Yo, this is getting kind of vapid. I’m grasping at something — anything — to grab onto, but between the schoolyard crushes and the pain-loving tuna wannabe, Kiznaiver isn’t giving me much to work with. And the funny thing is that I actually like character-driven shows. I like to examine characters and their myriad, sometimes conflicting motivations. I just can’t do it here. Kiznaiver’s not engaging enough. Of course, it’s not unwatchable, but I just expected more. I expected something a little more from this anime than just an amusing Saturday diversion. Again, the show’s pretty to look at. More importantly, the banter can be pretty funny sometimes. I’ll take Honoka’s terrible personality any day of the week if she can keep dropping these bon mots on Tsuguhito. But that’s just those two. And I guess Hajime is sort of charming in an oafish sort of way. Unfortunately, I can do without the rest of the cast. Katsuhira continues to be about as stimulating as a wet blanket. Unfortunately, he’s in the story’s driver seat if the show’s cold openings are anything to go by. Furthermore, Noriko’s engaging personality matches our protagonist step for step, and luckily for us, she’s the story’s co-pilot. As for Chidori, she’s been reduced down to playing the jealous childhood friend, and this Niko won’t accept my invitations to go bowling. Last but not least, I’ve really got nothing to say about Yoshimaru just yet. So what now?
We could send these guys on interesting yet dangerous missions, but the narrative’s not ready for that sort of thing even though we’ve gotten a month’s worth of episodes. We’re almost there, though. Almost. The summer break is here, and some folks appear to be up to no good. But almost is the key word here as Kiznaiver’s fourth episode meanders through the minefields of high school friendships between individuals with almost nothing in common. Judging by this week’s subtitle, our Kiznaivers are still in the process of getting to know each other, so instead of getting any action, we just do a lot of talking. And while I’ve enjoyed Honoka’s wit, the rest of the characters don’t hold up well enough under the light. Nothing profound is gleaned from their discussion of Yoshimaru’s peculiarity. They treat it more as an amusing fetish that we can play for laughs than anything else. At best, you get some all-too-short flashback at the hospital about how his masochism allows him to feel alive, but the notion that pain is stimulating is really rather trite. Moving briskly along, we then get a short talk about whether or not the everyone in the group has slowly become friends. Honoka coldly argues against the idea, which eventually leads to a scene in which the kids exchange emails. Hoo boy. Seriously though, the most interesting thing all episode was pausing the action just to examine everyone’s phones.
Later on, Katsuhira shows that he’s still got a pulse when he invites Noriko to “connect” with the rest of them. Oh look, another phone to stare at. I feel a pulse coursing through me right now. Again, this would all be great if the characters were killer, but our hero is just too flat and dull to make any of this interesting. Later that night, Chidori drops off some bentos at Katsuhira’s place. Unintentionally or not, she shows that she clearly still has feelings for him — you’d have to be a Katsuhira yourself not to notice — but she simply cannot penetrate Katsuhira’s leaden personality. He’s only got enough energy to be inquisitive about Noriko and only Noriko, so this act of tender, loving care on Chidori’s part nearly goes to waste. Thanks to Hajime’s voracious appetite, however, the girl manages to improve a bit in his eyes. Well, she did make a bento for him after all. Presumably, anyway. Maybe she intended to make two just for Katsuhira, but that’s doubtful. As they say, the fastest way to a guy’s heart is through his stomach. Our placid hero notes that the girl has always been “that way.” He’s sharp enough to notice this about Chidori, but not sharp enough to notice how much frustration he’s putting his longest, closest friend through. Hah, well, whatever’s convenient for the narrative, right guys? Finally, everyone climbs aboard a spacious vehicle, and Noriko proceeds to drop some expository bombs from way up high. I’m sweating bullets over here. Geez, let me catch my breath, Trigger.
Sigh. I don’t like recapping the show’s plot for no reason, but it’s important in this case, I feel, in order to illustrate the sort of vacuousness I’ve just had to endure. This isn’t good enough. The exposition near the end of the episode is especially egregious. It’s just so clumsily delivered. We’re going to take a ride in a van, which looks suspiciously more like the interior of some room at a school than a vehicle, then after some failed bouts of shiritori, let’s have Noriko rattle off a bunch of dry, boring establishing information at the audience. The best part is that the scene didn’t even reveal anything particularly juicy about Kiznaiver’s universe. Much of the revelations here could’ve been astutely predicted by just reading the show’s synopsis. And just when the discussion was about to get juicy, the vehicle arrives at its destination. The scene thus comes to an end. No, people are not allowed to continue talking as they exit a car! C’mon, it’s just not possible. We’ll continue the exposition at a later date. I promise. For now, let us instead drive the “action” back to the love triangle between the two duds and the jealous redhead. Ooh, Hajime’s going to lend Chidori a hand? Why didn’t you say so? I can’t wait to see what happens next! What if Hajime develops feelings for Chidori as a result of them spending time together? What if there’s a love triangle brewing between Honoka, Tsuguhito and Yoshimaru as well? *whistles*
As always, it’s up to the bad guys to liven things up, so bring in the bad guys! …uh, where are the bad guys? Really? The school counselor and the homeroom teacher? I don’t even know if they’re bad guys in the long run, and my gut instinct says no. But then again, our school counselor did just shoot up an arcade, and now she’s kidnapped a couple of schoolyard bullies. Eat your heart out, Scooby Doo villains. Well, I guess she’s all we’ve got to work with for now. If we cross our fingers and eat our vegetables, next week’s exciting developments will finally gives our Kiznaivers a sense of purpose. A real one. Not this nebulous, pie-in-the-sky nonsense like how everyone needs to connect. But until then, the warmth between our unlikely group of reluctant friends is not having the intended effect, and we can’t keep making fat jokes all season long.