Saturday, July 23, 2016

Kiznaiver Review

Kiznaiver Review

Warning: The following review may contain spoilers of the show Kiznaiver. If you wish not to know some plot details, or simply don't wish to find out what happens in the series, please exit the tab, and join me once you've watched the show. Or you know, you can continue to read, since you don't care about spoilers.

Anyways, with that said, thank you, and onto the review:

For the past few years when I've watched anime, I've sometimes overlooked the writing credits, instead paying more attention to the animation credits, such as director and character designer. But this year, I've started to pay more attention to who's handling a particular show's writing, starting with Divine Gate and onward. 

Since I've already made it clear Divine Gate was a meh show, it didn't make me feel better once I found out the series composition had Natsuko Takahashi in charge, considering she was also the writing head for Togainu no Chi (which I dropped halfway in), and has also worked on shows such as Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan (which has been a long overdue finish), Norn9 (which I still need to watch), and the Pretty Cure franchise (I could say I was joking, but I'm not). This doesn't give me the greatest hope in some of her works down the road, but Nura is pretty good, and I think I'll like one of the other shows she worked on eventually.

Enter Mari Okada, probably one of the most prolific screenwriters in the anime business today. Besides being known for her work on the series Anohana, she's also known for working on the first two seasons of Black Butler, Vampire Knight, and Black Rock Shooter. So when her name's attached to anything, I'll now know to expect either gleeful cheers or disgusted snorts, considering she has such a mixed reputation among many.

Of course, when I saw that her name was attached to this project, I wasn't aware on what she did beforehand. But when I found out, I didn't really mind. After all, I did love the first season of Black Butler, but my main focus for this show was the fact that Trigger was behind the animation for it.

Yes, Trigger. AKA "the saviors of anime" to many thanks to Kill la Kill (which I haven't seen yet). Formed by two former members of the animation studio Gainax, this studio has been exploding thanks to the aforementioned series. Also, this series was getting a ton of promotion and buzz, snatching up a slot for streaming on Crunchyroll almost immediately, and a pretty good ton of videos were released by the Japanese YouTube channel for the show, which included character PV's, and seiyuu interviews. So it definitely seemed Trigger was trying to push this show out with the intent of hoping that it did well.

At first, I wasn't too keen on watching, but eventually, Luke convinced me to get on board. And the more I saw from the series from PV's and Episode 0, the more I was looking forward to seeing what this show had to offer, especially with an intriguing concept. How did it turn out?

Well, one thing's for sure, Kiznaiver is definitely an interesting show. It has a good story at parts as well as nice characters, very stylistic animation, and a masterpiece of a score. I did find myself liking the majority of the episodes, and I was looking forward to seeing where the show would go next (especially during the Honoka arc). But at the same time, the writing is definitely the weakest link to this show for multiple reasons, and as such, it gives off shaky sides to the plot and cast, such as a rushed final episode, some characters not getting fully developed, and the feeling that the series itself is being too pretentious in terms of its framing and how the last few episodes roll down.

Also, the animation does dip at some points, and I'm still not sure if it was on purpose or not, but most of the times when it does, it doesn't look pretty. But that aside, Kiznaiver is still a great show, and I'd still recommend it. However, I personally think it's an anime that could offer a better experience if one analyzes it.

Let's first talk about the plot for this series, as the setup is incredibly cool:


In the fictional town of Sugomori City, not everything is as it seems. Though it appears to be a typical, normal, and quiet town, it is actually the center of operations for a project known as the Kizna System. The Kizna Committee's goals are to cease violence and bring world peace by connecting people through their pain and suffering. Those who are participants in the project and are connected to it are called Kiznaivers, and if one of them experiences any type of pain, whether it'd be psychical or emotional, the other participants bound by their Kizna marks will feel the exact same amount of pain.

Though the project has been done in the past, only to fail because of a mysterious occurrence, that all is about to change when a emotionless girl named Noriko Sonozaki unleashes a new start to the Kizna System, connecting Katsuhira Agata, a distant and aloof teenage boy, to five of his classmates (another one will join in Episode 3), whose personalities and physical traits differ from his own. Each Kiznavier has an aspect to their personality that links to a different kind of Seven Deadly Sin, and the group must complete missions until the end of the summer in order to understand each other as well as connect through their own wounds.

