First Impressions – K

[Anime-Koi] K - 01 [9A4B19FF].mkv_snapshot_04.14_[2012.10.05_16.49.49] [Anime-Koi] K - 01 [9A4B19FF].mkv_snapshot_13.13_[2012.10.05_16.59.09] [Anime-Koi] K - 01 [9A4B19FF].mkv_snapshot_20.04_[2012.10.05_17.06.22]

After one episode, it’s too early to tell if K is a triumph of style over substance or just a triumph – but the style part is a sure thing.

(Editor’s Note: Watched and composed on a plane, finalized while severely jet lagged and soaked to the bone so apologizing in advance for any errors.  More posts tomorrow.


[Anime-Koi] K - 01 [9A4B19FF].mkv_snapshot_07.47_[2012.10.05_16.53.32] [Anime-Koi] K - 01 [9A4B19FF].mkv_snapshot_08.40_[2012.10.05_16.54.29] [Anime-Koi] K - 01 [9A4B19FF].mkv_snapshot_09.10_[2012.10.05_16.54.59]

[Anime-Koi] K - 01 [9A4B19FF].mkv_snapshot_01.23_[2012.10.05_16.46.57]This product of Studio GoHands and the mysterious GORA has been pretty mysterious in terms of plot, but what’s been striking in the previews is just how astonishingly beautiful the animation was.  My skepticism that this could be carried over to an actual episode was unfounded, at least for the premiere – like the PVs, this was effectively movie-quality animation.  Of course it’s almost a given that will decline some as the series progresses, but if it stays anywhere close to this level, K is going to be a real visual feast.

[Anime-Koi] K - 01 [9A4B19FF].mkv_snapshot_01.45_[2012.10.05_16.47.19]Flashy animation can be empty calories though if it doesn’t have cleverness and style to it – like a fast food meal that leaves you strangely hungry for more.  Again, K silences my doubts in the premiere – this is really beautiful art.  From the movie-styled pre-open to the large set pieces to the character designs and close-up shots, the flair and flamboyance are unmistakable.  I can’t say whether I’m going to care much about the plot and characters yet, because the premiere was intentionally vague about what it was we were seeing.

[Anime-Koi] K - 01 [9A4B19FF].mkv_snapshot_03.10_[2012.10.05_16.48.44]In many ways, K is most reminiscent of Baccano! and Durarara.  With it’s jazzy soundtrack and cinematic scope, its elements of organized crime (or at least organized violence) and parade of bishounen, it feels like a combination of those two shows.  First among equals would seem to be Isano Yashiro, known as Shiro (Namikawa Daisuke) a white-haired high-schooler with a persistent smile who mooches lunch from his classmates and is usually seen with his small white cat, Neko.  One of the local girls – who’s taken quite an interest in Shiro – comments that despite his friendly relationship with his classmates he doesn’t seem close to anyone – and indeed, Shiro is clearly an odd duck in many ways,

[Anime-Koi] K - 01 [9A4B19FF].mkv_snapshot_03.55_[2012.10.05_16.49.29]We also appear to have two rival organizations, Scepter 4 and Homura, who’ve taken quite an interest in Shiro and/or Neko.  We’re given no idea why, but when Yata Misaki (Fukuyama Jun) of Homura is chasing Shiro through the streets and has him cornered, Yatogami Kuroh (Ono Daisuke) known as  “The Black Dog” intervenes and saves him – only to point a sword at him when they’re alone, telling Shiro that his “late master” had requested that he kill the evil king, strongly implied to be Shiro.  Just who Shiro really is and whether he’s even aware of his own significance isn’t clear, but it’s obvious that he’s going to be the central figure at least for the early part of the series.

[Anime-Koi] K - 01 [9A4B19FF].mkv_snapshot_03.59_[2012.10.05_16.49.33]The pieces don’t really fit together for now, but I’m fine with that.  I like Durarara a lot (especially the first cour) and Baccano! even more, and there haven’t been a lot of shows with the same vibe.  At some point K will either come up with a coherent and compelling story or it won’t, and that will tell whether it goes down as an entertaining distraction or a show of real quality.  Given that the show both looks fabulously expensive and just plain fabulous it’s going to get some slack to spin its tale, because it does a terrific job of creating atmosphere with it’s technologically dazzling near-future setting and fluid animation.  It also features a particularly strong cast and there are hopeful signs in the dialogue, which has a snappy rhythm to it.  I’m not prepared to call K a winner just yet, but it’s definitely had one of the more arresting openings of the year in anime.

