Monday, January 7, 2013

Anime Review: K

Good lord, how did I fall so hard for such a silly show? I only tried out K since it was a streaming title and I wanted to give it a shot. After the first episode I wasn't going to continue but a lot of people on my twitter seemed to enjoy it so I decided alright, I can give it another episode, it's giving me plenty to snark about anyway. And then I realized by the end of the second episode that I really liked the chemistry between the main trio and I was sorta-kinda hooked. So you can imagine how this show, which I saw someone else compare to a deep fried Snickers bar, surprised me when I realized it was plotted just a bit better than I was expecting.....


Summary: One night in December Tatara Totsuka went up on the roof to film a video and was shot dead by a crazed young man who declares himself to the seventh, the colorless, king. Tatara was a member of a the street gang Homra which was under the third king (who like the seventh king is all part of a larger system of kings and clansmen all with supernatural powers) whom are all rather pissed off about this and out for the blood of the guy who did it. And this is all rather unfortunate for Yashiro Isana, a regular high school student who has a striking resemblance to the guy in the video but no memory of murdering someone and has to go on the run when even more groups of people (all also related to the various kings) pop up and are after him as well. 

The Good: As I said earlier, this show turned out to be much better plotted than I expected, especially for a show that spends it's first episode being style over substance and it's second episode having a catgirl run around naked for most of it. The trick is that while the show does heavily foreshadow it's biggest twist it's mostly visual foreshadowing (some of which might have been coincidence on the animators parts but other parts were certainly deliberate) which, judging from the reactions I saw online, a lot of people missed (I wouldn't have caught the foreshadowing myself but did pick up on the other clues). And as I also said earlier, some of the characters, especially the main trio, have really great chemistry together and I liked seeing them just interact together on screen (especially since all of them got a bit of character development, the other characters in the show not so much). I'll be rather sad if they aren't part of the main cast for the sequel since for me anyway they were what made the show fun.

The Bad: There are two basic camps in the fandom for this, either you liked the characters Yata and Fushimi (in the red and blue clans respectively who have backstory) or you think they had too much screentime. I'm in the latter group although I was fine until they had a really out of place flashback in the last episode (which I wish had been instead used for one of the more important characters, like on the past of the red and blue kings who are important to the story unlike those two). The whole story is a bit unbalanced, the red clan gets way more screentime than the blue clan (even though both are about equally important than the end) and sometimes the story forgets that there are seven kings, not four, two kings (/their followers) never even appear and I wish they had gotten more than a passing mention since it doesn't make sense that they are completely absent from the situation at hand. 

The Audio: By the end of the show the opening song had grown on me (and when I finally looked up the lyrics they fit the show a bit more than I expected, I love when that happens, although the biggest "clue" from that is actually in Engrish so I really should've caught it) and the ending song wasn't that bad either (just beware of naked catgirl, the show is a bit NSFW but if you're an anime fan you've almost assuredly seen worse). The cast worked fine for me, everyone seemed to be acted well enough, I didn't dislike any of the voices/voice actors, although I was sad to learn that apparently one of the voice actors is a native German speaker and the story had a legitimate reason for him to use that talent and they never took advantage of it (and even I, who speaks no German, could tell that the brief snippets in there were as terrible as the Engrish in the very first episode). Oh and I was frustrated that it took Viz Media until almost the last episode to subtitle the little bit of German that was in the show, thank goodness for fans and google translate for the rest of it! 

The Visuals: Alright GoHands, you really need to learn how to spread out your budget earlier. Yes I know it's important to have a flashy first episode to draw people in, but there are "good looking (but the quality will probably drop a little by the end)" and "hey let's have a RANDOM really high budget scene that contributes nothing to the plot that couldn't been accomplished more cheaply otherwise!". You might think I'm being a bit hard but if you pause and look at later episodes everything just looks cheaper and more rushed, hopefully the DVD releases will look a bit better. But what everyone really notices about K are it's omnipresent filters, mostly of the blue variety for some unknown reason*.

So, K gets a three out of five for being just that damn entertaining (who would have thought that having seven different light novel authors writing a story would work out so well?) and heck yeah I'm looking forward to a second season, more to snark at while being amused! No idea if I would buy this if Viz was to ever release it on DVD, while I might want to rewatch it with friends I can always use the Hulu stream for that, guess I'll just cross that bridge when it comes. Until then I will continue tracking down the copious amount of side materials (two spin off manga, K: Memory of Red [focusing on Homra shortly before the anime starts], Stray Dog Story [focusing on Kuro between the last colorless king's death and Shiro's rise to notoriety], two light novels, K: Side Blue [which I believe is how the current blue king became king and focuses on characters not in the anime] and K: Side Red [set a bit earlier and explains how Anna came to be with Homra, provides more information than the anime did on the gold clan, and generally explains more about Strains], the upcoming light novel focusing on what the trio was doing when they were hiding from everyone [answer, hiding out in a love hotel], and various other short stories explaining character's backstories that are floating around) which yeah, is enough to keep me going for a quite a while.

*there was a theory that they reflected which king's territory they were in but as of now that doesn't seem to have been the case, shame because that would have made for some more great visual foreshadowing AND given the show an actual reason to abuse them as much as they did.