by Nick Creamer,
How would you rate episode 8 of
A typhoon was on the approach for this week's Kiznaiver. Apparently, strong weather heightens the effect of the Kizna program - something that's surely familiar to any writer who's dumped rain on a scene to heighten the drama. At first, Nico invited the whole Kiznaiver team out to pal around, and then the Kizna masterminds tasked them with somehow getting home through the storm. And in the midst of all that external drama, Yamada decided that now was the time to see if love was truly the strongest emotion.
We opened with the eye motif, an organ that even the show's opening song depicts as a window to connection and the soul. Staring out at the growing storm, Sonozaki stood alone in her mansion, separated from the Kizna subjects. Sonozaki's unhappiness with her own isolation has been one of the central threads of the series, and in this episode, that isolation was clearly and repeatedly depicted through shots framing her as solitary and forlorn in giant, impersonal environments. Melancholy songs, consistent shots of the growing storm, and Sonozaki's slow march across her lonely stages kept the viewer consistently tied to her headspace, even if she herself could not articulate her feelings.
In contrast to Sonozaki, the machinations of Yamada drew the cast even closer together this week. As Yamada explained early on, prior versions of the Kizna program had only been able to connect negative emotions - but from his perspective, positive emotions clearly had to be the more powerful bonds. And so he let loose a bunch of Gomorins, forcing the Kiznaivers to work together and maybe have a love confession or two along the way.
The Kiznaivers' confrontations with the Gomorins were a strong demonstration of Kiznaiver's emerging balance of strengths. On the one side, the mixture of the Gomorin nonsense and Kiznaiver's regularly great faces presented a version of Trigger whimsy that never overwhelmed the production. Kiznaiver has had trouble with some meaner jokes in the past, but its visual and physical comedy are generally top notch. I actually find the show a lot more funny for its restraint - instead of leaning fully into the shrill toilet humor of Inferno Cop or an Imaishi production, it harnesses the studio team's talent for visual comedy without overpowering the dramatic tone.
Meanwhile, the mixture of music, pacing, and shot framing made for a consistent atmosphere that almost matched the highs of the previous episode. Like that episode's rainy day interlude, many sequences here were simply dedicated to conveying the sense of bad weather turning into something worse, a weather cycle mirroring Sonozaki's feelings. Her journey toward the Kiznaivers built like a kind of song, and the actual songs were well-chosen and just very strong melodies in their own right. At the moment, Kiznaiver's control of atmosphere is unparalleled.
And finally, the actual character material here was strong as well. Kiznaiver can never really escape having an awkward line or two, but the major confrontations of this episode all built to and earned their sense of emotional release. The scene where Yuta awkwardly tried to embrace Honoka was a highlight, but Tenga and Nico's exchange was endearing in its own way, and the final meeting between Katsuhira and Sonozaki was one more in a long line of thrilling climaxes. Sonozaki finally revealed some of her own truth to Katsuhira, and Katsuhira was blinded, with the episode concluding on the Kizna scar reflected in his own eye.
In short, this was another very strong episode of Kiznaiver. The show just is very strong at this point. Having fully established its characters and shed some of its weaker elements, the show is consistently demonstrating solid character writing and absolutely terrific dramatic execution. It can still be awkwardly on the nose at the times, and its whole cast is not equally well-developed, but I am having a great time exploring its world.
Kiznaiver is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Nick writes about anime, storytelling, and the meaning of life at Wrong Every Time.
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