[Anime-Koi] K - 01 [9A4B19FF].mkv_snapshot_05.21_[2012.10.05_16.50.55] [Anime-Koi] K - 01 [9A4B19FF].mkv_snapshot_05.46_[2012.10.05_16.51.26] [Anime-Koi] K - 01 [9A4B19FF].mkv_snapshot_06.05_[2012.10.05_16.51.46]
[Anime-Koi] K - 01 [9A4B19FF].mkv_snapshot_06.21_[2012.10.05_16.52.02] [Anime-Koi] K - 01 [9A4B19FF].mkv_snapshot_09.58_[2012.10.05_16.55.48] [Anime-Koi] K - 01 [9A4B19FF].mkv_snapshot_10.08_[2012.10.05_16.55.57]
[Anime-Koi] K - 01 [9A4B19FF].mkv_snapshot_10.41_[2012.10.05_16.56.31] [Anime-Koi] K - 01 [9A4B19FF].mkv_snapshot_10.55_[2012.10.05_16.56.44] [Anime-Koi] K - 01 [9A4B19FF].mkv_snapshot_12.29_[2012.10.05_16.58.25]
[Anime-Koi] K - 01 [9A4B19FF].mkv_snapshot_13.03_[2012.10.05_16.58.59] [Anime-Koi] K - 01 [9A4B19FF].mkv_snapshot_15.03_[2012.10.05_17.00.58] [Anime-Koi] K - 01 [9A4B19FF].mkv_snapshot_16.28_[2012.10.05_17.02.46]
[Anime-Koi] K - 01 [9A4B19FF].mkv_snapshot_17.15_[2012.10.05_17.03.34] [Anime-Koi] K - 01 [9A4B19FF].mkv_snapshot_17.35_[2012.10.05_17.03.54] [Anime-Koi] K - 01 [9A4B19FF].mkv_snapshot_21.11_[2012.10.05_17.08.00]


[Anime-Koi] K - 01 [9A4B19FF].mkv_snapshot_23.30_[2012.10.05_17.10.18] [Anime-Koi] K - 01 [9A4B19FF].mkv_snapshot_23.35_[2012.10.05_17.10.23] [Anime-Koi] K - 01 [9A4B19FF].mkv_snapshot_24.18_[2012.10.05_17.11.07]


  1. A

    honestly i'm dissapointed. from the PVs i already had the feeling that it'd be all style over substance but i never imagined it would be this bad.

    the dialogoue, the way they use the music, everything just feels so incredibly …cheap, or "randomly put together". the animation also seems inconsistent. even the effects are used cheaply. as if to hide actual directing skills.

    it's still too early to tell but personally it made me cringe. i REALLY did not this first episode.

  2. e

    I'm waiting for a couple more episodes and reviews before trying this out. I've grown a tad too jaded to dive into this by style alone unfortunately.
    Screw it… actually the 'soaked' bit had me a bit worried – unless you mean soaking in the tub in true Japanese fashion – and as such I'm commenting on this so that I can just ask you if you're ok. Are you ok?
    Also if this is your jet-lagged output level you can be pretty proud. Nothing odd stood out to this non-native English speaker.

    P.S.: kitten!
    Turns out it's fanservice cat-girl. Unfortunately catgirls per se do nothing for me. We'll see…

  3. K

    If they had made Neko the protagonist, I wouldn watch it every week regardless of its quality XD
    Now seriously, this start was goddamn boring and they have yet to unveil the plot? Can´t say I was dissapointed though, I learned my lesson with Guilty Crown.
    Another week of opportunity let´s give it for now…

  4. L

    Gave this a watch since I heard some of the people who worked on Mardock Scramble (which I adore) are listed as production staff. You can definitely see the similarities in style, from the use of grain/noise in shadow areas, lens distortion effects, photographic filters, the whole 'cross-processed' tint …..etc. BGM too has some semblance of Mardock Scramble

    Sadly, that's where the similarities end. While Mardock Scramble managed to be cool with little effort, K seems to try way too hard, it's almost hilarious. Sort of in the same vein shows like Haruhi and Whatevermonogatari try too hard to seem intelligent.

    It's more Durarara than Baccano for me. The latter being the better of the two in my books. Also getting disturbing Nabari no Ou (aka queer ninja show) vibes.

