Current season anime is pretty scary. You’re making a commitment to watch an anime which you can’t get any opinions on, not properly at least. It might be boring, it might start out great but fall flat on its face. It could be terrible, absolutely terrible, but because you committed to it, you have to sit through it.
But then, like Kiznaiver, it could be magnificent.
Kiznaiver was primarily produced by Studio Trigger, which should sound familiar to some of you as they were the group responsible for the amazing Kill La Kill series a couple of years ago. Not to mention Kiznaiver also had the assistant director of Kill La Kill working on it which lead to very high expectations.
And it didn’t disappoint.
Kiznaiver is a story about pain and sharing pain. Out of the blue, seven high school student are chosen for an experiment which involves them being connected to each other through their pain. So if one of them gets hurt, everyone else feels the immediate and momentary pain of.
And where ordinarily these seven students wouldn’t even dream of talking to each other due to very different personalities and cliques, their shared pain has forced them to come together and become friends. But being connected through their pain comes with more than a few conditions. They also have to carry out missions to help each other during summer, missions that are delegated by the research team that initiated the experiment.
It’s a strange story to say the least. Borne out of a world view that sharing other’s pain, literally, could lead to world peace and friendship, it’s a concept with huge potential. But also perhaps a little bit too ambitious for a 12 episode romp.
The sheer scale and implications of the plotline and storyboard, all the concepts and ideas it brought up reminded me of another anime called Gatchaman Crowds which tried to force down ideas of humanity, heroism in a digital age, worshipping superheroes and digital privacy and security among a great many others in a short 13 episode run. The end result was chaotic and rushed, leaving a lot of loopholes and gaping flaws in the story.
Kiznaiver isn’t that big, it’s got far fewer lofty ideals but at times the story feels a little too big for the small length.
Which isn’t to say that this anime was anything less than great.
What Gatchaman Crowds failed to do – establish an emotional aspect the audience could relate to – Kiznaiver does masterfully.
The story about our young protagonist regaining his capacity to feel pain, both physically and emotionally, and his friends helping him and getting hurt in the process is a beautiful concept. Does the anime romanticize pain a little bit? Oh yes.
But frankly, without the throes of hurt and anguish washing over the screen as our protagonists fall to the ground and cry out into the night, this anime would not be as good.
Shared pain is a double-edged sword and Kiznaiver does a great job of showing us this. Pain can go both ways, especially if you’re connected to someone else through some fantastically improbably surgery.
The production of this anime is top notch. It’s got visuals that reminded me, several times, of the masterful animation in Terror in Resonance which had the most beautiful animations in its own rights. The same bright colors, the same sharp contrasting color palette but for all it’s realistic background settings, the characters are straight out of a fantasy anime. The character designs are quirky to say the least, more Mawaru Penguindrum than Terror in Resonance really. They’re bright and loud and perfect for this type of anime.
The soundtrack is a great companion here, a futuristic, synth-driven ambience which, coupled with the beautiful opening theme by Boom Boom Satellites fits the overall theme of the anime to a T.
Kiznaiver does have its flaws. It’s a little ambitious for a seasonal anime and occasionally trips over its lofty ideals and goals in story telling but what it lacks in terms of plot integrity, it more than makes up for in emotional impact, narrating a story that is as heart-wrenching and tear-jerking, occasionally, as any you’ll find. With its impeccable visuals and soundtrack to match, Kiznaiver is one of the best anime Spring 2016 had to offer.