It has begun. The plot is advancing, the happy days are over, and everything is rapidly progressing downward. I’d almost go so far as to say that this episode hit the rock bottom of tragedy, but I won’t because that’s just begging for everything to get worse.
After Sonozaki reveals her Kiznaiver scar, she collapses. The other Kiznaivers are reunited with a heartbroken Chidori. They run from the gomorins into a media room, and a projector starts streaming a video of Sonozaki and Katsuhira in the gym, discussing their feelings for each other.
I’m not entirely sure what Sonozaki is trying to accomplish here, and I suspect it has nothing to do with the current experiment and everything to do with her past with Katsuhira, which does strike me as a little selfish, or at least insensitive. I’m actually even more confused at to what the Kizuna Committee’s motivation in streaming their conversation was. They wanted to attempt the transfer of positive emotions, so why are they making everyone miserable? Unfortunately, I feel like the writers are not actually taking anyone’s motivations into account, instead just letting anything happen that might stir up more drama.
Tenga runs off to confront them, but Chidori stays, and Nico scolds her for fearing rejection. While I appreciate that Tenga cares about Chidori and was upset that she was hurt, I’m a little impatient with him. Katsuhira can’t help it if he doesn’t love Chidori, and rather than getting angry maybe Tenga should think about being honest about his own feelings. I do feel bad for Chidori, but I her relationship with Katsuhira has dragged on since episode 1 without being resolved, and I’m rather tired of it.
I liked how Nico reacted in this scene. Even if she’s been hiding her feelings, at least she’s brave enough to face the consequences.
Urushibara tells Yamada not to gloat about messing with people’s emotions. Not only is this very hypocritical, as Yamada points out, but it’s out of character and a bit of a confusing stance. Until now, Urushibara has not once shown concern for any student’s feelings besides Sonozaki, nor any objection to their activities until now. Juxtaposing this conversation is that of Sonozaki and Katsuhira discussing their past as child experiments, and we’re given a picture of the self-righteousness and hope that filled the early committee members, their determination so strong they even risked the safety and emotional well-being of their own children.
I think this is an interesting touch, and says something about humanity’s brokenness, as well as the pain that comes about when people play God. By trying to bring world peace through extremely morally questionable methods, the Kizuna Committe has essentially built their own tower of Babel, and have, in their own minds, elevated themselves above the rest of humanity. While the seven Kiznaivers were all labeled as representing the seven deadly sins, who is guiltier of pride than those who think they have the right to condemn seven teenagers to suffering for the good of all? The earlier experiment already left Katsuhira permanently damaged, and yet they still haven’t stopped their manipulations, all because their initial intentions seemed pure. It’s an example of how humans cannot be God, because God is good, and we, even in our best efforts, are not.
Katsuhira remembers everything, and hugs Sonozaki, crying for the first time in the anime. He still has a Kizna mark on his chest. The other Kiznaivers arrive and when Chidori runs away, Tenga demands that Katsuhira goes after her while Tenga drills Sonozaki about her motives. Sonozaki reveals Nico’s crush, which is a rotten turn of events. Yuta tells Tenga to pursue her when she runs away, but sadly, he doesn’t.
I want to feel sorry for Sonozaki. It appears that she suffered such severe damage in her childhood that she can no longer tell right from wrong. But it’s so hard to figure out why she does things, and she is constantly hurting people. I do feel sorry for Katsuhira, though. He’s being put at fault for not reacting properly to emotions he clearly doesn’t understand emotions. Despite this, his motives are always to help others, even if he fails. Not to mention that he is dealing with the shock of painful memories returning.
Katsuhira reaches Chidori, and a crucial scene takes place in which Chidori’s emotions reach so deeply Katsuhira and the rest of the Kiznaivers reads her thoughts. I wasn’t sure how to react: on one hand, it was foreshadowed, so I wasn’t too surprised, on the other hand the foreshadowing was so clumsy that I almost thought it was a red herring
Nico cries alone in a storage room, chiding herself for running away. Yamada gloats at their success, and Urushibara goes to stop them. Tenga, filled with rage, also reaches the scene and starts beating up Katsuhira. They can read his thoughts, revealing that he likes Chidori.
Tenga’s actions really saddened me. He was one of my favorites, subtly shown to have a big heart, and now here is, beating up someone he formerly defended. He selfishly ignored Nico’s feelings, which is strange. I could shrug this off as bad writing, and it might be, but I will instead conclude that the situation was too much for him. It’s a pity, because he’s better than this.
The Kiznaivers fall to pieces as all their hidden affections are brought to light. Honoka, the one who made the declaration that cemented their friendship, now claims they can’t be friends, because being so close just makes it more painful. They all collapse under the weight of their shared agonies. It’s a heart wrenching scene that’s well delivered, although I felt like such strong emotions came to quickly. They’ve only known each other for a few weeks, but their teenage crushes are treated like soul tearing romances, making these events a little hard to swallow, but at this point I’ve just accepted that it’s all being done for drama. Still, as I was actually invested in their friendships, the scene still holds emotion.
I’m pleased that the anime is examining the nature of friendships, and again voices idea that the closer you are to someone, the more potential the relationship has to hurt you. I think this risk is part of what makes human relationships so beautiful. Friendships have a lot of potential to be painful and destructive, but if they endure, such trials can make them stronger and richer.
Urushibara and Sonozaki come to remind the Kiznaivers that after the summer is over, their bond will be severed. It feels like a weak solution. Will getting rid of the bond repair the damage it caused? But as the storm ceases and the sun returns, the atmosphere becomes almost hopeful, which I hope is foreshadowing for the restoration and healing of the Kiznaivers’ relationships.
I’m glad that the romance actually serves a purpose as the thing that ultimately destroys the Kiznaivers’ bond. This could be interpreted as commentary on how an overly strong romantic focus can ruin stories. However, I couldn’t help but find the drama slightly dull. Although the feelings were foreshadowed, the heartbreak is so sudden with little lead up, it’s hard not to be exasperated with the rushed overwhelming feelings.
This was a pivotal episode, especially for the character development of Katsuhira. Finally, he is on the same page as the audience in regards to his past, and he openly show emotion for the first time. As everyone lies suffering, he is moved with compassion, highlighting his concern for others, a kind of connection he supposedly wasn’t interested in. It’s a little irritating that we haven’t seen as much development in Sonozaki.
Surprisingly, I am pleased with the outcome of utter destruction in this episode. It could have been better, but it did get some things right as far as emotion was concerned. While I unfortunately still have some doubts about this story providing a satisfying conclusion, the conflict is meaningful, and will hopefully pave the way for a resolution.