But pretty soon, it looks like missions aren't the only thing waiting for our group of seven. As they progress through the Kizna System, everyone gets a peek into another's live, whether it'd be an embarrassing secret or a traumatic event. And it isn't going to take long before love comes knocking with its bow and arrow as crushes form, leaving behind a weird love shaped pentagon that could affect our heroes in interesting ways. For Katsuhira, however, it's the fact that he isn't able to feel pain, but what happened in the past that caused him to lose it? Does it have to relate to dreams he's been having? And why does Noriko seem to pop up in them? Is she linked to Katsuhira's past as well?

One thing's for sure, though; we're prepared for one hell of a summer!

What I manage to like the most about this story is the concept. Mari Okada created something really unique and it's something I don't see regularly: a futuristic world that's built for the sole purpose of an experiment. The unlikely kids being brought together is something I've seen before, but how Mari Okada crafted it is fairly interesting, and to see some of the characters go through struggles, tell their darkest secrets, and eventually become friends is pretty heartwarming.

I also was a big fan of the arc dedicated to one of the characters, Honoka Maki, in Episodes 6 and 7. She manages to get substantial development that not only is kind of shocking but also heartbreaking at the same time, and to see her finally being able to accept this bunch as being her friends somewhat is nice, even though she goes back into her shell later on before poking her head out again by the end.

When the show gets dramatic is also a highlight for some of the episodes. The story does a good job building tension at a couple of tense moments up, and I couldn't help but be on the edge of my seat at least a few times. Granted, it's not all the time and the episodes are mainly in the first half of the show, but still, there have been some shows that haven't done this (Divine Gate and Sukisho come to mind from this year), and Kiznaiver manages to pull through. That'a a feat for itself.

But unfortunately, there are weak points in how the story is written. In the beginning, if you asked me where I thought the story for this show was going, I would probably blink at you and go:

Because at that point, I had no clue how the series was going to go down. The direction this series takes is a confusing one in the beginning, and it can't really decide whether it should be driven by its characters or the lingering Kizna System project. It isn't until about Episode 10 where the series decides to shed more background on the Kizna System, as well as explore a little more on what Noriko wants to accomplish with it, that the show decides it's time for a Save Noriko plot. 

While this isn't necessarily bad, it's an odd way for the show to turn itself in, especially since it focused on the missions the main group went under as well as take on a slice of life feel at the beginning. Also, while it's interesting when we get to learn more about the Kizna System project and how it works, it comes a little too late into the show for me to really invest in it (does anyone else not care about the previous kids besides me?)

Another problem the story also manages to run into is how its framed. Sometimes, the show itself comes across as exaggerated, overly exerting itself in order to make it more appealing towards a certain target audience. It's scattered in certain elements of the show, but it's the most apparent in our main cast. Though they eventually all become friends in a sense, the show never really gives us any proof as to why besides being Kiznaivers. Sure, they can be close, but some of them have the tendency to make nasty remarks to each other on the pretense of them being just teenagers.

I actually wasn't really aware of this at first until I listened to an ANNCast from Anime News Network in which Jacob Chapman (most notable for me from his Youtube channel JesuOtaku) mentioned a term known as bully logic, where a character makes a snide remark about another right in front of their faces, and it simply being brushed under the rug as if it's nothing (or used for laughs). Hearing this made me think back on something related to Yuta's past, which made me have an aha moment, because this isn't acceptable.

Granted, not everyone just casually disses each other (I gave a free pass to Honoka since it's in her nature to be overly harsh), but looking back, there have been comments that have managed to get under my skin. You're supposed to be friends. So can you act like it? Please.

Another framing device is the Seven Deadly Sins that's brought up in the beginning of the show, and each character fits an aspect of a modern day Sin. I found this really interesting at first, as I wanted to see how the characters managed to overcome these sins, and it gets dropped after 3 episodes. I actually forgot about this until I looked up Kiznaiver again and remembered, "There was supposed to be a Seven Deadly Sin plotline in this show, right?"

I do get this probably wasn't the most important part of the story as the characters did go beyond their respective sins by the end, but I have a feeling that for some of them, that wasn't the case. Maybe it could have been with character development (which I'll discuss later), but I don't feel like a couple of our leads didn't show as much balance between what box they fit in and what they're actually supposed to be.

The love pentagon doesn't help matters either. It seems like a certain character likes another, who manages to have affections for another character, who likes someone else, and then there's the one exception, and......

Okay, can we just have a screenshot to better explain things?

Thank you.

