Final episodes are important to me. They have to tie off significant loose ends, and provide some sort of meaningful conclusion to the story, or everything feels a little pointless. Kiznaiver had a fairly reasonable pace, almost too reasonable for a twelve episode anime, and so one of my fears was that the last episode would involve as much exposition as they could cram in. I am happy to say this was not the case, and although there were other problems, it was an enjoyable finale.
We open with Noriko’s pronouncement over the city as black gomorins march around, trying to capture everyone. It’s kind of confusing as to how Noriko could possibly have so much power, but at this point we’re not going to get any sort of explanation. It’s a very creepy scene, which at least halfway makes up for the lack of plausibility.
The bullies, Kamaishi and Yoshikawa, are back, which is annoying but fitting as it does refer back to the first episode, and it’s revealed that this time, they’re connected to Sonozaki. Noriko is trying to connect to as many people as possible, which is probably going to destroy her. With this in mind, it is confusing as to why Yamada, who supposedly cares so much about her, is letting her do this. As Urushibara explains to Katsuhira, Noriko doesn’t know she’s stealing everyone’s pain, but if that’s the case, why hasn’t Urushibara, or anyone else, told her? Or is this something they’ve only realized recently? Or does Sonozaki actually know, and just not believe she has anything to do with it? We’ll never know, unfortunately.
The Kiznaivers hear Sonozaki’s plans from the bullies, and Katsuhira calls Chidori, saying he wants to save Noriko. The call drops, the power goes out, and the town takes on a very chaotic atmosphere. The scene of the trapped mayor is the last we see of him, which is incredibly frustrating. In the end, he was insignificant, and we’ll never really know what his motivations were.
The Kiznaivers decide whether or not to go help Katsuhira with Sonozaki. Nico was awesome, as always, and it was great to see Chidori move forward in her newfound self-awareness, an interesting contrast to Noriko’s selfishness. Tenga was probably the one I was most disappointed with, probably in the whole anime. He seems to think he has a right to hold a grudge against Katsuhira for rejecting Chidori, ignoring the fact that he didn’t even respond to Nico at all. It’s very hypocritical, and kind of out of character for someone who has shown a lot of kindness in the past.
Katsuhira figures out Noriko is going to recreate a past moment on the bridge, and Urushibara helps him get to her by hijacking a police car, which is the closest thing we get to an action scene. Noriko destroys part of the bridge with an explosion, something she’ll never receive any consequences for, along with everything else she’s done. I’m fine with characters making mistakes, but if they they never acknowledge that they were mistaken or experience any negative effects it’s boring.
Katsuhira confronts Noriko, and the other Kiznaivers join him in trying make her see she doesn’t need the Kizna System to be happy, using a lot of arguments I’ve made in previous posts. Honoka especially made a great point about how the Kiznaivers became friends because of all the work it took to learn to understand each other.
There’s an interesting relationship, I think, between Noriko’s pride and her inability to accept her own failure to understand others. When we admit our weaknesses, it opens up doors for others to empathize with us, forming the connections that Noriko has been pursuing all along. This is why pride can destroy relationships, because it seeks to hide weakness, making it harder to really connect.
Katsuhira and the other Kiznaivers raise a lot of points that I mentioned in my other blog posts, all revolving around Noriko being wrong about the Kizna system connecting them. Noriko responds by claiming they all had too much in common to begin with. The problem with this argument is that technically every human being can find enough in common to at least be casual friends.
When she argues that Katsuhira only likes her because of their old Kizna connection, Katsuhira says he likes her for the completely different person she is now, and urges her to return his pain already. Noriko has a very cool sequence of flashbacks as she suddenly releases the pain she had subconsciously held for so many years, and collapses. This is probably the most well done moment in the episode, expressing some key themes beautifully and resonating with emotion.
Sonozaki collapses, Katsuhira tries to catch her, and they both fall into the ocean, but they survive. Although this wasn’t as dramatic as it should have been because it was all over so fast, and honestly there were moments with more tension earlier in the anime, it made my heart warm to see Katsuhira’s happiness over finally getting his pain back. I’ve really enjoyed how he progressed from a bland, lifeless person to someone who actually took the initiative and succeeded.
Two weeks later, the town has apparently gone back to normal, which only proves to me just how low the stakes were. Yuta and Honoka appear to be together, and I’m glad, although it’s a pity we didn’t get to see more of them. Honoka finds their purikura in a lost and found, which I feel is pretty symbolic of the Kiznaivers’ friendship. Chidori apologizes to Tenga, which implies they’ll end up together. I think I’d be happier about it if Tenga’s character development hadn’t gone downhill. Nico observes them, and makes a very hilarious comment about fist fighting Chidori on a beach at sunset. Hisomu hints that he likes Nico, which I found to be hugely unnecessary. Why do they need to make sure everyone is nicely in pairs? But in the end it’s a minor annoyance.
Katsuhira is still recovering from his many injuries, which I guess has to happen when you’re not connected to anyone anymore. Their old friends are slowly becoming more like human beings. Although Sonozaki is still a bit robotic, that’s part of what makes her interactions with Katsuhira so interesting. The Kiznaivers join them, and the story ends with Sonozaki giving a subtle but very heartwarming smile.
I have very mixed feelings about this ending, as well as Kiznaiver as a whole, and a lot of it stems from the potential in this story for a full 24 episodes, and with 12 it sadly was only a halfway reach to something so much better. They had to at least mildly rush the story, enough to forcefully reach the ending. They had two main choices: either cram as many details and plot into the last few episodes to make the final challenge very difficult, or make the most crucial problem quite simple and focus completely on the characters for a more emotionally satisfying conclusion, which was what they chose. I prefer it that way, though the plot holes irritated me quite a lot. It was an ending that was somewhat lacking, despite the feelings it conveyed.
I came into Kiznaiver with low enough expectations that it did, in fact, exceed them. The characters were archetypical, but fresh enough that I was still interested in them, and their interactions were very engaging, and really made the story. The plot itself was underdeveloped. What are all the possibilities when you link a bunch of people together by their wounds? They only began to explore such a question to its full potential. As a story about friendship, it made some very poignant points. It could have worked more naturally and with a lot less forced romance had the show been longer, but it was genuine and compelling nonetheless.
There were numerous plots, hints, and thematic questions that all came to nothing, but there were a lot of thought provoking ideas and moving character arcs. Despite it’s failings, Kiznaiver touched on some ideas, especially friendship, that are really important to me, and I’m very glad I picked it! Though I mourn the fact that it really should have been longer, it was a wild ride that I know I’ll look back on fondly.