Dec 20, 2013
A dream is like an imagination. Sometimes they feel so real but other times they fade away like illusions where you’ll never be able to reach it again. But dreams sometimes can be larger than life and when we wake up, we may feel surprised. Kyousou Giga is one of those series that surprised me quite a bit despite feeling like living in a dream. It has a sense of uniqueness and style that will lure you in as if you’re in a dream world but everything feels so real.

Kyousou Giga is an animated series that is an expanded adaptation based on the ONA of the same name produced by Toei Animation. The ONA attracted enough attention that a full length TV series now stands itself to expand upon the story. Despite the story feeling like a dream, there is a real feeling of various emotions that presents this show as an extravaganza you will not forget. It’s a dream you’ll wish you won’t be waking from.

The setting of the series takes place called Kyoto. However, it’s nothing like the city as we know it in Japan. In fact, there are supernatural inhabitants sharing the same space as humans and mysterious events takes place. The city itself also has an origin that traces back its roots to some prominent characters. More importantly, we find out that its rulers are three children of this city. The series depicts of a young girl named Koto as she embarks on a journey to find her mother with the help of her two familiars.

Kyousou Giga’s story feels like a dream with a vast amount of imagery and portrayal of imaginations. Rie Matsumoto whom is in charged with the direction takes her skill of directing to an unparalleled level. The way the show handles itself incorporates many motifs and allusions. There’s the style of world crossing phenomenon between the city of Kyoto and Mirror City. Then, there is the progressing story that ties every episode together through flashbacks, feelings, and character dynamics. It’s not just about a story of saving worlds or accomplishing a goal but crafting a legend to tie its themes together for fans to remember by heart.

For the characters, this series portrays them in a variety of ways that are memorable because of their highlights whether it’s joyful or tragic. For starters, Koto can be initially seen as a young girl with an ebullient personality and a head full of curiosities. On the surface, she can be depicted as a typical tomboy whom gets into fights and arguments with others. However, deep down, she can also be an honest girl especially towards those who she cares for. Among those who she interacts with in the show includes Myoe, a young Buddhist monk that looks after them as young siblings. He is human but more importantly has a tragic past as we glimpse in various flashbacks in this show. Throughout the series, he plays the role of a guardian angel for Koto especially during her moments of despair. Usually, these results in her own insecurity and self blames for various events. With a tragic past of his own, Myoe hopes others will not fall under the same boat as him. This is seen several times throughout the series where he snaps Koto out of her dark fantasy and back into reality of what’s there. However, his own inner desire often brinks on the feeling of despair, so much that at one point he wishes to be done for. It wonderfully presents these two characters as ways we can appreciate and feel its realism despite being set in a fantasy world. That’s just the tips of the iceberg though.

Other characters such as Yase and Kurama has their own problems ranging from self-indulgence and a feeling of escapism to another world. At the apex of one event, Yase loses one such possession that she deeply cared which leaves a hole in her life to be despaired. It’s through many of the scenes of this show that depicts tragedy among the characters. Yet, the direction of the series is wonderfully presented thanks to its construction of its rich details. These include the flashbacks involving Myoe where viewers will personally glimpse at his tragic past. It creates that feeling of sorrow where character deals with loss. Losing something is never easy in life whether it’s a beloved sibling, a valuable property, or an unforgettable memory. Kyousou Giga creates an atmosphere that makes viewers feel in a way that they can hold dear.

Despite the moody atmosphere at various scenes of the series, there are also joyful moments such as the original characters in their past times. Myoe (original name: Yakushimaru) also seemed to have a happy life after being adopted. The parental feelings that the show possesses is also touching at various circumstances especially with engaging dialogues and movements of the body. The life of a past Myoe marked with a mixture of calamity and serendipity crafts a powerful story.

The action of the series also present itself well thanks to its choreography. Koto explodes into the show with energy while at the same time making her presence well known. Some of the action itself sparks with intensity with intriguing dialogues as well. The feelings often ranges to extreme during some of these action scenes such as Yase’s rage. Similarly, the comedy of the series is attractive with little gags without being overzealous on timing. No fan service. No awkward camera angles. No stupidity. It sets prestige on the entertainment value combined with humor and action that makes up itself to deliver what fans deserve.

At some instances though, the series might be a bit confusing to get engaged into. The small cast of characters can take a while to get used to. The length of the show itself also might have omitted some more important themes. Also be aware that some of the scenes from the original ONA will be reused given this set as an expanded anime series. The idiosyncratic style of the show might also not be for what everyone is used to. Sure enough, there’s the engaging dialogues but sometimes the family drama could be repetitive. All things aside, the show still explores a wide spectrum of subjects to present a wonderful experience.

The art style of Kyousou Giga is quite unique with touches of fantasy. Kyoto is depicted as a dream like city where realism is void but instead filled with otherworldly phenomenons. The characters are designed to look simple but possesses certain aspects that makes them stand out. Koto looks like an average teenage girl. Myoe is portrayed as a human and thus looks like one. On the other hand, characters such as Lady Koto and Yase gives off a vibe of supernatural. The familiars that travels with Koto also presents a feeling of fantasy.

Soundtrack wise, the series does present itself quite well. Measuring on voice acting talent, Myoe holds the title for his mannerisms because the way he tries to balance between his feelings of loss. Koto is portrayed by the queen of tsundere, Rie Kugimiya. Here, she takes on the role of a young girl filled with energy. Rather than looking for love, she is looking for her mother that is quite different than her better known roles. The OST is fairly noticeable with its powerful vibrations that covers the show’s themes. Whether they are sarcastic, eerie, or emotional, all of them are pleasurable that matches its style. Furthermore, later episodes shows an evolution of the ED songs with little gags added in to create more sense regarding our main characters. The OP song “Koko” by Tamurapan is catchy with its visual portrayals and fantasy elements. The camera rolling captures some of the characters’ body movements as well.

The end game of Kyousou Giga might not be to stick your eyes to the screen and try to absorb every single detail of the series. Instead, it’s to appreciate the style and themes with a credible setting despite being portrayed like a dream. The influences the show possesses can be touched upon Buddhism, Alice in Wonderland, and the real Kyoto itself. The direction of the story is wonderful thanks to its themes, flashbacks, and colorful cast of characters. It might even feel like a dream at some moments with all the feelings mixed in or the fantasy lives of our main characters. Still, it’s a dream you’ll wish will last forever, ever…and ever.
Reviewer’s Rating: 8
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