First Impression: Kizuna no Allele

The episode opens with back-to-back VTubers: the first one is dark-haired, with lots of neon lights surrounding her and a short song on offer; the second sports short orange hair and lots of pep but not much else. There’s no apparent connection between the two. Cut to real life (as in, 2D anime life), and the orange-haired girl, Miracle, is at first excited about how well the day’s stream went, and then, after checking her stats, mortified that actually, it didn’t go so well after all. At least not if her aim is to amass as many linkers as possible, which does seem to be her goal, but not in a nefarious, materialistic way; just a rather naive way suited to an irrepressibly happy-go-lucky idol mc. The next day she goes to school: ADEN Academy for aspiring virtual performers. The campus is fancy, but oddly desolate, with the only person in sight (or rather, down a mysterious “shortcut” that isn’t a shortcut at all, but instead leads to the greenhouse where all fateful encounters happen in these kinds of secluded, elite schools) being a handsome stranger without facial expression who is drinking matcha tea, complete with a portable tea ceremony kit. After an awkward conversation about cucumbers that aren’t cucumbers and a hasty sip of tea that transports her momentarily to the Swiss Alps, it’s time for Miracle to go to class. She enters an empty room where she promptly morphs into a virtual entity and is sucked into a presumably virtual classroom where the teacher is a punk rock rabbit with good diction and suddenly, it’s Miracle’s turn to perform. She performs; it goes well. Someone famous was spying on the performance, so, egged on by her classmates and emboldened by her motto that anything can happen in the virtual world, Miracle invites said celebrity to perform a collab. She is rejected immediately and decisively. While recovering from her embarrassment, she enters a portal into another world that looks exactly the same as the one she just left, although from her expression you’d think she’d just happened upon Aladdin’s Cave. After annoying a floating animal avatar that was trying to take a nap, Miracle smiles and the episode ends.

What did I just watch. I don’t even know. Guys, this was not what I expected from a collab between two of the most interesting, creative young studios to emerge in the industry over the past few years: Wit Studio and Signal.MD, who have such series as the luscious Ancient Magus Bride, the stunningly original Vivy: Fluorite Eyes’ Song, the heart-stealing Ranking of Kings and Spy x Family, and the unique stylistics of Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop, Birthday Wonderland, and Mars Red to their credit. This episode is dismal. Utterly dismal. Even setting aside the CG sequences, the 2D animation is lifeless and lacks any kind of coherent color design. The world feels empty, and the characters static. There’s no coherence to the plot either, and the worldbuilding is unimaginative.

By halfway through the episode, I was getting flashbacks to that train wreck from the Summer 2022 season, Yurei Deco, which in comparison had a much stronger opening episode, but even so, never pulled itself together either artistically or narratively and crashed and burned in a magnificent explosion of “what the whatery”. Mark my words, Kizuna no Allele is on the same path. It makes weak gestures toward borrowing from Yurei Deco’s worldbuilding—especially for the entire virtual classroom sequence and the character dynamics therein—and from idol series like the compelling Selection Project (the dark-haired VTuber at the beginning is Miracle’s inspiration, despite being an AI, but mysteriously disappeared a few years ago), but fails to even come up with a functional copy of better examples of the genre. I considered saying that maybe there might be something here for VTuber fans to find interesting, but to be honest, I don’t think that the decent J-pop insert songs can really outweigh the sloppy art, poor writing, and non-existent pacing. This one’s a pass for me. 

It’s called “bad writing”, Miracle-san! (Also, what is up with that haircut? Are those tentacles?)
I’m sorry. I know it’s hard to hear.
Actually, I outlined it all in detail above, Lapin-sensei!
Yes, exactly. Thank you.
Please don’t hurt me, AI-chan! Everyone, AI-chan is cute, I swear, she’s cute, ok?!?! She’s a great VTuber AI!

Kizuna no Allele is streaming on Crunchyroll. Might be decent background music while you clean your house.

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