K (The Anime)
In a technology-advanced world, there lives Isana Yashiro who is as carefree as they come. He lives a relatively ordinary life, attending a notable high school that is situated on an island near the mainland. But his simple life came to an abrupt end when he is one day attacked by people who claim he is a murderer.
Managing to escape, he later saw a shocking video of someone bearing an uncanny resemblance to himself shooting another person off-screen who consequently died. Adamant that he is innocent, he determinedly sets out to prove his innocence which causes him to quickly become embroiled in a psychic war between seven kings.
Introducing the Main Characters
The protagonist of the series is a 17 year old high schooler who attends the notable Ashinaka High School that is located on an island just off the coast of Shizume City. He goes by the short-form of his name, Shiro, which actually means white in Japanese. In the first few episodes of K, Shiro is seen to be an extremely easy-going and ridiculously carefree person to the point where I can't help but think he's sort of an airhead.
In school, he is quite popular and is a social butterfly. His schoolmates like him well enough that in one episode, they gave him bits of their lunch food as he flits from table to table requesting for some. Down the line, he acquires the parasol that you see in the picture which he takes to carry around. This just adds on more to his flighty nature, running and zig-zagging around with the parasol sometimes closed, sometimes opened, as though at any time, he is about to take flight.
While he does act a bit silly most of the time, there is a surprisingly devious and playful side to him as well. It's this crafty side of him that helps him to avoid trouble or get out of trouble. This was demonstrated in one instance when he fabricated a story of having an ill sister who is dying in the hospital in a bid to escape certain death.
As the series progress, we discover that there is something not quite right with him. I don't wish to reveal what it is in case I spoil it for those who have yet to watch this show. Perhaps it is enough to say that he is not called the main protagonist for nothing.
A former vassal of the Seventh King who has passed away due to unknown reasons, 18 year old Kuroh travels the country in search of the next Seventh King. But he does so on his Master's final wish to determine if the next in line is good or evil, and to kill him should he turn out to be evil. He spots Shiro one day and saves him from an attack by the members of the Red Clan. But once they were both out of danger, he prevents Shiro from escaping after seeing the video of someone claiming to be the Seventh King that resembles the boy he had just saved. Kuroh prepares to slay him, only to end up giving the younger boy the benefit of the doubt after swearing that the moment he determines that Shiro is indeed a murderer and an evil king, he will kill him in the name of justice.
Kuroh has a quiet and serious personality. He appears to be the no-nonsense type and is a highly composed individual even in tough situations. Following his Master's teachings, he is of the principle that it is not the appearance or words of the person that matters; instead they should be judged based on their actions and deeds. His genuine and straightforward nature tend to make him a little bit gullible, demonstrated in one episode where he immediately believed Shiro's sob story about an ill sister that caused him to let down his guard, resulting in Shiro's escape.
Kuroh has displayed his skill in the culinary arts, going as far as to carry around a briefcase full of cooking utensils. Shiro has even teased him, calling him his wife. He also possesses a treasured handheld voice recorder that stores an assortment of messages he has recorded of his deceased Master. When he plays it, an adoring look would come over him of which Shiro has commented as being creepy. It does goes to show that he holds his Master in the highest regard to the extent of idol-worship.
Vassals of other clans have dubbed him Kuro Inu which translates to Black Dog. It would seem that he is well-known for being someone who possesses a powerful ability that should he become the enemy, he would be a great foe.
Neko is what is called a Strain in the world of K. She is extremely attached to Shiro, showing signs of possessiveness when they both first encountered Kuro. Some sort of logic that only Neko could comprehend gave her the idea that since she was the first person to have 'found' Shiro, then she automatically has dibs on him and that he belongs to her. Consequently, she becomes rather overprotective when it comes to the main protagonist.
She displays a playful personality. This sort of playfulness extends to grave situations and this demonstrates her inability to be serious at times, only wanting to have fun. Through her various actions, it would appear that her danger-radar is faulty as she seems to not be able to interpret what danger her deeds are causing. To her, she's being helpful, not forgetting that her actions keep her entertained. Call her childish because that's exactly what Neko is. This childish side to her exhibits her selfishness when she's all possessive of Shiro.
Neko is quite gluttonous, too. She is constantly hungry and would whine, like a child, when she's not given any food to eat. When food is given to her, it's quite a chaotic affair as she doesn't mind her manners, would shout for seconds and thirds, and tries to steal other people's food.
Why Neko is called Neko (which translates to a cat) is because... well, in essence, she is a cat.
Neko in Cat Form!
