OP Sequence


「一目あつたその日から一絆の花咲くこともある」 (Hitome atsuta sonohi kara ichi kizuna no hana saku koto mo aru)
“Sometimes, a Bond Can Bloom from the First Day Eye Contact is Made”

Strongest potential I’ve yet seen for a seriously powerful show.

Kiznaiver’s debut started off awkwardly slow and alarmingly abstract, but slowly came together towards the episode’s latter half for an enthralling promise of things to come.

The Lowdown

Set in the fictional Sugomori City, the series follows high school student Agata Katsuhira (Kaji Yuki). Since a young age, Katsuhira has possessed a latent resistance to pain. While other people feel hurt by smacks and punches, Katsuhira merely responds with disinterest. One day, his classmate Sonozaki Noriko (Yamamura Hibiku) kidnaps him as well as many other of their peers to involve them in an intensive social experiment with severe consequences. The Kiznaiver System links the pain and suffering of all those connected in an effort to foster world peace. When one individual is wounded, it divides and transmits the suffering to all other Kiznaivers. Now, Sonizaki has hooked up Katsuhira & co. to this system, in order to test its validity and effectiveness.

A Thematically Rife Narrative

One might initially dismiss this premise as overly abstract philosophical nonsense, but the show’s digestible pacing and expressive characters make it seriously work. There’s a lot to chew on and pick apart in just this first episode that gets me excited about subsequent installments. Obviously the Kiznaiver System is meant to generate and promulgate empathy within all individuals in order to eliminate further contention and conflict. However, its method and conception of empathy is fascinating. By forcing those involved to share each other’s pain, the Kiznaiver System is deeming that the best way to reduce warfare is to adopt the perspectives of those around us. This is uncannily similar to the works of Alex Neill—a prominent contemporary philosopher—who posits that our ability to empathize with each other is derived out of our capacity to imagine what it may be like to be in another’s shoes. I kind of grossly oversimplified his thinking, but essentially, it’s interesting to think that whether we get along with each other or not is inherently linked to our ability to directly understand one another.

But what exactly does Sonozaki mean by “world peace?” Well, this episode also makes apparent that one component of social harmony is a complete abandonment of one’s significance. When Katsuhira confides in Sonozaki his inability to understand himself let alone others, she quickly shuts him up by stating that such a reflection is pointless—the answer to everything is to just be “bonded” to one another. Ruminating over one’s self-worth is ultimately counterproductive to world peace. What we need to do instead is exactly what the Kiznaiver System evangelizes: the complete union of each other’s thoughts and pain.

The episode’s closing words are very much cryptic in this sense, as Sonzaki professes that “One for all, and all for one” got it wrong. Instead, we should be saying “One for all, all for victory.” I think this may allude to the fact that while people today are content with the mere idea of empathy and understanding between all, we rarely put these sentiments into practice. With the Kiznaiver System, we can finally start forcing implementation—expediting the process to world peace. Whether the system is an inhumane breach of inalienable rights or ultimately necessary remains to be seen. I can’t wait to see how the show will come to answer this.

All For One

While Kiznaiver harbors a lot of allegorical potential, what about its characters? What can we say about the individuals we’ll be riding this journey with? The series still leaves much of this in the air, but the little we see of the main cast shows a lot of promise. We’re of course most exposed to Katsuhara, who turns out to be way more likable of a character than you might think. When the show opens, he exhibits a cold apathy not unlike that of many too-cool-for-school protagonists. So of course, I presumed that our little silver-haired friend would be very much the same—weighed down by obnoxious, unlikable angst and pompous indifference. However, very quickly we realize that Katsuhara’s apathy isn’t a result of self-imposed emotional exile, but genuine apathy. His inability to feel physical pain has leaked over to his mental being—he really just doesn’t care about much of anything.

That’s why it’s so interesting to put a character like Katsuhira in the middle of all this. He’s seemingly an ideal candidate for the Kiznaiver System—when one really understands the immense suffering and pain he undergoes, a sense of sympathy would naturally follow. At the same time, though, since he’s numb to pain, he would be unable to empathize with others’ suffering (made apparent when Sonozaki identifies his lack of fear). It’ll be fascinating to see what role he’ll play in all this as the series progresses.

