After the chaos of the previous episode, I did expect this one to be quieter, though I wasn’t sure how. I was right, but it’s outward quietness masked a huge reveal that clarifies a lot of mysteries and character motivations. It also provided a pivotal transition from a story about the Kiznaivers passing missions to whatever happens next.
Hisomu visits Katsuhira, although the Kiznaivers agreed to avoid each other for the rest of the summer. Katsuhira’s scar from the old experiment has disappeared, and apparently wasn’t there beforehand either. I like Hisomu’s interactions here, although I’m not optimistic about the chances of him getting any significant development in the last two episodes. There’s an interesting part where Katsuhira notices a dead cicada, referring back to their presence in his introductory scene.
Summer ends, school begins, and the Kizna marks disappear as promised. At the first class Yamada provokes the Kiznaivers by alluding to their experiences. Tenga falls, and none of the former Kiznaivers feel any pain, which I thought was a good way of showing the abruptness of the bond’s end. I admit I’d assumed the Kizna experiment would only end when the series did, but I think it’s for the best. Having a situation forced upon them made them bond, but in an unnatural way, and ending it gives a lot of potential for the characters to start acting on their own goals and motivations.
I couldn’t tell what exactly Yamada’s motives are. Is he just a horrible person, or was he trying to gauge the impact of the Kizna experiment on his students? I’d go for the former, but overall his character is hard to distinguish with the information we’ve been given. I almost wonder if watching all the small children from the original Kiznaiver project suffer has made him bitter and sadistic.
Yuta tries to talk to Honoka, but she pushes him away. It was pretty sad, as they had one of the most interesting relationships, but even that didn’t survive the experiment. At the same time, I feel like Honoka saw the Kizna system as invasive, so I wonder if their relationship might be healthier if she decides to return to it on her own terms, rather than feeling like it’s an obligation imposed by the experiment.
Nico finds Katsuhira and Hisomu, who are looking for Sonozaki, and expresses her desire to be friends with the Kiznaivers even though their connection is gone. They agree in a very heartwarming scene, but unfortunately I fear the other Kiznaivers will be less receptive. Of all of them, Nico was the one who wanted friendship the most, and so, being the one with the greatest loss here, she’s the most invested in them all being friends again. I’m surprised she did this, given how their friendship was broken. I think Nico has changed, though, as she apparently has always wanted to have friends, but resorted to acting strange instead of reaching out to people, as she is now doing.
This is actually probably one of the most important aspects of the story. It’s talked about very vaguely, with terms like “finding yourself inside someone else,” but it’s clearly portrayed as the characters learn to choose their friendships, even as they’re having a strange bond forced upon them. They could have continued to resist their situation, and there was plenty of conflict early on they could have held on to, but instead they showed empathy and compassion for each other, putting aside their differences so they could be friends.
Sonozaki meets with the mayor. Apparently the government is going to do an investigation on the experiments, which is about time if you ask me, and the mayor is shutting things down. Noriko says she’ll present on her experiments and then runs off. She stands on a ledge, preparing to throw herself off.
I don’t really understand this scene. It’s almost like all along, the mayor wasn’t really invested in the project, and everything was Noriko’s idea. Which would make sense, except that there were several times where the Kizuna Committee, particularly Urushibara and Yamada, rushed the experiment or acted against her wishes. Were they in a hurry to finish the experiment before the authorities found out? But if that were the case, why did they do so many things that risked revealing the experiment (for example, involving the two bullies)? Furthermore, if they cared as little about the experiment as this scene suggests, and really just wanted Noriko to be happy, why make her feel like her control was being taken away? The mayor has been cast in a rather suspicious light, so I’m not making any conclusions yet.
Katsuhira feels her pain. The other Kiznaivers don’t, naturally, as their bonds have been removed. Hisomu, Katsuhira, and Nico find the underground train just in time to see Urushibara speaking to the Mayor as he mayor as he departs on the train. They ask about Sonozaki and the experiments, and we find out that the Kizna experiment was originally tried on nineteen children, so as to split the pain as many ways as possible. Unfortunately, the experiment didn’t work correctly, and some children received the portions of pain meant for others, and the one who felt it most acutely was Noriko.
Apparently, the fact that Katsuhira felt Noriko’s pain should have been impossibe, and it’s suggested that he felt emotional pain. I feel like this is an oversimplified conclusion, and I think it’ll be developed later.
Tenga approaches Chidori, asking her to properly reject him, with the implications that he believes it might make her feel better. Chidori gets mad and cries, saying that she can’t understand him. I know she’s been through a lot, and the Kiznaiver experiment was obviously traumatizing, but I felt like she was more than a bit harsh. How was he to know? They aren’t mind readers (anymore). One of Chidori’s greatest faults is that she hides or poorly communicates her feelings, and then lashes when others don’t understand her. She has a lot of faults, which is part of why I like her, but if she never starts to step out of them I’m going to be disappointed.
Sonozaki took on all of the children’s wounds, and not just their pain, but the impact of every sensation. After the experiment ended, Noriko had to be administered a treatment that nullified all her senses, which was that shot we kept seeing. Some children were left unable to sense pain, but they released those who could feel at least a bit, Katsuhira being one of them.
Noriko has been taking Katsuhira’s pain all along, which is a horrifying thought, especially as he constantly let himself get bullied. Knowing what we know now, I feel like a lot of Noriko’s behavior is explained, which really does help me look past her actions, though some of her actions are still hard to swallow. She has had to bear a burden far greater than what most people endure, and it’s interesting to see how instead of lashing out at the adults who harmed her, she has become like them in many ways. Her motivation for the experiment makes sense now, as she obviously wants to be free from the pain of others, rather than get her own pain back, as well as return Katsuhira and the others to normal. Perhaps she disregards the pain of others because she’s so used to pain she can’t connect either. Like Chidori, however, she’s not going to get anywhere if she refuses to acknowledge the harm in her own actions.
The sensations that were given to Noriko never got transmitted back to the other children. Urushibara takes Katsuhira to meet the ones who weren’t released, and though he remembers them all, they show no signs of recognizing him, and all have white hair and vacant expressions. Katsuhira is overwhelmed with grief as he remembers them, including Noriko, when they were normal, innocent children. Katsuhira becomes more and more human as he gets broken down, and while I hope that these experiences will propel him into action, I fear they may lead him astray.
I was glad we finally got answers to some long held questions, especially as there are only two episodes left, and many things that still need to be addressed. I feel a little uncomfortable with some inconsistent characterization, especially in Urushibara, and I feel like a lot of concepts presented early on have yet to tie back in. That being said, none of my speculations accurately predicted the true situation, so the show has succeeded in not being completely predictable, and I’m not certain on which direction the plot will take. As long as they properly wrap up character arcs, I think there’s still plenty of room for the conclusion to be amazing.