Kiznaiver

Kiznaiver

img_4615.jpgThe story takes place in Sugomori, a city built upon reclaimed land that once prospered as a futuristic city. One high school boy living there, Katsuhira Agata, is somehow unable to feel any pain. One day just before the start of summer break, Katsuhira is called by a mysterious girl named Noriko Sonozaki and chosen to become one of a group of people who share one another’s pain: a “Kiznaiver.” Several of his classmates have also been chosen as part of this group, but they’re all people from different circles who normally wouldn’t associate with each other. They find themselves bound together, feeling each other’s pain both physical and psychological, made to complete a variety of missions… but to what end? As the group inevitably get close to one another, they begin to learn more about what’s happened to them and why.

Kiznaiver is a story that I was instantly interested in before I had even watched the first episode. The concept of shared pain has always intrigued me so I was looking forward to seeing how this one played out. After watching the first couple of episodes, I knew that this was going to be one of my favourites.

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One of the best things about the sci-fi genre is it’s not primarily all about the possibilities of technology and dazzling the audience – it’s a genre that it is a good place to examine the human condition and theorise how certain individuals react to extreme situations and scenarios. Kiznaiver falls nicely into this aspect of sci-fi storytelling. The idea of literally feeling the pain of a fellow human being sounds a scary but interesting concept. At the beginning, Noriko Sonozaki talks about how she believes that the world could be a better place if people just understood what others felt, and forcing a group of arguably sinful and self-centred teenagers to empathise with one another through pain – both physical and, later, emotional – would perhaps reveal the results she is looking for.

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The artwork is sharp and stark and is able to adjust to whatever the mood needs to be (and I particularly enjoy the brilliant way in which the animation and sound portrays the characters experiencing their shared pain). What Kiznaiver does is swing quite successfully between humour, action and sadness – three atmospheres that you would expect from this unique situation. Especially to begin with, there’s plenty of humour as a group of characters that don’t usually get on are forced together. It’s also got some genuinely laugh-out-loud moments where, as a result of one of the characters’ idiocy (not that I’m looking at Tenga or anything, here), everyone suffers.

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It’s also amusing to see someone yell and grab their head straight after punching someone in the back of the head. The action and tensions rise every time the Kiznaivers are given a ‘mission’ to complete – whether it be making introductions or being put under attack in order to test their bravery. As the storyline progresses, we start to see that these (what were initially thought to be) stereotypical characters – thug, haughty girl, charming-yet-sly manipulator – actually have different layers and motivations that show them as the individuals they actually are. The group realise that, through sharing their physical pain, they are actually developing he ability to feel one another’s emotional pain, too.

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There’s still the underlying mystery behind Katsuhira’s past and why he has such a high pain threshold and his past connection to Sonozaki, but other than revealing that in the future I can’t really predict which direction that Kiznaiver will go. I’m hoping we see more character development for this great selection of characters and continue to explore what it would be like to literally feel what others are feeling. At just over the halfway point, things are unfolding well and hopefully things will culminate into a satisfying ending and resolution that ties in with all these missions the group has been receiving and why Sonozaki is behaving the way she is. I hope that the psychological aspects of pain-sharing are explored a bit deeper and we see something truly unique and interesting from this anime.