Plus, unlike the cool emotionless main characters of so many other shows, Katsuhira is hilariously incompetent. Whenever he’s in contact with Sonozaki, he’s not calm and collected, but staring at his shoes, stumbling over his words, taking steps back, and so on. He’s completely dominated mentally. Unlike so many other MC’s, he’s a wimp and I love it. This leaves the door open for a heap of development and growth as the show goes on. Despite his stale indifference, Katsuhira exhibits a lot of personality.

Also, he’s been getting the shit kicked out of him since he was a kid. You can’t help but feel like you understand his pain like the rest of the cast likely will in the coming weeks. In fact, I’m wondering if the show will come to acknowledge and incorporate into the narrative the viewer’s own empathy of the characters’ pain. Maybe some fourth wall-breaking? Probably not, but that would be mad trippy.

The rest of the main cast is also distinctive in their own right, despite the little we see of them. Characters emote and display distinguishable quirky, colorful personalities with the little screen time they’re designated. I look forward to diving deep into their minds as the season goes on, especially in seeing how they fit into this weird, new take on the seven deadly sins.

Breathtaking to Watch

And I haven’t even begun to talk about the gorgeous presentation. Maybe I’m just a Trigger fanboy, but the studio continues to absolutely nail their visuals show after show. Their consistent hyper-stylized look returns here, but in a more toned down and fully-realized manner than before. Characters in Kiznaiver move and express themselves with cartoonish yet convincingly authentic movements. They express emotion with intricate idiosyncrasies and complex facial movements. Linked pain is felt in riveting, starkly technological visual flairslighting is employed in all the right powerful moments.

The color palette is all the right combinations of bright and subdued—perfect for the calm yet dramatic tone of the show. Furthermore, scenes are framed in a beautiful fashion—shots zoom in close for dramatic, exquisitely rendered facial expressions, and zoom far out to accomodate handsome sweeping vistas. So many times I would pause the episode just to take in the phenomenal visuals. Easily in the running for best aesthetics of the season.

The Verdict

Overall, Kiznaiver definitely impressed with its first episode. While I’m usually quick to claim that a show has “potential,” I’ve never stated it as resolutely as I do for this show. The narrative is rife for profound insight and thematic intricacy. From the get-go, the show has proven its intelligence—from the way it handles its characters to the depth of its story. There’s already so much to talk about here, and I’ve no doubt the same will continue with each episode. Now that the premise has been established, the series can really go wild with its storytelling. Not only that, but the visuals are nothing short of phenomenal—from its animation to the cinematography to the character designs, and so on. Yes, the pacing early on was notably awkward, and yes, the show goes dangerously abstract with its philosophical inquiries—but there’re seeds here for a phenomenal sci-fi drama. Believe me when I say that I’m incredibly excited for Kiznaiver this season.


ED Sequence

ED: 「Hajimari no Sokudo (はじまりの速度)」 by (Sangatsu no Phantasia)



    1. I guess that’s all going to depend upon what you mean by “troll”. If this Kiznaiver system turns into the colossal cluster[bleep] that usually happens any time you try to forcefully remove people’s individualism, then some might consider that a troll, while I would consider it a logical result. Or they could try to play it straight and throw believability out the window.

      Personally, I expect something in the middle. That the powers behind the Kiznaiver program don’t have quite the altruistic goals that Sonozaki professes, and the team has to come together and stop them. Afterwards, the audience is left to decide whether their eventual victory was due to the “forced empathy” of the Kiznaiver program or their coming together toward a common goal.

  1. Hey Jig, for some reason the ending’s screenshots don’t show up when I click on them.
    On another note, this might be the best opening of the season so far (reminds me of Zankyou no Terror) along with Kuromukuro’s.

  2. I didn’t really like this episode. The pacing felt quite rushed, and a setup that barely explained itself didn’t help.
    It was like: “This is happening, this, this and this. And now this and this is happening. Boom. Deal with it.”
    I’ll keep watching based on my interest in the premise of the show alone. While the animation is on the level expected of Trigger, I’m hoping the writing catches up to it soon in terms of quality.

  3. This feels like psychological/societal thesis applied into a narrative medium, it’s evoking the audience to think and ponder for a while. If it’s keeping up being like this, I think people who likes pondering about matters that’s probably seems boring and meaningless to majority will enjoy it, but not so much for those who is looking for a proper straightforward narration with clear plot.

