Kiznaiver
Episode 4

by Nick Creamer,

How would you rate episode 4 of
Kiznaiver ?

Having acquired their seventh companion, the group spent some time getting to know each other this week, both forcibly and on their own time. Three prospective couples are quickly emerging within the main cast, and the nature of the Kizuna group is slowly being revealed. The actual purpose of this whole strange experiment is still a mystery, but at least fragments of the overall story are slotting into place.

The pre-opening sequence was likely the most important part of this episode, as we learned that Katsuhira and Sonozaki knew each other as children. Sonozaki's assurance that Katsuhira would “get back his pain” went some distance to explaining both their dispositions, as did the Kiznaiver-style scar on Sonozaki's neck. I'll frankly be somewhat disappointed if the show's resolution to their emotional issues is “they were both affected by scifi nonsense as children,” but it does seem like the show's leaning in that direction.

The next scene wasn't particularly great either, as it mostly hinged on elaborating Hisomu's particular form of masochism. Masochism generally isn't treated well by anime; it's essentially just fodder for pervert gags, framed as some kind of strange compulsion instead of just a pretty mundane kink. Like last episode's crappy jokes about Yuta's weight and Tenga assaulting Sonozaki, these jokes are just tacky and distancing, framing the world of this show as a place with a malicious sense of humor. The show may actually elaborate on Hisomu's feelings in a more thoughtful way (and his later conversations at least treated him like a human being), but the current material does not inspire confidence.

Fortunately, some of this episode's other material was quite good. I particularly liked the conversations between Yuta and Honoka - both of them have “unpleasant personalities,” but both of them acknowledge that, so the exchanges between them feel more direct and unique than many other conversations. Honoka's “there's nothing more expensive than something free” was a particularly nice line. While Nico's insecurities about her identity express themselves as a keen desire to make friends, Honoka pushes in the opposite direction, not wanting to expose herself to any emotional obligations that might echo her past trauma. But she knows this, because she's a perceptive person, so her attempts to push Yuta away are less “you don't know me” than “I will be just as hurtful as I need to be in order to make you leave me alone.” The two have a similarly battle-tested view on human relationships that makes them play off each other very well.

Chidori's position is a lot less compelling. Everything about this show is setting up Katsuhira and Sonozaki as some kind of couple, if only in a thematic sense. Sonozaki's words about human connection affected Katsuhira, and now he feels a compulsion to draw Sonozaki out her shell. This leaves Chidori as the textbook childhood friend, but we aren't given enough of a reason to care about her feelings for them to really land - she's just playing an archetypal role. Considering how quickly the show has moved through many emotional beats already, I'm hoping it won't drag out her obvious shift towards Tenga.

All in all, this was a pretty lukewarm episode of Kiznaiver. The direction and art design remain excellent, and there were a couple of nice conversations, but just as much of this material was either standard or subpar. The show still has plenty of potential, but this was not one of its better episodes.

Overall: B-

Kiznaiver is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Nick writes about anime, storytelling, and the meaning of life at Wrong Every Time.


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