Image source: アニプレックス on YouTube

Ever wonder what would happen if you crossed Monogatari with a locked-room murder mystery? Well, it exists and it’s called The Kubikiri Cycle.

Author Nisio Isin is most famous in the West for the anime of his Monogatari Series—a paranormal, psychological story heavy on word play and surreal visuals. This season, we have had his take on a death game fighting anime in the form of Juni Taisen. But with that coming to an end soon, you may feel the need for some more Nisio Isin anime to hold you off until the next inevitable Monogatari iteration. Luckily for you, there’s The Kubikiri Cycle.

Image source: アニプレックス on YouTube

The Kubikiri Cycle is the first story arc in the Zaregoto series. It follows Ii, a young man who is the friend of genius computer engineer Tomo—a blue haired girl with savant syndrome. When Tomo is invited to the island estate of a rich-yet-exiled aristocrat famous for surrounding herself with geniuses, Ii comes along as Tomo’s companion and caretaker.

How the Heroine’s Mental Disability in Kubikiri Cycle Is Realistic

In total. the island has 12 inhabitants. Other than Ii, Tomo, and their host, there are three maids, a clairvoyant, a mathematician, a chef, an artist, and the artist’s own caretaker. When one of them turns up dead, a classic locked-room mystery begins. The survivors only have to hold out for a few days for the arrival of a world-famous detective, but it quickly becomes apparent, with a crazed murderer among them, they may very well not have that time to waste. Thus it falls to Ii to try and solve the mystery on an island filled with geniuses before he or Tomo becomes the next victim.

Image Source: 西尾維新アニメプロジェクト‏ on Twitter

On the surface, The Kubikiri Cycle is a murder mystery in the classic Agatha Christie style—but that’s only half of what’s going on. Much of the story is focused on Ii dealing with his aimless life. Quite smart in his own right, he spent time in an American high school program for young geniuses only to drop out and return to Japan, a failure in his own mind.

Going from being one of “the best and brightest” to “nothing” has caused him to become rather nihilistic. Not only is he missing any real drive, he constantly treats his conversations with others as “zaregoto” (lit. nonsense). This also extends to the events surrounding him—including the murder. He feels he is the main character of a meaningless story.

Image source: アニプレックス on YouTube

Being in the shadow of Tomo, a genius among geniuses doesn’t help—especially when you add in the knowledge that Tomo is literally incapable of feeling the same way for him he feels for her. Her savant syndrome is a double edged sword—and one that forces her to view the world in a strikingly different way.

The fact of the matter is, while he needs her to give his aimless life meaning, she doesn’t need him—well, at least not him specifically. Now, don’t get me wrong, she enjoys being around him. In fact, she would do pretty much anything for him if he asks. However, when he is gone, she doesn’t seem to miss him. For her, not seeing him for five years is the same as not seeing him for a day. She is happy when he is around and is happy for different reasons when he is not.

She is not possessive of him the way he’d like to be of her. She has no a shred of jealousy or annoyance when he wants to go somewhere with someone else. Simply put, he wants to be her “one and only,” but that is a concept Tomo can’t begin to understand, much less reciprocate. And Ii knowing all this only makes it worse for him. It makes for a dynamic as torturous as it is interesting—especially given the high stakes nature of the murder case.

Image Source: 西尾維新アニメプロジェクト‏ on Twitter

As with the Monoagatari Series, much of The Kubikiri Cycle is simply the characters conversing with one another. But what prevents it from becoming boring is the mixture of wordplay and character insight—with, of course, a hearty helping the trademarked studio Shaft animation. Not only is the architecture of the island estate suitable surreal, but many conversations are accompanied by symbolic visuals that grant greater insight into the various characters’ states of mind. It really is eye candy at its finest—beauty and meaning combined.

Image Source: 西尾維新アニメプロジェクト‏ on Twitter

If you’re a fan of Monoagatari Series, you should definitely check out The Kubikiri Cycle. And event if you aren’t, if you’re just looking for a good mystery along the lines of 2015’s The Perfect Insider, then you won’t be disappointing. 

The Kubikiri Cycle: The Blue Savant and the Nonsense Bearer was released in Japan from October 26, 2016 to September 27, 2017. There is currently no word on a Western release.

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