Leave it to Mari Okada to have shipping built into the story.
— Woo, nothing like the demystification of our emotions. Nothing like turning our feelings into a set of numbers and a handful of graphs. Still, these aren’t the good guys, right? These weirdo researchers can’t ultimately be proven right in the end, right? Hopefully, by the end of the series, the Kizna system will fail, and true human connection comes from a genuine bond between people, and not some series of contrived team-bonding missions. At least, that’s where I think the story is headed, but at the same time, does that make it too predictable?
— This is probably one of the many shots that anime fans gush about. I gotta admit Kiznaiver is one of the nicer looking shows this season, but I’m neither emotionally moved nor intellectually stimulated by its art direction. There’s more to aesthetics than just looking pretty.
— First, physical pain was shared. Everyone seems to be equal participants in this stage of the experiment. Then, we moved to emotional pain. Tut-tut-tut… take a step back, fellas. Emotional pain is only for girls. As a result, we focused first on Chidori, then Honoka. Neither Tenga nor Yuta have had an episode dedicated to them, and it doesn’t look like they’ll ever get one. But time is short, so we must continue moving the plot along. Now, it’s time to see if we can share positive emotions.
— According to Yamada, this is where the original Kizna experiment failed. For some reason, these researchers just couldn’t connect their subjects through positive emotions. Hm, I wonder why. I mean, if you think about it, happiness doesn’t need to be shared if everyone’s already happy. But if you do share it, it merely serves to amplify the currently positive emotional states. On the other hand, if five people are happy, and one person is unhappy, the unhappy person isn’t going to suddenly become happy if the others share their happiness equally. Great, you won the lottery. Great, your kid got valedictorian. Unfortunately, my life still sucks, and I’m still sad. So you might argue that negative emotions tend to override happy emotions. Moreover, if two people — one happy and one unhappy — share their emotions, I’m willing to bet the negative emotions are much more easily shared. But that’s because we’re empathetic creatures. You don’t say, “I have empathy for you because of your positive circumstances.” What would that even mean?
But don’t some people say, “I’m happy for you!”
Hm, yeah, they do… I mean, there is such a thing as uplifting news. You might read a happy story just to feel better about your day. But predominantly, we seem to be drawn to negative emotions like bugs to a light. Our media is littered with fear mongering stories, tragedies, injustices, so on and so forth. So what am I getting at? Well, it’s not that you can’t share positive emotions. You can. If I’m having a bad day — or even just a neutral one — and my friend tells me something great that happened to her, then sure, my day just improved a little bit. I can’t quantify it, but I can imagine a net positive gain in my mood. But if I tell her why I’m having a bad day, it’s likely I’ll ruin her mood a whole lot more than she can improve mine, all things being equal. So when we go and connect people’s feelings willy nilly, it’s dangerous for this very reason. It’s so hard to control our emotions, and the negative ones always seem to muck everything up. All the happy feelings in, say, Japan aren’t going to help sick, starving kids in some bombed out hellhole feel any better about their lives. So much for world peace.
— Yamada claims they didn’t forcefully kidnap the kids that they experimented on. Those kids just happen to be children of the original researchers. Oh, that makes it so much better!
— And of course, Yamada argues that the Kizna system is a noble experiment, because it’s aiming for a peaceful future. They have good intentions! Suddenly, I’m reminded of Terror in Resonance. Man, that was a good anime. Kiznaiver, on the other hand, not so much. It’s far too melodramatic and unsubtle.
— Tenga says he hates people who pick on pigeons and children. Why pigeons? Was he abused as a kid or something?
— Anyway, the kids are now trapped at school, because a typhoon has hit Japan. At the same time, they are attacked by Gomorins. The purpose here is to split our group up into pairings. Hey, it’s a dark and scary night, and attractive kids are paired up… so y’know, things are bound to happen, right? Can I get a dokidoki?
— So what are the pairings? First, we have Yuta and Maki. It’s mostly just Yuta liking her, and I’m not sure why he does. She, however, still has feelings for her dead friends. Then it turns out Nico likes Tenga, and again, I’m not sure why. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen those two alone together. But unfortunately for Nico, Tenga might have feelings for Chidori, because… what? She made him a bento box once when she made lunch for Katsuhira? And of course, we all know Chidori likes Katsuhira, because she knew him when he used to have emotions and whatnot. Somehow, that means she still likes him now even though he’s become a completely new person. And therein lies the problem with these relationship pairs: why?
