The Pain of Empathy – Kiznaiver Anime Review

“Katsuhira Agata is a quiet and reserved teenage boy whose sense of pain has all but vanished. His friend, Chidori Takashiro, can only faintly remember the days before Katsuhira had undergone this profound change. Now, his muffled and complacent demeanor make Katsuhira a constant target for bullies, who exploit him for egregious sums of money. But their fists only just manage to make him blink, as even emotions are far from his grasp.

However, one day Katsuhira, Chidori, and four other teenagers are abducted and forced to join the Kizuna System as official “Kiznaivers.” Those taking part are connected through pain: if one member is injured, the others will feel an equal amount of agony. These individuals must become the lab rats and scapegoats of an incomplete system designed with world peace in mind. With their fates literally intertwined, the Kiznaivers must expose their true selves to each other, or risk failing much more than just the Kizuna System.”- MAL Synopsis

Episodes: 12 – Studio: Trigger – Dub/Sub – Aired: Spring 2016 – Finished – MAL Rating: 7.40 – Genres: DramaRomanceSci-Fi

I picked a random short anime that had been sitting in my Plan to Watch section of MAL and this was the one I chose. This marks the fourth Studio Trigger anime that I’ve watched and while it’s my least favorite among them, it’s still pretty good and it really reminded me of how quality this studio is.

I absolutely love the concept of this story and the whole Kizuna program. The way it’s explained in the early episodes as an experiment to link people’s pain that would eventually lead to people understanding each other and its ultimate goal is for the project to be used for world peace. It’s a really unique concept and I dug it. In execution though, through the first half or so of this series I couldn’t fully get behind the characters with their teenage drama, love triangles, and other issues. It wasn’t until around episode 7 or so that the anime really picked up as it started to focus more deeply on one character and her trauma then from there all the teenage love and pain drama that was slowly building erupted across an amazing few episodes stretch. Then there were some more deep character-focused episodes that were also great, then there was which has to be a Studio Trigger staple grandiose and emotional climax during the ending. Kiznaiver started off kinda meh, but when it picked up steam and it really started to dive into the idea of what feeling someone else’s psychical and emotional pain can do to someone. How it can feel relieving yet intrusive and just overall confusing. Once that stuff really hit the fan, Kiznaiver never lost its momentum and it was great until the end.

I didn’t dislike any character here but there were definitely some I enjoyed more than others. Katsuhira, Noriko, Chidori, Honoka, and Yoshiharu were my favorites, and there’s no shock that those same characters had the vast majority of storylines dedicated to them. The anime was at its absolute best when it focused on them. Since this is spoiler-free I won’t dig too deep into the comparison, but; the love triangles, there’s a specific one, heavily reminded me of another Studio Trigger anime that I absolutely love. Which is Darling in the Franxx. In a lot of ways this anime sort of feels like the prototype to that one. Regardless I liked the cast, I loved Kachhons character progression and learning about his past and feelings along with him. The latter really goes for everyone, it was enjoyable to see everyone learn and understand not just how they felt, but how each other felt, and this group of people who would never have interacted if not for this situation, become friends.

The animation is beautiful and the art style is typical studio trigger. I watched the dub and it was solid enough, my biggest gripe is Kacchons voice. I don’t why but dub voice actors can never really seem to nail down that monotone deprived of an emotional voice. It was fine but there were moments where the voice and his speaking pattern were sort of grating. And finally, the soundtrack is pretty good. Nothing I’d add to my anime playlist but I enjoyed it.

So yeah, Kiznaiver has a really interesting concept and that concept is executed fairly well sans some of the early episodes being a little bit too teen drama-y for me. But I can look past that because that drama had some great payoff on the second leg of the series. Add in some great character-centric episodes and a good ending. Kiznaiver is pretty good and sadly I can’t help but feel like if I would have watched this when it aired or before I watched Darling in the Franxx, I might’ve liked it just a tad more. This just feels like a lesser version of that but it’s still good in its own right and worth the watch.

Kiznaiver – 7/10

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