    There also seems to be a little too much cost cutting in some scenes. Now I understand they're working on a budget, but here it seems like they've allocated manpower/talent/money pretty inconsistently. They seem to have a lot of effort poured into lighting effects, simulated filters and the whole "Transworld Skateboarding" scene, but totally skimped on some the CG. Seriously, those 2 giant swords… ick!! I know CG is cheaper than hand-drawn these days, but this was really unbalanced. I could even make out pixels, suggesting that some of it was rendered at a far lower resolution and then interpolated. Just an assumption on my part though, since I don't really know anything aboutfilm/anime-making.

    Will give it a couple more eps, but I'm not expecting a whole lot, to be frank. Strangely, I saw a manga version of this (probably spin-off to milk money) on Manga Updates, and it's listed under the Josei demographic. Feels more shoujo to me, but yeah, definitely seems targeted at chicks.

    Tip to studios:
    Style-Over-Substance is fine and all, but at least take the Samurai Champloo, Cowboy Bebob route. Girly-voiced protagonists and cheap fan-service are a big no-no.

  5. R

    I don't understand how you arrived to the idea that Monogatari series and Haruhi are trying to be intelligent anime. That's definitively wrong for Haruhi and the former is a simple character-driven story with huge doses of comedy.

    >I could even make out pixels, suggesting that some of it was rendered at a far lower resolution and then interpolated.

    Wow, they day I complain about my anime referring how the pixels look, will be the day I drop the medium.

  6. t

    While you started out your crazy adventure "gora" got a whole lot less mysterious:

    It's made up of 7 LN writers:

    Mamizu Arisawa (Inukami!)
    Furuhashi Hideyuki (Black Rod)
    Azano Kouhei (Black Blood Brothers)
    Kabei Yukako (Kieli)
    Rei Rairaku (Kanashimi Chimera)
    Suzu Suzuki (Kyuketsuki no Oshigoto)
    Takahashi Yashichirou (Shakugan no Shana)

    7 LN writers writing one anime,it honestly doesn't reassure me.

  7. x

    K has been heavily marketed and this EP1 put many promises on the table. It feels vertiginous how high the stakes are for this series.

    Read many people criticizing it for "not making sense" and being all over the place. Guys, there are others ways to tell a story than from the very beginning and explaining every detail about the setting.

  8. S

    This one has caused some very interesting responses in the anime community, at least the English forums, most of it not good. This isn't tied to Manga or Light Novel source. That gives the creators much more freedom to use the full extent of visual story telling techniques, without pissing off the fans. The catch is that, apparently, anime fans are too used to the adaptations and have a very hard time following non-verbal information delivery. Though I think too many were just watching the visuals without realizing they were telling you a whole lot about the world.

    No clue if this will be great, but this is no Guilty Crown. That one was off the rails by the end of ep 1. Even if this doesn't go too well, the visuals pretty much make it worth a watch. Though I really liked it the first episode.

  9. M

    I do not have any problems following the few crumbs of plot in the show but I do have a lot of other problems with it.

    The main thing is not that it is unusual but that it felt more like a checklist of pandering rather then an episode.Have a few kids trying too hard to look badass,a load of bishi's,a pair of random tits,a female lieutenant to pine after her boss,a bit of BL,and some pointless but semi-impressive action.

    Add that all together and it comes up close to zero.I mean to have style over substance you have to have style first and so far I have not seen much of it in this show.

  10. M

    Oh, and a Goth-Loli. I had forgotten her.

  11. D

    My thought exactly to Magewolf!! Seriously these characters really cracked me up with their Japanese badass posing on almost every frame -and something it's even slow-mo posing, too!!!

    I really don't get why people thought this visual was impressive or that it reminded them of Baccano! or Durarara. none whatsoever to me!. Not only those two were really good shows, I just don't see any connection, other than the three shows have a bunch of casts with no real overtly pronounced protagonist. That's it.

    My main gripe with this show are several: the aforementioned posing + all kind of silly Japanese anime tropes I despise and loathe to the bitter end.
    1. Rainbow hairdos (sigh)
    2. Goth-Loli (shudder~ this shit drive me mental especially if someone cos-plays it)
    3. Megane-kun (with his dreadful cool guy posing)
    4. Megane-kun's troops (aka shinsengumi-wanna-be), naturally with their silly looking coats -which I am sure cos-players will gobble up in no time (Really, yelling out those dreadful cheesy megaball shit while drawing out their swords? Really?)
    5. Silly supernatural B.S. like fire-shooter (while coolly his hands in the pocket, no less) and the aforementioned shinsengumi-wanna-be who have blue fire shit going on. (Double-Sigh.)
    6. good old samurai swords in 21st century. (Triple-Sigh. Obviously these 21st century samurai men/women can literally split the bullets in the mid-air while teleporting around, thus why bother having guns?)
    I can go on and on, but no I stopped watching after 6-7 minute or so as it was killing my soul.

