The world of anime must never lose the kind of beauty embodied in shows like Kyousou Giga.

This series, Kyousou Giga, is one of a handful of anime that I put in a select category that I can point to and say “That’s anime.” It does things only anime can do, and makes anime what it is because of those things. This series is magnificent, ineffable, surreal in the best sense. It’s anime.

It is very strangely beautiful. Beautiful in a way I’ve never experienced. In fact, the feeling I perceived as I watched this show, though impossible to describe, had one definite effect: this show was very hard to watch. I could not watch more than one or two episodes at once before it felt like a heavy weight on my mind. Yet the feeling that I was experiencing something indescribably beautiful endured both during and after my viewing experience. 

This is, therefore, a truly powerful anime. Not simply because of that effect and its odd beauty, but because it’s intricate, perhaps too much so but nevertheless effectively so, and yet it is also very simple. It is very human and heartfelt. It is beautiful as only anime can be, and that gets me excited in a way nothing else can. 

The series is an anime original, not drawing from a direct source (though it does draw from other literature, which I’ll discuss below), and is divided into several pieces that are not distinct. The original ONA was published as a single 25-minute episode in late 2011, followed in late 2012 with five short ONA episodes, followed by a 10-episode TV series airing late 2013. All of them are produced by the famous Toei Animation studio. They don’t seem to be linear in time, and some of them are more confusing than others. The 10-episode TV series is the best in my opinion, evoking the most feeling and explaining the most about the complex situation depicted in this series. But the five 10-minute ONAs are nice character studies. A couple of them are funny, a couple of them are very evocative. Some material from these reappears in the TV series later on.

I love this show. It’s hard to say you love something when you also say it’s hard to endure, but that is the case here unequivocally. This is one of those gems, perhaps even a hidden gem, that the true anime fan must experience. If the world of anime were a tyranny then its citizens should be compelled to watch this show. Since happily the world of anime is a free state, I urge you to freely choose to watch this show. It is that wonderful.

Rating: 5 out of 5.


Rating: 9

There’s a little girl, four curious familiars, a Buddhist monk, another Buddhist monk and his Buddha-like brother and an oni sister, an organization tasked with maintaining cosmic order, and one very curious rabbit.

The little girl is Koto. There are two Kotos in this series, and both are magnificent. But we will start with Koto the younger, the human girl with her hammer of justice and her immense powers of love. I won’t spend too much time on this Character section, as I could just as easily write a book about any part of this show as write a quick summary, and the summary is better here, for any number of obvious reasons. Koto is that lively, wild kind of anime character we love, a type we are familiar with in many memorable characters such as Ryuko Matoi (Kill la Kill) and Monkey D. Luffy (One Piece). They are wild and free, and we all wish we could be a little bit more like them, and the world would be a better place if we were.

Good decision number one, or good decision number one thousand, whichever of the many it was in this anime, was casting Rie Kugimiya as the little girl Koto. Many of you may not know her, as she never plays major roles, but almost all of you will recognize her as the voice of Alphonse Elric (Fullmetal Alchemist) and Happy (Fairy Tail, and subsequently Edens Zero). Her boyish voice is perfect for the unrestrained and emotionally charged Koto. I had a fondness for her for Happy’s role, and recognized her immediately from FMA, but I gained a new appreciation for her talents here in Kyousou Giga. It was a pleasure to listen to her. She was always the most striking voice in any scene.

Koto. I should mention cinematography was great in this show. Artwork section, I know.

Needless to say, this series wouldn’t be what it is without Koto. Either of them. My favorite character in this series behind the heroine Koto is that curious rabbit and little Koto’s mother, also named Koto. She is the reason I even started watching this series. I’ll save most of that commentary for the Artwork section, as Lady Koto’s most striking feature is her appearance. But her voice is the second most striking thing about her. 

