K – 13 (Fin)

Kuroh stops the fighting between HOMRA and SCEPTER-4, then pledges fealty to King Weismann/Shiro. The two track down Kukuri and bait the Colorless King into possessing Weismann/Shiro, who traps him in his subconscious. He can’t hold him there long, so after ordering Kuroh to withdraw with the freed Kukuri, he confronts Mikoto and Munekata. Mikoto kills Weismann/Shiro, which destroys the Colorless King with him. Munekata then kills Mikoto before Mikoto’s own Sword of Damocles can, averting disaster. The red seals of the members of HOMRA – including Fushimi – rise into the air. Kuro and Neko run off in animal form.

Things get wrapped up pretty neatly in this final episode of the minimally-titled “K”, which most likely stands for “King.” Too neaty, you say? Well, it was a neat series. By that, we mean it wasn’t overambitious and knew what it wanted to accomplish throughout its run, and simply executed, sticking to its rules in the process. Evacuate school of innocents? Check. Save Kukuri from the Colorless King? Check. Prevent the Colorless King from possessing anyone else and wreaking havoc? Check. Prevent the bomb that is Mikoto Suoh from detonating, causing a citywide calamity? Check.

Sure, there are consequences. Kukuri, and likely her classmates, will always have a faint inkling of knowing someone named Isana Yashiro, but the name will forever stay on the tip of their tongue, never fully remembered. Kuro and Neko’s king is gone, leaving them without anyone to give them orders – maybe they’ll be their own bosses now. Anna, Yata, and HOMRA are understandably shook up by their king’s death, and even Munakata mourns the loss of a friend. So not everyone lives happily ever after, but they DO live. Sometimes kings have to make the ultimate sacrifice for their subjects’ welfare; so it is here.


Rating: 8 (Great)

K – 12

Weismann recounts that when the Colorless King in Isana Yashiro’s body attacked him, their powers clashed and they switched bodies – Weismann into Isana and Colorless into Weismann. He recruits Kuroh, Awashima, Kusanagi and Anna to help him end the fighting and evacuate the school. He also calls the Gold King, the lieutenant from WWII to say goodbye. Weismann intends to deal with the Colorless King, save Kukuri, and stop the Red and Blue Kings from destroying each other and the city.

Things really get moving this week, as many dots are connected in satisfying ways. Finally we’re getting answers about what the heck is going on, and for once, the red and blue clansmen are the ones who are confused. All of the current conflict has, predictably, been caused by the colorless king, who is so crafty, he doesn’t even have his own body. Kukuri’s myriad facial expressions as not only he but other personalities talk with her voice and move with her body is quite chilling, particularly the tiny voice of the real Kukuri begging for someone to help.

Help is on the way, in the form of Isana/Weismann. The new-and-improved Silver King isn’t interested in stamping out his bodily host, even though he may not be able to ever leave him. He seems willing to coexist with Isana as a dual person, and as a handy metaphor for the coexistence that has to happen between SCEPTER-4 and HOMRA. For all the answers now in the light, there are still multiple threats to deal with. This is a war of the order of Silver (and Gold) against the chaos of Colorless, with Red and Blue in the middle, two bombs that must be defused if there’s to be a Tokyo tomorrow.


Rating: 8 (Great)

K – 11

Led by Awashima, SCEPTER-4 advances against HOMRA. Shiro, Kuro, and Neko are able to save Kukuri, but Suoh confronts them. Kuroh buys them time, but is outmatched and is bailed out by Munakata, who starts dueling with Suoh. In a mall, Kukuri – actually fox spirit in disguise – stabs Shiro, but a Sword of Damocles appears above him, and he transforms into the new iteration of the Silver King, Adolf K. Weismann.

The school island becomes a battleground there’s a very nice sense that all hell is breaking loose, though in a decidedly less bloody was than, say, Gangs of New York. You’ve got a gang armed with clubs, bats, and pipes against a gang armed with swords, and there’s not much in the way of blood. The chaotic feeling aside, there’s decidedly less sophistocated action here than there was in earlier episodes. The battles themselves were economically animated, as if K was running out of budget.

