「ハッピーな時間ってそうそう長くは続かないものだよね」 (Happy na Jikan tte Sousou Nagaku wa Tsuzukanai Mono da yo ne)
“Happy Times Don’t Tend to Last Very Long”
Whoa ho! Things are gettin’ spicy!
Last week’s Kiznaiver was the series’ strongest entry yet. The show finally delivered on the kind of strong, character-focused story that I’d yet been hoping for since the start. However, it was one which did not utilize any aspects of the show’s larger plot or history, for which much of screen time has been devoted to explaining and foreshadowing. Perhaps to make up for this, this week’s episode dives deeper into the show’s backstory and canon, while catalyzing the plot in a surprisingly coherent manner.
In past episodes, the show has established a larger framework of characters and history concerning the Kiznaiver experiment. It’s touched briefly upon the origins of the project, the hierarchy of researchers, and the underlying history between Katsu and Sonozaki. In every instance, the show had difficulties in keeping the material engaging and focuses—more often than not, these occurrences came off as only barely interesting or scattered and disorganized. However, this week’s installment did a good job of bringing it all together, and to the beat of strong narrative drive. Unlike before, each reveal was organically interwoven into the story—each bit of information bore incredible relevance to presently occurring events.
A specific theme that this episode brought to the forefront was the possible control of developing relationships. The episode opens with researchers’ analysis of the many statistics and graphs describing the emotional patterns of the main cast. As they discuss very scientifically their theories and speculations on the matter, one can’t help but feel a little creeped out at the detached manner of the discussion. Is something so seemingly organic and natural as friendship really be quantified—considered in such a dissonant, objective manner? Even more perturbing, can friendship be controlled in the way that these people attempt to?
This makes the subsequent develops all the more interesting. Up until now, the series has attempted to contrive the growth of friendship among these individuals—all in the name of science. Now, with the advent of this latest mission, the show once again attempts to speed along some relationships which have been otherwise progressing at a steady rate. Though the experiment has thus far found great success amongst its subjects, the aftermath of these events will be crucial for the central dynamics. If these budding romances blossom into serious commitments, then the project will have successfully veered right on track with its original intentions, and the bonds of men can in fact be manipulated. However, if in the wake of this experience, these developing relationships end in shambles, then friendship extends our grasp. I’m hoping the show either goes the route of the latter (for an engaging break of the show’s second act), or some unexpected compromise between the two. If anything, the episode’s concluding events hint at some serious stuff about to go down, as Katsuhira finally displays some initiative and strong intent as a character. That being said, the realization came somewhat arbitrarily, and didn’t line up with any significant character development.
Something which has been bugging me is Hisomu’s sort of narrative disappearance after his introduction. After he showed up, he’s just sort of faded into the background, bringing little meaning to his induction into the crew, or having shown up later than the all in the first place. His sly little remark to Maki was a fun little to perhaps address this—that maybe there’s really not much more to his character than a fun humor and sometimes surprisingly perceptive commentary. However, the problem still remains, even if acknowledged.
This week’s Kiznaiver has displayed a skilled balance of its many plotlines—more so than any previous entry. Greater exposition and lore has seamlessly been woven into a coherent, and promising installment of things to come. Lots of thematic questions raised here that could lead to some intense payoff in episodes to come.