Aya Hisakawa provides this otherworldly voice for this beautiful character. Though modern audiences might not be super familiar with her, Hisakawa-san has a prolific resume. She is Sailor Mercury in the Sailor Moon series. She is Retsu Unohana in Bleach (the shikigami with the two braids of hair joined in front). She is one of the two voices of Keroberos in Cardcaptor Sakura. She is Rem Saverem in the original Trigun series. She is Lola in One Piece; say what you will about that ridiculous character, she has one of the best voices in One Piece. She is Hex in Jormungand, another great if slightly lesser known voice. And pretty recently she took over the role of Bulma in the ever-enduring Dragon Ball franchise. Yep, she’s been around. She is wonderful.

Myoue is one of the strangest characters in the series. I will go ahead and admit here that this showed swamped me culturally, meaning that, not being culturally Japanese by any concept of the imagination, I was in the dark about much of the intricacies of the mythology interwoven into this series. Myoue appearing first as the Buddhist monk, then bequeathing his name and title to his “son,” then reappearing as Inari on our world and as a member of the Shrine and caretaker of young Koto, was all very confusing, though not difficult to follow as the story unfolded. Why Yukushimaru took the name of “Myoue” after inheriting the elder Myoue’s position confused me. Why Myoue became “Inari” confused me. The matter of whether “Myoue” was a name or title confused me. A lot about this character, in both forms, confused me. So much so that I don’t know what to write about him really other than to say he was key to much of the story, and was definitely entertaining.

Both Kotos are wonderful in different ways.

Yukushimaru’s siblings were Kurama, the Buddha-like creature sitting in the sake saucer, a conniving but otherwise apparently good-intentioned person, and Yase, the oni sister. Kurama was meh, though his plots moved the story effectively. Yase was wonderful. She was as wild as Koto once she’d let loose in her oni form. When she was herself, she was a gentle and soft-hearted girl, who missed her poor mother tremendously. Her flashback scenes with Lady Koto when she was first born were very touching. Her eyes were really curious too. Artwork section. Eri Kitamura plays this voice. Most of us have heard her in Puella Magi Madoka Magika as Sayaka, or perhaps in the game Genshin Impact as Keqing. Or maybe in My Hero Academia as Mina Ashido. Ami in Toradora? Yui in Angel Beats? Her ecchi anime roles such as Ranko Honjou (My First Girlfriend is a Gal; hot), Alleyne (Queen’s Blade), Kakouen Myousai (Ikkitousen; mind-shattering), Saya Takagi (Highschool of the Dead)? No, still haven’t heard of her? How about in Fairy Tail as Cana? The Monogatari series as Karen Araragi? Yep, you just didn’t know you know you know her.

The second reason I watched this series is because Chiwa Saito voices a character. It was not the Chiwa Saito voice we all are enthralled with from Monogatari (the inimitable Senjyougahara), but she still did a great job here as Professor Shouko. She was wild as little Koto sometimes. While not treated to the ultra memorable form of Saito-san’s voice I so remember, I very much enjoyed this character and performance. The 10-minute ONA that focuses on her is a lot of fun.

Professor Shouko was often lightly perturbed by Koto’s antics. Only lightly.

I must say I’m at a complete loss to make any commentary on A and Un. There’s something here, perhaps something very important, that I’m not seeing. These two familiars hang around with little Koto all throughout the series. I wish I could decipher their significance, but as of now I cannot, and so will not unnecessarily lengthen this section with any musings I’ve had on them. They’re fun characters.

The final fun character was the High Priest of the Shrine. He is simply called High Priest, without a given name. He’s fun because in him I instantly recognized Franky’s voice from One Piece, belonging to the one and only Kazuki Yao. I’ve rarely heard that voice in anything other than One Piece, but it’s impossible to forget.

The story is such an overwhelming driving force in this story, and the artwork shines so brightly as to blot out all else around it, that the characters seem like they’re the least important part. And relatively they might be, but only relatively, and only because of how forefront the story and artwork are. These are fun characters all. It’s hard to imagine so much being packed into characters that have so few episodes to put their talents on display, but these guys are wonderful. Great writing, great creativity, and great humanity formed this beautiful set of characters, and those that brought these characters to life in this anime did a masterful job of it. The theme of this review, without a doubt, is beauty, and beautiful is the best way to describe these characters.


