Saturday, April 09, 2016

10 Second Anime - Kiznaiver - Episode 1

A research city forms a small group of youngsters to share bonds and wounds to oppose violence in the world. The story focuses on a boy who feels little pain, Katsuhira, who is chosen to be the core of the new group which calls its members Kiznaivers. Season Premiere.

Episode 1 - "Sometimes a Bond Can Form the First Day Eye Contact is Made."

First Thoughts.

This is a show from Trigger, the studio which made Kill la Kill, so I was excited to see what they would make for their next serious show. The cross motif and lens flares to make that cross motif were a given, and there were plenty of instances throughout the first episode. The opening credits, which featured a song I will never get sick of, gave us stylized character intros and many hints about where the story is going to go.

I'm always skeptical about overhyped shows, but Trigger carries its own swagger when they really want to make long form anime. Their shorts and comedy offerings don't really count, although I did enjoy the Inou Battle show, mainly for its references to Kill la Kill. This first episode lived up to they hype and it still didn't give everything away. It has a story to tell and it's going to take its time in telling it.

I usually don't like main characters who are picked on, but this one has a good excuse that fits into his character, his backstory and the overall theme of the show, so I was quick to forgive this trait. I have a feeling he won't be picked on for much longer after this first episode.

I'm excited over this show and I'm already impatient to see the rest of the story. Always a good sign.


The whole premise of the show rests on the pun made between the Japanese words for wound or injury (傷 kizu) and bonds (絆 kizuna). The language of the show will tie these two things together over and over and Noriko, the leader or supervisor of the Kiznaivers used this connection to explain to our main character Katsuhira why his inability to feel pain made him a target for bullies.

Something Kiznaiver wants to emphasize is that if one can't feel pain, that one also can't form relationships. Whether this is because an inability to feel something bad also means a person can't really feel something good or whether a real relationship includes accepting the pleasurable and painful parts of another person should be left up to the audience to decide. Or even come up with some other idea based on this bonds and scars connection.

However, Katsuhira has formed relationships, but it's open to interpretation whether these are one-sided or not. I ascribe to the one-sided notion where the other person feels close to Katsuhira through personally related issues as opposed to a mutual bond. That's too bad for childhood friend Chidori.

That characterization works for why Tenga would stop bullies from beating on Katsuhira. It's also a quick commentary on heroes and vigilantes that their personal motivations are selfish to some degree.

Noriko's conversation with Katsuhira about how empathy works, seeing oneself in another, caused a little spark of recognition about his shortcomings. I highlight this scene, because Noriko looks an awful lot like the little girl who caused a great shared scar with him in the prologue. There are no coincidences in tightly written stories.

Mysterious Noriko.

This is only the first episode, so there are many questions to be answered as the season progresses. I'll skip over the obvious ones like why is she in charge and why she knows so much and why she got to pick the rest of the crew built around Katsuhira. Those will be answered as the story unfolds. The big question is why she in particular knew so much about Katsuhira.

The next question is why she concealed why she was the one who caused "fatal" injuries to Katsuhira to be shared with his other Kiznaivers. He didn't look that dead as he was wheeled into the hospital operating room.

Perhaps he had already shared a fatal injury with the girl from his past and this was the moment chosen to share that with these other chosen kids. Of course, why now? is always the question that needs to be answered for a story to make sense. Unfortunately, a whole bunch of shows just gloss over that important question and then nobody cares why high school girls are fighting monsters with glowing red eyes... I digress.

My take is that Noriko called it a "fatal" injury because he saw a glimpse of heaven as he fell. Polka dot heaven... 

Crazy Humor.

The stylistic choices for this setting are semi-realistic, so it's not as over the top as Kill la Kill. Sorry, until this show establishes its personality through the first couple of episodes, a lot of comparisons are going to be made to that other show. However, as we saw with the Tenga fight with the bullies, we're still going to have some kind of gag comedy. Maybe Katsuhira was hopped up on pain killers, which would be odd since he doesn't feel pain, but those disco balls might not have really been there.

The show's tone really started to get set when Noriko was describing her take on the Modern Japanese versions of the Seven Deadly Sins, which were just toxic personality types that break group cohesion, which is the deadliest Japanese Sin. This show won't take its expository asides very seriously.

Ha! The homeroom teacher was getting frustrated at a mobile dating sim where you could only "win" by going premium.

The childhood goody-two-shoes friend is going to be disappointed, a lot, in this show. Especially when she finds out she actually doesn't have "seniority" on the other girls in Katsuhira's orbit.

Our fairy obsessed Nico might just be the Mako character of the show.

Her and Tenga's "intimate" moment was the first proof that Noriko wasn't just spouting off some twisted interpretation on how to express empathy.

The 7 Toxic Personality Types.

This is where things got fun and interesting. Noriko has a theory that the 7 Deadly Sins for modern Japan are really 7 Toxic Personality Types that break the bonds of group cohesion. She assembled six, perhaps hinting that she would be the 7th to share their wounds, but unfortunately the opening credits gave away a plot point to be resolved later. Who is that purple visual kei guy and what is his toxic personality?

The first six we know so far are:
  1. The Cunning Normal - Yuta
  2. The High and Mighty - Maki
  3. The Goody Two Shoes - Chidori
  4. The Eccentric Headcase - Nico
  5. The Imbecile - Katsuhira
  6. The Muscle-headed Thug - Tenga
I got a kick out of Katsuhira remarking that Noriko sounded like she was just bad-mouthing certain people. And then he was able to pick up that she started to say mean things about him! I guess he's not that much of an imbecile after all.

The first episode definitely grabbed my attention. Better yet, it grabbed the attention of the characters. The audience will be figuring stuff out as the new Kiznaivers do, which is always a good exposition device.

I'm already looking forward to what happens next. How will their powers manifest as extensions of their toxic personality traits? Who are they actually fighting? Who put Noriko in charge? Will Katsuhira find out if the other girls are wearing polka dots or not? I need answers!

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