It'd be fine if all of these feelings for certain characters were explained or shown ahead of time (some of them were), but the fact is that some of these feelings come out of left field, or are only shown in brief glimpses that when they do come up again, it's either caught or free to swim the seas.

The fact that Nico's feelings towards Hajime are certified as obvious despite the fact that we have evidence to the contrary aside from a few glimpses is just weird. When exactly did Nico first realize she had feelings for Hajime? Why does Hajime have feelings for Chidori all of a sudden? How did these crushes develop between the Kiznaivers? WHY DO I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS?

And the final thing this story tumbles with is the final few episodes (yes, this includes the love pentagon thing). Granted, Episodes 9-11 by themselves are fine outside of a few problems in terms of characters, but the final episode is the weakest out of the show. I went into this finale expecting it to be rushed, and I got what I expected. The minutes up to the bridge scene are paced incredibly fast, wasting no time before the confrontation between Katsuhira and "Antihero" Noriko by randomly throwing in characters who aren't cared for, showing no open resistance into rescuing Noriko because Katsuhira likes her (aside from Honoka), and the buildup basically just fizzles after a few minutes spent on the confrontation. It's like Mari Okada was told at the last possible minute Episode 12 was it for the series and decided to cram in as much as possible in the final episode in order to be finished. The whole entire episode just feels underwhelming, especially for a finale to a show that gave better tension in the past,

So overall, the show's concept and plot aren't that bad, and the themes the show explores are actually good. But the execution isn't as strong due to finicky framing, an unclear plot, bully logic, and a rushed finale. I have no qualms to Mari Okada writing more original concepts in the future, but there is a line between making it dramatic enough to going too far. And this had its moments where it nearly crossed that line.

Let's now talk about the characters.


Much like most of my reverse harem reviews, I will be talking about all of the main characters individually, as there are eight with distinctive personality traits that stand out on their own. Not all of them get the same amount of development, as the amount varies between them, but as a whole, they're still a fairly unique bunch.

I'm going to start off with the lead, Katsuhira:

Katsuhira is the main protagonist of the series, whose sin is Gudon, meaning The Imbecile. Also referred to as Kacchon by Chidori, he has lost all of his pain after something in the past, which is later revealed to be a failed Kiznaiver experiment he was a part of when he was an elementary school student along with Noriko. He lives by himself in a apartment complex, as his parent are typically never there due to their jobs (insert Where Have All the Parents Gone? joke here), and often acts indifferent to the events going around him. Though he is interested in building connections with the other Kiznaivers, he appears rather absent from feelings shown by the other participants, even though he tries to do his best.

As the series goes on, especially towards the end, Katsuhira begins to show more emotion in the terms of feeling sad or developing romantic feelings towards Noriko supposedly due to their connection in the past as well as other reasons (is he just drawn to her? Or is there more?). Despite this fact, he has shown lots of care for his new friends, willing to risk his life by jumping off a bridge in Episode 3 after meeting Yoshiharu to prevent Hajime from doing the same thing and by doing his best to be friendly.

As a whole, Katsuhira isn't the strongest character in this series for me, but he is the one who goes through the most emotional development. His apathetic attitude and the fact that he feels disconnected from everything that goes on didn't really draw me in at first, but as he is able to understand what happened in the past through visions and possibly dreams and show more emotion through almost crying and confusion, he becomes more interesting. and with that, I could easily get behind him having feelings for Noriko and wanting to reconnect with her. As such, his growing confidence is pretty nice to watch, and I like how this was developed over time, even though as a collective group, the last few episodes weren't the best.

Noriko's up next:

Noriko is the girl that brings the initial six Kiznaivers together aside from Yoshiharu, where she gave them a mission to locate him themselves. She lacks any emotion, and her supposed sin is unknown (though she mentions a Forgetful Priss sin in passing). She is the arbitrator of this Kizna System project and serves as a member of the Kizna Committee, where she is highly ranked and regarded. This is because she was a former test subject of the first Kizna experiment, in which during the project, she wound up taking all nineteen of the child participants' pain at once when one of them got an injury, affecting the kids in the experiment as well as herself, which is why Katsuhira isn't able to feel pain (there were a couple of other kids who lost all emotion entirely that are supposed to be important, though I'm positive there were also causalities). She also has to take medicine regularly in order to nullify the pain from the previous test subjects, thus making her diluted.

