The legendary Studio Trigger has firmly cemented its place in anime history due to its involvement in several groundbreaking series, including modern classics like Kill la Kill, Little Witch Academia and Promare. However, one of Trigger's best series, Kiznaiver, frequently gets overlooked -- here's why it remains worth a watch.
Kiznaiver was released in 2016, two years after Kill la Kill concluded. The series featured an all-star production team, including Shirow Miwa (RWBY) handling character designs, Mari Okada (Fate/Stay Night, Toradora!) writing the script, and the debut of Hiroshi Kobayashi as Director -- a milestone in its own right.
Set in an imagined sci-fi future, Kiznaiver follows a group of teenagers who live in Sugomori City. One of these youngsters is Katsuhira Agata, a young man with no sense of pain who seems emotionally closed off, hardly reacting to anything happening around him.
One day, a mysterious girl named Noriko Sonozaki appears. She seems to have no emotions but informs Katsuhira, his friend Chidori Takashiro and five other students that they've been selected to become Kiznaivers. The group soon learns that Kiznaivers are people who are hooked up to the experimental Kizna System -- which shares pain between all who are connected to it. So if one member gets hurt, be it an emotional or physical wound, then the system takes this pain and shares it among the other Kiznaivers, forcing them to endure it along with the victim.
Noriko informs the group that they will test this system, with each Kiznaiver representing a modern version of one of the seven deadly sins. She claims the aim in using the system is to eventually bring about world peace. Katsuhira and the others are thrown into dangerous and deadly missions to prove that it can do what the Kizna Committee believes it can. These missions force the characters to open up to each other and become friends -- even if they have to reveal dark secrets in the process.
Kiznaiver is a fascinating character-focused story that explores the nature of empathy and human connection. The series is built around a captivating question about how we as humans approach other people, and how hard it can be to understand what's going on in someone else's head. The characters are all multi-faceted and show different ways that pain can manifest and cause problems and division within society.
This is all topped off by Studio Trigger's famous animation, which is bright, expressive and perfectly blends solid character and environment work with a touch of surrealism and exaggeration that perfectly captures the emotional turmoil the characters are trapped within. Shirow Miwa's memorable character designs are a highlight, conveying so much about each cast member's personality.
Kiznaiver was brought to America by Crunchyroll, yet it remains an unfortunately overlooked anime. It is perfect for fans who want to watch something different and is a must-watch for Studio Trigger fans. While Kiznaiver is fascinating and well-animated, it wasn't as eye-catching or memetic as Kill la Kill and thus didn't generate the word-of-mouth buzz of Trigger's previous work. It also arrived before the studio became such a massive name in the anime space, meaning many simply overlooked the series. However, for those waiting for Studio Trigger's next big project to land, Kiznaiver is the perfect way to bridge the gap.