K – 02

Shiro manages to slip away from Kuroh, but he now has a Y10 million bounty on his head thanks to the HOMRA corporation, which is also tracking him. Kuroh traces him to his school, where Yuki helpfully points him out. Meanwhile, Shiro’s cat has transformed into a naked magical woman, who protects him and covers his escape with a series of illusions cast against Kuroh. He chases them through the night, and in the morning, they cannot continue until they’ve all had breakfast.

There are a lot of names and orgs and motivations flying around at the periphery that if all unloaded at once could easily overwhelm, but this second episode wisely keeps them there and narrows its focus to one scenario: the crafty, slippery Shiro being pursued by Kuroh, who wants to kill him to satisfy his master’s honor. The kid’s straight as an arrow, and is disarmed and shamed by the sight of a naked cat-girl. Whoever she is, she seems committed to protecting Shiro, who even in private he claims to not remember the murderous bastard seen in that video footage.

The chase has a manic energy to it, and there’s the amusing notion that Kuroh is so formal, he can’t actually kill Shiro without first saying his whole honorable spiel, which of course gives Shiro and Neko ample time to distract, misdirect, or flee. This leads to the chase going on all night, rendering its participants winded and peckish by morning. But when Kuroh’s lovingly-prepared repast is gone and everyone’s energy has returned, there’s still the matter of him wanting Shiro’s life. What more will Shiro and Neko be able to do – aside from eternal evasion – to dissuade him? And that doesn’t even count the other parties who want him, like HOMRA.


Rating: 8 (Great)

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Btooom! – 02

Himeko was an ordinary school girl until she made a mistake: she invited her friends to join her at an apartment where a popular band is hanging out, but she’s late arriving, to find the band beating and raping the other girls, and she’s next. She flees them, and the case makes the news, and her friends move away after abjuring her. She is then parachuted to the island, where she meets three other players: a teacher who is promptly killed by the soldier, and an otaku who pretends to be nice then tries to rape her. She uses a bomb to scare him off, then goes to a pond where she washes herself, when she meets Sakamoto.

We kinda feel bad for Sakamoto: his introductory episode wasn’t nearly as good as Himeko’s. Her past is woven nicely with the present, as we follow her right up to the moment Sakamoto bumps into her in the first episode. We really how this was executed: in both times, she goes through hell and is gradually hardened against any interaction with men, since men have been so horrible to her of late. She may hate herself for running for it when her friends were in danger, but there was no way she’d be able to hold off four men. She did what she had to to avoid getting raped or worse. It sucks, but that’s how it goes.

This episode also gives us a possible reason people are being sent to this island: a chain letter is being passed around asking people to vote for someone they want to disappear from their lives, and they’ll get paid. The episode indicates Himiko’s friend Miho did just that with her, and it’s not unrealistic to think the other three players and even Sakamoto had enemies who could’ve voted for their…relocation. But most interesting is how Himeko has already met Sakamoto within the digital version of Btooom! – they just aren’t aware how closely they both resemble their avatars. Also, Himeko really really hates men.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Car Cameos: As the girls cross the street, there are three cars:
A Honda Fit, an Audi A4 (B5), and a Honda CR-V.

K – 01

Various organizations around Tokyo are led by “Kings” with supernatural powers. When they spot the Seventh King, Isana Yashiro, they all converge on him, with Yatogami Kuroh putting a sword at his throat in the end. “Shiro” was posing as a friendly, laid-back innocent student at a high school on an island in Tokyo Bay, but he’s apparently responsible for various atrocities committed in his past.

Yeah, at the end of the day not a ton goes on in this episode: a kid begs for bits of classmates’ lunches while his admirer (and a naked catwoman) follows him, then he’s sent on an errand for the student festival and he ends up getting chased by an increasing number of thugs and heavies. But not a lot needed to happen because goddamn, K established the hell out of its setting this week with jaw-dropping detail. We’re talking feature film production values. It looks like it cost a fortune. And it doesn’t come off overly sterile, either; there’s a lot of grit and funky camerawork to loosen it up. Very very slick.

We liked how the episode was broken up into vignettes separated by fade-to-blacks, creating a visual rhythm to match the pumpin’, pulsin’ soundtrack, with a little Roots influence. But the eye and ear candy weren’t all we liked. Sure, there’s some very bad Engrish in the beginning, and there are a ton of characters to keep track of, but we think the quick pace and sensory onslaught were conscious choices. The modern world is loud and distracting and volatile. You never know what’s around the next corner, and you may not even remember who you once were.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

Car Cameos: All of them. No, seriously. Every damn car is in this, in the background. They’ve got ’em all. And not just simple models. Detailed, shiny, 3D CGI models that glint in the sun. Here’s just the ones we could identify: Audi A8, Alfa-Romeo 159, BMW 5-Series, Cadillac CTS, Chrysler PT Cruiser, Daihatsu Tanto, Honda Acty Truck, Honda Jazz, Honda Stepwgn, Jeep Cherokee, Lexus IS-F, Mercedes S-Class, Mini Cooper, Mitsubishi i, Nissan 350Z, Nissan Altima, Nissan Cedric, Nissan Elgrand, Nissan GT-R, Nissan March, Nissan Murano, Nissan Pathfinder, Nissan Primera (lots of Nissans!), Smart ForTwo, Subaru Legacy, Toyota Alphard, Toyota Hiace (Truck and Van), Toyota Prius, Volvo V50.