Kiznaiver Ep. 12 (Finale): Meh

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Just play Undertale instead. Or watch any of the other classic anime series over the years. The whole “everything seems bleak and hopeless, but let’s get the gang together one last time and lend the hero our strength” has been done a thousand times better before. I call it the anime climax. Not every anime does it — and it’s certainly not exclusive to anime — but it really is such an anime thing, isn’t it? We can all remember being pumped as hell when Goku powered up that spirit bomb, didn’t we? Well, not all of us, but it doesn’t have to be Dragon Ball Z. For you, it could be Gurren Lagann. Or perhaps it’s Undertale as I previously mentioned. Perhaps it’s some other story you hold dear to your heart. I’m sure we each have one. And even though these anime climaxes almost always have the same structure and narrative layout, if the set-up is right, they never seem to get old. They’re such heart-warming moments no matter how generic they really are. We all love rooting for the underdog. We all love the excitement of seeing friends get together one last time. It’s just funny why I can’t feel the same way about Kiznaiver’s version.

The show tries to do the same thing, but there’s no real final boss, per se. The final boss here is all mental. It’s emotional. It’s in our hearts, our inability to understand each other or something. But y’know, Katsuhira doesn’t feel like much of an underdog, because most of his weaknesses feel self-inflicted. Even if we understand now that he lost his ability to feel pain or any emotions in general due to the Kizna system, that shouldn’t rob him of your common sense. Plenty of people lack the ability to sympathize with others, but they’re nowhere near as dense or gormless as Katsuhira. And what has been the big change for our hero in recent weeks? Why has he finally started taking action and accepting responsibility for the events surrounding him? It’s because he’s finally sitting down and making himself think about things. Think about his past, his friends, their pain and their feelings. Again, even if you can’t feel it, you can still tease it out on an intellectual level. It’s like for the first time ever, he’s actually racking his brain about these issues. So y’know, it’s hard for me to see the guy as the underdog. He’s not going up against all odds to save his friends or his beloved. He merely stacked the deck against himself, then when it was convenient to move the story forward, Katsuhira finally “woke up.”

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And what of our “final boss?” First, we don’t really have one. Noriko isn’t a villain. She’s just a misguided girl who desperately wants to save her friends. But most of all, she’s afraid of being alone, and she can prevent this by forcing everyone to bond. Well, you know what you do? You tell the girl that you won’t abandon her no matter what. You tell the girl that the bond you share with her is unbreakable even without the Kizna system. You tell the girl to let go of everyone’s pain, because if she’s carrying that burden all by her lonesome, she can’t share her own pain. And without that, they can’t truly connect with each other. That’s great. That’s sorta touching, I guess, if I ever cared about either of them as characters. But unfortunately, this can’t be Kiznaiver’s “final battle” moment, because we’ve taken the long way here. We’ve made this far more difficult and complicated than it really needed to be. I’m just not convinced we needed twelve episodes to get to this point. I’m not convinced I needed to see all those tears and hand-wringing just so Katsuhira can tell the girl that he won’t abandon her. The final battle has to be the culmination of all the previous events in the story. Everything has to lead up to it. The final battle is the most essential moment in the story, but every step we take to get there is also important.

With Kiznaiver, the story feels as though it has been made needlessly complicated. The goal is to empathize with and understand each other, right? Okay, that’s not an easy task, but even then, like I’ve said last week — and most of the commenters seemed to agree — this is something we’ve been doing all our lives. So it’s hard for me to square myself with the idea that we needed an entire 12-episode long series for these kids to come the realization that they can empathize and become friends each other without the Kizna system. Welcome to the real world, guys! We’ve been doing the same thing for millennia. Glad you could finally join us in the struggle! And that’s why this final moment on the bridge between Katsuhira and Noriko doesn’t feel like a final battle. Kiznaiver wants that long crescendo that builds and builds until it all explodes, then we get up in our seats and cheer when the hero catches the girl. But it doesn’t work that way when the story is so contrived and manufactured. This might’ve been decent as a taut, two-hour movie, but as a 12-episode series, it’s long-winded and tiresome. The anime made mountains out of molehills. It tried to turn a basic human problem into something grandiose and poignant. So yeah, I wasn’t cheering when Katsuhira finally got through to Noriko. I just thought to myself, “Thank god that’s over with… I kinda wanna replay Undertale.”

