“If You Can Swallow a Bizarre Situation Like This So Easily, Two Buckets of Barium Shouldn’t Be a Problem”
The team are given their first assignment – to uncover each member’s deepest secret.
I’m having a real problem with Kiznaiver at the moment, and ironically the thing which I’ve got a problem with is also the thing which probably makes the show stand out most. That thing is Studio Trigger.
Let’s go into that a bit. What Trigger bring to the table is their unmatched visual eye and flair for cartoonish action. That makes them nearly untouchable when the material they work with is written to play to those unique strengths. problem is, I’m not sure Kiznaiver falls into that category. Rather, the slow burning horror-cum-mystery vibe and the general thematic gloominess would suggest a slower paced, more moody approach would be more suitable. Rather than adapt their style to fit the material, Trigger have opted to force the material into their style. The result is an often uncomfortable, occasionally inspiring clash of styles.
It definitely seems like this episode wants to be a setup to explore our character’s psyches – what better way to do that than to uncover your deepest secrets after all? Problem is, half of these are played for absolute throwaway laugh value and the others for deadly serious shock value, which makes it difficult to know exactly how seriously we should be taking this whole process. That’s not to say that there’s no value here of course. It’s pretty predictable that Chidori’s secret is that she loves Katsuhira, but the way the show frames it as a love that grew cold over time is an incredibly interesting path to take and fits in well with his seeming inability to nail down exactly what went wrong in his life. It could go in a very intriguing direction if the writing can avoid it simply lapsing back into a pining relationship. Given MarI Okada’s track record I’m not too sure about that.
The other neat twist is revealing Nico is not actually everything she seems to be. Given the general reaction to her shrill mascot shtick was largely negative, the revelation it’s a deliberate act seems like a piece of knowing commentary on the character type. It’s an unusually self-aware touch but given that this doesn’t seem to radically alter her behavior I wonder if it was just designed to take the slightly ethereal ‘fairy’ angle away while having her maintain her personality. Again, I hope it’s a bit more than that but the show is going to have to prove that to me, rather than having the benefit of the doubt.
The other revelations are far less impactful and the not only are the more humorous ones not particularly funny, they actively diminish the impact of the ‘serious’s ones. It’s difficult to know where to stand when one character reveals that they were a chubby child and another reveals they MURDERED SOMEONE. Kiznaiver is occasionally genuinely funny (the weird mascot…things remain a highlight in this regard) but I’m far more drawn to the more serious, philosophical and mystery aspects of the plot. That means that the humorous segments often feel like a combination of mood killers and padding. Perhaps that’s just me, but given the strength of the look and concept I can’t imagine the goofy pratfalls being most people’s favourite part of the show. Kiznaiver is still interesting to me, but I’d definitely like it to shape up and find some structure sharpish.
- What’s with that episode title?
- Though I’ve just expressed reservations about their stylistic credentials, there are some lovely Trigger touches here, like Nico’s anguished dance of delight in the final scene.
- This episode’s use of stun batons for torture prompted an interesting anecdote from Iro. The weapons are used in a prominent torture scene in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, but had to be censored to ‘tickle sticks’ for the japanese market. The result is…really something.