Kyousogiga is a 25-minute net animation produced by Toei Animation and Banpresto. Released on Nico Nico Douga on December of last year, the feature is a kaleidoscopic journey into the mind of an imaginative little girl named Koto. An abstract story-line and frequent allusions to Alice in Wonderland hint at the fact that the action may be taking place in Koto's head. Rich in anime and video game imagery, Koto's dream narrates a confusing but charming coming-of-age story.
Similarly to the popular fan-made animation Okkusenman, Kyousogiga invites viewers to remember their childhood. Upon some reflection, the period is presented as both alluring and terrifying. While the animation celebrates the ingenuity and optimism of youth, it also addresses the fear and uncertainty of growing older. Targeted toward an adult demographic, Kyousogiga is ultimately a tale about the struggle of coming to terms with the burdens of adulthood.
Koto's tale humorously takes place in an imaginary version of Kyoto, Japan. Plagued by made-up deities, monsters, and the occasional talking jell-o mount, the fictional city proves to be a rather lively and unruly location. Amid countless Paprikaesque parades, Koto must navigate the hectic streets of Kyoto in search of an elusive rabbit. This rabbit, reportedly a manifestation of some divine figure, holds the key to exiting the convoluted realm.
With the help of her brothers A and Un, Koto faces multiple adversaries in her quest to locate the rabbit. Each fight, loosely presented as a video game showdown, comes equipped with references to classic anime battle sequences. Koto's performance in each encounter is monitored by a group of mysterious lab coat clad adults. Presumably representing the watchful eyes of a parent, these figures evoke a feeling of childlike anxiety.
Most of the intimidating foes that Koto fights along her way are nothing but monumentally large versions of figurines in her toy collection. The final boss, a gargantuan golden mech, is modeled exactly after an action figure shown in her room in an early scene of the animation. Aside from further hinting at the fact that the story we are witnessing may be a figment of Koto's mind, these actions are indicative of just how bountiful her imagination is.
To make the long story short, Koto eventually manages to locate the rabbit. But to her surprise, the critter turns out to be an embodiment of Lady Koto, her adult self. Following their encounter, Koto's puberty is symbolically chronicled through a series of terrifying explosions and interstellar collisions. The disastrous events are put to a halt with kid and adult Koto reaching some sort of agreement about peacefully coexisting in Koto's head.
In the end, Kyousogiga ends up being a story about coming to terms with adulthood. It depicts the seemingly impossible struggle of balancing pragmatism and idealism. The animation vaguely explores the process through which Koto becomes aware of her sexuality. Adult Koto, a Morriganesque temptress, reaches out to kid Koto in an attempt to help her get over her instinctual fear of cooties. Kid koto, in turn, reminds her adult self of the importance of retaining a sense of humor.
In its general message, the feature reminded me a lot of of FLCL. Similarly to the celebrated show, Kyousogiga nostalgically looks back at childhood, a picturesque but not necessarily simpler time in everyone's life. While Koto's dreamworld is not short on diversions, it is evident by the narration that like any child she cannot wait to grow up. The animation does a terrific job at illustrating both the excitement and confusion of growing older.
While I will admit that Kyousogiga was difficult to follow, I will praise it for its excellent artwork. The animation was loaded with loud, psychedelic motifs that really captured the manic energy of childhood. There were some pretty well executed references to mecha and Rose of Versailles. The overall artwork and use of color somewhat reminded me of the works of Takashi Murakami and of Richard William's The Thief and the Cobbler.
Going on a bit of tangent, certain songs in the soundtrack really reminded of the video game Rez. There were certainly a ton of references catering to people of my generation. I found it easy to understand and even identify with Koto's character. While lacking in some respects, Kyousogiga accomplished a lot as far as character development goes. All-in-all the animation really conveyed the complexity of Koto's ordeal.
As far as scoring the animation goes, I will give it a 7. While it is true that the story is in essence a dream and dreams rarely make any sense, I think that the animation would have benefited from being better structured. The dialog could have been further used as a means to explain unfolding events. I also feel like the whole Alice in Wonderland shtick is a bit played out. But overall, Kyousogiga was a pretty solid ONA. If you don't mind a more "alternative" approach to storytelling (i.g Nisemonogatari), you will definitely get a kick out of this one. It was certainly easy on the eye.
7.0- Good - I quite liked it but the execution could have been better. Had the story been presented in a clearer manner the title would have been far more accessible.
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