This is review number one hundred and twenty eight. This anime is part of the Fall 2012 lineup and it’s one of the most hyped anime. It’s “K” and it’s a thirteen episode anime about a bunch of flashy guys with weak personalities. Eh, just read the damn review. I find the show a bit frustrating but a good show is a good show. Let’s read on.
The anime is about Yashino Isana, a simple high school boy doing errands to help his school’s upcoming festival. On his way to the city though, he was attacked by a man with a sword and a guy with a bat in a skate board. His face suddenly appeared on all the TV screens where he proceeded to kill a man with a gun. He is now a wanted fugitive and the gang the man he killed was in is now out to exact revenge. Yashino is innocent though. Or at least he thinks he is.
Taking the Pants Off
This was one of the most hyped series of the Fall season. It was so big that Animax Asia even had a same simulcast airing as Japan. I’m not sure if the anime lived up to the hype though because the style of its storytelling, the way the characters are established and the overall appeal of the anime just doesn’t seem to be as interesting as it should be. I enjoyed the anime though and I think I know the reason. I’ll get to that in a second. First, let’s give this anime a clear description because I think the creators were on an arrogant high when they made this anime. K is like Durarara (or Baccano in episode length), to be honest. It has a lot of characters and a story that can pull you in but it manages to do all the wrong things Durarara seemed to do perfectly. How can you possibly f*ck up an anime with more than fifteen characters with different plot points crammed into a twelve episode anime? Actually, how can you possibly do it?
This anime opened with an already established status quo, the characters doesn’t have a proper introduction and the important setting of the anime wasn’t told clearly. Instead, you pick the information up as you watch the anime and slowly piece things together. This proved to be mega frustrating because the anime doesn’t have a clear story, it was individual plot points scattered all throughout the anime that eventually merges into one later on. The anime doesn’t tell you that though and so you’re left trying to catch up to the rhythm of the anime while trying to put the pieces together in your head. That is too much work, to be honest. The anime doesn’t even give you the leeway of having at least a narrator or a character explain important details to you. You have to pick them up by yourself and as you progress to the anime, you eventually form questions in your head you hope the anime will answer later on. Not all questions are answered though so take the story for its face value and just keep progressing in the anime. Eventually, things will start making sense and the charm of the anime, for better or worse, will finally come out.
I’m being too optimistic though. Most anime takes three episodes to makes sense of it all. Even with an already established status quo and characters aren’t introduced properly, three episodes is enough to get the viewer to catch up. K is pretty insane though because the central theme, the setting and most character’s role will only start to make sense after you’ve seen six episodes. You heard right; the plot only starts to be clear when you reach the sixth episode. I cannot imagine watching this anime on a weekly basis and only getting bits of information per episode. It can be frustrating. I marathoned this anime though so I can immediately put one and one together. It’s recommended that you do the same because this anime is pretty good but it just chose to be difficult.
The anime had two major plot points and then a couple or so of sub plot points under main ones. I’d say some of it is clutter but the anime presented it as something pivotal to the plot but it actually isn’t. Anyways, there is two main plot points. The first one is about Yashiro Isana’s involvement to the murder on the video. He claims to be innocent but the guy conveniently has a dodgy memory so he can’t easily prove his innocence. Along with a catgirl and a cool samurai guy, he retraces his steps and tries to prove he had an alibi during the murder. His face is clearly captured on video though and as he slowly regains his memory, he discovers just how big this murder actually is.
This was the mystery aspect of the anime. Yashiro claims he is innocent and he is being framed but the guy in the video killing another guy is clearly him. As the anime progresses, there are proof that Yashiro is innocent but then there are also proof that he wasn’t. This was nicely done by the anime because you can only clearly draw a conclusion after you finish the anime. There are some things that are definitely suspicious about Yashiro and his hazy memory actually holds more secret than he can possibly comprehend.
The second plot point is about the Blue King and the Red King. Ok, so the anime is set in a world where there are seven kings with super powers. These people are said to have more authority than the government and every king rules in their own way. The Blue King and The Red King are two people who often clashes in beliefs. The Blue King believes that people should follow the law and he’ll go to any means to make sure people obey it. Even his subordinates follow rules and ranks and respect each other. The Red King is a wild one. He has his own rules and he basically follows no other. Of course, you can’t really tell him to stop because he has the power to burn you to dust and his short temper doesn’t help either. He is a commendable person though and people who serve under him do so by their own volition. Despite their differences though, the two kings are good friends and they understand each other.
Ok, so the second plot point features the Blue King’s group and the Red king’s group clashing trying to handle the sh*t storm of the murder captured in video. The guy who was killed is a good friend of the Red king and now they are out for blood. The Blue King realizes that and tries to control the situation before it gets complicated. It’s easier said than done when the boiling rivalry between the two groups is suddenly thrown into the mix. The Blue king also fears that the Red King is about to lose control of his power and it can result in a disaster so big that it would create a gigantic crater in Japan. Can the two groups co-exist at this point? Or will one of them have to be forcefully taken out of the picture?
