Hidden within Kyoto is the "mirror capital" where imaginary people and humans live together and no one ever dies. It is protected by three people - Kurama, Yase, and Myoue - as they await the return of their parents, Myoue Jonin and Koto. One day a young girl named Koto (same name, different spelling) and her little brothers A and Un wander into the city from a different dimension looking for her mother.
From its genesis as a one episode ONA, I can't say that I was a fan of Kyousougiga but rather more like an interested party. As far as I am a fan of novelty - and you can you can be sure that I am - I couldn't have said that I particularly liked the original episode though I will say that I saw potential in it. It had energy, it had heart, it had all the bright visuals you could want and it had a stroke of good humour to it that I looked forward to seeing more of. That was the problem though. The original Kyousougiga and even with the five short episodes that followed was too condensed, too short to accommodate the idea and premise it put forward. Needless to say, I was excited when I heard it was receiving a television series. So, did it live up to my expectations? In two words: pretty much.
Everything that was good about the original attempts at this premise has been retained and many of the shortcomings have been resolved. Kyousougiga literally takes the previous ONA episodes and incorporates them into longer episodes with a greater degree of context that allows the series attempts at being meaningful to resonate rather than confuse. Kyousougiga is able to take the time to introduce its world and characters more fully, outlining motivations and history while still entertaining with the same quirky cartoonishness that characterized the ONA series and made them, at least, interesting. The reuse of material from the ONAs (i.e. all of it) is done seamlessly for the most part, extra material weaving amongst the previously shown footage, and does not feel reedited but more like it has been restored to its true form and that the ONA episodes had been the cut down versions. Essentially, Kyousougiga gives its watchers no reason to even think about the ONAs anymore.
The new material is excellent, for the most part, too. The aforementioned added context is superb and effective and the new story arc that rounds off the show brings everything to a satisfying end. One of the issues I had with the ONAs was that they seemed more like an advert for an idea rather than any kind of attempt at a story and, in a sense, that problem remained for most of the series as it covered the previous material not bad - per se but lacking narrative thrust. Thankfully, this issue is addressed about half way through when the series finally begins to address its underlying mysteries and I have to say that the result is positive, not mind-blowing but effective. If I am to criticise then I would have to take issue with the lopsidedness of the narrative. In a sense, it is effective - the slow build-up means I actually have some investment in the setting when the show heads for its climax. However, the series does feel a bit like a show of two halves and some of the build-up in the first half doesn't really come to fruition (the material concerning Yase for example).
It is pretty and it sounds good; what more can I say? The aesthetic choices are bold and varied; each character has their own style whether it is Yase's chromatic demons or Myoue's more down to earth existence and it works in the context of the show. The action is suitably intense and the character designs are varied and fun - Koto is filled with life and it is brought out in her design as well as certain symbolic colour choices that you might notice if you are paying attention. I wouldn't put Kyousougiga on any kind of pedestal but it gets the job done.
You might now be wondering why a show that I am almost unilaterally praising is only getting four stars. Of course, I have my reasons but I will admit that they exist mostly at a gut level. Something is missing in this show. I don't know, I will admit that I am failing as a reviewer here, but so much of the setting feels entirely underutilized - Yase and Kurama, as well as everything attached to them, feel superfluous during the latter half of the series. I also can't help but feel that the show lacked anything truly meaningful to say. Sure, it had a nice message and a nice theme but it lacked punch in that department.
Of course, the fact that I am criticizing its theme only shows my respect for this show. Kyousougiga is definitely a step up from the dross we anime fans have to put up with and I enjoy its ambition. So yeah, this is a recommendation. Kyousougiga won't change your life but it is fun, intelligent and enjoyable. Give it a go.
It is solid and occasionally heartwarming fun. I have no reservation in recommending this series to you. — Aiden Foote
Recommended Audience: One of the character's backstory involves the violent death of his family and a subplot about suicide. That alone makes this one for teenagers or above.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital Source
Review Status: Full (10/10)
Kyousougiga TV © 2013 Toei Animation/Kyousogiga Project
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