“It’s All Over……I Think”
Reason is a slave to the passions.
This week’s Kiznaiver delivered on all the goods. The series paid off on several previously developing character dynamics for an emotionally profound episode. Furthermore, the events were both narratively and thematically tied into the titular Kiznaiver mechanic—finally playing an integral part in the story.
As I’ve mentioned before, one of the most fascinating aspects of these character relationships is how forced they are. Now I don’t mean this in a bad way at all—I’m in fact praising the show for poking and prodding at the conventional relationship developments.
Usually shows will attempt to progress their friendships and romances at organic, and realistic rates. However, with the show’s central Kiznaiver mechanic—and general scientific experiment context—these characters are refused this privilege. Higher powers will frequently forcefully expedite or guide the advancement of their bonds, attempting to control many facets of their connections. As a result, the series brings up many critical questions concerning the way in which we grow close to one another. And in the story, we get to see how many of these incidents play out, as characters emotions are completely scrambled—played with, thrown to the winds of fate. In more recent episodes, it’s made for some intensely engaging television. However, much of it has neglected to integrate the central mechanic in a critical way.
This week’s installment taps into that same quality of storytelling, while also finally incorporating the Kiznaiver function in a thematically resonant manner. The episode starts off by blowing all romance-conventions out of the water, as the Kiznaiver mechanic (and Sonozaki) forces feelings an confessions out in the open, breaking the group apart and sending all emotions into flux. If in any other situation, these burgeoning sentiments might have had a chance. The other party in question could’ve very likely come around if the right moves were made and the proper signals were broadcasted. But they’re thrown out into the open, they’re doomed for failure, and characters are forced to deal with this awkward, stilted flow of relationships.
What was most fascinating, though, was the newest feature of the Kiznaiver distribution system. Now instead of mysterious, discreet moments of emotional or physical pain, the characters now explicitly come in contact with each other’s deepest, inner feelings. Nothing is hidden anymore—everything is completely out in the open.
This leads to particularly interesting encounter between Katsu and Chidori. An arguably key component of interacting with people is the amount of risk involved, especially in the case with romance. When we endeavor to make a joke, or even a move, we are taking a risk. The logistics of this involve weighing the potential reward—connecting with this other person—over the possibility of cold, rejection. It is on the agent to consider these variables before deciding to go through with his action. It is this sometimes quick, but occasionally thorough and drawn out thought process that perhaps justifies acquiring the benefits—making a friend, getting the girl, etc.
However, as Chidori’s feelings are clearly telegraphed to Katsu, does he deserve whatever connection he receives from her by making entailing actions towards her? By knowing everything the other individual is thinking or feeling—by eliminating all risk—can we justifiably make connections? Is this sense of “risk” merely an antiquated convention? If this transparency is achieved in the future through advancements in technology, can relationships develop organically? Interesting questions to think about.
Well as Chidori’s subsequent sentiments make clear, peoples’ hearts are not bounded by any sense of rationale. They never know what they want—they’re never appeased. As Hume once said (uh oh, pretentious writer alert), our reason is subservient to our passions. Our feelings never operate under any notions of logic. Even as Katsu embraces Chidori (as she seemingly desired) she reacts with further disapproval and rejection. The heart doesn’t know what it wants—it doesn’t know what’ll make it happy, even when it stares it right in the face.
By the end of the episode, nothing is hidden anymore with these characters. They’re broken and torn as conflicting feelings rage infernos in their hearts. They can’t take this kind of openness—this vulnerability. However, I think the series is trying to tell us that true friendship is defined by this kind of all-encompassing transparency. Connecting with another person entails opening yourself up to them—making a risk and revealing an often hidden or vulnerable side of yourself. The Kiznaiver has done a hell of a messy job accomplishing this among the main cast, but now there’s nothing about them that any of them doesn’t know about. This is what it truly means to bonded to each other.
However, it’s often not a fun time. When you put yourself—you’re true self—out there, you’re risking it all. You’re putting yourself on the line. You’re committing and investing your own emotions in another person. You’re far more susceptible to hurt and pain when all facades come crashing down. As Sonozaki explains, “The rain is almost over.” Friendship—true friendship—isn’t a grand ol’ time in the sun. More often than not, it’s a gloomy and all-encompassing downcast, as people come to grips dealing not only with their own despair and pain, but another’s as well. Characters like Maki give up in despair and conclude that such friendship cannot persist—too frightened, weak, and scarred to continue.
However, as these characters reach their lowest low—as they come to grips with each other’s anguish and brokenness—they must rise again. They must realize that entrusting yourself to other people is an unrivaled emotionally fulfilling experience. That’s perhaps how Katsu will go on from here. In his past experience with the program, Sonozaki catalyzing the devastation of their social circle. Katsu has done the same this time around, but he must learn from Sonozaki’s mistake and overcome his emotional callousness. If he had been more cognizant, maybe he could have better handled Chidori’s unrequited feelings and prevent this whole debacle from unfolding. I’m not entirely sure quite he might accomplish this, but it’s time for to come through and revive his group’s messy, but genuine friendship.