Or maybe I’ll just rewatch Gurren Lagann.

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7 thoughts on “Kiznaiver Ep. 12 (Finale): Meh

  1. ioncarryon

    You know I have to wonder if this story could have been a really good animated movie instead of a series like this. I know that a series generates better sales since there’s more things in it to hauk off for cash, etc. but still there’s something to be said for not stretching a premise so far it gets melodramatic. Kinda liked this ending on its own, though.

    Still, it’s not as bad as an ending goes, it’s just that the journey to it was a bit much. Thankfully they didn’t actually have a sudden giant emo monster ala Mayoiga. haha!

    1. sonicsenryaku

      I agree that this could have worked better as a movie, but the writing quality would still need to be polished for it to work in this format regardless. But yes, a movie fits this type of narrative a bit better

  2. sonicsenryaku

    man what an unnecessarily emotionally manipulative series this was; with amateurish writing to booth. The show just couldnt get enough of trying to make noriko some tragic character; hell even nico says it; and no the show does not get let off by being aware of the fact that noriko is the “tragic character” trope. Ugghh this show frustrates me because every thing it could have done splendidly it chose to do in a horridly vapid manner. Last week you made the comment that hisomu’s character was acting inconsistent by first trying to instigate conflict within the group but then no sooner does he become this caring, reliable confidant. And this is an example of what i mean by the show missing out on story telling potential. Essentially hisomu instigating drama within the group was the show’s “symbolic and intelligent” way of signifying that the kid has probably thrived on physical pain because he was always socially inept; unable to connect or experience genuine emotions towards or from other people; the whole “he cant see himself in others and others cant see themselves in him”.

    By forcing his friends to be emotionally pushed to the limit in an attempt to experience their pain for “pleasure”, it’s actually him attempting to understand emotions that he himself has trouble experiencing. They give him pleasure “in a way physical pain doesnt”, because it makes him feel like a human being, as if he has found himself in his new friends. It goes back to the whole “pain allows us to communicate/feel unity bullshit. But no sooner do they start this whole character intrigue with hisomu does the story then instantly drop it and it adds nothing to the rest of his character arc hence the inconsistency (at least from how i perceive it). it’s not fleshed out, we dont get any other subtle hints to his background as to why he started enjoying physical pain so much or what drives him to want to connect with these group of people on an emotional level. Instead, kiznaiver decides to raise its sledgehammer and beat us in the balls about other sophomoric themes and “character dynamic”…pffffttt uuuggh goodbye kiznaiver.

    1. elior1

      i dont even want to think what they going to do with little witch academy as tv anime instead of movie after this disaster

  3. anabchamploni

    12 episodes and this is it? For real? They don´t even try to develop the conspiracy thing behind Kizuna System. I imagined that plot would be a big deal in the future of the anime, something like if Kizuna system failed to succeed, the humanity would be in danger of extinction or something like that. But no, it´s really just teenage drama unnecessarily complicated.

    After the 2nd episode I understood the anime is character driven, but the characters are shit. I just couldn´t care about any of them, especially Katsuhira. The animation of Kiznaiver is beautiful, but the anime is honestly a waste of time. Better play Undertale, which by the way I never concluded, because for me, it´s impossible to beat Asgore. I´m doing the Pacifist Route.

    1. Karandi

      That is definitely what is missing here is a look at the poeple behind the experiment and the whole city. I know we can’t rewrite someone else’s story because they clearly wanted to focus on the human (teen) drama but they missed out on a much better show.

      1. elior1

        if this is what they did with this show i dont even want to think what they going to do with little witch academy as tv anime instead of movie


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