Watching a show while it’s airing is a shaky process. Depending on how good the weekly episode is, your opinion can change on a dime, and this is something I don’t particularly like about reviewing seasonal shows. Sometimes I wonder if I could just watch the show I was negative towards all in one go, maybe my critical view would be different. For example, Terror in Resonance got a lot of crap from people while it was airing, including myself, and the whole time I couldn’t help but think: Maybe it’s better over the span of a few days, than the span of three whole months. I mean people can get so deterred by one or two below average episodes of an otherwise good show, and I just want to say, “Jeez! Don’t jump the gun so quickly!” Of course then I watch Kiseijuu, and I feel like a complete hypocrite!
Kiseijuu is a prime example of this sort of “seasonal sickness,” as I’ll lazily refer to it. The first half, despite my complaints near the end, was well directed, and constructed. In fact, I thought it was one of the strongest shows of the fall 2014 season, if not the strongest; but man has this second half been a drop in quality. The pace is slower, the writing quality has dropped, and while the show isn’t bad or boring by any means, there’s almost no bite or grit to it anymore. Instead the series has been running in circles, repeating Shinichi’s already tired character arc, and reiterating its themes and animalistic and human nature over and over again. I wish I could say it will be alright, that it will all be better if I readjust my view on it, but I can’t.
Of course even with all of that said, I can’t really say that this show is truly bad. In fact, Kiseijuu is still pretty good and easy to watch, but when comparing this arc to the first half, it just falls flat. It’s hard to know where to start, but I figure I’ll just go for the obvious target first, aka the pacing and repetition. Okay, so you remember all of that cool thematic stuff about the evolution of the parasites, and how Shinichi was upset with his loss of humanity while they continued to grow more human. It was a cool juxtaposition, wasn’t it? Well, I definitely can’t say that anymore since these most recent episodes have basically done that all over again.
Yes, I understand Shinichi’s arc had yet to be completely resolved, and that the creators could have technically expanded upon the show’s themes; but they had already been pretty well explored in my opinion. Still, that doesn’t stop Kiseijuu from using the same set pieces and ideas from the first half yet again. Shinichi struggles to breath when thinking about his Mom, the parasites start to develop individual personalities, etc, etc. Don’t get me wrong some of the additions are cool, like Miki, the new creature which is controlled by multiple parasites that swap from an extremely emotional clutz, to a cold and calculating personality named Gotou; but otherwise, most of this just feels like padding.
I wouldn’t necessarily mind this very much if this arc was short, but it isn’t. It’s six full episodes of plot that doesn’t feel very important, much less forward moving. A detective named Tamura discovers Shinichi’s secret and he has to cooperate with him in order to survive, Ryouko Tamura develops a bond with her baby and gets into some sticky situations, and this all culminates into a sad ending where a major female character dies. The Kana arc did pretty much all of that, except with Hideo Shimada instead of Ryouko, and it did it in a shorter amount of time. I see no excuse to drag out this specific arc out except for, “We didn’t have enough material.”
This also isn’t helped by the fact that some of the filler is bland battles, and more of the annoying romance drama stuff that never felt very interesting to begin with. Murano is at max blandness here, spouting the same, “You’re not my Shinichi,” crap she’s been saying since episode 6. And oh the shonen exposition fights! Usually the fights in Kiseijuu so far have been characterized by their intensity and gore, but the fight between Miki/Gotou and Shinichi is just so generic, and it’s overflowing with shonenisms that the show had been otherwise avoiding. Long stretches of exposition about the opponent’s powers, sudden strategy changes, and lots of running, it just doesn’t feel like Kiseijuu. Not only are these fights pretty unimpressive, but they also don’t feature the same gorgeous presentation of the first half. Oh don’t get me wrong, this show is still quite good looking, but these fights clearly aren’t where the budget is going.
However, despite all of the misgivings I have, I will admit that I actually really liked the way this arc ended. Sure it ended with another female character death meant to propel the main protagonist’s character development forward, but this time it was done slightly better. Where as Kana’s death came off as a tasteless Gwen Stacy copy, Ryouko’s death is much more satisfying and interesting on the whole; especially in the context of the Kiseijuu’s overarching themes. Throughout the past six episodes Ryouko has grown less and less animalistic, she’s laughing, protecting her child, and in general being a lot more expressive and empathetic toward humanity. Her death represents a full circle for the stories themes, since at this point Shinchi has become almost completely detached with his human side, and his only concern is survival; but when he sees Ryouko protect and die for her child, it sparks the emotions locked within him, and he finally cries. Yes, it’s pretty cheesy if you think about it, and the fact it’s yet another motherly/feminine figure dying is a little bit too ridiculous for coincidence, but it works well in closing off this thematic thread. Sure it’s not as powerful as with Shinichi’s Mother’s death, but it works nonetheless, and it made me feel a sense of pathos that I hadn’t felt in several episodes.
Suffice to say, Kiseijuu has been a little bit of mixed bag recently, though you really shouldn’t let that deter you. In the grand scheme of things, this show has maintained a rather steady level of quality throughout, even if this last arc was repetitive and slow. Kiseijuu may not end up being the great epic it was promising at the beginning, but it’s consistently entertaining and we- okay maybe not well written, but at least it looks nice. At the end of the day I still recommend this show, so take my complaints in hand, acknowledge them, and move on. Hopefully this is just a small slump in the show’s track record.
And with that I bid you adieu. See you in the final post!