By: Hanny Kee
Although a self-professed anime fan, I have not gobbled down a new anime series since Hakuouki was introduced in 2010, which sucked me into the Otome game (a whole other genre of text-based gaming world) thereafter. When I finally hit rock bottom, I decided that enough was enough, and went to look for the juiciest piece of anime that suited my strange tastes, which placed voice acting above plots and animation aesthetics. Thus, I landed onto this quaint series released late last year, simply titled “K”.
K centres on a murder mystery, which causes open conflict between two clans, the Red Clan (HOMRA) and the Blue Clan (Scepter4), both of which are ruled by Kings who have supernatural powers. One member of the Red Clan was murdered by a teenager, Isana Yashiro, who is our protagonist, whom they pursue in open daylight. A young swordsman then confronts the teenager and wants to execute him in order to bring him to justice. Poor, poor Yashiro!
Deciding that he would prove his innocence, Yashiro embarks on the quest to discover the true identity of the killer, only to discover that he would be led into a realm inhabited only by a select few: Kings and their Clansmen. He is now caught between the warring Red and Blue Clans, both of which are pursuing him for their own reasons.
As a complete series, I would say that 13 episodes is not enough to expand the story. K has a wealth of characters, and the plot tries to cover each and every one of them, but there is simply not enough time to ensure that these character form their own depths. As we follow Yashiro, he gathers evidence of his innocence and we are also exposed to the characters from both the Red and Blue Clans. For example, the baritone, solitary (and always brooding) Red King, a Gothic Lolita kid who is always by the Red King’s side, the anthropomorphic “cat-girl”, and the astute, calculating Blue King…Perhaps given more screen time, these characters would be given even more life, and thus, be more believable. As for the plot itself, nothing much happens early on in the series. Our protagonist traipses around the city with his companions, encountering members of other Clans, and fighting their way out of their conflict. It was only during the last few episodes of the series that the true plot unravels, resulting in an over-explosion of facts, flashbacks, and last-minute realisations that sort of spoils the ride because of the over-condensation of information.
However, the art for this anime is superb. Set in an alternate present, the animation is something akin to the likes of Ghost in the Shell, which focuses more on the lighting. Each surface on the anime has ethereal, multicoloured reflections. K seems to favour a bright palette, and each scene is filled with details that blow the mind visually. The fight scenes were beautifully choreographed, particularly when some of the characters did not use conventional weapons. A skateboarder fighting with a baseball bat against a man wielding a saber, anyone?
At this point, when one gets utterly frustrated with the lack of content from the anime itself, one goes online to discover that K is actually a multimedia franchise. It not only has an anime series, but also countless drama CDs (audio-only scenes), as well as two prequel manga instalments. If you have the patience to track down each and every one of these off-anime pieces, I suggest you do so, because it opens up the world of K to greater horizons and we actually learn more about the characters themselves.
I would give K a 3.5 star rating out of 5. Despite the desperate lack of episodes to expand on the plot and character development, it is an aesthetically pleasing anime. Do give it a try if you like beautiful visuals, and of course, a bevy of good-looking characters, male or female. Even the animals are cute!
(Image credits belong to Minitokyo.net)