Anyway, while several pairs of rivals have entered decisive battles – Yata and Fushimi, Suoh and Munakata – the big deal this week is that Shiro is not the newest incarnation of the sneaky Colorless King after all. He’s become Weismann’s new vessel, which makes him Silver, not clear. That means he’s the First and therefore strongest king. But is he strong enough to stop Suoh and Munakata from destroying Tokyo? More to the point, could he be bothered to stop them? We know he’s back, but we don’t know his intent.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

K – 10

Suoh and HOMRA invades the Ashinaka High School Island and locks the place down while they search for Totsuka Tatara’s killer. Kukuri, who may know the identity of the boy in the video, keeps her head down. SCEPTRE-4 arrives on the island and prepare for battle with HOMRA. Munakata gives Suoh an ultimatum: he’ll execute the killer any way he wants if he takes his men and leaves. Suoh declines. Shiro, Kuroh, and Neko return to Shiro’s flat to find it a wreck. They decide to put Shiro’s identity search on hold to rescue Kukuri and the other student hostages.

Assuming Isana Yashiro is indeed the new Colorless King, picking up where Ichigen Miwa left off, he is indeed the ultimate wild card. It’s apparently the nature of colorless kings to be tricksters, and set all the other kings into disarray. Even as an amnesiac, he’s exhibited trickster-ish attributes, and indeed, we wouldn’t put it past a trickster to allow himself to have his memory erased so that he’d never fully remember past deeds. It’s dastardly, but also fits the colorless archetype. And now a reflective Red King about to blow his top any second, and a Blue King trying to prevent excess collateral damage, and their two kingdoms about to go to war – all over who gets to kill Shiro.

There’s some nice, subtle character moments in this episode, like the quiet scene with Suoh and Anna and later Kusanagi, and the little smoke break between Suoh and Munakata. We had to chuckle at Suoh knocking over a massive stone clock tower on the school island, followed by Kusanagi cheerfully assuring the school by megaphone that “we’re not here to hassle you.” Like hell, dude, you knocked over their clock tower. If things go sour, the whole school could end up a crater. Shiro and Kuro, with help from their super-magical cat companion, will aim to prevent that.


Rating: 6 (Good)

 

K – 09

In a 1945 flashback to Dresden, Germany, Adolf Weismann demonstrates the power of an ancient “slate” by presenting a lab rat with godlike powers that commands the other rats. When the allies bomb the city, his sister is killed, and he eventually retreats to the airship Himmelrieich, where he remained unaging until it was destroyed in the incident with Scepter 4. Usagi gets to the wreckage first, and the Golden King has him in state. Meanwhile, someone claiming to be Tatara’s killer contacts Suoh and provokes him into breaking out of Scepter 4’s headquarters. Awashima and Fushimi cannot stop him, and Homra is waiting for him. Suoh knows the killer is at the school on the island.

So, no Shiro, no Neko, and no Kuroh this week. Instead we focus on the other Kings, specifically the top four. The first, Adolf Weismann, only wanted everyone to be happy. He started this whole technobabbly process of creating humans with superhero powers. His most apparent power seems to be immortality, though he’s unconscious in the aftermath of the Himmelreich‘s destruction, after decades of hanging up there, tending the broken heart he suffered when his sis died, and cultivating a legend about himself. One thing’s for sure; dude’s a weirdo.

As for the second King, it’s apparently in his interests to make sure Weismann isn’t snatched up by Scepter 4. We’re not sure what Munakata can do about it, being the fourth and therefore presumably less-powerful King. Meanwhile Kukuri, Mishina, and the other classmates keep bringing up someone none of them quite remember, but who is at the tip of their tongue. Were their memories of Shiro just an artifice? Finally, Tatara’s mysterious, fox-masked killer calls Suoh (on a toy phone, no less) to gloat. After simply sitting around for eight episodes, Suoh, King #3, decides enough is enough, and springs into action out of concern for the members of Homra.


Rating: 6 (Good)

K – 08

Shiro contacts Munakata and asks him to investigate “the man in the airship”, having remembered being thrown from it. The man is none other than the first and Silver King, but Munakata agrees to comply if Shiro, Kuroh and Neko all turn themselves in without a fuss. Munakata noticed that the normally unwavering routes of the Silver King’s airship Himmelreich suddenly changed when Tatara Totsuka was murdered. Munakata launches a fleet of choppers, one of which Shiro & Co. commandeer, but as they near the Himmelreich, it self-destructs.

The one person who may be able to tell Shiro who he really is and what really happened with him is Adolf K. Weismann, who just happens to be the first and most powerful king, clearly not someone to trifle with. Even Munakata seems doubtful he’ll be able to peacefully bring the guy in for questioning. SCEPTRE-4 may be enforcers of the law, but Weismann IS the law, and answers to no one. He’s also a bit of a weirdo and a recluse, flying over the city for decades in a really odd but cool-looking airship, with a dead (or unconscious) woman with a fox mask as his companion.

