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Kaiju No. 8: “Kafka Hibino” (S1E12) Perfectly Wraps Up Season One

© JAKDF 3rd Division © Naoya Matsumoto/SHUEISHA

Season finales are always tricky. A show has to wrap things up while still allowing the story to continue, leaving very little room for error. It’s a storytelling Scylla and Charybdis that’s wrecked many a series, so even though I’ve loved Kaiju No. 8 so far, I went into this latest episode with some trepidation.

I didn’t know if this inaugural season would be able to stick the landing, and I didn’t want my last experience of it to be a bad one. But I obviously couldn’t let that fear get the best of me, so I watched the finale as soon as I got the chance. And you know what? It’s awesome.

Unsurprisingly, “Kafka Hibino” picks up right where the previous installment, “Kaiju No. 8 Captured,” left off. Remember, after being arrested by the Anti-Kaiju Defense Force, Kafka found himself in a grueling fight against the director general, and at the end of last week’s episode, he lost control of his monstrous alter ego. It looked like he was about to go all-out and smash his opponent to pieces, but then the credits began to roll. The show left us in the dark, and in this week’s finale, we finally get to see the rest of this ferocious brawl. 

I won’t spoil how it all plays out, but I will say that the fight is pretty cool. The director general gets a chance to show off how formidable he can be with his special combat suit, and Kafka displays some abilities we haven’t seen before. It’s a top-notch action scene that fans of Kaiju No. 8 are sure to enjoy, but as is often the case in this series, it’s more than just mindless fun.

A man looking angry
© JAKDF 3rd Division © Naoya Matsumoto/SHUEISHA

The fight demonstrates once more why Kafka is such a great character, and it’s not just his ability to turn into a nearly unstoppable monster (although that’s super cool, too). It’s his heart and humanity, and the director general forces him to use every ounce of that inner strength. There’s even a scene after the fight where he proves yet again just how caring he truly is, so it’s tough to see how anybody can think he’s a threat.

What’s more, right before the Defense Force leaders make their final decision, Kafka’s childhood friend Mina, the captain of his division, gives her estimation of the guy, and she speaks glowingly of him. It’s a really touching moment that essentially ties the entire season together and shows how almost every episode has given us some reason to love Kafka, so if you’ve been following his journey throughout Kaiju No. 8, Mina’s words might even bring a tear or two to your eye.

But despite all that, several of the Defense Force leaders are still convinced that this man needs to be executed, so his road to acceptance isn’t quite as smooth as you might expect. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that he eventually gets his reprieve, but his status at the end of “Kafka Hibino” is nevertheless quite shaky. I can’t get into any specifics without giving too much away, but I can say that Kafka’s somewhat precarious position makes for a great end to season one.

A man checking his cellphone with another man in the background
© JAKDF 3rd Division © Naoya Matsumoto/SHUEISHA

See, this season focused on two main points. For starters, we have Kafka’s secret. The first episode ended with him becoming a kaiju, and from there, he slowly let more and more people in on that terrifying truth. Now, the whole Defense Force knows he’s Kaiju No. 8, so that part of his story is done, and it’s time to see what his superiors do with that knowledge.

Secondly, as I said before, this season also showed us what kind of man Kafka truly is. Despite having the power of a god, he still has a heart of gold, and from the looks of it, he’ll have to harness every ounce of that virtue and goodness to keep himself in the Defense Force’s good graces moving forward.

In other words, “Kafka Hibino” truly closes out this first stage of Kafka’s journey, and by doing so, it also opens the door to a new chapter. It’s pretty much everything a season finale should be, and to top it all off, the episode ends with an amazing tease for season two.

Again, I can’t give away much without spoiling the surprise, but let’s just say that one of my predictions about Kaiju No. 8 is almost certain to come true. An old friend (or enemy, depending on your point of view) is set to return in a big way, and he’s going to cause even more problems for Kafka and his crew. In particular, it seems he’ll take his cue from Kafka’s main struggle in this last episode, and I absolutely can’t wait to see how it all plays out.

Written by JP Nunez

JP Nunez is a lifelong movie fan, and his favorite genres are horror, superheroes, and giant monsters. You can find him on Twitter @jpnunezhorror.

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