Jul 14, 2014
pakoko (All reviews)
Kyousougiga is like a book you randomly stumble upon that you end up reading until you finish it in one-go. Amidst the wide array of classics, bestsellers, and other popular books, Kyousougiga as a book would stand out quietly, waiting to be discovered. And for those who do eventually discover it, Kyousougiga rewards them with a refreshingly original and beautifully heartwarming story.

One peaceful night, a tomboyish girl named Koto accidentally crashes down into the “mirror capital” named Kyoto while chasing a magical black rabbit. In this weird city that models itself after the old medieval Kyoto, Koto discovers her three long-lost siblings that have been trapped in the city for a long time, waiting for their parents to come back. Follow Koto as she tries to mend broken family ties and reunite the family once more, all the while getting into all sorts of trouble.

A fitting description of Kyousougiga would be that it pleases the eye as much as it pleases the heart. Initially, you’ll be drawn in by fantastical world reminiscent of a Japanese version of Alice in Wonderland. The stunning and almost otherworldly sceneries and other eye-catching visuals (like those you would see in a fantasy game) give the show a certain charm unique to its own. You’ll then be drawn in a second time by the heartwarming story of the love and rebirth of a family, in which each family member undergoes some sort of maturation and self-discovery.

Before I get into the family members, it’s worth mentioning that Kyousougiga has quoted lines directly from Lewis Carroll’s poem, “Life is but a dream.” The poem is basically about the inescapability of time and the “loss of innocence” children experience as they transition into adulthood. I mention this poem because all the characters, both the children and the parents, go through this “loss of innocence” and move on to become more mature over the course of the anime. What makes these stories somewhat bittersweet but also emotionally satisfying is that the anime dedicates an episode to explore each member of the family to really help viewers understand their thoughts, their personalities, and their actions. Even as a 1-cour, Kyousougiga doesn’t rush the plot but rather focuses on the characters to build an emotional connection between the viewers and the characters. As some of these characters start to change and discover more about themselves, one can’t help but love the characters even more. The fact that the character designs are distinctively creative and unique help to further stand out the characters and give them identities like none other.

Now, it is a surprise (certainly a relieving one) that Kyousougiga managed to air 10 episodes. Considering the premise of the show and the fact that the five ONAs released beforehand were rather random and perplexing, Kyousougiga was definitely at risk for not even making it to a 1-cour. Moreover, Kyousougiga's lack of budget shows in some parts of the animation, especially when the show literally copies and pastes whole ONA episodes into its episodes. The newly animated episodes are definitely well-made and beautiful to look at, but towards the end there is more dialogue than action rather than the reverse. In addition, the dialogue is rather lengthy and drawn out, slowing down the pacing and overcomplicating the story.

However, Kyousougiga makes a genuine attempt to make up for its flaws. Too many times I see 1-cour anime giving up on wrapping up the anime well and ending it quite abruptly without explanations. In the case with Kyousougiga, however, the dialogue towards the end actually helps explain and make sense of everything. Sure, it takes at least twice or thrice of watching to understand fully, but once understood, viewers will realize that Kyousougiga wraps its complex story up so well that it is almost frightening that they did it in just 10 episodes. As for the animation, I understood the budget situation so I didn’t mind it at all.

In addition, what makes this anime even better is the anime's attention to detail. It is full of symbolism, subtle details, references to Buddhism, and allusions to Lewis Carroll’s, “Through the Looking Glass.” All of these components are actually really important for the show because knowing some of the background knowledge about Buddhism or analyzing some of the symbols and details leads to a deeper understanding of the characters and the plot. For someone who loves to challenge himself to really get to the heart of what the show is trying to say, Kyousougiga was like a gold mine waiting to be struck.

To end, here are some miscellaneous components that made Kyousougiga better:

Music: The soundtrack was the icing on the cake. With music ranging from classical to electronic, there is a wide array of soundtracks that fit the overall uniqueness of the anime. The opening song, “Koko” by Tamurapan, and the insert song, “The Secret of My Life” by Aimee Blackschleger (who sang DOA for AOT), are also still two of my most favorite songs, regardless of genre. The opening song fits perfectly to the anime because the emotionless vocals coupled with a cheery tune gives the song a feeling of melancholy and a sense of longing for loved ones.

Special episode: Usually, special episodes are unnecessary summaries with pointless commentaries. However, the special for Kyousougiga has proved me that some specials are worth watching. In the special, the voice actors visit places in Kyoto that were used as models for the setting in Kyousougiga, and in the process they went over some important background details that actually helped me understand the show better. The anime’s attention to detail was a pleasant surprise for me, and made me appreciate the anime even more.

Story: 10/10
Art: 9/10
Sound: 8/10
Character: 9/10
Enjoyment: 10/10


Overall: 9.2/10

P.S. If you have any questions regarding Kyousougiga, leave a comment on my profile or send me a message!