This same ship, such a fixture over the city’s skies, is unceremoniously blow’d up when Munakata’s choppers approach it. The explosion attracts the attention of Kukuri, for some reason. Shiro’s only good lead to his past would seem to have slipped through his fingers, and now he, Kuroh and Neko have the assault of SCEPTRE-4 officers and the theft of a helicopter to answer for. The only information they gained was that this Weismann dude is the one who calls the shots, and isn’t a man who has audiences forced upon him.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

K – 07

Shiro and Kuroh are surrounded by SCEPTRE 4, led by Lt. Awashima. Kuroh refuses to go quietly, so they draw their swords. Neko uses her illusory powers to transform their surroundings from a soccer pitch to a busy city center, but the illusion is broken by Munakawa. Kuroh holds him back while Shiro and Neko escape, but he’s no match for the Blue King. Neko conjures another elaborate illusion of Shiro awakening as a King, and the three escape to an alley. Shiro insists Neko lift the spell causing his amnesia. When she starts restoring memories from before she met him, Shiro remembers being pushed out of a plane.

As long as they were on the run from this group or that, Shiro and Kuroh could maintain the status quo, and Neko’s powers could facilitate that maintenance, extending it indefinitely. But whatever amnesiac husk of Isana Yashiro we’ve been watching so far has developed a sense of duty to his “friends” Neko and Kuroh, even if Neko regards him as master and Kuroh keeps lording the threat of slaying over him. The trio is up against the wall this week, and Kuroh is put in a situation where he could be seriously hurt or killed because of Shiro, and he wasn’t going to let that happen.

Whatever the hell an “unknown strain” is, they’re crafty sumbitches, and Neko is a particularly powerful one. Her offensive abilities amount to elaborate parlour tricks, but they work long enough to keep Team Shiro a step ahead, which is good because King Munakata means business. We particularly liked the illusion of Shiro admitting he’s lied the whole time and seeing his Sword of Damocles appear. We bought it just like Munakata, until he vanished to the sound of a meow. But Shiro doesn’t want Kuroh or Neko getting into any more danger on his behalf. It’s time he knew who he actually was, and take responsibility if it turns out he’s really evil.


Rating: 8 (Great)

K – 06

Mikoto Suoh keeps having strange dreams where he reaches his Weissman limit and burns the city to the ground, and both he and Kusanagi reminisce about Totsuka Tatara, from first meeting him eight years ago to forming HOMRA together, right up to his death a week ago. Meanwhile, Shiro loses faith he is who he thought he was, as Kukuri doesn’t recognize him, his home number is out of service, and a stadium is where he thought his house was. Distraught, he asks Kuroh to slay him, but Kuroh stays his sword, not yet certain Shiro is a murderer.

This week, in a series of flashbacks that smoothly flow in between the present day narrative, we finally meet Totsuka Tatara, co-founder of HOMRA, self-proclaimed “king’s vassal” to Suoh, and ultimately the murder victim of someone who may or may not be Shiro. He’s a nice and instantly likable guy and clearly the emotional heart and soul of HOMRA; the glue that holds it together. He’s not a fighter (or a skateboarder) but everyone likes him, and everyone is hit hard by his sudden, inexplicable demise.

Heck, we didn’t even see a whole lot of him and we liked him. He’s just so bubbly and upbeat. The result of this efficiently told story of his rise and fall is that we can now assign a personality to the idea of Totsuka that had been floating around; he’s no longer just some anonymous guy. As for Suoh, if he’s literally a ticking time-bomb, we kinda have to wonder why SCEPTRE doesn’t just fly him to the middle of the desert somewhere, where he won’t “change the topography of Japan.”


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

P.S. Awashima likes her Martinis ginny and swimming in red bean paste. We now have to try that.

K – 05

HOMRA associates Yata Misaki and Kamamoto Rikio and SCEPTER 4’s Awashima Seri and Fushimi Saruhiko gain access to Ashinaka High to look for Isana Yashiro, with neither faction meeting with success. In the process, Fushimi crosses paths with Yata and provokes him into a duel, which Seri breaks up. Fushimi learns the suspect they’re looking for isn’t an Ashinaka student. Yata shows one final person the video still before leaving: Kukuri, who tells him she doesn’t know him.

Neither HOMRA nor SCEPTER 4 come away looking particularly competent this week, as Yata and Kamamoto do a half-assed job canvassing the school (they’re too shy to ask girls), both groups end up scaring the hell out of the students and administration, and just for kicks, they have a battle in broad daylight on school grounds. Yata and Fushimi’s is definitely the first battle we’ve seen between a sword and a skateboard. Combined with Yata fighting while on his board, or break-dancing like Mugen, it’s right on the border between zanily cool and laughably absurd.