It is also revealed later on that she and Katsuhira have a physical bond from the first experiment; Noriko's mark being hidden by a choker on her neck, and Katsuhira's mark being located on his upper chest. As such, the pain he is supposed to feel in the current experiment just goes straight to her. She is trying to help Katsuhira regain his sense of pain as well as trying to make sure the Kizna System experiment is able to succeed, which seems to be her ultimate goal.

I couldn't help but be drawn to Noriko initially. There's something always mysterious about a character who can't feel emotions, and I was curious as to why that was the case. When we find out, I was horrified to see she took out a lot of pain and was saddened this had to happen to a girl who was no more than six. But despite the fact that Noriko also goes through some good development, the way she is written by Mari Okada and how the directors portray her is incredibly strange. 

At times, Noriko serves as the oracle for the group of seven, often providing new information as to what exactly is the Kizna System and allowing them to potentially find out more about themselves. But she is also written as a manic pixie dream girl who seems to change Katsuhira in ways that are never seen before and also seems to be dropped in at just the right time for romantic conflict, especially with Chidori.

I understand Katsuhira and Noriko have a strong bond from their participation in the past as Kiznaivers, but this also feels like a cheap excuse to shove them together and make them a couple without any chance at giving them natural development. Plus, her main goal for the Kizna System is incredibly misleading aside from connecting the world through pain. At first, it seems like she wants to succeed due to the failure of the past project, only to go up to some of the former participants whose emotions were stripped away a few episodes later and explicitly say they will have more friends joining them soon.

This, along with the fact that Noriko is suddenly portrayed as a villain/antihero in the last two episodes before suddenly getting her feelings and emotions back due to lurve just makes her confusing and hard to understand. I still have no idea what Mari Okada was intending for Noriko in the first place, And for a main character, that's never a good thing to do. So when Honoka says, "Why should we care in rescuing her?" I couldn't help but agree.

Chidori's turn:

Chidori's sin is the Goody Two-Shoes, and she is also Katsuhira's childhood friend. Though she can be very emotional and hot headed at times, she does show a lot of genuine care towards Katsuhira as she harbors feelings for him and wants him to return to the state he was in before the Kizna System experiment he was in (that at first she didn't know about). 

As such, she gets jealous of Noriko when Katsuhira tries to get close to her and when it seems Katsuhira isn't trying to change his behavior himself or doing things just because he has to in order to make Chidori feel better. Eventually, Chidori realizes she was being too selfish and only thinking about how Katushira not reciprocating her feelings only affected herself and decides to just let Katsuhira go. Then she's able to accept a bit of Katsuhira and Noriko's relationship even though she is not fully on board with it.

Throughout the series, I found it incredibly hard to sympathize with Chidori. At first, she isn't too bad, but it's around Episode 4 where she just started to turn sour for me. Her constant complaining about Noriko and the fact that she just won't shut up about the fact that she loves her precious "Kacchon" was enough to make me not really care about her. Oh, and be prepared to hear Kacchon a ton with her, because she will never stop calling Katsuhira that, becoming a broken record (similar to Lilith from Trinity Seven and Lindo from Dance with Devils. The names are everything).

There's a saying from America's Next Top Model Cycle 1 the eventual winner, Adrianne Curry, made about a contestant named Giselle Samson, when the latter was getting her makeover and complaining about it: "Giselle whined. Giselle cried. Giselle moaned. Giselle groaned." To me, this perfectly fits Chidori's character throughout the course of Kiznaiver; constantly whining when Katsuhira appears to be showing more affection towards Noriko and throwing pity parties for herself because of the fact that he doesn't see her in a romantic light. 

This is why when Nico tells her off in Episode 9 about owning up to the fact she's going to get rejected was really satisfying, even though the pay-off wasn't the best. Seriously, thank you Chidori. Thank you SO much.

But she does get better in the last 2 episodes once she realizes she was being too self-centered. And despite being a little too abrupt about accepting Katsuhira's relationship with Noriko, she still clearly admits she's not all on deck for it, which is at least better than with Lindo accepting Ritsuka and Rem's relationship for no decent reason whatsoever.

Time for Hajime:

Hajime's sin is The Muscle-Headed Thug, and is known around the school where the main characters go to as a delinquent. He's incredibly energetic and rowdy to the point of being obnoxious, and has the tendency to come across as very threatening whether it shows through actions he does or remarks he makes (some of them perverted). However, he still does care for his friends (not Noriko, though), and decides to watch Katsuhira's back since he gets bullied, volunteering to crash at his place.

