A journey into Kyousou Giga is an experience like no other. It is perhaps, out of all things, most analogous to wandering in a circus, stumbling upon the Hall of Mirrors, and coming back having witnessed a sensational light show. In other words, Kyousou Giga is a show that stands out for its use of exuberant visuals; it displays a charm that is unique and impressive.
However, looks can often be deceiving, and thankfully, this is not the case for Kyousou Giga. Admittedly, the beginning seems bizarre; lots of random, unrelated events occur spontaneously. Nonetheless, a darker narrative, which Kyousou Giga skillfully weaves with its initially lighthearted tone, later takes center stage. And not only does Kyousou Giga manage to blend these heterogeneous elements together, it does it very well. It’s like seeing a constellation of fireworks as they meander into the air, only to explode in a colorful harmony. And never before have fireworks looked so beautiful.
Set in the Mirror Capital, Kyousou Giga begins with the Council of Three. The Capital is a painting originally created by a monk named Myoue, who, gifted with supernatural abilities, can give life to anything he draws. Lady Koto, by way of Myoue’s magic and an encounter with a bodhisattva, transforms from a drawing of a black rabbit to a human, and later confesses her love to Myoue. Myoue soon reciprocates Lady Koto’s affection, and creates the Capital, as society became increasingly intolerant of his supernatural acts, to escape from reality and to foster their family. Their family is composed of three children; Kurama and Yase, created from Myoue’s drawings, and Yakushimaru, a human being. The Council of Three are the three siblings who, after the sudden disappearance of their parents, took over the Capital. One day, as Yakushimaru is observing the Capital, a lightning storm comes by, bringing in its wake an eccentric girl called Koto, who’s searching for a black rabbit.
By a storm Koto arrives, and what a storm Koto will leave. As it turns out, Koto is a catalyst for trouble and chaos. Almost every scene Koto lands on is bound to be marked by havoc: wrecked either by her whimsical tendencies or her monumental, destructive hammer. The first half of the story does an excellent job of establishing her impulsive character and the second of fleshing it out. Particularly, as the central mystery of the black rabbit is slowly unveiled, Koto begins to gain a sense of belonging. As she searches for something that’s missing from her heart, the Capital becomes her compass, her guidance, and her home. Every character she stumbles upon gradually shapes who she is, and by the end, Koto has found the ultimate bliss. Thankfully, this development is paced properly and thereby blossoms naturally.
Koto also brings about excitement to those surrounding her. Acts of kindness and acts of joy, Koto’s true talent lies with her ability to inspire change by way of her impetuous acts. Her interactions with other characters, through thick and thin, effectuate in the development and characterization for said characters. For instance, one of Yase’s notorious temperamental outrages is stabilized by Koto when, after a duel of fists, Yase is able to calm down and reflect upon the kindness around her, a kindness of which Koto offers to those who need it the most. Afterwards, although Yase does not show it immediately, she begins developing a faint, more sympathetic aura than before. Subtly, she matures from a sprout to a flower.
On another note, Kyousou Giga also enriches its narrative by paying homage to Japanese folklore and Buddhist tales. And it does so excellently. Extrapolating on folklore such as the “Moon Rabbit” or “Scrolls of Frolicking Animals,” Kyousou Giga breathes life into its mystical characters—imbibing the cultural significances that are entailed by said folklores. It is as if Kyousou Giga is taking inanimate legends and rendering them into contemporary art form—as if to yield the perfect balance between faithful “adaptation” and its own creative license. Luckily, this means that even side characters—many of whom are caricatured and used as a comic relief—are given flair from the past: colorful spirits that roam around nonchalantly under Yase’s rule, anthropomorphic animals that speak human tongue, and so on. Even an ordinary motif such as the recurring paper-cut crowds from metropolis can make for a great enhancement to the vibrancy of the Mirror Capital.
The presentation is, by and large, a combination of unique visual designs and stellar direction. When likened to Koto’s wackiness, the Mirror Capital is portrayed to be full of mundane follies and mischief. Moreover, Kyousou Giga is able to, in tune with its aesthetics, construct a universe supernatural in concept, but down-to-earth in essence. There’s nothing quite like the way that Kyousou Giga fills its canvas: covering it initially with unearthly shapes and vivid imagery, only to be animated by a brush that conjures lifelike wonders. The end result is an unbelievably vibrant piece of work that is both pleasing to the eye and immersed with depth. Of course, this is not without the help of backdrops that depict all four seasons of the year; from the bountiful nature of the spring to the scathing effects of the wintry snow. Similarly, the OST serves its purpose well. Powerful during action scenes and minimalistic when needed to be, the OST complements the elegant animation.
A prominent theme in Kyousou Giga is the importance of familial identity. Many characters evaluate their self-worth entirely upon the status quo of their family, and for the Council of Three, who have a dysfunctional family, that is very little. Beautiful as it may be to see Koto develop her own take on her identity, it’s perhaps more joyful to witness the subtle transformations that overcome the three. Through trials and tribulations, they find that family is more than a superficial tradition to live by. To be a family means to make mistakes. To make silly decisions, to argue about frivolous matters, and to spend time leisurely: this is what a family does. It, akin to all things in life, isn’t perfect, and Kyousou Giga tells us not to hinge or weigh ourselves based on mistakes of the past or decisions made in the future. It tells us to live freely in the present, as Koto does, and to see the silver lining in the clouds.
Much of this is expressed via the lighthearted mood of the series; the comedy and the playful tone. Koto’s whimsical actions and her buffooneries, more than the purpose of entertainment, resound the central theme of living capriciously. Without Koto, the Council of Three would’ve spent eternity waiting; without change, the present stagnates. Koto’s greatest tools to inspire change are her hammer and smile. All this is to remind us to live life to the fullest, joyfully.
Kyousou Giga is an impressive anime. Rich in folkloristic imagery, wildly creative in direction, and breathtaking in visuals, Kyousou Giga is certainly one of the best anime in recent years. Even with action, drama, and fantasy, it is able to harmoniously blend these elements together without homogenizing its creative, distinct flavor. Be it fireworks, a painting, or a Hall of Mirrors, Kysousou Giga is a work that deftly conveys its messages by way of its memorable characters, narrative, and production. A journey into Kyousou Giga is an experience like no other.
P.S. I think I used too many photos but there were simply too many to pick from!
P.P.S. This review was (not) 10 episod- I mean, 10 paragraphs for no reason.
Obligatory Score: 85/100