I’ve known about K ever since Geek Native shared a trailer back in 2012. I hadn’t realised what I was missing. Manga UK released K in May and it has become one of my favourite animes of the year.
The series picks up following Shiro who is easygoing and popular. He’s set on by a gang of thugs who seem to have a dangerous red aura about them. In fact, there’s a scene at the beginning when the leader of said gang seems to turn himself over to sword carrying police force so we know something’s afoot.
Life for Shiro goes downhill very quickly. The red gang blame him for the cold blooded murder of one of their own. The pressure piles on when a mercenary called “Black Dog” – not a name that inspires much hope – turns up to assassinate him.
The gang of red themed thugs and Black Dog have pretty good evidence that Shiro is the murdered too. Namely a video that was widely shown and clearly shows Shiro, or something that looks like him, committing the crime and declaring himself the Colourless King.
The “Kings” take us back to the first scene in the series. There are people with supernatural power in this world and they get this from their Kings. The Kings, in turn, must regulate their power, sharing it out and using it to defend the interests of their own tribes. There seems to be a flavour to the power too. The “reds” are the most angry and violent. Whereas the “blue” seem to strive for order and take it on themselves to police the system.
The power of the Kings are represented by huge swords that appear in the area and hang menacingly over the city. This only happens when a King is ramping up their power levels but they’re known as the Sword of Damocles – in reference, I assume, to the Greek myth. The name seems appropriate as through the series there is mention of the “Kagutsu Crater incident” and we determine that should a Sword of Damocles ever fall the resulting energy blast would be catastrophic.
K, or Project K as I sometimes see it refered to, works on a few levels. There’s the gang conflict and the action scenes that come from that. There’s Shiro’s life at school and how he reacts to getting caught up in the world of power. There’s the supernatural elements to the show too – emphasised by characters like Anna Kushina, the Reds/Homra’s clairvoyant. There’s also fan-service in the form of catgirls and anime style uniforms. None of the above get overwhelming. If you’re not a fan of one of the sub-genres then there’s plenty more going on in K to interest you.
There’s plenty of surprising twists in K. That’s a reason to watch. I was wrong-footed by a sudden cut away to war torn Germany and a character called Adolf – but sit tight, the anime quickly wheels back around and it all makes sense.
What’s bad about K is that there’s no more. There is a resolution to all the action but it’s one that hints at more, leaves you wanting more and it’s not clear if there ever will be more. There are manga prequels and Japan had a sequel film called “K: Missing Kings”. We can only hope it makes it to Western audiences.
My copy of K was provided for review. K: The Complete Series is 13 episodes, out a blu-ray set and £39.99.