Winter 2020 Week 7 Roundup: Kyokou Suiri needs to perk up

Kyokou Suiri Episode 1 Review

I’d love to say that, over the past few weeks, I’d built up a love/hate relationship with Kyokou Suiri. But the reality is far more mild. Compare say, to Monogatari – that there is a show that can have me applauding one minute, only to have me recoiling in sheer cringe the next; epitomising the true marmite experience. Kyokou Suiri just doesn’t have that ability to conjure intense reactions.

Take, for example, its current case, dubbed The Steel Lady Nanase. This arc started midway through the third episode, gifting a time-lapse into the future that’s kind of out of nowhere. Steel Lady Nanase is a former idol that seems to be taking vengeance out on the society that flamed her, yet the group come to the conclusion that the spectre is not actually a ghost, but a creation of internet imagination. Internet hysteria is a powerful force, and Kyokou Suiri is attempting to discuss it.

With non-stop discussion.

Non-stop discussion.

kyokou suiri

Barring a brief fight scene, every episode centres on dialogue. The exchanges are mostly attempts at whittling down the information to its logical conclusions. As always, it’s hard to see these topics without sensing some major leaps of logic, and while Kyouko Suiri has several, it also has the problem of talking around in circles with so little character! If you take out the handful of moments that Kotoko makes sexual euphemism or Kuro’s ex-girlfriend makes a suggestion of her feminine innocence (eurgh), there’s very little distinguishing the characters from one another and the large lapses of spoken word feel extremely homogeneous – despite multiple speakers! Each speaker has equal ability to question, equal ability to explain, equal ability to hypothesise… really, the cast’s characterisation is too flat.

The gang attempt to beat Steal Lady Nanase by changing the internet narrative, and in the latest episode, chat at length about ways to reframe the facts. The peaceful traditional soundtrack lulls, but that doesn’t work in the favour of the flatly depicted hotel room chat about not-much-at-all, and it begins to lull more to sleep. Interspersed amongst the endless chatter about how to fabricate information (which, by the way, results in Iwanaga eating a chocolate and merely stating that she has several ways of defeating Nanase), there is a few moments of fanservice for Kuro, where the two women after him do their select personality trait gimmicks. It’s not until the very ending that it feels like things really begin to move, whereby we learn about that cousin that Kuro visits at the hospital.

nanase.jpg

And then the credits roll.

I understand that these pseudo-sophisticated talky mystery shows are rather intentionally slow, and happy to veer off-topic. I like a good mystery and a good bit of dialogue. I’m willing to applaud the underlying plotting, with a smartly designed supernatural monster to defeat and some poignant themes. But it’s all lost in the presentation, whereby I’m sighing at the weak attempts to characterise with fanservice, and shrugging at the blandness of it all.

With the mystery moving into its final stages next episode, I’m hoping I’ll be able to say that Kyokou Suiri perks up. But I’m doubting this show will have much gall left.

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