    And yeah sure it doesn't even have a plot, but that's not the most offensive thing about this show. I absolutely see anything worthwhile for this type of show. I rather take a nap for 20 minutes than indulging this type of show, really. It represents the worst trend of Japanese anime if you ask me. Man, I thought I hated that Accel world and (more and more) SAO, but this one takes a cake. Even more so than even the king of the crap, Guilty Crown (yes, I see the similarity between the two… in that they both suck some major balls!)

  12. U

    1,4,5 and 6 (2 and 3 can be argued)can't really be considered bad aspects of the show. They don't make it worse, just don't match your taste.

    And its too son to complain about plot.
    Almost everyone is being unnervingly impatient.

  13. R

    I laugh how people complain about the swords in the sky but not about the earlier wall-breaking fire powers. That sounds like: "The characters didn't fight with the powers I liked."

  14. S

    Well, the thing with tropes is that they don't have to be detrimental in any way. Just a sign of unoriginality in some small aspect of the entire universe that is an anime. I don't let myself get too fussed about minor things as long as the major picture is new and original to me.

    That said, I got major No.6 flashbacks with Nezumi and Shion at this scene
    and IIRC Enzo refused to see anything BL about two guys kissing in No.6. So I wonder what he'll say about this. I mean, I couldn't care less on who the protagonist falls in love with, but that scene is a massive hint.

  15. b

    This show seems to have mixed reactions all around the anime community, saying it's the next GC. Frankly, I can't see the resemblance. I agree that I got DRRR and Baccano vibes at it, the latter being my all time favorite show. Also got some Air Gear vibes at it. All star cast plus some visual treat and I'm in.

    Welcome to Asia, Enzo. You're one hour ahead in timezone from me 🙂
    Hope you settle down fast.

  16. S

    soaked? well since you managed to write this post at least you saved the computer so good job!! lol jks I hope you're settling in okay. I thought this premier was fun, not the most captivating (other then the visuals obviously) but it's got potential since there were no major plot/character screw ups. I'm a little bothered that they have apparently decided to use ALL the anime character stereotypes in picking out their large cast though. Sure some people call it posing but it think it looks GAR and cool and just feels wonderfully badass (which is a major part of the shounen thrill for me).

  17. G

    I think blogger just ate my comment…seems like not even Enzo's awesome posts can keep it content. But okay, here is my two cents.
    It wasn't a bad episode, but it wasn't mind blowing either. I'm hearing so many praises in regards to the animation, which I thought was pretty but inconsistent. Some of the scenes are very well animated with cool camera angles, the skateboarding ones for instance, but others appear somewhat flat. I also have a hard time getting used to the color setting, where everything is rendered in a tinge of blue. Maybe it's the C.G or maybe I'm just nitpicking because I like my pencil lines and color contrasts. As for the plot, while it has its intrigues, the execution is questionable with the directing all over the place. I'm getting a lot of the "uh oh" moments from this episode, for one, goth lolli and horde of bishies are rarely signs to success, but I guess we should see where the show takes its tropes in the next couple of episode before jumping the gun.

    P.S. Hoooray~! Enzo, I hope you weren't too overwhelmed with the unpacking and settling in.

  18. h

    K's premier looks nice for the most part. I'm okay with blue tint and bloom post-processing, but some parts really missed the mark. The large sword scene, in addition to details like character reflections on shiny floors, immediately spring to mind as examples of what wasn't animated quite as well.

    What we know for sure:
    – the animation quality can only go downhill from here
    – chaotic, disorderly threads of plot
    – a lot of tropes and bishie posing

    So although it's something of a given that the animation quality will drop, we yet have no idea whether the show will impress with its characters, plot, or setting.