Gosh, it sounds so simple when I describe the plot but there is no character introduction and clear explanation of the setting. Why do they have super powers? How does one become a king? Who is the little girl clinging to the Red king? Why does the cat girl have the ability to affect perception? Why aren’t the other kings introduced? How do the kings obtain the Sword of Damocles? Why does Yashiro sound like Italy from Hetalia?
There is so much that the anime left open for interpretation and other things left unanswered that it does affect the overall experience. The two plot points did merge at the later parts of the anime and the bigger picture is slowly revealed. I personally felt that the buildup and the climactic ending were justified but it’s hard to appreciate it when the story is so messed up.
The characters are one of the biggest weaknesses of the anime. They are all one dimensional and they solely rely on their archetype to be interesting. They are just tools used by the story and they don’t really hold much importance. Any character of the anime can switch roles with another character and it wouldn’t make much difference. They don’t even have that one special trait that makes them stand out from the crowd. The creators should learn from Baccano where more than fifteen characters are introduced, stood out and leaves an impression on viewers. In K, no one seems to stand out in terms of personality. How do they stand out? They do so because of their individual look and their bad ass appearance. I guess you will be drawn to one or two character but with no proper introduction, it’s hard to make a connection with the characters.
This was a decent anime. The complicated style of storytelling that comes off as rather pretentious and arrogant does hurt the anime big time because that massive flaw poured down into the characters and the action. Once the story starts to sort itself out though, the experience is a nice one. I enjoyed it and while it was a task to catch up to the anime’s pace, I would still happily look forward to another season. Hopefully by then, the anime can introduce a clear setting, decent character introduction and use some appropriate flashbacks so the viewers can connect to the characters.
Sight and Sound
This is the anime’s strongest point: the visuals and the soundtrack. The character design is one of the best I’ve seen in anime. There is a wide range of character design from sexy bishies to the simple body type. The outfit is the biggest stand out though. There is a wide range of interesting outfit in the anime. There is an urban fashion style was incorporated to some of the characters and they all look pretty impressive. They certainly look like they belong in an unruly gang with their loose clothes and hoods, grey shorts and “blings” like pierced earring and such. There is also the blue knight’s uniform that looks like they are heavily inspired by Shinsengumi samurai of Japan (yknow, the cops from Gintama). They have blue outfits that make them look like modern samurai. The blue color is also appealing to look at when the characters all stand in line and draws out their sword. There are also the flashy school uniforms of the anime. It doesn’t stand out as much but it’s really nicely designed. It looks a lot more impressive when you look at the back and notice the short skirts of the girls. There is also the Lolita type of clothing, and other form of old meets new kind of design.
The animation is outstanding. The lighting effect is nicely incorporated. The nice tint of blue throughout the entire anime gives it a nice look. The CG is also great. The anime is covered heavily with CG and it blends well with the animation and the lighting effect. The CG in this anime is probably the best I’ve seen so far because it isn’t as stiff as other CG anime I’ve seen. For god sakes, there was a CG director in the OP credits so you can tell the CG was given heavy thought. The background is also nice. It was modern day Tokyo, I think but you really feel like you’re moving in the city with the characters. It’s heavily populated but there are some nice empty streets that simulate a nicely functioning metropolis. The school is one of the biggest stands out in terms of background. There is a lot of detail given in the design of the school and the CG paired with the simple animation is so impressive.
The fight scenes are also pretty awesome. There aren’t a lot of fight scenes but the ones you see are so smooth and so bad ass that you can’t help but be in love with it. The shaky camera and the dancing camera also add some spice to the scenes. A lot of the characters fly in the air or dodges pretty beautifully but the camera is never stationery. It moves along with the characters and moves pretty freely. It even went as far as to follow the skate boarder swerving and dodging all the things the skate boarder does. The nice use of effects with the flames and the flying debris is also nicely incorporated in the fight scenes. The fight scenes are so bad ass that you easily want more of it. There’s not a lot though because it’s only used for eye candy and it’s not necessarily important in the anime.
There is a distinct piano arrangement in the anime mashed with some remix of some hip hop beat that is often used in the anime. It’s very beautiful to listen to because it reminds me of music from RPG games and it just sounds so original. It also varies from scene to scene. In talking scenes, it’s mellow and relaxed but in action scenes, it’s fast paced and upbeat.
The anime’s OP is “KINGS” by angela. The song is pretty impressive and coupled with the nice OP sequence; it really is amazing to listen to. The OP sequence features all the strong points of the anime. It has a nice animation, stunning CG, urban inspired background and the flashy characters. The anime’s ED is “Tsumetai Heya, Hitori” by Mikako Komatsu. The song is a slow melancholic song sung by the cat girl. It’s a nice song with a really impressive pace to it. It’s a bit sad but it’s very nice to listen to. The ED sequence features the cat girl in still poses looking all sad and stuff.
7/10 “The screwy style of storytelling is certainly an obstacle but the anime’s brilliance makes a big comeback once you get used to it.”
A little open mindedness can go along way with this one. It does get better, though it does so in increments, and the anime’s charm comes out later on to save the anime. If you like flashy anime with stunning visuals and a nice heavy story then this anime is for you. I recommend it.