Rating: 10

As this review proceeds, it becomes increasingly more difficult for me to describe the beauty of each part, from the characters to the artwork to the story. The characters are the easiest, though a relative term here. The beauty of the story will be the most difficult to discuss. But the artwork is in between the two, and definitely is difficult to talk about in our human language.

It is very beautiful. Very strangely beautiful. It has that artsy anime feel, where shapes are irregular and proportions and physical features, both human and otherwise, are even more out of proportion than is typical of anime. But it is beautiful without a doubt. There were moments where I caught my breath so hard it was almost alarming, such was my shock at the beauty I was beholding.

Lady Koto, mother Koto, did this the most often to me. She embodies all the stateliness of traditional Japanese beauty combined with this curiously beautiful art style, and the result is indescribable. Perhaps the best way I can describe it is with this: she just might be the most alive anime character I’ve ever seen. 

This is probably the best sequence in the entire series, certainly the most memorable. It’s wonderful.

I could describe her appearance, her red eyes, her pale skin, her silvery white hair with its two black strands standing in place of her rabbit ears, her beautiful hairstyle with cleanly cut bangs and locks framing her face and her flowing train behind, her strangely traditional but unusual outfit, her face both matronly yet ageless. But it would not tell you anything about her real appearance. None of those words do enough. They are like describing a painting by the colors and the varieties of paint used. You simply have to see it to know it, to know how beautiful it is.

The other most remarkable bit of artwork in this show is little Koto. A magnificent imagination brought Lady Koto to life in this anime, and just as magnificent an imagination sketched out child Koto. Her red eyes are so big, so egg shaped, so full of color and life. Her head is very round, but perfectly so. Her body is so out of scale with her head it would be alarming if you stopped and noticed it, but you don’t because it’s so perfect. Her face is so expressive that I venture to say, with caution, it might show emotion better than any normal human face. Anime can accomplish some amazing things with big eyes, simple mouths, and hair and eyebrows, and little Koto is one of the best examples of this art form used perfectly that I’ve ever seen. She is truly so very non-human, yet so very, truly human, simultaneously.

I love red eyes in anime already, but between the two Kotos I was just about overwhelmed. It was seeing those eyes of these two that I first found myself at a loss for words to describe this anime’s beauty. It’s like looking at them causes them to borrow a little of your life for themselves, thus astonishing our senses, and causing my mind to completely go silent except to absorb the wonder I was seeing. 

In this sequence showing the past, Koto has just beaten up the whiny little boy to the right, and the teacher fusses at Inari about it in the background. The peculiar shapes of the foreground characters are very effective, though obviously strange to our minds. Yet we can clearly see a certain guilty smugness in Koto’s face, obvious childish crying from the boy, and youthful curiosity in the onlookers at the adults’ conversation. Then there are the lighting touches, and the almost out-of-focus trees, something that’s present in almost all greenery in backgrounds throughout this show.

The creativity behind this anime is quite strong, and the artwork gets a lot of doses of this creativity throughout. The odd people and structures of the Mirror World are a big example. All the strange backgrounds we see mixed in from time to time are definitely strange. The little floating pixilated thingies are unexplained but impossible to miss. The tall structure in the middle of “Kyoto” in the Mirror World screams that it holds some meaning.

In some ways this artwork feels old. Old like back to the origins of hand-drawn animation and Japanese anime itself. One of the 10-minute ONAs actually is drawn like it’s an old silent film, with reaction frames with words and punctuation interjected here and there and a faded, grainy appearance meant to connote age. I wonder if the creators behind this anime have a penchant for the older styles. They are certainly beautiful in their age. But on the other hand, I don’t think this artwork necessarily adheres totally to an older style. It looks old yes, but also looks very unique, which is curious combination. No surprise there given this curious show. More on this later.

Whatever anyone can say about it, it is beautiful. I can say very little, not because there isn’t much to be said, but because it cannot be said. I could write for ages about it and still not describe it accurately, because that’s what it means to be ineffable. I will finish this section with this: this is some of the most beautiful anime artwork I’ve ever seen, rivaling for the top spot in that ranking. 

