I watched an anime: Kiznaiver

Intended as a light drama for teens and young adults, Kiznaiver chronicles the exploits of seven students of the fictitious Sugomori High School, all of whom are unwilling members of a large scale secretive and expansive social experiment called the “Kizna system”.

Without revealing too much, linked together as Kiznaivers the Kizna system allows each individual member of the group to take on the physical and emotional pain experienced by other group members and shares them evenly.

Forced to live their lives as a tight knit group to safeguard against potential injury, the narrative kicks into gear and the group begins to form close bonds that wouldn’t normally arise in such a massively divergent social group.

For anime this kind of thing sounds like familiar territory, but how does the series actually stack up?

Well to cut to the chase, the series is absolutely wonderful.

It begins with the regular assortment of character types that we’re all used to: the overbearing jock, the self-conscious pretty person, the wacky girl that’s totally weird, the loner etc, and like every episode 1 of any anime series we’re introduced to their shortcomings and follies in a series of well scripted moments where the protagonists bump heads for the first time in that “Oh, I know you from school but I don’t KNOW you” kind of way.

However the story quickly evolves, and using their new Kiznaiver abilities they’re forced to solve a series of puzzles and quests that were designed to bring their newfound friendships closer together.

But it’s noteworthy to point out that it’s not the methodology of the Kizna System experiment that makes the show so agreeable, to be honest it feels group members being Kiznaivers is merely the catalyst that allows the real story to take the driver’s seat. This is an anime about social interaction and our desire to create long lasting bonds with people. It’s The Breakfast Club in anime form.

However that’s not to say there isn’t interesting plot development or a good linear narrative at play here. Kiznaiver definitely knows where it’s going and the underlying story is well written, but to be fair it’s not the carrot on the stick that will keep you glued to your couch for 12 episodes straight.

There is one negative element however that nagged me a lot, and that’s character’s names. There doesn’t seem to be a tried and true formula to how the characters address each other and at times it becomes a mish mash of nicknames, family names and first names. It reminded me of the first time I watched Rogue One – I never really caught anyone’s name, in my head I just kind of referred to them as “the blind guy Jedi guy” or “the pilot”.

 Episode one is much for the muchness, but stick with it. By episode four you will genuinely fall in love with the characters and no doubt, like I did, you’ll probably find yourself a little choked up with “something in your eye” at various points throughout the series. It’s definitely a recommended watch.

- Andrew Archer