Written by Bananaowns
Images courtesy of Studio Trigger
Studio Trigger has garnered a reputation of being the studio that produces some absolutely insane anime. As with many other fans, my first introduction to this studio was with the excellent series Kill la Kill. Since viewing that show, I’ve been patiently waiting for another actual anime series from this studio. This past spring saw two works by Studio Trigger: Kiznaiver and Space Patrol Luluco. I’ll cover Space Patrol Luluco in a separate review. Kiznaiver was not a perfect show, but managed to capture that quintessential insanity that makes works by Studio Trigger special. I’m Bananaowns and this is an Otaku Youth anime review.
Story & Characters
The story follows a group of high school students that are chosen to be part of an experimental program that forces them to share each other’s pain. The overall goal of this experiment was to create a sense of world peace by connecting people through shared suffering. Katsuhira Agata, a student who is unable to feel emotion, is linked to a small group of his classmates. The series follows these classmates as they are thrust into increasingly stressful situations that test their ability to deal with one another’s emotions and pain. The story features the signature comedic sensibility of a Studio Trigger work, but with an added twist. It can be crazy, but possesses a heavy level of emotion, which I consider to be the aspect that makes this anime stand out.
Naturally, the main draw of this story is created with the character interaction. While the overall plot is interesting, it is not the main focus of the variety of episodes. This main story is only resolved in the last couple of episodes. Instead, the series places a large emphasis on dealing with the emotions of the other individuals that are part of this experiment. A bulk of the series features some sort of emotional trauma and deals with the complicated backgrounds of the main characters. This series is a character study first and foremost. In this aspect, Kiznaiver is absolutely perfect. I really enjoyed the interactions between the characters as they steadily increase in drama as the series progresses. This focus on a main group of characters makes the anime interesting overall because the audience really does care about the emotions of this main group. My only complaint is that this series really should have had a longer episode count. At certain points, the story elements can feel very rushed and some seem to come from absolutely nowhere.
Typically, I go into much more detail about certain characters. However, I feel like this anime would lose something if I talked about some of the more intricate details of the characters. The entire main cast manages to be interesting by showcasing a wide array of different personality traits. They initially start out as stereotypes. For instance, there is the thug, the weird one, and the popular one. The greatness of the plot lies with how these characters change over the course of the series. Each character manages to exhibit quite a large amount of development by the end of the series. Some characters receive more focus and that’s the result of the shorter episode count. It’s a major problem that prevented this series from being great.
Animation & Sound
The animation of this series was some of the best of the season. Every frame looks absolutely gorgeous. It was apparent that a lot of effort went into making every aspect of the animation. The characters all move with a certain sense of fluidity that makes any scene with action worthwhile to watch. However, the standout aspect of the animation is the character design. Each character is interesting to look at in a unique way. Tenga has a delinquent aura about him, while Nico possesses a rather quirky design. These are just two examples of the rather unique character design. On top of the overall look of the characters, the casual outfits also add on to the excellent design. My personal favorite character is Noriko. Her blue-haired design along with her sullen personality make her one of the more striking characters to look at.
In terms of sound design, Kiznaiver does not really have anything that makes it stand out. The voice acting is very strong for this series given the emotional nature of many of the scenes. Katsuhira’s voice actor manages to shine and give a great performance when it comes to his emotional payoffs. The rest of the cast manages to capture this aspect of the series in a similarly perfect manner. As for the music, there really isn’t anything that stands out besides the opening. The only reason why the opening stands out is because it sounds a lot like the song, Take on Me. Other than that, there really is not much to say about the sound design.
Kiznaiver is a solid show that expertly carries on the Studio Trigger name. It’s not perfect by any means, but it is highly enjoyable. The story is decent, but the show really shines with its character development. The animation is gorgeous with absolutely astounding character design. Unfortunately, the series was held back because of pacing issues. This is what prevented it from being truly great. I give Kiznaiver my Watch rating. It was a good watch, but never managed to make the jump to great. I’ll be back next week for another review. Thanks for checking this one out.