Fushimi is formerly of HOMRA, but switch sides, though he doesn’t seem particularly loyal to anyone except himself; he’s seeking “blood and flesh”, suggesting SCEPTER 4 may have a psychopath in their midst. Both the computer (which has Isana Yashiro in its database) and Kukuri (who is friends with him) say they don’t recognize the photo presented to them. It’s not the best photo, but it was enough for everyone to conclude Yashiro was the culprit. Did Kukuri honestly not see Shiro in that picture, or did she lie to cover for him?


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

P.S. When Yata calls Seri “The Heartless Woman”, she says only the owner of “a certain bar” – Kusanagi – calls her that. Do they have a history?

K – 04

Shiro’s friend Mishima forwards him the video of his alleged crime, which took place December 7th at 23:45. With Kuroh short on patience, Shiro attempts to scrape together an alibi, first by asking Kukuri, who was confessed to by Mishima from the clock tower; the student council, which was engaged in operations; and the newspaper club, which took pictures but none of him. At the faculty lounge Shiro secures gate records that indicate he never left the island, but Kukuri mentions he often sneaks out, avoiding such systems.

Kuroh is about to kill him, but the sight of him shielding Neko stays his hand once more, as does Kukuri remembering Shiro was with her less than an hour after the crime, satisfying Kuroh. Shiro goes home, finds bloody clothes in his closet, and has flashes of the murder of Totsuka Tatara he may have committed after all. Yata and Kumamoto pay a visit to Shiro’s school, while SCEPTER 4 has also gotten a fix on him.

Having someone try to kill you every day is exhausting.

When he delivers lines like this, there’s something so wholesome and aw-shucks pure about Shiro that you want to believe he’s innocent of killing Totsuka Tatara and becoming the most wanted man in Tokyo. He also isn’t about to let Neko die protecting him, and stands in front of her in a gesture of honor that just happens to move Kuroh. This whole episode Shiro is desperately struggling to find an alibi, because he too cannot believe he did the deed – only to have the evidence stare him in the face in the end.

Could it have been planted? Certainly. Those garbage robots can certainly be programmed to collect as well as deposit anything. And there’s something fishy about Shiro’s flashback being just the video footage from Tatara’s point of view. Shouldn’t he be remembering what happened from his own perspective? This episode stuck with the Othello Duo (Shiro & Kuro), Neko and Kukuri, and did a bang-up job telling a twisting and undulating story and keeping things moving. But the other factions outside the island are primed to strike. Kuroh may have been appeased, he’s just the first of many deadly hurdles.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

K – 03

Blue King Munakata Reishi takes Red King Suoh Mikoto into custody, worried that his power could cause a calamity that would threaten Japan. Suoh goes quietly, but his friend Kusanagi Izumo knows he has a plan. Munakata also orders the city put under martial law for two weeks while he investigates the murder of Tatara Totsuka, who was a member of HOMRA and the reason they’re hungry for revenge. Kuroh has a long meal with Shiro and Neko, after which he vows to kill Shiro, but Shiro convinces him to let him prove his innocence.

Suoh, let’s get straight to the point. Your Weismann level is pushing the limit. If the Sword of Damocles should fall, we’ll have a repeat of the Kagutsu crater. If you insist on drawing more power from the Dresden Slates, I will have to kill you.

Now that right there is some dense proper-noun-laden dialogue right there. It’s what shows that take place in the future where people have supernatural powers are wont to say. But this anime pokes fun at it by having Suoh tell Reishi he has no idea what he’s talking about. It was a necessary bit of exposition, delivered directly but cleverly. While this episode lacked the super-shiny CGI cars and skateboard video fights (though the skateboard kid Yata did get some licks in) it made up for in laying out what’s going on in this crazy mixed-up world, something the first two episodes just didn’t have time to do.

We liked simply being thrown into to the fray blind, but this episode was useful; we learned a lot. The Seven Kings with their elemental powers and rivalries; their tacit understanding that no king can rise above the others without upsetting the balance of the world. It’s all very big, important stuff. On the smaller scale, both the Red and Blue clans are looking for a murderer, while the Black King is after the White King. Only Shiro has no memory. But he does have a cat-girl; one of the things not explained this week. We dig the setting: a prosperous, advanced and powerful Japan with the kings pulling the strings in the background.


Rating: 8 (Great)

P.S. We liked how the episode kept cutting to Shiro’s place, shot from the same angle each time, underlining the tension around and comic quality to a meal that may be Shiro’s last if he doesn’t play his cards right. He does.

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)

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.