    I’m enjoying this a bit tad too much, this reminds me of Youjo Senki series that also take similar thesis into naratives concept but Youjo Senki tackle about war problems instead.

    1. That confused me too :/

      I imagine we’ll learn more about its limitations as the show goes on (hopefully by ep 3), so I’m not calling anything yet. A slight stumble can be fixed and forgiven, especially this early.

      1. I’m not confused… this kind of stories tend to let the audience connect the dot themself, for me the concept and theories they described is the main pull of the series while for other people they will regards it as useless infodump. I bet this will be a niche anime with little audience, I liked it though.

  4. The Kiznaiver system doesn’t make much sense so far. I know MC got a fatal injury, but…It spread across the six of them without much apparent issue like lasting injuries or actual pain. Meanwhile, Chihiro pinches herself and they all seem to go through hell. I can see situations where this would make sense — they were being operated on while the accident happened maybe, but they could have done a better job with that.

    IMO the potential lies in the premise so they have to improve the small things like that — otherwise I’m afraid this’ll turn into one big trainwreck. I also don’t think this episode was rushed, but it was very info-dumpy hidden behind Trigger’s production value. I’m definitely intrigued by the show, but…definitely would’ve benefited from an hour-length premiere.

  5. At first, i was sceptic the first minute, then when i discovered the OP, i was blown away by the music. I really loved that music. I hope this serie will be really good. i love Trigger previous series. I hope they won’t deceive us.

  6. At least it had good animation and a very nice opening (and, well, I like Shirow Miwa as a charadesigner a lot).

    The script was cringy as fuck, though, and every line uttered by Sonozaki sounded so pretentious it seriously made me want to pull her out of the screen and Brightslap the shit out of her. Seriously, these characters are so aggravating and rub me SO MUCH in the wrong way after only 22 minutes it’s almost unbelievable.

  7. Why oh why must we deal with yet another ‘apathetic, somber and sociopathic’ character?
    I know it’s an anime cliche, but Sonozaki was pushing all the wrong buttons (no pun inteded).
    The pushing over the stairs was extremely arbitrary and the speech (oh god!), if the rest of the series continues on this path, I don’t see much to praise other then the photography and art direction.

    Loved the mascot rush at the clinic, Mawaru Penguindrum teas…

  8. Was not expecting such praise from the premiere episode, I honestly thought it was quite mediocre. I think there is definitely potential in the plot, as I find it interesting they all share pain and are now linked together, but the rest of the plot feels vague. I still have absolutely no idea what does this show wants to do, and Sonozaki sounds plain pretentious. I also don’t really like any of the other characters except maybe the main lead who is a bit apathetic enough to be somewhat interesting. I’m just surprised at how much dialogue occurred yet nothing was really explained. I do have some confidence in trigger though with their previous shows, and I like the character designs, but there’s not much going for it yet. 3 episode rule shall decide it for me.

  9. Seventh Deadly sin : the manipulative hypocrite. Because for all her speeches about empathy and peace, why didn’t Sonizaki hook herself to her oh-so great system too instead of kidnapping people and watching what happens like some high and mighty deity with no regard for the distress her actions cause?

    weird d
  10. Yikes and a half! This blog post came out way later than I thought.

    But this is a show I am definitely following, and you should cover it. I always try to support TRIGGER if at all possible! I can see a lot of promising character moments in the coming episodes and I hope they play around with the idea of a shared pain, which can lead to humorous and dramatic possibilities.

    What happened to Agata in the prologue? That didn’t seem clear to me.

  11. RE:” …Katsuhira is hilariously incompetent. Whenever he’s in contact with Sonozaki, he’s not calm and collected, but staring at his shoes, stumbling over his words, taking steps back, and so on. He’s completely dominated mentally.”


  12. There’s a -lot- that this show has going for it that, quite frankly, really hits home for me. The whole focus around ‘wanting to connect’ and ‘sharing in pain’ and the ideas of people casually projecting pain onto one another in this day and age…

    There’s a lot more really intense ideas concerning social interaction and emotional issues and I honestly cannot wait to see where it goes with them.

  13. Great animation, palette, and audio, interesting premise with potential to explore psychological themes…

    But you have to wonder why the seven of them don’t go back into that room and kick the crap out of Sonozaki until she either fixes them or nirvana is achieved. That would also be a great bonding experience that would forge them into a team.


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