Anime Reporter skips over the first ten letters of the alphabet to take a look at K: the complete series.
K starts off with a bang and then some, showing us the violent vendetta of what appears to be a super-powered street gang. This gang, generally known as Homra (or the Reds), are on the search for someone and they’re not going to stop until they find him.
They manage to make quite a mess of their surroundings and several people’s faces before Scepter 4 (the Blues) intervene to stop them in their snazzy military uniforms. Making matters deliciously more complicated, the story focuses in on one Yashiro Isana (voiced by Fairy Tail’s and One Piece’s Daisuke Namikawa in Japanese and the very same Sam Riegel that we loved in Blue Exorcist and Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan), a student whose lax attitude to life makes him well liked, if nobody’s close friend. Unfortunately, his breezy attitude does him little good when Homra identifies him as the man they’re looking for, the apparent murderer of one their gang members. Yashiro finds himself surrounded by forces he can’t hope to understand when a mysterious lone warrior Kuroh Yatogami (voiced by Deadman Wonderland’s Daisuke Ono in Japanese and Attack on Titan’s and Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic’s Matthew Mercer in English) swoops in to save the day with some impressive powers of his own. Yashiro’s relief is short lived as Kuroh soon pulls a sword on him. Also intent on taking his life. It soon becomes clear that the scene is set for an ‘X-Men meets the Matrix’ style anime event.
Except that it isn’t, apparently.
The thirteen episodes see Yashiro attempting to piece together the mystery of the murderer with his face but even over such a small number of episodes, the series manages to lag somewhere in the middle. The early episodes do a great job of setting up the world and its super powered characters. What’s more, the powers themselves are much more innovative than the average super-powered series, with each group’s powers revolving around a different theme. K presumably takes its title from the word “King”, a common word across the series. In this instance, it means the leader of groups like Homra and Scepter 4, super powered individuals capable of given powers to their followers and whose existence has been hidden from the world for some time.
Early on, we learn that Yashiro’s cat can magically transform into a curvaceous girl called Neko who hates wearing clothes and after that all characterisation seems to disappear until the second or third last episode. Not content with showing off Neko’s nipple-less breasts and bare body over quite a lot of her debut episode, she also appears entirely naked in many different poses across the ending credits for almost every episode. Neko has very little personality other than being cute and relentlessly devoted to Yashiro, making her presence throughout the series feel a little like walking inside a bubble of male-wish-fulfilment. Once outside his day-to-day school environment, Yashiro’s playful attitude leaves, replaced by a blank slate carried around by the events around him. Some of the members of Homra and Scepter 4 seem to have much more interesting relationships and plots and these aren’t touched on nearly enough to feel satisfying.
The animation is excellent and the frequent battles are truly a pleasure to watch, offering sleek movement and unique battle styles. This makes up in some part for the lack of characterisation. The first couple of episodes contain some great comedic moments, but as it progresses, the series fails to live up to its potential in this regard too.
Ultimately, K feels likes an action story that should have been told across one film or a great sci-fi series that had a lot of crucial moments removed to fit into a thirteen episode schedule. Not bad. Not bad at all, but not as good as it could have been.
K: the complete series is available on DVD and Bluray combo pack on May 5th 2014 from Manga Entertainment (UK).
For more information, check out the Manga UK Twitter page,
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61% -“Falls Flat”
K is an anime which starts off well, with plenty of potential but which ultimately falls short of expectations.