Kiznaiver, for anyone who hasn’t heard the hype, is an original anime by Studio Trigger, airing in the current Spring 2016 season. Its premise involves a high school student (naturally) who can’t feel pain, and who becomes a part of a group of people who are connected in such a way that the pain of one is shared equally among them all. As you may have guessed, I will be reviewing it episodically. This will be the first Studio Trigger anime that I’ve seen so far, and I don’t really have any kind of expectations for it, but I find the premise intriguing, so hopefully it will deliver.
The first episode opens with a flashback sequence. A boy runs through a building as a girl stands on a high place, and she tells him that he isn’t like “them”—that he can regain his pain. She throws herself off the structure, and the boy screams in pain, his hair turning white.
12 years later, Katsuhira Agata is an apathetic white-haired high school student. His friend, Chidori Takashiro, is upset because he’s being bullied by other students at their school, who are stealing his money and beating him mercilessly. She leaves, furious that he doesn’t want to deal with the situation, and his tormentors appear. A guy from his class, Hajime Tenga, rescues him, but accidentally knocks him out while testing his claims that he doesn’t feel any pain.
When Katsuhira awakens, he is met by a classmate, Noriko Sonozaki, who starts a conversation with him about the seven deadly sins, which she claims in modern Japan are better described as the Cunning Normal, High-and-Mighty, Goody-Two-Shoes, Eccentric Headcase, Imbecile, and Musclehead Thug. As she speaks, these titles are revealed to belong to their classmates: Tsuguhito Yuta, Honoka Maki, Chidori Takashiro, Nico Niyama, Katsuhira himself, and Hajime Tenga.
Sonozaki goes on to theorize that Katsuhira is bullied so often because he doesn’t get scared. Because he shows no sign of fear or resistance, people can’t relate to him, and so they become disgusted with him.
Then she pushes him down the stairs.
After a bizarre dream sequence, he wakes up in a hospital. The five other classmates who were mentioned in reference to the seven deadly sins and Sonozaki are there. Sonozaki says that they are now “bound by their wounds” and explains that their city, Sugomori, was created for an experiment called the Kizuna Sysem, in which a group of people all share each other’s pain. The six students all underwent a surgery without their knowledge so that when one of them is hurt, all of them share the pain. When Katuhira fell, he should have died, but because the five other students shared his pain, he survived. This plan is supposedly meant to bring world peace, as surely everyone would stop hurting each other if they all felt each other’s pain.
The students are understandably upset, and all leave, except for Katsuhira, who tells Sonozaki that although she mentioned people not understanding him, he doesn’t understand himself. She declares that the Kizuna system is perfect for helping him with his problems.
Meanwhile, the other five students discuss their situation, and Hajime gets smacked, revealing that they do indeed all share pain equally. Katsuhira also feels pain, and Sonozaki uses a taser on Katsuhira, declaring them all to be Kiznaivers, and that the saying “All for one, one for all” should actually be “One for all, all for victory.”
Overall, I think it was a fairly well-paced, intriguing first episode, although time will tell if the rest of the anime follows through. The animation is beautiful. Katsuhira is the bland type of protagonist I usually don’t connect with very well (which is hilarious, given the discussion in this episode) but I actually liked him quite a bit. Although he is somewhat lifeless, I feel empathetic toward his situation, and it looks like his lack of characteristics will be important, and hopefully he will get plenty of development. The other characters are interesting enough, provided that their surface-level characteristics are going to be expanded upon.
There was quite a lot of philosophy in this episode, almost enough for an editorial, but I think a lot of the ideas stated as fact might actually be overturned, or at least tested, in the duration of the series. As you might have gathered, I think the Kizuna System is faulty at best, as it seems more like a method of controlling people than actually achieving a more empathetic society. The fact that the experiment’s test subjects were involved without their consent makes the entire thing very suspicious, and that’s not even counting everything that could go wrong. What if many people get hurt at once, causing them all to die? What about pain from accidents and illnesses? I look forward to finding out how the story plays out.