Saturday night. I’m trapped in bed with a raging fever, and my husband convinces me to hang out with him and watch some anime. (Side note: this is not meant to imply that I’d be doing anything else other than watching anime on a Saturday night, I’m not exactly a socialite.)
“I hear this one is really good”, he says, as he pops on Kyosougiga from the Crunchyroll app.
I cannot describe to you what on earth I watched in the next 30 minutes. When it was over, I turned to my husband and said “I’m pretty sure I need to go the doctor because I hallucinated all over this episode.” He responded “No, that was just crazy and indescribable,” assuring me that what I’d witnessed was not a creation of some terrible flu virus and was actually an actual tv show, somehow.
After watching the first episode, I did not know WHAT to expect going forward, but the show was surprisingly composed and made a lot more sense after that. And actually, it’s brilliant, touching, thought-provoking and totally charming.
So, what the hell is this thing?!
Kyosougiga (don’t even ask me how to pronounce that one) is an anime about a fantastical world, basically. Let me tell you the story, and trust me on this one: while I’ll keep as much of this show a surprise as possible, if I were in your shoes, I’d want someone like me to tell me the premise so I could understand a little more of what I’m getting into.
Once upon a time, there lived a high priest in the mountains who had the power of creation- he could make anything he drew come to life. He lived in exile, as his powers were greatly feared by the nearby villagers. He came to draw a city he imagined, called Kyoto (“the mirror capital”) and it came to life as a through-the-looking-glass kind of fantastical place where his crazy creations could live together in harmony. He drew a rabbit one day and named her Koto, and Koto wanted to know about love and life. She made a deal with a Bodhisattva and became a beautiful human woman who won the priest’s heart. They came to have three children: Kurama, a boy like the Buddha; Yakushimaru, the middle child; and Yase, a young girl with the wrath of a demon. However, their happy family comes to an abrupt end one day when Koto’s deal with the Bodhisattva ends and the priest tucks his children into Kyoto and seals it shut, promising that one day he will return with the beginning and the end.
Many years pass, and the three children rule over the crazy world of Kyoto. Humans and demons live together and fantastical things happen every day, but the children focus on the return of their parents even after they grow up. But one day, a girl who goes by the name Koto and looks suspiciously like both the rabbit Koto and the high priest appears in Kyoto out of nowhere! She really shakes things up in Kyoto as she asks way too many questions, breaks things, annoys the crap out of the priest’s children and gets stuck without a way home. Will she ever get out of Kyoto and back to her world, and will the children’s mother and father ever return?
I can’t decide if I love or hate this show’s animation. It’s kind of all over the place and covers both extremes. Some of the animation is stunning, practically Disney or dare I say Miyazaki looking stuff, while other things are very crudely drawn (intentionally, I believe) and the randomness of the quality and it’s use drive me absolutely nuts. But when this show is pretty, it is drop-dead gorgeous. There are some fun things hidden in the scenes that are explained much later in the show, so make sure to pay close attention to everything! I love it when shows reward viewers for paying attention.
The plot of this show is kind of crazy as well. It goes in several directions and is rather unpredictable, but ties together in the end into one nice albeit zany package. Furthermore, the story is not only complex but has a great depth to it philosophically speaking that I really enjoyed. It’s not that often you find an anime that manages to be both thought-provoking and fun at the same time; I find many that try to go down this road end up coming off as too transparently political or just boring and didactic. Kyosougiga is definitely neither of those things.
The characters are relatively interesting. Much of the show revolves around the three children, particularly Yakushimaru who has become apathetic and careless over the years. They do develop and change to some degree over the series. Koto (the girl, not the rabbit) doesn’t become especially intriguing until the latter half of the show, which is funny because she did nothing for me at the beginning and was kind of annoying but then I couldn’t get enough of what was going on with her. It’s kind of fun when things are crazy and unpredictable, isn’t it?
If this show has any faults, I suppose it would be that it is sometimes hard to keep up with so many things going on at once while trying to catch hints and implications that might come back later. Also, just generally the first episode making NO SENSE WHATSOEVER is kind of a fault. And this isn’t just like “we’re going to drop you into something and you won’t understand”, it’s really stuff that is just crazy and nonsense even after you understand what the story is. Koto the girl’s story can be a bit one-dimensional at times, as sometimes it just seems like she’s there to “shake things up” so to speak.
It’s fun though. Really fun. If you’re looking for something new and different, this one is a must-see.