Kyokou Suiri Review: Facing the Ghosts of the Ego

Kyokou Suiri Review

This time, let's delve into one of the most buzzed-about anime of the winter 2020 season: Kyokou Suiri. It unfolds the tale of a girl with the extraordinary ability to bridge two worlds. I understand it might sound quite impressive, but as the narrative unfolds, we'll discover that the premise isn't misleading, even though the execution is not particularly flashy, at least not visually. However, it does leave a lasting impression on a cerebral level.

Before we delve further, let's lay down some groundwork. Kyokou Suiri is an adaptation of the manga of the same name, written by Shirodaira Kyou and illustrated by Katase Chashiba. This anime falls within the genres of Comedy, Romance, and Supernatural, spanning a decent 12 episodes and brought to life by Brain’s Base. With that introduction, it's clear that this anime is a unique narrative. It takes its time, dedicating almost the entire season to unravel a single arc, and this deliberate pacing is what adds to its fascination.


What is Kyokou Suiri About?

In her childhood, Kotoko was abducted by yokais, creatures with human and animal characteristics. These spirits transformed her into a potent intermediary between the spiritual and human realms, but this power came at a price: the loss of one eye and one leg. Now, years later, she safeguards yokais, aiding them in conflict resolution while developing feelings for Kuro, a young man with healing powers from an incident involving a yokai. Due to her condition and love for Kuro, she invites him to join her in managing rogue yokais, maintaining the delicate balance between reality and the supernatural.

However, this merely sets the stage for the story. The true plot unfolds with the emergence of "The Steel Lady Nanase." Kotoko must eliminate this manifestation that jeopardizes the equilibrium between reality and fiction. To accomplish her mission, the support of Saki, Kuro's ex-girlfriend, and Kuro himself are indispensable. In their unique ways, they become the pillars supporting Kotoko as she confronts the true mastermind behind the manifestation.

Kyokou Suiri Trailer

The Positive Aspects: A Cleverly Crafted Plot

Kyokou Suiri may initially seem cliché, and its plot might not immediately stand out compared to other stories in the genre. However, it boasts a compelling feature: its script. The entire weight of the narrative rests on the script, emphasizing the true significance not in the action but in the dialogue. It's crucial to emphasize that this doesn't diminish the quality or necessity of the animation. The real essence lies in storytelling, resolving conflicts through dialogue—a distinctive aspect that sets this series apart. While it's not the pioneer of this formula, it stands out as one of the few that has executed it correctly and justified its presence, not as mere evangelism but as a genuine solution.

Similarly, the script achieves another significant success in character development, especially with Kotoko as the main character. To delve into the characters, it's essential to note that this story unfolds in three distinct phases: a well-executed introduction in the first episode, an action bridge in the second episode, and the Steel Lady Nanase arc spanning from the third episode to the twelfth and final episode. Why is this noteworthy? These phases allow us to position ourselves temporally in the story, comprehending the background of their relationships without unnecessary depth.

The success lies in the capacity to develop characters without overly delving into them initially. The character construction is robust and doesn't demand any special development. However, this doesn't imply a lack of growth in the characters; rather, their evolution is an inevitable consequence of the script, prioritizing it over being a necessary element solely for plot development.

The Downsides: Not Universally Appealing

Now, let's delve into the aspects that temper the brilliance of this anime, and that's the pacing of the narrative. While the script is brilliant, excelling in discoveries and captivating solutions, the heavy reliance on the script may lead to weariness for some viewers. It's worth noting that from the third episode until the twelfth, the storyline is entirely focused on one theme: "The Steel Lady Nanase." This means that for ten episodes, attention remains fixated on a single theme. Personally, I don't view this as inherently negative, but if you're not a fan of intricate plotlines and detailed explanations, you might find it somewhat tiresome.

Despite highlighting the characters as a positive aspect, keep in mind that I did so with the intention of underscoring their robust construction. However, they possess a conflicting characteristic—empathizing with any of them can be challenging. While Kotoko, as the protagonist, is easily appreciated, the same cannot be said for the rest of the cast.

It's challenging to connect emotionally with Kuro, and as for Saki, well, she evokes discomfort in the viewer. It might just be me, but understanding her necessity in the scene is genuinely challenging. The last character in the cast is Rikka, another obscure point. She boasts a powerful construction, and her actions are well thought out. As a villain, she excels. However, comprehending her ideals and motivations proves challenging, once again hindering empathy with her character.

Final Thoughts

Kyokou Suiri stands out as an anime with a brilliant script, presenting a simple yet powerful plot that subtly explores existential doubts. The narrative, intertwined with somewhat sophisticated arguments, attempts to address these uncertainties. The animation and character design contribute significantly to the success of the story, providing visual appeal without being overly flashy, allowing the real action—words—to take center stage. While the series may not cater to everyone's taste, it's still worth recommending to a broader audience.

Continuing with the tradition, it's time to assign a score, emphasizing that this is a wholly subjective evaluation. In my view, this anime merits an 86/100. I hold a deep appreciation for its script, confidently ranking it among my favorites from the winter 2020 season. However, it falls short in capturing my attention entirely due to the absence of some crucial elements. Nevertheless, one aspect cannot be ignored—the ending is exceptional. Mamoru Miyano, my favorite seiyuu, delivers a musical delight with the final theme, making a compelling case for a 91/100 rating.

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