    There is a lot of posing, for sure. Let's focus on an interesting case study: Mikoto Suoh, the guy first seen sauntering down a futuristic city street with his Clique of Cool and Cliche and who apparently smokes like a chimney — in the "cool" way, not the "bad-for-you" way, mind you — and soon uses his cigarette ashes for some manner of magical fire-based attack (being careful to strike and maintain a pose while so doing). He looks the part of badass bishie, and he acts it remarkably well — he and his group ("Homura"), of whom he appears to be in charge, are currently acting as hitmen to locate a "target," which brings them to [demolish] an Engrish manor. Suoh (as "The Red King") is apparently capable of unleashing a preposterously powerful magical attack in the form of a gigantic flaming sword in the sky ("Damocles"), which he casually uses to do battle with a police-like force ("SCEPTER4") in some off-screen magical brawl the moment he realizes his target is not within the now heavily-damaged complex. He is later seen in jail, where his earlier behaviors are for whatever reason deemed "uncharacteristic" of him by rival/nemesis SCEPTER4's commander.

    Let's analyze this a bit here. I mean, there may be more to our posing cool-guy Homura Hitman in his Troupe of Tropes than wreaking unnecessary havoc. Similarly, there might be more to his Goon Platoon than meets the eye — after all, Skaterboy (Yata Misaki) found ample time to perform an impressive array of skateboarding tricks and flips in his meandering pursuit of the supposed Evil King (Shiroh the shiro-haired Bubbly Boy) and his rescuer (Kuroh the kuro-haired Stoic Savior), the latter of whom had just been seen embracing Shiroh and flying off with him, only to reveal that he did so merely to defer his demise so that he might "finish the job" himself.

    You know, maybe–

    The hell cares, I'm watching this for the :PLOT:

  19. S

    Hehe, almost everything you wrote didn't have any actual dialogue attached to it. That seems to be the problem for most people. A massive amount of information was given, it just wasn't beat over the head into the audience Light Novel style. Which is appreciated.

    The other bit is that "normal people" don't seem to really see the magic effects, which brings up an interesting set of questions on its own. There's a whole lot going on, which is why the Baccano/Durarara comparisons pop up. It's the closest anime relation people can find.

  20. m

    Hope you had a great arrival and settle quickly in Japan Enzo!

    I'm guessing they are going for a 'X/1999' feel with the 2 giant swords and warring factions there…

    Maybe I'm biased from having most of the surprise spoiled by the PVs but this certainly doesn't seem to be the next DRRR! to me. Firstly the show seems way too invested in showing off how pretty everything is at the expense of any sense urgency. Secondly the BGM is spread too thickly over EVERY SINGLE SCENE which is fine for PVs but not if you are trying to alert audience to emotional or plot cues. Thirdly I am fine with a disjointed plot but it'd be nice if they hint at why they took this direction. Take for example DRRR! where the jumbled plot reflects how every character have their own stories.

    Hopefully the following episodes will be better (though apparently a twitter from one of the staff says that the plot won't make sense till ep6…) coz it'll be a shame to drop this when the producers are trying so hard to pander to my demographic.

  21. M

    I don't get how ppl already decided its going to be a disaster :S I think its still too early to tell. For me usually all the first episode tells me is whether the show is "my" type of show or not. Then if ?I decided "Yea" I'd give it AT LEAST some 4-5 episodes to see if its going somewhere. But I gotta admit I didn't get passed the 1st episode of Guilty Crown, cuz the main characters annoyed me 😛 But this show definitely feels different (at least for me) 😉

  22. B

    I'm not sure what it is. Maybe it's the somewhat effete main character. But something about this show gave off No. 6 vibes to me. Hopefully this show will not turn out to be BL in disguise like that show was, because I dug the animation and the plot seemed promising. After the first episode my initial impression is that this show will not be winning any anime of the year awards from me but if the plot goes somewhere it should be entertaining enough to be well worth watching.

    Learning that it's being written by 7 LN writers though is worrying. It's worrying as HELL. That seems like way too many cooks in the kitchen, examples of good writing by committee are very few and far between. Hopefully this won't end up being a complete mess of barely related plot lines and half formed ideas that nobody could quite agree on.

  23. d

    I don't mind if it's BL in disguise, I just don't want the end to be crap like NO. 6.

  24. Actually, Zetsuen reminded me more of No. 6 than this show did.

  25. H

    I don't know if there was anything I did like about this series. I wasn't impressed with the art, drenched in that horrid blue white filter. I wasn't impressed with the animation which decided to take the action sequences into low-framerate slide-show mode, I didn't really get anything out of the voice acting despite the cruise ship full of well known names, and I didn't care for the complete lack of any explanation about the world, the plot, the factions, or the story. So this is one I'm just going to leave to the people who like it.

  26. H

    First sentence should be 'episode', not series, sorry.

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