More on Neko
Basically, Neko has the ability to transform herself into human. What's funny to me is that in her cat form, her eyes are round, flat, and pupil-less but in her human form, she possesses bi-coloured blue and green eyes. She doesn't have cat ears or a tail in her human form, but she does retain her pink hair/fur colouring.
Perhaps it is because she is a cat that causes her to loathe clothes with a passion and as a result, is what makes her to be rather immodest when she's human. The first time she turns human, she's flat out naked, surprising Shiro and Kuro, and myself a little bit. And then we see her running around campus, trying to avoid Shiro who attempts to force clothes on her. Talk about being indecent!
Warning! Naked Cat on the Loose!
The World of K
Set in a modern day Japan, there are a total of 7 kings distinguished by their coloured auras, each with their own clans and alliances. While there are a total of 7 kings the anime screened only 4. Let's take a look at them.
The Silver King
Adolf K. Weismann
The Silver King, The First King
Decades prior to the current era, the youthful-looking Adolf K. Weismann was a researcher in Germany during World War II. Together with his sister, they experimented the effects of the Dresden Slate, which is a mysterious stone that is the source of the auras/powers of the kings. While it was shown that he worked in and was friendly with the company of military soldiers, the charismatic man opposed war and didn't like the idea of using the results of his experiments to create powerful armies. Instead, he believed that his experiments will bring happiness to the world in the long run.
Such a pacifist he was that after the war was over, he decided that he will no longer associate himself with the world and went as far as to escaping in a blimp, the Himmelreich. From that moment on, he washed his hands off on any worldly affairs.
Being the first to possess an Aura that is silver in shade, he has the ability to manipulate gravity where he could levitate not just himself, but anyone else that he synced his Aura with.
The Gold King
The Gold King, The Second King
Before he became the Gold King, Daikaku Kokujyoji was a Lieutenant serving the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. It was alluded that he became one of the most important, if not the most important man in Japan because he was the one who reformed Japan into the great, technologically advanced nation that is being presented in the Anime. Presently, he deals with business-related and military affairs of the Japanese government.
A serious man throughout his life, Daikaku Kokujoji had traveled to Germany during World War II while serving the military. It was there, when he was brought to an underground research facility, that he met the First King before he became the First King. A bond of friendship bloomed from there, even though they both had differing ideas about what the Dresden Slate can be used for. While Adolf K. Weismann said that it would ultimately bring happiness to the world, Kokujyoji brought up the fact that the power of the Dresden Slate could be used to create even more powerful armies as weapons for war.
Even when the war was over and both he and Weismann split up, it is very obvious that Kokujyoji held the researcher in great esteem. Even years later when he has grown old and grey (but still super powerful), and when he thought his old friend had died, he deeply mourned the Silver King's passing.
As the Gold King, he harnesses the ability to create cosmic projections. He can even alter the environment around him, making it seem like you are standing in the middle of space. Planetary bodies that take on the Solar system will revolve around him and can be launched at a target in a straight path. I imagine if any of those projected objects hit someone, it would feel devastating, like a planet had just hit you.
Young Daikaku Kokujyoji
The Red King
The Red King, The Third King
In my opinion, the leader of HOMRA is one cool dude. He exudes that badass aura that you don't see in any other character in K. But it doesn't take long to realise that he possesses quite the slacker attitude to the point where he can sleep like a baby in a prison holding cell. Actually, he can sleep just about anywhere and at anytime - Mikoto just loves to sleep. And when he speaks, he tends to drawl his words lazily, which is certainly apt with his slacker persona. But for all that he is lazy and seemingly uncaring, he is known to be violent-tempered and very destructive if you push his buttons right.
Despite the distance he holds himself with his clansmen, it is obvious that Mikoto is highly respected by them. It's not quite idol-worship, but it's pretty close. Mikoto might generally be quiet and withdrawn but there is no doubt that he genuinely cares for his clansmen. I like to liken him to a mother hen who likes to take strays in. Although he doesn't have a single mother hen-like attribute such as fussing over his charges or coddling them and such, it is true that he does take the young, seemingly aimless vagrants under his wing.
Interestingly, while Mikoto holds the title of a king, he seems to care very little about his status. Nevertheless, he still reacts to his clansmen when they are in distress and does act the leader even if he questions the reason why he is king.
As the Red King, he has the power over fire which is represented by the red-tinged aura he possesses. As seen in the anime, a wave of his aura can easily slice into a far-off building and cause the upper section to collapse. Also seen in the anime, he can, without breaking a sweat, dissolve one of Neko's ost powerful illusions just by giving a bit of a boost to his aura into his surroundings. There is no doubt that Mikoto makes for an incredibly powerful foe for anyone to cross paths with.
