「てんな異常事態力ソタソに飲みてめんならバリウきバケツ二杯は軽く余裕芒つつ一の」 (Ten’na ijoo jitai-ryoku sotaso ni nomite men’nara bariuki baketsu ni-pai wa karuku yoyū susukitsutsu ichi no)
“If You Can Swallow a Bizarre Situation Like This So Easily, Two Buckets of Barium Shouldn’t Be a Problem”
An effective, if on-the-nose, introduction for our main cast and things to come.
Last week I raved on about the storytelling and character potential Kiznaiver showcased in its initial outing. That put the impetus on the show’s sophomore episode to deliver on that promise, and really give us a taste of what’s to come. I’m happy to report that, for the most part, this week’s Kiznaiver mostly makes good on this.
First and foremost, this episode means to familiarize us with its main cast. Last episode, we only got brief glimpses into their personalities, but now we’re granted a little deeper insight into how these characters function. The episode’s “mission”-structured narrative allows for some quick-paced revelation about some these guys’ most shameful secrets. We learn that the tough and macho Tenga is deathly afraid of dogs, the dashing Yuta was once a pudgy, unaesthetic blob of a child, and so on. In each case, we’re introduced to both the character’s outer personalities, as well as their secret insecurities. We get to know about these characters pretty intimately because we’re exposed to a side of them they don’t let show to anybody else. From Tenga’s inner weakness to Yuta’s petty image-problems, we get to see them when they’re most vulnerable. The episode’s premise allows for easy access into the depths of their personalities, allowing us to quickly become comfortable with them.
One might however suggest that this level of familiarization felt a little too fast-paced in the episode—that the development wasn’t occurring organically. While I did get this vibe every now and then, I actually think this grants an impressive level of immersion. These characters are forced to pry open their facades and expose their true selves—not a comfortable process by any stretch of the imagination. Individuals contrived into exposing themselves, leaving others in the room feeling a bit embarrassed at getting to know strangers so quickly. The viewer in turn feels unnerved or awkward when this occurs, drawing us right into the tone of the episode and the feelings of its characters.
The episode’s third act is especially powerful in this regard. Kiznaiver’s first episode made pretty blatant Chidori’s tsundere sensibilities towards Katsuhira, which undoubtedly raised a few eyebrows. What’s a girl like her see in a void of a person like Katsuhira? How long will they stretch this arc out until it gets truly unbearable? Will this inevitable love confession become the season’s climactic moment? This week’s episode answered all these questions by blowing them out of the water.
In a move that I absolutely did not see coming, Chidori confesses to Katsuhira in just the second week of the show’s run. Not only this, but the confession entailed more about the Chidori and her inner turmoil than you could expect. Instead of pining for Katsuhira’s baseless, wimpy personality, she professes her feelings for his former self. This realistically established the attraction she felt towards him—as one of longing for a person that once was but no longer is. She remains attached t him on hope that the individual she fell in love with will return once again. It’s really a powerful testament to her character and her personal tendencies. The whole scene completely laughed in the face of my expectations for yet another clichéd and unconvincing romance—not played up for romance, but solid character development.
Katsuhira’s development also resonated greatly this episode, despite a lack of screen time. Chidori’s confession struck a chord in the guy—finally he realizes that he’s an important person in someone else’s life. Someone has found their existence within him, which is to say that someone relies on him in defining their own self. Prior to this, Katsuhira mentions that the only time he’s been physically close to someone before is when they were beating him up. The only form of intimacy he’s experienced is one based in hostility and alienation. Thus, Chidori’s revelation finally ignites some level of happiness and emotion in him at the prospect of positive, emotional intimacy with another person. He’s vilified—no doubt the first step towards fleshing out his character.
I once again have to bring attention to the phenomenal animation Kiznaiver once again showcases—it played a crucial part in painting the personalities of these characters. Visual quirks and flairs add a whole ‘nother level of characterization and color, complementing perfectly the narrative developments.
A really strong way to deliver on the promises of the first episode. Kaiznaiver’s second installment features a promising cast of characters, allowing for deeper insight into their personalities and true selves, while still leaving the door open for further development. The tone and narrative structure was far more concrete and the show’s future from here on out was far clearer. Was the episode’s premise a little too direct of an approach to introduce its characters? Perhaps, but the method was effective nonetheless. Following the episode’s cliffhanger, I’m nothing but excited for what’s to come.