K stood out as a favourite for many this season and rightfully so. While not without flaws, K was packed to the brim with loads of stunning artwork and one of the most memorable soundtracks to date. The atmosphere of K’s universe is exquisite. Unfortunately, the show was let down only in terms of its writing and pacing – 13 episodes is not nearly enough screentime to properly absorb the dense narrative it puts forward. While the plot took some cool twists and turns, it felt as though the story was squeezed into a shorter format than it really deserved.
So, what made K great? Perhaps the first thing we noticed was the luscious artwork. Scenes are beautifully drawn, animated and coloured. Everything is sleek, stylish and cool. A quick look at the concept art should give you an idea of how much work has gone into making this show look good. As the story is based on the tale of 7 kings, each king is assigned to a particular colour. This allows for different shades and pallates to be mixed and matched appropriately to represent the different kings, their clans, and personalities. Some are more reclusive and mysterious, some are straight up red-hot and aggressive. It is discovered early on that colours are tied in to the narrative and indicate where a clansman’s allegiance lays, so expect to see some awesome artwork in this anime if you do so wish to give it a go. Rarely does a series use shades and colours so well to show moods and intentions as found in K.
A great visual style can give a show some charm already, but to make it truly great it must be complimented with an OST to match. Once again – K really excels here. The soundtrack for this anime is just excellent. A soft and catchy piano theme is taken as the lead melody and occasionally re-arranged and re-used in different scenes to bring out a range of emotions. Many other tracks are piano driven but contain all sorts of other instruments to conjure different thoughts and feelings in K’s universe. The soundtrack is carefully designed around the story and used to full affect as it unfolds.
K’s OST is very memorable, and easily my personal favourite of the season.
Now, onto the characters and story. Sadly, not everything gels properly in this department for K. While themeslike war and peace, friendship, and discovery are explored – the main theme in this story revolves around identity. Our main character (Yashiro) appears to have been framed for murder and must figure out who’s set him up. At the same time he is quite unsure about who he actually is… and why on earth he’s been caught up in a nasty feud between some very powerful kings. The plot takes a few interesting twists and turns, but due to the lengthy cast of characters and an air of mystery around their real motivations, it unfolds very slowly and with heavy amounts of dialogue that just seem drawn-out and overplayed. Its interesting to follow Yahiro’s journey but it just happens so slowly. Another fair criticism of K’s character design can be directed at Neko, a 15 year old cat/human girl who hates to wear clothes and clings to Yashiro throughout the show for obvious fanservice-related reasons. She’s somewhat magical and plays a small part in the story but was uneeded and unnecessary when compared to the myriad more important members of the cast. K’s plot is already pretty hefty and really could have done without her, even if she is a great friend to Yashiro in the end.
While the pacing in this story is far from perfect even in a 13-episode format there are still a few spurts of clever writing and interesting plot devices along the way. It’s unfair to overlook such a beautiful production just because this reviewer has a few hang-ups with the characters. K is a very unique anime and wellworth checking out – even if you’re new to this of genre and considering picking it up as a wildcard. Its easy to get drawn in by the first couple of episodes and overall makes for a pretty great viewing experience!