As I watch more and more anime, those anime I consider the most beautiful in appearance seem to all be so without sharing any particular characteristics. In other words, they all look different but all are, very nearly, the most beautiful of all anime I’ve ever seen. Fairy Tail, Violet Evergarden, The Ancient Magus’ Bride, and The Land of the Lustrous are all good examples of this. Now Kyousou Giga is added to that list, and if there’s even a slight bit of ranking within that top spot itself, this show climbs very high on that list.


Rating: 9

This story is difficult to follow, but it is wonderful. The core of it is simple: little Koto is trying to find her mother, Lady Koto. Everything that’s attached to that makes the story very complicated.

You have the Shrine and its purpose, which is to maintain cosmic order among twelve “planets” or worlds, the thirteenth of which, this Kyoto “Mirror World” created by the original Myoue, has thrown the cosmic order out of balance, a balance which is further disordered by every subsequent big event that occurs in that world. Lady Koto’s creation causes its own set of problems, the balance of which cause the cosmic order and her existence to oppose each other. The three “children” of Koto and Myoue probably tilt things out of balance as well, but they also subsequently seem to play a part in helping to maintain that balance as the Council of Three in the Mirror World. Little Koto’s arrival in the Mirror World seems to be the final straw that throws everything completely out of balance.

All of that seems really important while you’re watching the show. It threatens the survival of all twelve worlds apparently, thus prompting the Shrine to threaten the thirteenth plane itself with destruction. Yet somehow this all works itself out in the end and everyone seems satisfied, including the “God” figure we see at the end. 

The Council of Three meets every now and again like this, but I forget why Lady Koto’s face hangs over them in a manner somewhere between those of the Cheshire Cat and Big Brother. But it’s a magnificent frame.

That’s my only problem with this anime’s story however. It’s confusing, and may not make sense in the end, and all that stuff that’s adorned to that main storyline is the cause of this confusion. But “all that stuff” is pretty interesting in its own right, and this show wouldn’t be what it is without all that. So while it adds confusion, I definitely like a lot of the additional material that’s attached to this story.

Two of these attached elements are quite large in scope, and actually quite wonderful as story elements themselves. I wish to explore those two elements with the rest of this section, because they caught my attention the most and provoked the most thought in my mind as I went through this show.

The most glaring of these is the Alice in Wonderland theme. It affects a lot in this show. Alice in Wonderland is certainly a kind of isekai itself though Western, which is curious to think about—even curiouser and curiouser the more you think about it—so it makes sense as a theme for anime. 

Little elements that hearken back to that classic tale are profuse in this show. The “Mirror World” is a big one, as one of the worlds Alice visits by passing through a “looking glass,” or a mirror. Koto passes into the “Mirror World” via a door, a kind of drawing which slides aside like a traditional Japanese door, but I guess it’s the “Kyoto” part of this world that makes it “mirror,” but nevertheless. The rabbit leading little Koto away to her adventure is off course the main cog in the Alice in Wonderland story. We even see the chess pieces in the Shrine that appear to have some significance, another homage to the chess elements of Through the Looking Glass

Reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland. This is just one of many really nice scenes in this anime. Everything is great in it, the artwork, the character performances, the design and creativity, and certainly its effect on the story.

But my favorite of these references was the scene shared between Inari and little Koto near the beginning of the anime. It’s shown in one of the 10-minute ONAs as well as the TV series, so it’s definitely significant. This scene fascinates me for the same reason that the corresponding scene in Alice in Wonderland has fascinated readers of that story for generations: was this all a dream? “Life, what is it but a dream?”

The scene shows Inari with a very young Koto, younger than the girl we see throughout the series, sitting on a grass knoll under a tree near sunset. The scene is a fun one, exhibiting many of the fun dialogue and character elements that are a hallmark of this show. But it begins with Inari reciting idly to himself as Koto dozes with her head on his leg:

“When was it again?
Sitting under a sky aglow with dusk,
Our little boat lingered onward dreamily.
Children three nestled near 
With eager eye and willing ear.
Long has paled that sunny sky.
The echoes of their laughter
And the memories of our joy
Have all been slain by autumn frosts.
Where has she gone,
Having rivaled the sun itself?
In a wonderland they lie, 
Dreaming as the days go by.
Dreaming as the summers die.
Ever we drift down the stream,
Floating through its golden gleam.
Life, what is it but a dream?”

