Yashiro Isana has lived a relatively ordinary, simple life. He lives in the technology-advanced Shizume City and attends Ashinaka High School, a notable high school that is located on an island just outside the areas. Yashiro is friendly with everyone. Nothing ever seems wrong about him, except perhaps his habit of forgetting where his school's PDA is.
However, nothing normal has been happening since the recent murder of Tatara Totsuka, prominent member of the infamous HOMRA. No one knows who exactly killed him but the man responsible bears an uncanny, identical appearance to Yashiro. Seeking vengeance, the Red Clansmen of HOMRA set out to get Yashiro and kill him.
Everyone suspects that Yashiro is the murderer. But whether the guilt is his is not clear.
From the very beginning I never thought K was going to be a great anime and I met with no surprises. It looks the part of a great anime (the team who brought us Mardock Scramble shows their ability once again) but it just comes through as too shallow a concept and too shallow an example of characterisation to be anything other than pretty decent. To be fair, it does manage to be pretty decent and that is a whole lot more than can be said for a lot of others shows. Even with its noticeable brevity and underwhelming exposition (it is rare to criticise a show like this for under explaining things so that was a bit different), the show kept an evenly paced plot and had some quite likeable characters even if they seemed rather obscure in depths and motivation. All in all though, K is not bad at all.
Most of K's qualities speak for themselves. K is a show with high production values: the action scenes are well animated, the art is even, the music has quality and an obvious amount of effort has gone into the whole aesthetic of the show. The characters look fantastic and are well varied. A nice thing about the concept is that the plot does not get bogged down with random symbolism and leaves what references it does use (such as the Sword of Damocles that hangs over the heads of the clan kings when they use their powers) at the periphery. Overall, the basic premise of the show is interesting - the country is run secretly by seven "kings" (individuals with great power) who war or work together as they will, using their factions (their clans who partake in a share of their sovereign's power). The concept of the seven kings (only five of which you will ever see in the show and only four of them do anything) is not a bad one and I found it interesting to see these demigods battling it out over Japan or not in some cases though confines of a thirteen episode series were not adequate to reflect the epic style that could well have done the concept more justice.
As it is, K is a far more intimate affair in terms of characterisation. The main thrust of narrative focuses on Yashiro and his eventual group of friends Kuroh, a disciple of another now deceased king looking to discover who Yashiro truly is, and Neko, something called a Strain which ultimately equates to an oddly powered cat who can turn into a girl or something. Their relationship as a three and as characters relating to Yashiro takes up a lot of airtime and it is well done but it hamstrung because the pasts and motivations of Kuroh and Neko are underdeveloped. We learn about Kuroh's admiration of his old master and we see character progression in that respect but we do not get a glimpse into why he became the way he is and I can't help but feel his character is lacking that. In Neko's case it is hard to tell what relation her species is to the story let alone her character. Her affection for Yashiro is shown and developed fairly well but she does seem to fundamentally lack a personality outside of loving Yashiro and food. The side characters are also fairly well done; the relationships the Red and Blue Kings have with their subordinates and each other feel genuine and the same applies to the other characters such as with Yata and Fushimi and their feud.
The main problem with the show is that it just doesn't have enough of what it's good at. The action scenes are top quality when it is the more important characters involved but they too rarely fight and the choreography is just at the wrong side of satisfying. The background is interesting but the show does not develop it fully. What are these powers all about? Why do people become kings? What the heck is a Strain? These and questions like these are not all that important to the plot but there are so many gaps in the show's mythos that it is impossible to become immersed in it and therefore it is not as enjoyable as it could be. The plot is paced evenly but it is a little on the slow side and therefore never excites in the way it should.
Overall, the show never really excels. I am well disposed towards it, without a doubt, but aside from the aesthetics it lacks any spark or fizzle to allow me to really recommend it.
If you're looking for a thrill ride then drop a star but it is a solid show and I won't dissuade you from seeing it. Apparently a second season is coming at some point so perhaps that will solve some of this show's length issues. We'll have to wait and see. — Aiden Foote
Recommended Audience: Neko is naked an awful lot (including for the ED) and Yashiro's classmate Kukuri offers a few upskirt shots throughout the show. Violence is another issue, it's not overly bloody for the most part but it's definitely present.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital source
Review Status: Full (13/13)
K © 2012 GoHands / k-project
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