‘K’ Ep.1: When the Most Anticipated Title in Fall 2012 ‘Falls Short’ on Its Promises


|This post is written by Gilimandra|

Title: K

Type: TV series

Genres: Action Fantasy Sci-fi

Running Time: 25 minutes per episode

Current Episode: 1

Total Number of Episodes: 13

Opening Theme:“KINGS” by Angela

Ending Theme: “Tsumetai Hiya, Hitori” (冷たい部屋、一人) by Mikako Komatsu

Official Website: 「K」オフィシャルサイト (Japanese), K – anime (Official Facebook Page)

K – anime (Official English Site), アニメ「K」公式アカウント (Twitter) (Japanese)

Original Creator: GoRA

Animation Production: GoHands

Age Rating: 15+

Rating: 7.3 / 10

“Burn them.”

“No Blood! No Bone! No ash!”

The scene opens with a group of youngsters, called the Red Clan, barges in what seems to be a hotel room occupied by a criminal gang. After roughing up the place a bit, the youngsters proceed to ask about a person they’ve been looking for, but to no avail. Disappointed, the Red Clan makes their way out. Then, they realize that the building has been surrounded by dozens of men and women in blue uniform: the Scepter 4.

Suoh Mikoto, the Third King and the leader of the Red Clan, immediately becomes hostile and lets out his red pinkish flame bursting out to almost every direction, engulfing everything in its path. In response, Munakata Reisi, the Fourth King and the leader of Scepter 4, releases a strong blue energy together with his underlings that directly clashes with his counterpart’s fire. As soon as two conflicting powers collide, two giant swords called the ‘Sword of Damocles’ appear high in the sky, floating eerily above the two super humans.

¦The Leader of the Red Clan, Suoh Mikoto.¦

¦The Leader of the Blue Clan, Munakata Reisi, and his Vice Leader Awashima Seri.¦

The first flashy scene comes to a close, and followed by a fresh scene from an overly extravagant, classy high school on a private island. We’re finally shown the main protagonist, Isana Yashiro, who’s famous for being the class’s clown. The scene displays his usual routine on lunch break, which is to ask his classmates to ‘donate’ a part of their own lunches to him. And everyone seems to be happy to share their meals with him.

¦Getting tidbits of happiness from his classmates.¦

To his surprise, while running an errand for the student council later on, the Red Clan suddenly attacks him. There’s a short announcement through e-mails that Isana is ‘the target’ they’ve been looking for a while now. Totally confused and feel threatened, Isana dashes for his life, then gets saved by a prince-charming only to find out that his savior actually has another agenda.

I did cover ‘K’ back then in the string of posts related to AFAID 2012, but it was solely telling what exactly the screening was all about. Furthermore, the advanced screening itself wasn’t showing the whole first episode. I also have received some requests to do proper review about ‘K’, so I decided to do it and go a little more detailed compared to other 2012 fall anime reviews I’ve done so far. So let’s examine why ‘K’ falls short on its promises so far.

To begin with, ‘K’ gives you an impression that the whole settings serve as a massive fashion laboratory. Inside, they’re so devoted, so caught up in experimenting with cool poses and stylish elements it leaves little room for plot development. Take the opening scene for example; everything that builds up the tension all the way to the anticipated clash between Red Clan and Blue Clan just dissipates into thin air. The grave mistake happens because instead of showing a glimpse of awesome fight between kings, which may very well leave the excitement high in the air from the get-go, they cut it short after the two opposing sides strike cool poses and then proceed to a horrible opening theme by Angela. The viewers get a weak start, and that’s a real letdown.

¦Alright here we go, cool pose, honorable ladies and gentlemen!¦

¦But of course, we too won’t lose when it comes to posing.¦

The visually attractive (although sometimes feel excessive) characters have yet to show strong, distinct quality personalities that match up with their appearances. Isana, well, is unique indeed. He lives at his own slow, easy-going pace. The guy is friendly at a glance, but is aloof in reality. However, although the twist at the end of first episode adds tenfold to his interest as a main character, he’s like a very rough gem that needs painstaking polishing to be a worthwhile protagonist.

¦Isana Yashiro, living in his own world.¦

The abundant supply of fashionista pretty boys (that we may chortle and snort at), topped with a slight hint of boys-love, and huge potential fan service materials (take a look at Neko and Awashima Seri) explicitly tells us that GoHands is trying to satisfy both camps. However, whether their effort is a success or not will have to wait until much later.

¦Blushing when he’s hugged by his savior, Yatogami Kuroh. Oh dear…¦

¦Potential fan service material number one.¦

¦Potential fan service material number two.¦

But make no mistake, for not all of ‘K’ is disappointing. It has the best animation quality so far in the industry, with jaw-dropping, super detailed background of sumptuous sci-fi cityscapes, luminescent color scheme, and filters and effects to give it that futuristic glow. The fluidity with which everyone and everything moves is a pleasure to watch, and one scene of a skateboarder chasing down the bewildered Shiro is simply breathtaking. The dramatic angles and super-slick animation will make many viewers sit back and gape in wonder.

GoHands, the studio behind ‘K’, had mostly been in charge of ‘2nd key animation’ in many past projects (not in charge of the whole anime production), so this might be their first own big project. And the term big here is literally as what it says because first of all, there are seven authors in a group called ‘GoRA’ involved in writing the story.

Secondly, there’s an all-star line-up of voice actor and actresses: Jun Fukuyama that’s very famous for his voice acting as Lelouch Lamperouge in Code Geass Series, Daisuke Ono for his role as Sebastian Michaelis in Black Butler, Miyuki Sawashiro who’s known for her work in Durarara! as Celty Sturluson, in Arakawa Under the Bridge as Maria, and several Lupin III series as Mine Fujiko, and there’s Yui Horie whose popularity rocketed thanks to her acting out Sawachika Eri in School Rumble. There are several others, but this kind of line-up is the dream of every other directors out there, and GoHands has it.

However, even though armed with the best resources there are in the world, GoHands seems to still has some difficulty in finding the ‘right feel’ and the ‘right approach’ to the show. The first episode seems to indicate that the show will be in real danger if it keeps going like this. But perhaps with some more explanation and a bit of world building, this show might meet the viewers overwhelming expectations. After all, this is too big of a project to fail.

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About Gilimandra

The self-claimed irresistible, energetic life form has been enchanted by the wonder of Japanese culture (read: anime & manga) since he was able to stand on his own feet. Now he is looking forward to infect you with his love for Japan. Resistance is futile!

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