Among the many clues present here, we primarily note, in hindsight, that this is a lyrical or prosaic (I am not familiar enough with Japanese metres to distinguish whether Inari speaks in verse or prose, though some attempt at rhyme seems to have been made in this particular translation, causing me to lean towards lyrical) summary of Myoue’s story up to that point, with Lady Koto and his three children. Second, we note the unmistakable reference to Wonderland, if the brief frame of a book sitting nearby on the ground which is clearly Alice in Wonderland, did not alert us already. Lastly, and most importantly, we see the invocation of the dream. Is this a dream? Is life a dream? 

I referred to the world in this scene as the “real world,” but an obvious issue disrupts the veracity of that statement. I think it’s “meant” to be our world, or close to it, as opposed to the Mirror World, or the 13th plane, as it’s called, but still. Koto quizzes Inari here, and to every subsequent question Inari grunts his affirmation gently, as one might in a quiet, sleepy moment. Each question is informative, and each affirmation is telling. Even the pace of Inari’s responses is telling. It’s a sweet, and even a little sad, scene.

That question is beyond the scope of this writ, both literarily and otherwise. The question of this in Alice in Wonderland itself is also beyond the scope of this review, but also is not particularly relevant here. Nor do I think it is any more important to know whether everything that happens after this sleepy sunset scene is a dream or real in this show than it is in Alice in Wonderland. But the possibilities presented by both routes, the dream and the real, gave me lots of food for thought. 

One of these lines of thought gave me an unexpected pang, one which I will share with you if for no other reason than simply to show you the power this show has. Perhaps this whole show is a dream. Maybe Koto wakes up next to Inari and life goes on. It would be sad enough in that case already, but as I trailed this rabbit down its hole further, I was suddenly struck with a heartbreaking possibility. If it all was a dream—where was Koto’s mother?

It broke my heart to think about it even. Myoue’s, or Inari’s, sad reminiscence might imply a reality where (neglecting the “three children” for the sake of argument; perhaps writing them off to creative license in the musings of Inari) Koto’s mother, Inari’s wife, has actually passed away, or otherwise isn’t a part of their lives anymore, and this poor little girl, with her whimsical father, lives in hopes of finding her mother some day.

I think interpreting the events of this show as merely a shadow of reality is unnecessary, and probably inaccurate in many respects, deviating too far from the authors’ true intent. Nevertheless, the mere possibility that I can not only think of it in this way, but can find this sad clue buried in all the dreamy hopefulness, implies powerful writing. Doubtless, this is probably the gloomiest way to view the events of this show, but even so it discovered itself to me simply by the many provocations and evocations from all the many different artistic elements in this show. It’s not every anime that prompts to so easily follow such rabbit holes. The beauty of the writing stood out to me even more as I considered this possibility.

Their dynamic is curious, but always fun.

The second story element that stood out to me the most was the simple part of this story that was nevertheless at the heart of it: drawings that come to life. My heart leapt, and still does, as I ponder this part of this story. If it does yours too, then we both know what’s about to follow, and we are both true anime fans.

Let me sidetrack on this for a second however. The first place I encountered this “drawings coming to life” thing in anime was in One Piece. If you’re up to date on that series (March 2023 as of this moment), you’ll remember Kanjuro, one of the Akazaya Nine samurai, draws things and brings them into being from those drawings, with both hilarity and drama ensuing. I thought this was just another wild bit of creativity from Eiichiro Oda (the One Piece author), but perhaps this is part of Japanese mythology, seeing as it also appeared in this show. It’s an interesting question, one which I will likely look into as time passes and I learn more and more about cultural Japan.