I've been thinking lately if Mikoto is perhaps more powerful than the rest of the kings. Granted, he's ranked Third, but I'm pretty sure it's not a matter of strength but more a matter of which individual first gets bestowed with powers, much like the case of the First and Second. The reason for wondering is because the Blue Clan has made inference that he is a huge threat to society. And from the constant nightmares Mikoto has been having, he's been thinking the same thing.
What do you think about the Red Kings destructive potential?
Is the Red King much more powerful than we think?
The Blue King
The Blue King, The Fourth King
As the Captain of Scepter 4, Munakata demonstrates good leadership qualities. He's sophisticated and rather polished and during any skirmishes, will become very observant to his surroundings. In that sense, he's seen as someone who maintains calm and exercises great caution when he goes into battle. This is a good trait to have as a leader because this means that he tries to make judgement calls that will result in the least number of casualties within his clan and especially with the public. In other words, he puts the lives of innocents above his own.
This has been showcased when in one episode, he'd rather evacuate the whole student body when a clash is about to take place in a school between his clan and the Red Clan. In fact, he even went as far as to save an enemy clansman. If possible, he will try ways and means to negotiate rather than to engage in battle though it doesn't always work out.
The relationship between Munakata and the Red King, Mikoto, is of general dislike. Well, that's what Munakata professes but not necessarily Mikoto who just don't seem to care overly much. But I've never gotten the impression that Munakata hates the leader of HOMRA. Afterall, hate is a strong word and if he does hate the guy, he wouldn't simply try to capture 'a great threat to society' but instead, would just kill him. He wouldn't even advice Mikoto, albeit in a scathing manner (which sounded more like a threat to me), that should the Red King not stop using his power, a lot of innocent lives will be harmed, possibly killed.
That's the sort of person the Blue King is, greatly concerned about innocent lives but not wanting his enemy to die either unless there is no other choice. A pretty nice guy, eh?
The Blue King possesses a blue aura. As opposed to the red's offensive potential, the blue aura takes on a more defensive approach. He can easily create force fields as barriers of protection against the direct flames brought about by red aura. He has also used it to create for himself sort of like stepping stones on which he can climb up to higher ground. Let's not forget the saber he uses, fortified with his blue aura, which enables him to attack. Having defensive potential does not mean his aura can't retaliate in an offensive manner. And like the Red King, Munakata can also dispel powerful illusions effortlessly. Overall, I figure his prowess in a battlefield is generally on par with Mikoto's.
When I said the anime only screened four kings, well, that's not quite true. There is another king, the Seventh King who is also known as the Colourless King. I don't want to go into details about him because that might spoil it for those who haven't watched K. But he sure is crafty and sly.
The 7th King, The Colourless King
Among the showcased kings, who is your favourite?
HOMRA - The Red Clan
HOMRA is... well, for lack of a nicer term, a bunch of hooligans. They are loud, rude, rash, violent, have no care for society's law and order... you know, your typical gangsters. Their fighting style is considered unorthodox with a focus on hand-to-hand combat. Weapons vary with each individual, ranging from baseball bats to makeshift clubs, from cigarette lighters to even skateboards. The members of this street gang exude a pinkish-red aura when they have their battle mode on.
HOMRA Clan MembersClick thumbnail to view full-size
SCEPTER 4 - The Blue Clan
Think of your neighbourhood police force - that's what the Blue Clan is, a police-based organisation. They have proper rank and file, in other words, a hierarchy, and they carry out their duties to safeguard the city while adhering to proper protocols. The members are competent swordsmen, each with a saber attached to their own hip. While they are adept in one-to-one combat, their fighting style emphasizes on team-based tactics. In battle, they channel a bluish aura into their swords.
SCEPTER 4 Clan MembersClick thumbnail to view full-size
Obviously, there are more than just 2 members of Scepter 4. I'm simply showcasing the more prominent ones.
While there are 7 kings in this universe which logically means that there are 7 clans, only the Red Clan and Blue clan were showcased as they are the most established. These two clans are known to be rivals, perhaps on account of the fact that one is a law-abiding group and the other isn't.
Pick your team!
If you're given the choice to become a member of any clan, which clan would you choose?
Brought to you by the animation studio GoHands, the series began airing in October of 2012 with 13 episodes in total (though I've heard that there might be a second season). Hands down, I will say that K is one of the most beautiful Anime of last fall. If I were to base this review on the aesthetics alone, it will most definitely hit the score of 10.
