I’m sure at some point in any relationship, friendly, familial, romantic, we’ve all wondered the same thing. What really connects us? This spring Studio Trigger, the same group who brought us Kill la Kill, gave us a holistically relate-able series in Kiznaiver. The anime explores the bonds we share with others in a fun, beautifully animated and deeply emotional way which is sure to touch the hearts of any and everyone who watches it.
The Kizna System
The anime takes place in the futuristic Sugomori City which for all intents and purposes seems to be a completely normal place to live. Of course this is an anime so nothing is ever completely normal. Where would be the fun in that? As it turns out the entire city is a large scale experiment for the Kizna System. The Kizna system was founded on the premise that world peace and harmony could be achieved if people learnt how to truly understand each other. To achieve this the project connects people by their wounds so that the can share each other’s pain. For only by sharing in the pain of someone else can we begin to understand them. Those connected by their wounds are called Kiznaivers; Enter the main cast.
We are introduced to Katsuhira Agata, a very dispassionate high school boy who aside from his apparent lack of emotion also seems to lack a sense of pain. One day Katsuhira meets Sonozaki Noriko, a classmate who lacks tact and kindness as well as shows no emotion what so ever. Sonozaki tells Katsuhira about the seven deadly sins as she believes them to be embodied in the modern day as well as the need we feel to connect to those around us. It is at this point that things begin to get a little out there.
Everyone wants to be special to someone. Weather it be due to positive feelings or negative feelings.
– Sonozaki Noriko
Some time later Katsuhira awakens in what appears to be an abandoned hospital along side his childhood friend Chidori Takashiro and a few other classmates. Sonozaki informs them all that they have been bound together by their wounds. She explains to them the Kizna System and tells them that they are now Kiznaivers.
As part of the Kizna System experiment the 7 Kiznaivers are given missions by Sonosaki which are aimed toward helping them all bond and get to know each other so as to test the limits of the Kizna. Our Kiznaiver friends are forced to go along with the experiment till the end of the summer break. They are thrown into some wacky situations which test their limits physically, mentally and emotionally as individuals and as a group. We the fans watching are in no way safe as this anime progresses and begins to push our own emotional boundaries.
Early on, Sonozaki makes it clear that the reason these 7 teens were chosen for the Kizna System experiment was because they are all completely different with nothing in common. This is by no means an exaggeration. Each of the main characters presents with a particular personality type.
Katsuhira does not feel pain and does not typically understand other people’s feelings or actions but not for a lack of desire to. Chidori is a kind heart young woman who seems to put a lot of thought to the feelings of others. Her caring nature is only bolstered by her relationship with Katsuhira as she is constantly worrying about the trouble he seems to get himself into without even trying.
Hajime Tenga is a loud muscles head who prefers to act instead of waste time thinking. Honoka Maki is a sharp tongued loner who prefers to keep her distance from other. Tsuguhito Yuta is a vain seemingly self centered kid who knows how to work people. Nico Niiyama is an over the top goofball and Yoshiharu Hisomu is a weirdo all his own.
In most situations this strange mix of personalities would not mesh well, which is pretty much the point. Getting to see them all interact, clash and inevitably learn to coexist is a treat in and of itself. What makes this anime great however is that the characters are simultaneously more than and exactly what they seem.
As things progress we see more of what makes each and everyone of these characters who they are, including Sonosaki. There are no excessive backstory telling more than what is required to move the story along which means that majority of the anime is made up of these characters just taking the situation as it comes in their own individual ways.
Throughout the entire anime the characters remain who they are and simply become more robust and relate able. In the early episodes the characters display slightly deviant traits from what they are painted to be but as things progress these deviations are seen to be simple extensions of their true selves.
Its hard not to be drawn into the overarching story. You find yourself wanting the Kizna system to succeed more for your own benefit than that of the characters. We all want to be able to establish meaningful connections and this anime plays with that desire very well.
Kiznaiver also manages to take a totally predictable twist and make it meaningful. The anime never lets you get comfortable with the way things are and frequently chances the tempo of the show while somehow maintaining its flow. That is very hard to do in a 12 episode anime and deserves to be respected.
What should also be respected is that the anime gives you relationship drama which feels real. The conflict, the dynamic, the fall out and the pain – dear Lord the pain – is so real and so -say it with me this time- relate-able.
All of the emotions for this anime can easily be your own. It doesn’t matter if you’ve lived it or not, you will feel for the characters and honestly that’s what makes it so great.
Why aren’t you watching this yet?
I encourage any and everyone to try it. Kiznaiver is well balanced between fun light and hearted while still being a seriously emotional trip. Not everyone is going to love this anime as much as I do, it may not be your style or you just might not be up for it but this is definitely one of those anime you’re sure to regret not trying at least once.