Whether it stems from mythological traditions or not, it appears in this anime as the key to everything. Myoue brings many things to life and being via drawing, perhaps even the thirteenth planet itself. He also brings two of his three Mirror World children into being via drawings (adopting the third; an interesting story element itself, but not one I have time to examine minutely today unfortunately). Lady Koto is also brought into being via drawing, first as a rabbit, transforming therefrom into the beautiful woman that graces this anime.

Myoue’s drawing of the rabbit named Koto. From this Lady Koto springs into being.

I could examine any or all of these cases and probably come up with some really interesting lines of thought about each. How does this relate to Alice in Wonderland? How about to dreams and reality? How does Lady Koto have a child in the “real world?” Or does she even (this partly prompted the above line of thinking)? She’s certainly little Koto’s mother, but the questions are obvious. Are the drawings less “real” than “real” people like Koto? Why does Myoue bequeath his position to Yakushimaru, his adopted child but not his first who was a picture child, in the Mirror World? These are all very interesting questions. Others could be devised with careful thought no doubt, but these are a few that jumped into my mind immediately as I watched this show.

But the one the sprung most readily to my mind was possibly the simplest and most beautiful of them all. Drawings coming to life? Is that really that unusual to us? Rather, isn’t that familiar to all of us? Isn’t that what anime is?

Hawk, anime doesn’t come to life. Ah, but that bare fact itself is as far as you will dare to speak about that! The best of anime feels very alive. It feels very human. It feels very real. All while appearing very unreal or non-human. That’s the power of anime. The best of it nudges at the edge of life itself, or at least appears so to those privileged enough to see it.

Yet here this was in this anime, this most beautiful anime that says so much about life and seems so human, despite how crazy and unreal it all seems. It invites us to imagine it all a dream, a set of images passed before our eyes as if they were the motion of life and the passage of time. Yet it seems so alive. Is this not what anime is?

From one of the 10-minute ONAs. It silently explains Myoue’s backstory. We also get to see Myoue’s wall of images, some of which are photographs, others his drawings, combining to form the landscape of the 13th plane.

I haven’t encountered this kind of theme very often in anime. The next closest thing I can come up with off the top of my head is Re:Creators, and if you read my review on that show you will realize how enthralled I am with what the writers attempt there. There is a beauty in this endeavor by itself, to give life to drawings, that is difficult to describe. It’s wild, stupendous, awesome, some strange power we humans are a hair’s breadth from grasping but cannot yet touch. Yet it shows itself in beautiful works like this one.

I could go on and on about this. But I must not tire the reader. Many of you will understand what I’m talking about here, and all these words perhaps will echo some part or all of your own thoughts on this. Some of you perhaps will never have considered it before, and hopefully you’ll see anime, and perhaps other art too, in a different light due to this new consideration. Beauty is hard to find on Earth, but here, in Kyousou Giga, a handful of creators strayed close to this boundary again, and it is wonderful.

That is what jumps out to me about the story in this show. However, that is not the fullness of its beauty by any means. Ultimately, this story is about family and the simple things in life that we might overlook by taking too complicated a view of things beyond our daily lives or even our comprehension. In the last episode the “God” character remarks that simply “being” is enough. Life is that simple sometimes, and sometimes we clutter it up too much with the “complex” or “wise” or even “important” to see its simple goodness. I think this story gets at that, while still satisfying the academic critic who wants to dive into rabbit holes. That’s great writing. It never loses sight of that simpleness, and highlights it warmly in the end.

Overall: 10

I can place Kyousou Giga in a very significant and select, even elite, category. I can point at this show and say “That’s anime.”

That may sound insignificant, but consider what shows you would put in such a category. Sure all anime is anime, but what would you point at and say “That’s the example of it?” I’ll help you. The Monogatari series. Serialized epics like One Piece and Dragon Ball, even the Gundam series as the Mecca of Mecha. The saddest work I’ve ever seen in any medium, Your Lie in April. I might throw a Fairy Tail in there, as it is as evocative as any anime I’ve ever seen, and as only anime can be. For that is the criteria of this categorization, doing things only anime can do. Without a single doubt, Kyousou Giga belongs in this category.