Yes, that's how magnificent this series is, impacting you visually and keeping you glued to the screen. The lines are drawn sharp, the colour theme spectacularly vibrant, depicting a cityscape that is polished and gleaming. There are millions of details in every nook and corner of every scene. With flashes and explosions of light that would dazzle you with the way they are seemingly alive and reaching out to you, this anime is definitely a feast for the eyes.
The animation itself is of the highest quality. Every movement is fluid and mercurial, making it easy on the eyes. I absolutely adore how the camera works in this series, the way it tracks its subjects in a frame, how it pans every which way and dollies in and out to incorporate stylized angles, giving us a more dramatic footage.
Below is a short clip just to show you what I'm talking about. Do bear in mind though that this clip might not be of the best quality. It's definitely not as grainy as Youtube has made it out to be.
If you're unable to watch the video (because the embed function was disabled), do watch it on Youtube itself and you will see what I mean with regard to the camera works. And for the first time, I find skateboarding super cool~
In addition to the fantastic visuals, the series feature a star-studded cast in the likes of Daisuke Namikawa, Mamoru Miyano, Daisuke Ono, Tomokazu Sugita, and Jun Fukuyama, just to name a few. There are probably others but these are the ones that caught my attention. But despite having such great seiyuus, frankly speaking, the dialogue in the show is rather choppy and doesn't flow very well.
And if you're wondering about the music, the soundtrack list for this anime, which is a mix of techno, pop, and rap, is nice. There are even some lounge-y type of tunes, what with the piano and saxophone in concert. Others would remind you of hotel lobbies and such. I've included the anime's theme song for your listening pleasure. Enjoy.
The Theme Song
But here's my gripe
As nice as the BGMs are, the problem emerges when the music is combined with the visuals because such powerful visuals have effectively drowned out the background music! It was either my eyes were too busy tracking the screen that my ears stopped functioning momentarily, or the music did not match the intensity of the images. It could even be that those people in charge of sound made the volume of the music a tad bit too soft.
So yes, the music is lovely, but only if you listen to it on its own. In the anime, it's sadly forgettable.
What stood out to me is how the series is trying to squeeze in as much variety of fanservice as it possibly could. In K's attempt to draw as many attention to itself by catering to different tastes, it has made the anime rather... frivolous. There's tons of bishounen (pretty boys), a goth loli which is pretty moe in my opinion, voluptuous ladies, a naked cat girl, and even hints of boy love. Like I said, very fanservice-y.
This is what I mean by hints of boy love
In case you're wondering, the subtitle is exactly what Shiro is saying, referring to Kuroh as his wifey~
When Kuroh hugs Shiro
Another BL-esque moment
One of the best poses between these 2 kings.
Munakata and Kuroh
Not the popular pairing, but hey, they have their moments.
If you're starting to get wary of this Anime thinking that it's going down the BL (Boys Love) route, put your worries to rest. K is definitely NOT a BL/shounen ai/yaoi show. All those "hints" that I've shown you are simply fanservice to draw in female viewers. Relax!
My Thoughts on the Plot
K definitely has the premises to become a good anime to watch. I think that a lot of viewers like the whole clan vs clan scenario. There's a great set of characters that can be developed further. I started watching the show with excitement and high expectations but I regret to say that K has fallen short of those expectations.
I'm not too sure what happened along the way but I'm guessing that with only 13 episodes, the creators of the series went about it all rushed. The transition from one scene to another is at times choppy and doesn't flow very well. They failed to explain in detail certain facts and issues that are rather critical to the plot. Instead, they wasted a few episodes in the beginning of characters running around like headless chickens, for what purposes I totally cannot comprehend.
Things like what a Strain is (what Neko and Anna are) was not explained. While they did touch on the powers of the Kings and their aura and where the source of the power comes from, it's all very touch and go, very general. When they keep mentioning the Sword of Damocles, I have no idea what those are about except that they represent the kings. Or something to that effect. See? Explanations in the series are very vague.
The Sword of Damocles
All in all, the plot is pretty straightforward. You have your main lead accused of murder, people trying to get their revenge on him while he tries to clear his name. Then the twist comes in which there is more to the main lead than meets the eye.
The problem is, while that is happening, at the same time, another sub-plot is going on with the Red King and his issues and the Blue King trying to mitigate the problem.
It's like watching 2 different plots of 2 different anime squeezed into 13 episodes and you know what I mean when I say the whole thing is rushed. I mean the plot is promising, there is no doubt. Had they gotten the pacing right, it would have much better. Perhaps they could even separate the two plots into two arcs.
Overall, it's a good anime to watch if you're into the visuals. Plot-wise, it's very lean with no depths to it. Watch it if you just want a quick series to while your time away.