K: too many cooks spoil the broth?

Well, given that K is a franchise that has chosen to tell its story in a way I increasingly appreciate, I’m obviously biased to answer with a simple “no”. But that’s not all that lies behind my enjoyment of it. And whilst there seem to be quite a few people who were unable to get into it as much as I did, I’m sure I’m not the only one who has come away recommending it.

Perhaps they were indeed showing off...but you have to admit it: it was pretty cool...

Perhaps they were indeed showing off…but you have to admit it: it was pretty cool…

Needless to say, loads of spoilers after the jump.

K is a funny little franchise. An anime original, one of its major marketing tools has been the creative minds behind it, the seven writers known as GoRA. Once the first promotional videos started appearing, it became something of a game for fans to speculate about their identities. I remember Narita Ryougo (of Durarara!! and Baccano! fame) being mentioned several times until he apparently debunked the rumours that he was one of the seven on Twitter.

Enemies one moment, friends the next?

All the publicity seemed to have a negative effect once the show started, as people started wondering what all the fuss had been about. A lot of first impressions were that it was nothing more than a lot of admittedly gorgeous animation: the story was muddled and confusing, with the comedic elements in the 2nd episode rather out of place. And then there were people complaining about that blush towards the end of the first episode… (Though on that front, I think the girls got the short end of the stick, what with certain busty chicks, not to mention all the short skirts couple with some rather low angles. There were some very clear panty shots, you know!) Whilst it was nothing on the scale of what Guilty Crown used to get, that was probably due to the lower viewer interest in the first place. K‘s target audience seems to be of the female variety, after all. And it certainly did not help that one of the writers revealed early on that we’d have to wait until episode 6 before the plot starts crystalising, especially given the ‘3-episode rule’ that most Western viewers seem to advocate.

K-05 K-04
Friends? Something more? OH, the speculation was rife!

Once I’d lasted the 6 episodes, however, I found the story becoming more and more interesting. Little clues about the mystery that had been laid in earlier episodes started to click into place, and I was convinced of the so-called ‘big revelation’ a full two episodes before it came. Though I’ll admit that understanding the language played a huge part in this, it was nevertheless quite fun seeing the surprise that abounded after that episode aired. I’d have to congratulate GoRA and GoHands on a job well done there.

K-01 K-12
I quite liked Homra in general, and as they said, Kamamoto was probably ‘the coolest’…

What wasn’t quite so neatly accomplished, however, was the integration of K‘s major themes with its storyline. That fact that the creators were rather less than successful in this respect is reflected in the number of criticisms centered around the focus on characters that really weren’t all that important, namely Fushimi and Yata. Their petty rivalry, and the history of friendship that feeds their mutual enmity, seemed to many to be superflous and a waste of time that would have been better spent connecting other dots. They could even have been relegated to one of the other media that K’s world is still being developed in…if not for the relatively interesting fights that resulted.

Again? Really? ;p

Again? Really? ;p

Fushimi and Yata’s relationship, however, points to what I think is the major theme of K. One thing that was pretty consistent throughout the series were some of the banalities of human interaction. Shiro getting bits of food off of everyone in the first episode; the merry chase through the school in the third; Homra hanging out, and their drive to avenge one of their own; the comraderie between Kusanagi and Awashima despite the enmity between their factions; and even the way that Suou and Munakata both understand instinctively what the other is trying to do. Weissmann’s seemingly strange characterisation of the power he has uncovered, as something that ‘will make everyone happy’, makes sense in this context: he felt that it was a power that would bring and keep people together. To him, it has always been about friendship, an equal friendship that does not require ceremony, as per his admonishment of Kuro near the start of episode 13. In other words, the core theme of K is, in my opinion, friendship.

K-11 K-10
That’s what friends are for, after all.

What K does say about friendship is not something I will write about here – partially because more may be revealed in the second season, and partially because it’s probably something that viewers should work out on their own. Of course, there will also be different reactions to how this theme was depicted in K: whilst I found it quite interesting, amusing and annoying at various times – just like a real friendship – I’m sure there were others who found it silly or boring. But perhaps that is something you’d like to find out for yourself too.

About karice
MAG fan, freelance translator and political scientist-in-training. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

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