What do you get when you take 7 (+1) people with conflicting personalities, and connect them together through their pain? You get Kiznaiver. The Kizna system is a rather ambitious project aimed at connecting people through suffering and pain, and is at an experimental stage. Those connected by the Kizna system are referred to as Kiznaivers, hence the title. So, why would you want to connect people by negative things such as pain, and suffering? Because if everyone were able to understand, and empathize with each other then the world would likely see less conflict: or if you’re as ambitious as the front runners of the project, this could be the key to world peace… Thankfully this premise of connecting people through pain does not get wasted on a “save the world” story.
The Kiznaiver experiment is merely the tool that brings this story into being, and is hardly the focus. You see, the 7 (+1) characters that are bonded together are bonded for the duration of summer, and during this time it’s not as if they’re allowed to live as they had been. That is to say, more or less ignoring each other. After all where’s the fun in bonding people together, if they’re not going to be together? So they’re forced to break the ice and introduce themselves to each other, and already that’s where the fun and games begin, as it isn’t a common introduction that they reveal.
From there on out the group of 7 (+1) find themselves tied together to overcome the tasks that they’re made to face. Some are more willing than others, while some are indifferent, and others yet are totally unwilling. With that said here’s a brief overview of the cast: Katsuhira is the apathetic lead who can’t feel pain, with a hidden past; Chidori is his kind childhood friend who harbors feelings for him; Tenga is the wild “Mad Dog” who’s actually pretty friendly; Nico is a positive energetic oddball, who can surprise you at times with her maturity; Yuta is an egotistical ladies man, and Maki is more or less a lone wolf with deep emotional wounds, and finally there’s Hisomu who is a blunt masochist. Those are the 7 Kiznaivers that find themselves as the subjects of the Kizna project, but there’s one more character to mention, after all I have bee saying “7(+1)” all this time haven’t I? That character would be Sonozaki, who shares a past with Katsuhira and is for the most part the one in control of the Kizna Project… for some reason.
The name of the game here is great character interaction and growth, that isn’t to say the story is bad, actually it’s quite the opposite despite some rather interesting directions it takes. But as it is, I loved the story, and I loved watching how the characters grew together as a group through thick and thin. With the variety in the cast, it should be easy to find someone to sympathize with, especially when the subject of love enters the fray. All this is backed by an appealing art style, smooth animation, and good use of music at tense moments throughout. That being said, what’s with the horrifying mascot character? Why are there so many of them? Why are all the Kizna Project people besides the actual characters in those things? Oh. That’s why, one design for the employees of the experiment that don’t matter, though I wouldn’t say their design is… simple? Either way you’ll be seeing a lot of those “monsters.”
Also of note is that, the entire city of Sugomori is supposedly part of the expiremnt, or at the very least built for it, but the thing is that’s easilly forgotten as it’s never truly utilized in any meaningful way. Although it does explain all the underground tunnels which we see Sonozaki, the resesrchers, and mascot things use to get around, granted it could also just straight up be the subway sytem. For the most part the reasons behind this project are really just mentioned at the start, and turn out to be forgetable. The researchers don’t fare to much better as for some reason there’s only two of them (that we ever really see anyway), and they’re both rather young. Makes you wonder what and how is this group ran… best not to ponder on it for to long really. After all the story is focused on the subjects, the effects of previous experiments, and then finally what happens when the two come together to give us a grand conclusion that is both questionable, and satisfying.
Kiznaiver was definitely one of my favorites this season, and as such I truly do recommend it. The first episode might be a bit slow, and only sets up the show as a whole, so you’ll want to at least stay for episode 2 if you didn’t care for the first. After that is a roller coaster ride of emotions that will have you hooked. Now, with the show over, I’ll probably find myself missing this cast, but that’s all good because it ended on a pretty nice note.