After noticing that Chidori has feelings for Katsuhira, he tries to act as the wingman in order to get the two of them together, but ends up falling for Chidori instead, As such, he gets angry at Katsuhira when the Kiznaivers are able to read their thoughts, thinking that the former had hurt Chidori, even though Katushira was trying to make her feel better. He also has a fear for dogs as revealed in Episode 2, even though he has been given the nickname Mad Dog in the past.

At the beginning of the series, I actually liked Hajime. Despite the fact he really isn't given that much development outside of his cynophobia and the fact that he sometimes goes a little too far with his threatening demeanor, I do like that he does care about his fellow Kiznaivers, his friendship with Katsuhira in particular. I even considered him my favorite character at one point. But unfortunately, outside of the fact that he's one of the few who doesn't get background development outside of a secret, Mari Okada seems to figuratively throw Hajime under the bus once his feelings for Chidori are revealed.

While everyone seemed to hate his guts after this point, I couldn't help but feel sorry for him in a way. For one thing, he deserves far better then Chidori, but there's also the fact these feelings come out of nowhere. I didn't pick up on any visual or script foreshadowing clues, but I can kind of see why he might have, being the right-hand man in the quest for Chidori's attraction to Katsuhira. But he ends up coming across as a hypocrite when he tells Katsuhira to go after Chidori when she runs out of the gym because she was too afraid of being rejected (again, lovely), only to be told the same thing by Tsuguhito when Nico's crush on Hajime is revealed, but what does he do? Runs to where Chidori and Katsuhira are after hearing her thoughts and punches the hell out of Katsuhira.

Smooth, Hajime. Smooth.

As such, I couldn't find the diamond in the rough that made me like Hajime in the first place when I first saw him. He does redeem himself somewhat in some of the actions he takes in the last three episodes, but he doesn't manage to go back to the level he was at at the start. But you know, for what he was overall, Hajime wasn't that bad of a character as many people claim he is. I'm just blaming bad writing for his asshole move in Episode 9, because it's easier than saying he was too infatuated with Chidori. Like I believe that.

On a random side note before I move on, Hajime looks super cute when he blushes.

Next is Nico:

Nico is very eccentric and quirky. However, most of this is a persona she puts on due to the fact that she comes from a very rich family, causing people to dislike her. This includes the fact that she can apparently see fairies.

No, not those fairies. Nice try though, mind.

Aside from this, she still is very bubbly and energetic, often serving as a comic relief character due to her overdramatic reactions and the tendency to act like a child. However, she has her moments of maturity and is quite insightful in some situations, such as her constant insistence in befriending Honoka, despite her keeping on pushing the group away. She also wishes the best for her fellow Kiznaivers and wants all of them to be friendly to each other. 

She eventually develops feelings for Hajime, where as with Hajime's feelings towards Chidori, they aren't explained in great detail or shown strongly enough. Hints can be picked up as early as Episode 5, where she seems to give him a odd sideways glare when he tries to overly praise Chidori's cooking in order to get Katsuhira to notice her more. She seems to deeply care for him in a sense, and even if her feelings may not be reciprocated by the end, Nico doesn't plan on giving up until Hajime also falls in love with her.

I ended up being incredibly surprised by Nico as Kiznaiver went on. At the beginning, I could see her becoming a nuisance towards many people, but in the end, she actually has greater depth to her than first believed. Even though I would have liked more development on her upbringing and when she decided to adapt her overly happy go lucky personality, I do like how we get to see her peel away the layers so a more earnest Nico pops out. And as such, she is made more likable by this fact because I could see why she tries as hard as she does to befriend this ragtag group. There's a reason why a lot of people put her as their favorite girl from this series, and it's because of that.

Tsuguhito's turn now:

With Tsuguhito's sin being The Cunning Normal, he's a ladies man and very self-centered, often worrying about himself and his appearance as well as distancing himself from other men. This is because when he was in grade school, he used to be extremely overweight due to his parents never really being home (insert Where have all the parents gone? joke here), leading him to eat junk food instead of proper meals. As such, he is incredibly picky with his eating habits in order for him to not get fat again.

Despite keeping his outward appearance groomed and trimmed, deep down he actually has a caring personality, especially towards Honoka. who at first seems to be the only Kiznaiver he doesn't stray away from and manages to develop genuine feelings for her. Tsuguhito also develops an interest in Honoka's past, especially when it begins to reemerge from the shadows, and tries to stay close to her in an attempt to potentially become romantically involved, which seems to have slightly paid off in the end. As such, he gets embarrassed on occasion by her blunt remarks. 

