Apologies to those that have been waiting for these posts faithfully, I’ve been slowly itching them up late, but I feel the quality of the post as a whole is much better. Expect another afterword after this and then a New Year’s announcement, I don’t expect to write a post for the 2nd, as I may have Xewleer post then. I’m still workin on goals to have an afterword of Summer series (all except a few) done before the 14th of this month. A series preview may be coming this week as well.

Set in a world where history has taken a slightly different course from the one we’re familiar with, K follows the story of a young boy whose life is caught in a psychic war between seven kings.
Ashinaka High School is known for its unique setting: the entire campus is built on an island. Yashiro Isana, aka Shiro, is having lunch with a cat on one of the school rooftops. After his lunch break, Shiro goes on an errand for his classmate Kukuri to prepare for their upcoming school festival, only to be chased by some intimidating-looking men.

K can be best described as a poorly baked cake covered with an excessive amount of icing. One can look at this cake and view it to be extremely succulent and sweet on the exterior, but after tasting it, one may find dissatisfaction from cake’s lack of quality. Just like this cake, K attempts to attract viewers with its beautiful visuals and flashy soundtrack like icing, but the poor quality of an inconsistent story that felt rushed can dispel the exterior beauty and leave viewers sick to the stomach.

Upon viewing K for the first time, it is hard to disagree that it looks beautiful. K perfectly portrays the gorgeous aesthetics of an urban city landscape with tall majestic skyscrapers, bustling pedestrians in every street, and an abundance of detail in every nook and cranny. To add to K’s beauty, is the addition of a very refreshing and versatile soundtrack that perfectly captures the emotions of each scene. The music in K includes a large range; from soft melodic piano pieces, to intense electronic beats and mellow hip-hop. The music is implemented in a very sophisticated manner and never feels out of place or repetitive. This wonderful combination of visual and audio appeal reinforces the sense of beauty of K.

What first drew me to K was the background of the story. The series is set in a futuristic world where Japan is essentially dominated by the 7 kings of color. Each of the kings has a different power according to their colors. For all intents and purposes, their superiority over the rest of humanity is absolute. On top of that, they’re assisted by their clansman, who essentially pledge their loyalty to the kings in exchange for superhuman powers. The balance of power is carefully maintained until story is set in motion by a murder case. A man who self-identified as the Colorless King shot one of the Red King’s clansmen, and the entire thing was captured on the camera that clansman was carrying. It just so happens that the supposed Colorless King looks exactly like the main character, who’s an oblivious and sociable high school student living in school. And the search is on for this killer.

 

So far so good. What went wrong then? Well, nothing went wrong, so to speak. It was just that the plot unfolded at a pace so slow, people were literally asking “so what exactly happened in this episode” on the discussion boards. A typical episode features at most 3-5 minutes of actual plot explanation and the rest is devoted to character interaction and the occasional battles. To their credit, the animation quality is great. I liked the art style and every action was incredibly smooth. The battles themselves were quite entertaining and you can clearly tell they weren’t trying to cut corners there, but quite frankly, the plot was simply lacking. It started with some momentum in the beginning, then dropped off a cliff for at least 2/3 of the season, then picked up again in the last 2-3 episodes. That’s something you’d expect from a fan service series — not K, which clearly strives to play itself as a serious piece of work.

Although K looks beautiful, one must be cautious of its beauty. The beautiful appeal of K is only icing on the cake and the actual quality of the cake itself may be a different story. K’s biggest drawback would be the attempts to implement a wide cast of characters. Instead of being plot-driven, it’s mainly character-driven. In place of plot, you have a number of characters with strong and some would say memorable personalities that draw the audience in. The problem is that K doesn’t even try to ease the audience in with the characters. Although you find out a great deal about each major character over the course of the series, it’s mostly 30-second scenes here or there that make up for scattered pieces of information. Perhaps the directors of K want the audience to fill in the gaps, but it feels quite insulting to the audience who has no idea what the full history is behind most of the characters. This is possibly the strongest element about K, but this turns out messy as many characters that are given lots of screen time hold no significance in the story whatsoever, leaving the story to be rushed and full of holes to fit the span of thirteen episodes. K gives side characters a chance to shine, but these efforts leave viewers wondering why these pointless characters are given so much screen time when the time itself could have been used to improve the story.

Personally, I dislike the analogy but K feels just like Guilty Crown. It looks great from the outside, but when you look closer, you can see that it has somewhat of a hollow core. The promise is there. It’s just that potential isn’t enough to make a series great. Although I personally enjoyed watching most of the cast interact and doing whatever they do, when I got to ep. 13, the ending felt bland and somewhat anticlimactic even. And the glaring plot holes here and there make it hard for me to fully recommend this series.

As stated before, K is extremely comparable to a cake. Too much time and effort was spent on trying to sweeten the cake, but the limited amount of time has left it undercooked. One may think that this cake is a failure, but in absolute truth, it is not. An undercooked cake is not ruined and can still be enjoyed, this is very similar to the essence of K as it all comes down to one’s sweet tooth. Although the story of K felt rushed and messy, the character interactions and personalities truly sweetened this anime and the excessive amount of icing on this cake can also add to the appeal. If you’re interested in an anime that not only looks and sounds beautiful, but goes in-depth of exploring different character relationships and personalities, this anime is for you. However, gaping plot holes and unanswered question remain. With the fanservice, unnecessarily long conversations, and filler-like material eating up precious airtime, I found that none my questions and speculations–basic ones, at that–were ever addressed. Rather than waste time on fanservice, the directors could’ve focused on lacing the fundamental ideas within the series.

K had a lot going for it– a cool plot, lots of characters, shipping material, friendships across enemy lines (for the most part), more. All it needed was more time within the story and more episodes. I’m just disappointed because it had a lot of potential, but wasted pretty much all of it
Bottom line is, if you’re not totally into plot, love flashy animations, and just want to watch cool character say and do cool things, K is something you’d enjoy a whole lot. If you demand serious plot depth on top of all that, though, kindly move on.

With that said and the score I’ve given each episode here.

I give K-Project a 78/100.

Hopefully the planned 2nd season expands the series enough to fix the first season’s flaws.

Advertisements