entire group to reel in pain. Also, the depiction is entirely inconsistent, as electrocution seems to equal the punch I just mentioned in terms of pain feedback. Kiznaiver wants to be deep and brooding, and even a bit philosophical, but it just doesn’t have the chops.
Linny: Kiznaiver is destined/doomed to be the flashy show that catches your attention with showy visuals and highfalutin concepts. However, whether you end up flabbergasted or fulfilled depends on what you prioritize in a show, as Kiznaiver seems to be more about looks rather than substance or logic.
Tom: Kiznaiver is a wholly original work from Studio Trigger and writer Okada Mari (M3, Wixoss, Gundam IBO.) I loved IBO and to learn Kiznaiver is from her is disheartening, but understandable as I found both M3 and Wixoss to be melodramatic bores. There’s a manga version that began its serialization back at the tale end of March, so if you’d prefer to read it weekly rather than watch there’s also that option (it’s also available on Crunchyroll.) In the end I feel like Kiznaiver is a show that just won’t click with me. It speaks to a younger audience, more caught up in the visual flare and meta themes/concepts than I am.
Kiznaiver is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.com