Brought to you by Trigger, the same studio who gave us Kill la Kill, and the ever-popular Aniplex, Kiznaiver’s most redeeming feature continues to be its strikingly beautiful animation. Unfortunately, its choppy plot points and cliché characters make it difficult for the show to be truly engaging. Now five episodes into its first season, Kiznaiver has yet to provide enough originality to keep up with its predecessors.
“Wahoo, It’s a Training Camp! Let’s Step in Deer Poop and Have Pillow Fights! Go, Go!” opens with the team, accompanied by Sonozaki, arriving at a resort home for the Kizuna Committee. Takashiro, eliciting her signature girlish excitement, immediately assigns herself and a few others to a cooking team. Tenga is confused by her refusal to include her best friend and hinted love interest, Agata. As she curses Tenga for putting “awkward pressure” on her, Yuta offers an uncharacteristic insight of his own. As if to demonstrate how difficult Takashiro is to handle, he removes his flirtatious mask to offer her an ugly truth. He tells Miss Goody-Goody she is “too heavy,” referring to her strong and often imposing emotions, though it’s obvious Takashiro mistakes his meaning.
During the meal, nearly every character has a chance to shine. Tenga’s obvious attempts at hooking Takashiro up with Agata are brash and painful. Agata’s lack of interest and Takashiro’s protests are not unexpected. Meanwhile, Niiyama takes a keen interest in Takashiro’s relationship with Agata and Maki fades into the background like a ghost. Yuta, as if his past obesity cannot be emphasized enough, claims he can’t eat vegetables or chicken and pulls out of a bag of pills instead. Hisomu, the dramatic masochist, is practically forgotten. The meal attempts to illustrate the conflicting personalities of the Kiznaiver team, but only succeeds in revealing their interest in one another.
Naughty, Naughty, Miss Maki
After dinner, Maki showers with the other two girls, though finishes early in order to take a mysterious phone call. It is during this rare moment of solitude that she hears a voice, urging her to break. Though it is implied that this is the voice of Maki’s past, it could also be the voice of the girl she supposedly killed. After this stressful scene, she forces herself on Yuta, claiming she, like Agata, is uninterested in herself and isn’t afraid to break. However, Yuta, who believes he can handle Maki, is the one to break. His charisma and self-control crack and reveal the inexperienced child underneath his shallow surface.
Shortly after, the team, sans Takashiro, are abruptly introduced to two other Kizuna Committee members who have been posing as their homeroom teacher and school counselor. Though their appearance does not seem to affect Sonozaki, she is confused by their need to perform another test. This trial, dubbed the “test of bravery,” begins immediately after introduction, allowing little room for suspense. The team, knowing the only way to end the test is to find their emotional comrade, departs to fight “part-timers” and search for Takashiro. The sequence is abrupt, choppy, and underwhelming.
Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen
Though the episode is riddled with little clues to each character’s personality, Kiznaiver’s fifth installment’s focus is the Kizna System’s second stage. It has enabled the team to not only feel each other’s physical pain, but their emotional pain as well. Using Takashiro’s feelings for Agata as a catalyst, this reveal is expected, if not a tad lackluster. Takashiro comes eye to eye with one of Agata’s former abusers, dressed as a mascot, and gives him a what for. She proclaims that each time Agata was robbed and beaten, she shared his pain, though admits she wasn’t truly aware of this fact until she became a Kiznaiver.
As the team endures their “test of bravery,” they feel Takashiro’s heavy heart from afar. “Actual pain would be way better than this,” Tenga claims, implying that caring for another person and hauling their emotional baggage is too much of a strain. Agata, sure that this mysterious emotional development is linked to his dear friend, witnesses Takashiro’s last confessions and realizes the consequences of his existence. For once, he takes an interest in himself and demands that his money be returned by the bullies. Agata’s self-interest, however, is not out of egotism, but out of his concern and care for Takashiro and his fellow Kiznaivers. It is a dramatic shift, though it is surprising that the protagonist with the most stagnant emotional construct is the only one evolving.
Finally, the fifth episode of Kiznaiver concludes with the three Kizuna members congratulating themselves for succeeding in the Kizna experiment thus far and Sonozaki’s hope for the future. On their way back to the resort, Agata and Takashiro finally get a moment to themselves, during which Agata tells his longtime friend that her being “heavy” is just part of who she is, and that is acceptable to him. Again, the intended message is lost on Takashiro, who assumes Agata is referring to her weight. Though perhaps intended to be comical, Takashiro’s shallow concern for her appearance clashes with the deep, emotional conflicts she had presented moments earlier.
Final Thoughts on Kiznaiver S01E05
The episode provides evidence to the complexities of the Kizna System and the personalities of each character, however cliché they might be. Sadly, this week’s episode of Kiznaiver lacks in plot development and ends with questions that invoke impatience rather than suspense. Though I am interested to see where this anime is headed, I am not yet emotionally invested. I have found it difficult to become attached to any of the characters and am disappointed with their predictable personalities and overly emphasized quirks.
- Maki! Maki! Maki! – Good job, Tenga.
- For more anime, check out our recent review of Sailor Moon Crystal!