Kiznaiver Review (Anime)on March 21, 2017 by Oscar TK
Kiznaiver comes from celebrated anime studio Trigger, perhaps best known for the very popular and stylish ultra-violent Kill La Kill. You’d be forgiven for expecting something quite similar. But it’s actually very different. It’s pretty fresh in the story it sets out to tell, and will defy most expectations.
Kiznaiver is set in a near-future society that feels close to but just slightly “off” and removed from our own, and is about a group of school kids who are forced to share the “pain” of their wounds by a shadowy government organisation as part of an experiment. For a story centred around sharing pain, there really isn’t that much emphasis on violence or even action at all.
Kiznaiver is at is heart very much a character study.
Kiznaiver is at is heart very much a character study. At first Kiznaiver can seem a little bit “style over substance”. The broad story doesn’t go anywhere fast, and even when it does go somewhere it’s not anywhere very far. But thankfully as it turns out there’s quite a lot of substance to these characters who have been forced to connect to one another.
The show is more about exploring these connections in relation to their links as “Kiznaiver”, but also outside of it and how people connect and form relationships in general. It’s pretty good that this is where the substance lies, as it’s certainly not in the broader story, which feels a little rushed and lackluster by the time the finale does crop up.
It’s an anime that would probably have benefited from a longer run. The themes of connections are for the most part powerful when they do come up, but some elements just don’t feel fully explored when they relate to the wider plot.
One of the best looking shows of recent years.
Kiznaiver is one of the best looking shows of recent years. Crisp colours, sharp lines, and no fear when it comes to some of the over-top animations. It’s not a show packed with over the top action fights or anything, but dynamism and energy oozes out of pretty much anything that moves. At the same time, Kiznaiver can also stylishly kick back and be super chill and easygoing too.
There are some other great looking anime out there that don’t have much when it comes to writing, but Kiznaiver isn’t like that at all. The plot shoves each character into representing a certain “archetype” to fit into their inclusion in the Kizuna programme, but if anything this is to just allow the viewer to realise in what manners that labelling is a farce.
None of the characters can be boiled down into something so simple, and it’s often against these archetypes in which they so surprise. Layers keep peeling back, and when you think you know a character there ends up being more to discover. Some characters do end up getting a lot more focus than others, it’d be nice to get a longer look at everyone, but Honoka’s heartbreaking story is unforgettable, and Tenga will always be one of anime’s best bros.
Most of the joy of Kiznaiver is in how it surprises in its richness
Most of the action in Kiznaiver is social, connections between characters spinning and knocking against one another. The bizarre and plentiful legion of Gomorin, the cutesy and unsettling comic relief “mascots” of the city (in reality more like henchmen for the government and the organisation), do provide some cases of hectic action. But these are few and far between, and seem sometimes at odds with the grounded approach of the main drama.
If you go into Kiznaiver expecting something in particular, then it might disappoint you. Most of the joy of Kiznaiver is in how it surprises in its richness. The way it wraps up isn’t perfect, but the characters will all stay with me. Just as they work on their connections with one another, I ended up forming one with them myself too.