I haven’t seen any compelling reason why anyone apparently likes anyone else. I might like a girl because we have similar interests, we get along well, we seem to have good conversations whenever we see each other, we have similar goals in life, we have a similar sense of humor, etc. I might even like a girl, ’cause she’s different from me in some very specific ways, and these differences intrigue me. You don’t see any of that here, though. You rarely even see these characters interact on the sort of deep, emotional level that might foster feelings of romance. Again, why on earth does Nico like Tenga? No, him calling her cute in that outfit doesn’t suffice. Again, they’ve barely ever interacted on a one-on-one level. At least, I’ve never seen it.
Okay, you could maybe argue that this sort of thing happens in-between the episodes. We don’t see it, but maybe Nico and Tenga had a tender, private moment off camera. But again, why? Why would you relegate such meaningful character interactions to the background? Wait, no, this is not even the background, because we can at least see the background. On the other hand, I don’t see anything that makes me think, “Oh yeah, Nico liking Tenga makes total sense…”
At best, you can argue that love isn’t always so straightforward. Sometimes, we just develop feelings for certain people, and you can’t always explain it! Sure… at first. But you better find the explanation, because a relationship isn’t going to last very long if you can’t actually articulate what you like about the other person.
— Anyways, you know where this is going. Love polygons are inherently unstable, and Noriko is that unstable factor. She’s going to crash this party.
— So yeah, Tenga says Nico looks cute, so she starts having feelings of love. The entire group feels it, which must be embarrassing for any normal person, but I wonder about Nico. In any case, love is a rather positive feeling, so Hisomu doesn’t like it. As a result, his selfish ass decides to tweak Honoka in order to make her feel pain. Even though Hisomu once claimed in a previous episode that he only likes physical pain, he says this week, “I think I might’ve actually enjoyed that pain.” Hm. Bad friend, bad person.
— Yuta tries to cheer the girl up, but I’m not sure what he’s trying to do here. Slide into her DMs? Joking aside, he wanted the two of them to have one of those corny soap opera moments where he embraces her from behind and everything is better. But she stops him before anything could happen. But hey, on the bright side, she at least understands him a bit. A hunch, she calls it. Who needs the Kizna system? We can just connect the old fashioned way! But wear protection, kids. Be safe.
— Last and very least, we have Chidori and Katsuhira. I don’t know why Chidori even tries. She starts confessing, but all of a sudden, Katsuhira gets a flashback. Or a PTSD episode. Or whatever… point is, he’s not even listening to her. Hell, we’re not even listening to her. This thrilling track starts playing, and he starts recalling memories of him and Noriko, so he throws open the front doors to the school. He sprints out into the midst of the raging storm, and at the same time, Noriko is emerging from a series of convoluted underground tunnels that seem to run throughout Sugumori City. At the exact moment that she emerges, a statue threatens to fall on her. And at the exact moment that it would have fallen on her, Katsuhira flies in out of nowhere and saves her. All I can say is… poor Chidori.
— I mean, we didn’t even get to hear her confession. The voice is such a powerful thing, and in the middle of a raging storm as well as an emotional one, she is silenced. I’m sure this will turn into some serious emotional pain in next week’s episode, and the resulting mess will call the validity of the Kizna system into question… assuming it had any in the first place.
— The last thing we see is Noriko ripping off her choker and revealing that familiar Kizna mark on her neck. Then something about him existing in her, and vice versa. I mean, I don’t know. Maybe if I have a deeper emotional connection with Kiznaiver, this would all make sense. I would then understand these kids’ feelings somehow. But that’s not the case, so like with Mari Okada’s other anime airing this season, I’m just left thinking, “What?”
— I can only guess that the original experiment fucked these kids up something good, so these kids engaged in all sorts of risky behavior just to feel something as basic and raw as physical pain. But maybe Noriko went too far one day, and Katsuhira… uh, maybe he saved her? Maybe he didn’t. Whatever happened, it broke him even further, and this is where we’re at. But I’m just speculating as someone who doesn’t really care all that much about Kiznaiver, so I’m probably wrong.
— In any case, that’s the end of the episode, and there’s no “Final Word” because I need to hurry to the store to pick up some new shoes. I’m not even joking. Uh, it was an okay episode for Kiznaiver’s standards. Still not a show that I like very much, though.