Title: Kyokou Suiri
Length: 12 x 24 minute episodes
Genre: Supernatural, mystery
Year of release: 2020
Kotoko Iwanaga spends a lot of time at the hospital, walking around with a cane and falling in love with a boy who visits their cousin for no real reason. As she grows up, she learns that Kuro (the now-man she fell in love with for no real reason) and thusly builds the confidence to confess her love to him. Only to then learn that he’s involved in supernatural affairs, but that’s okay, because she’s even more knee-deep in that kind of thing – she’s already a Goddess.
Ultimately, Kyokou Suiri is one of those dialogue-rich shows where characters banter back-and-forth, attempting to corner one-another’s ideas and stories. It’s particularly engaging when Kotoko reveals the inconsistency in Kuro’s story of how he broke up with his girlfriend, and suggests she is indeed smart enough to be a Goddess of ‘Wisdom’. However, this sort of conversation-style is prone to exposing the shallowness of its characters, and the feelings that Kotoko has for Kuro are explained in a convoluted ‘love at first sight’ scenario, yet have been held on for 2 years and Kotoko’s characterisation is something that logically shrinks, moreso than expands, as she talks more and more. The inclusion of biting, sharp dialogue thankfully alleviates this to a degree, with Kuro’s sweet but direct comebacks nudging her ego in an almost charismatic way, but there’s still a lack of gravitas to it all. This style has been done many times in the past few years, throughout shows like the Monogatari series, Denpa-teki na Kanojo etc, and each time these series throw too many ideas at the story and use roundabout conversation styles to get to the gritty bits.
The supernatural aspects are actually quite well thought-out. The idea of her eye and leg being removed aren’t attempts to victimise her, but are mythologically tied to spirituality – which is a rather good save, because there are inconsistencies with her cane-bound, stiff-walking and the show makes no attempt to look inwards to how she might feel as an amputee or how her rehabilitation is going. There’s a few youkai type creatures, such as a book-worm of a fallen warrior ghost, and a transforming tanuki, and the mystery of Kuro is an ongoing saga that the first arc seems intent on addressing.
The supernatural mysteries are the substance of Kyokou Suiri, and while I quite like them so far, the series is putting more of its resources in the embellishment. Frankly, the library monster is barely a footnote tacked onto the end. I quite like this supernatural stuff, and hope that it will continue in an arc-based vein as the pair go monster-hunting, but character progression is something I’m not too interested in. It’s a mildly amusing affair, but Brain’s Base have only mustered up a weak attempt at intricate direction and are more keen to capture rather than present, and that leaves it up to the writing. It’s a passable supernatural affair with witty dialogue, but the cliffhangers are bringing me back for more.