Once again, we have another character whose background isn't really developed, and though Tsuguhito isn't as strong of a character as Nico turned out to be, I do like the fact that he shows he's more than just a playboy and that he actually has feelings, because it goes to show how men portrayed like this actually have hearts. I also appreciated how he eventually grew to like the rest of the group outside of Honoka (except Yoshiharu, because natural hotness vs. hotness that needed work is a rivalry that had to happen because reasons), though he still could have been better handled.

Now it's Honoka's time in the spotlight:

Honoka is the most explored character out of the group, which came as a surprise to me, because I wasn't expecting it based on a first look. Referred to as the High and Mighty, she is cold and calculated, often blunt in terms of what she says, and seems to store her feelings away so she won't become too close to the others. This is because she thinks she figuratively "killed" an old friend of hers in middle school, a girl who was terminally ill with a kidney disease named Ruru. The two eventually joined forces to create a manga series focusing on a lesbian student and teacher relationship, going under the collective penname Charles de Macking.

While working on the manga, Ruru began to develop feelings for Honoka, with Honoka's own being unclear. Regardless, Honoka didn't want to pursue a relationship because of Ruru's illness and the fact that she felt guilty since she knew the pain of eventually losing her would be too much to bear. As such, she decided to end her friendship with Ruru, leaving the latter to work on the last chapter by herself before passing away. The reason as to why Honoka thinks Ruru's death was her fault was due to the fact that she left the last chapter entirely to her, causing her to get overworked and on top of that leaving her with a broken heart. She initially refuses to read the last chapter of the manga, thinking the message left behind would be one of malice, but the other Kiznaivers show her Ruru wanted Honoka to move on from her death after she passed, and as such, a burden from her past lifts. 

Eventually, she becomes closer to the others, but drifts away again once she realizes that with more of the pain they feel, the closer they become, which makes her extremely uncomfortable. However, she eventually admits that in a way, the group has become her friends at the end, and also gains slight feelings for Yuta once it becomes apparent that he genuinely cares for her.

As the series went on, I wasn't expecting to like Honoka as much as I did. She's really the only character outside of Katsuhira and Noriko Mari Okada bothers to explore, and is the most interesting out of the three because of her backstory. Her relationship with Ruru is definitely complex and engaging, and eventually, it becomes more understandable why she doesn't want to become close friends with the others. This also makes her modern day attitude more coherent, and as such, her more harsh comments don't bug me as much, because of the fact that she doesn't open herself up for others. And after Hajime went downhill a bit, she instantly became my favorite out of the anime. It was a little disappointing when she reverted back to being cynical, but again, it was understandable, and I eventually let it go.

Last but not least, we have Yoshiharu:

Yoshiharu's sin is the Immoral, and he is a man surrounded in mystery. He joins the main six Kiznaivers after a mission in order to track him down after he was brought into the project separately. It's revealed when the group meets him that he is a huge masochist, as he becomes easily pleasured when thinking about or receiving psychical pain. His masochistic ways also go as far to nearly suicidal, as he mentions once in the show that he walked in front of a moving car in order to feel pain. He also typically doesn't attend school, living a recluse life until popping in after meeting the core six, wearing a ratty gym uniform.

Aside from this, Yoshiharu is pretty harmless, typically appearing with a smile on his face and occasionally unnerving the others by his presence or by being overly weird in terms of what he wants for his pain. He is considered an enigma in the love pentagon due to his odd nature, but he does become sort of a brother figure to Katsuhira by the end of the series, offering moral support, calming noises, and advice.

When Yoshiharu first appeared, I immediately assumed he would get the least amount of development out of the characters, considering he was a later arrival. And true to my prediction, Yoshiharu is barely focused on. Nothing about his background is explained, and neither are his present actions. But the funny thing is that he is an amusing character, and he eventually did become an older brother figure to Katsuhira at the end of the show. I also think he was funny, as he didn't really seemed to care about what was going to happen, especially with the love drama. The moment where he goes, "Yay! A lovers' quarrel!" is probably one of the funniest out of the show despite it being in more of a serious moment. If he got more focus, I think he would be more well-liked, outside of just using his masochistic gimmick to define him.