I want to address something I pointed out briefly at the beginning of this review. I said there that this anime was very hard to watch. This was a curious effect. It makes it sound like I didn’t like the show, which is definitely not the case. I wonder if any of you have ever experienced this same sensation. It wasn’t the kind of feeling you would get if someone was forcing you to watch some terrible or boring anime (hopefully few of you will have experienced that, though I can say I have, albeit the one forcing me was none other than myself—being a critic is hard). It was a feeling that I simply couldn’t stand to watch anymore at that moment. It wasn’t fear, wasn’t revulsion, wasn’t disinterest, wasn’t anything negative at all. I cannot describe what it was. The only other show I can easily recall causing me this same feeling is Mushishi. The feeling was also undefined there, but nevertheless the effect was the same. 

Perhaps it was the weirdness of this show, which is mild but present nonetheless. Perhaps it was the particular action itself. The animation was classic anime in style, and perhaps was wild enough to overload my senses. Perhaps it was the odd figures and shapes themselves, my subconscious mind rejecting the humanity of these forms while being bombarded with all the humanity this show brings to bear upon the viewer. Perhaps it was simply the otherworldliness of the show itself, an explanation which, at least, could also explain the similar experience I had with Mushishi. Kyousou Giga is very human, but also very foreign in some ways, in the way wonderlands sometimes are.

I prefer my first conclusion to all these overthought strains however. I like to think that there’s only so much beauty the human mind can imbibe before it starts to protect itself from breaking its limits, whatever those are. Just as we might jerk our hand away from a hot surface, perhaps our minds reach that limit of how much beauty they can stand at some point, and we react to move away from that thing accordingly. That seems rather an unhappy possibility, but also could be a very exciting one. We may not understand what true beauty is here on Earth, and getting close to it like this might be like Icarus flying too close to the sun. We may not be able to take it right now, even if we yearn for it.

The beauty of this anime is such that I’m prompted to consider such a hypothesis as the reason I couldn’t watch much of it at once. It screamed of deeper meaning, of things we cannot give proper words to, even if we wrote whole books about it. It showed us a tiny sliver of something we cannot speak of. I’d like to think that is why I could not stand to watch more than one or two episodes at once.

“Kami-sama,” the “God” figure of this show who appears to be above everyone else, is presented as three simple but fanciful creatures. The creatures themselves likely have significance to the author, but the fact that there are three of them is most interesting to me.

It is about that beauty that I wish to conclude this review. I mentioned earlier that this show feels like it’s in an “older” style. We should feel caution at that statement. If it’s “old,” does that mean it’s being replaced? I am all for the evolution of anime. I am all for it progressing into new realms technologically, artistically, aesthetically. But in the midst of progress, so called or otherwise, one thing must never happen: anime must never lose the kind of beauty embodied in shows like Kyousou Giga.

I think a small part of the beauty of this show, and one of the reasons it feels “oldish,” might simply be that this show was created not only as an anime original, but as an “ONA,” an “original net animation.” As most of you know, this is the technological and generational child of the “OVA,” the “original video animation.” If you stop and think about it, anime was birthed out of things we recognize now as “OVAs” or “ONAs:” short one-shot works characterized by a high level of creativity in story, characters, and visuals, often displaying astounding animation with curiously non-human figures. Animation itself was birthed in such displays, originally restricting itself to shadows from lanterns of animals and even spooky creatures, as well as other such similar peculiar devices, leading eventually to the moving pictures in the film industry. There it was characterized by curious motion and usually even more curious characters. A lot had to be packed into these little displays in order for them to be interesting, aesthetically and otherwise. These one-shot works were the basis of anime series that followed in the mid 20th century.

History lesson aside (I love animation, so I tend to go on about it when I get started), Kyousou Giga finds itself bearing close resemblance to those kinds of short, ultra-creative, and often ultra-crazy, works that birthed modern anime. I think its writers were aware of this, or at least of the tradition of such short works. It is this kind of ability that anime must never lose sight of, must never lose in its creation. The human ability to create shines like the light of a thousand suns in creations like Kyousou Giga. The ability to create something with kind of ineffable beauty is a godlike ability. It must never be lost in the world of anime.

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