K: Return of Kings – 01 (Quick Glance)

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K: Return of Kings is an extremely stylish magical fighter where people drop trailer-style sound bites at each other while sword-dancing around a beautifully 3D rendered cityscape. It’s full of visual elegance and wonderful dancey/comfort jazz riffs and it has absolutely no weight or feeling of tension.

For context, I accidentally watched K: Return of Kings without knowing it was the sequel to a show RABUJOI reviewed back in 2012.  So I am certainly missing context. However, K:RoK has some pretty straightforward problems…

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The episode opens with a fight between the 3rd King (Red) and the 4th King (Blue) and their clans. It introduces about 12 characters, what I presume are some ranks and relationships, and sets off scattering those characters around the city in lengthy one-on-one fights.

Aside from the female character, who gets several half-sexy/half-awkwardly rendered crotch and boob shots, many of the characters look the same. e.g. The blue King & Captain both wear glasses and a similar uniform and are only identifiable because the Captain has throwing knives and fights the red guy on the skateboard…Right off the bat, I don’t even know who anyone is unless they are holding a specific weapon.

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You may like it if: you want high production values production values and can turn off your brain. K:RoK isn’t Fate stay/night visual quality, but top-shelf for tv.

You may not like it if: the lengthy lightsaber duel between Anakin and Obi’won in Star Wars EPIII bored you with it’s flashing, highly polished, lengthy emotionless grind. K:RoK’s pretty flash and explosions becomes dull if there is no tension or moments of rest for the action. Likewise, a giant, highly-detailed cityscape does not immerse you in a space, if you have no idea who anyone is, or why they are acting so strange.

 

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In closing, K:RoK feels like an action packed trailer as a full length episode: all the snappiest dialog and explosions and fights are on display without any of the ‘boring’ dialog between characters that would make the world feel lived in and the relationships real. When Dialog and moments of pause do creep up, its mostly sloppy exposition and unnatural feeling character re-introduction.

It’s pretty, it has boobs and crotch jiggle, swooshy magic attacks, and is unoffensive. If you watched the original, or plan to go back and watch it first, you may even get something out of it. Just not enough here for me.

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Weekly OP: K

The audaciously-titled “K”, which aired in Fall 2012, made one hell of a strong first impression, but never quite cashed the checks it wrote in its gorgeously funky first episode. In a very good Fall 2012, that meant it ended up ranking seventh of ten shows.

That being said, it was still decent enough watch, and visual and aural style was certainly never its problem. To whit: K’s stirring, righteous opening theme, “Kings” by Angela, always got us fired up.

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)