Other characters include Yamada and Urushibara, a teacher and a counselor at the school the main characters attend. Both are members of the Kizna Committee, and one is actually kind of likable by the end (Urushibara, since Yamada is written off as a one-dimensional asshole in Episodes 8 and 9 and gets zero redemption). They also both worked on the original Kiznaiver experiment Katsuhira and Noriko participated in; the Gomorin, who are the mascot characters of Sugomori City, and Ruru, Honoka's friend in middle school who I talked about in her section.

I could mention the two bully characters who targeted Katsuhira for his lunch money in the beginning of the series and who popped up a couple of other times, but let's face it, no one cares about them, myself included. So we're moving on.


The animation for this series was produced by Trigger, who are also known for the two movies (which has an anime series in the works) of Little Witch Academia, When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace, and Ninja Slayer From Animation.

As a whole, the animation budget for this series seems to be extremely high because there's some beautiful moments in Kiznaiver. The production overall is very colorful, some places look incredibly realistic to the point of them potentially being so, the direction gives some incredibly beautiful shots, and I haven't seen an anime that can make sunsets look as gorgeous as this show does. Even a blood red sky looks drool-worthy. You're giving Kamigami no Asobi a run for its money with the gorgeous night sky it could produce, Trigger!

However, there are a couple of moments where the animation dips, which caused me to get a little nitpicky, because it feels as if it's a more major drop than necessary. The characters look too much like blobs in the scene where they exchange cell phone numbers in Episode 4, and it doesn't look good, especially when the details looked etched on. There are a couple of other moments where this happened, and it saddened me, because I'm not sure if some of the animation staff just got lazy or this was an aesthetic choice. Granted, it doesn't happen often, and the show itself has some very pretty animation, so why did some of it falter in an otherwise extremely consistent production?

I guess I'll find out when the DVD hit stateside.


The score for this series was composed by Yuki Hayashi, who is also known for the OSTs of Death Parade, DRAMAtical Murder, and Soul Eater NOT! with Asami Tachibana.

If you've been looking over my reviews from the past, I think you may take a guess I'm a big fan of Yuki Hayashi's work. I've pretty much loved all of his scores on shows he's worked on, and Kiznaiver's may be his best one yet. This OST is very similar to DRAMAtical Murder but doesn't sound completely like it, having a nice blend of electronic pieces, slower ones driven by guitar, piano, and even flute, dramatic pieces that always set the mood right, and relaxed pieces that have interesting influences (salsa especially for one). It's an amazing piece of work from a composer who's becoming one of my favorites in the anime world, and I'm looking forward to see what he'll do next. It's a harrowing listen in the show and by itself as well.

Now onto the voice acting, which is also incredibly good. The casting for this show has a nice blend between seiyuus who are well-known to ones that have been in the business for a while but aren't as well-known to others who haven't been in the business for very long. It's a well-rounded cast who put some of their best effort forward, and even manage to produce favorite roles from them (Nobunaga Shimazaki especially, as he's grown from being the character bore that was Shido from Date A Live and the relatable pile of cute that was Ryo in Kuroko no Basuke). For the more relatively newer voice actors, I'm interested to see what some of them do next.

Highlights from this series include Yuki Kaji, Hibiku Yamamura, Tomoaki Maeno, Misaki Kuno, Nobunaga Shimazaki, Rina Sato, Kotaro Nishiyama, Junichi Suwabe, Mie Sonozaki, and Sayaka Nakaya.


Overall, Kiznaiver is a really good series and did have some really special moments. However, the writing is definitely the main fault behind the majority of the problems I found with this series, whether it'd be the disjointed story, the iron-pressed finale, or the character development. Along with some iffy animation during a couple of the scenes, the series still has a beautiful score, an interesting premise, and some great character focus on Honoka, so I do think it's worth a watch if it's been on your eye for a while.

Overall, I recommend this series for fans of Mari Okada's previous work, anime viewers who like their drama, people impressed with Trigger's work in the past, or a series for those who need something engaging or to analyze (like I mentioned at the beginning).

Score: 7.5/10


Very interesting setup.

Honoka's development arc.

Attributes to a couple of the characters.

Lovely animation for the most part.

Beautiful score.

Great voice acting.


Story is disjointed and can come across as too heavy handed at points.

Bully logic in some dialogue.

The Seven Deadly Sins plotline is dropped after a few episodes.

Rushed final episode.

Not all of the characters receive equal development.

Chidori's jealousy is incredibly annoying.

Some off animation that doesn't look good.

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