Yashiro Isana lives a somewhat simple life. Everyone gets along with Yashiro, but he doesn't really have any true friends. His daily routine consists of going to school, afterschool activities, and home, that's pretty much it. One day while out doing a favor for a friend at school, Yashiro's life changes dramatically for the worst. One minute he's collecting fireworks for a school tradition and the next he's being accused for a murder he has no recollection of committing and being hunted down by numerous different Kings and their clans/gangs. While being hunted, Yashiro has no choice but to prove his innocence.
As we start the series, a hotel owned by a gang is being attacked by a man named Mikoto Suoh (voiced by Keith Silverstein), who is referred to as The Red King and is the leader of a gang known as Homra. Soon after, Mikoto is intercepted by Reisi Murakata (voiced by Patrick Seitz), known as the Blue King and the leader of Homra's rival group, called Sceptor 4. We learn that Mikoto is on a warpath looking for the killer of his closest confidant and best friend, Tatara Totsuka (voice of Lucien Dodge.) Mikoto, for unknown reasons, allows himself to be captured and detained by Riesi.
One day while helping a friend, simple teenager Yashiro Isana (also known as Shiro, voiced by Sam Riegel) along with his cat that can turn human, Neko (voiced by Stephanie Sheh), are attacked by one of Mikoto's top men, Misaki Yata (voiced by Ben Diskin), and one of Riesi's top commanders, Fushimi Saruhiko(voiced by Johnny Yong Bosch), a former member of Homra. While running for his life from these two vengeful gang members, Shiro's life is saved by a mysterious man named Kuroh.
Once Shiro and Kuroh evade Sceptor 4 and Homra, Kuroh reveals he's after Shiro as well, but for entirely different purposes. Kuroh explains to Shiro that Japan is secretly being ruled by seven psychic clans called the Seven clans of Color, each ruled by a king. Kuroh himself belongs to the Colorless clan, and before his master passed away, he had a vision that his successor, Shiro, might become evil. Kuroh is tasked to kill Shiro if there is proof. Unfortunately for Shiro, there is a video of the murder. Shiro successfully convinces Kuroh that the video is a fake and asks him for time to prove his innocence. Kuroh agrees to allow him to prove himself under innocent under the condition that if he can provide no proof, that he will accept his death. With an impending war brewing between Homra and Sceptor 4... Shiro, Kuroh and Neko set out to prove his innocence once and for all before Mikoto, who is in Risei's sights, can find him.
The biggest problem most will have with this series is that you pretty much don't know anything that's going on until the final episodes of the series. All the unanswered questions that were unknown for the previous 10 or so episodes are answered. Why are Sceptor 4 and Homra at war? Why has Mikoto allowed himself to be captured? Who are the Gold and Silver kings that everyone talks so much about? and most of all, is Shiro actually innocent? If the mystery is ever too daunting, don't drop the show, all of these previously unknown questions are answered, everything comes together and form a great ending.
+ A plot that once you think you have it figured it out, changes everything up. What was once heading toward a predictable ending turns into unpredictable solid ending that actually makes me excited for the upcoming film.
+ The final 4 episodes. While the story is all over the place in the first 9 or so episodes, the series comes together for it's final stretch of episodes and ends with a bang (mostly.)
+ One of the better soundtracks in recent memory.
+ Fantastic action sequences.
+ Fun cast of characters for the most part.
+ A terrific dub cast.
+ Nice visuals.
- Convoluted story.
- Neko, one of the 5 or so lead characters, is completely pointless. She's pretty odd and it's a struggle to figure out her purpose of being in this show other than the obligatory fan service.
- The series struggles to find it's footing, it's erratically paced, at times loses it's focus on the main plot for no reason etc.
- Too many pointless characters that add little - nothing to the plot.
- When I said the series ends with a bang mostly, I was referencing the ongoing rivalry/story line between Fushimi and Misaki, one of the main storylines of the series, which ends extremely anticlimactically and was thoroughly disappointing.
- Despite being told there are seven Kings, we only get to know 3, and briefly see 2 more. Hopefully there is a season 2 to expand the K universe.
Video and Audio:
The first thing you'll probably notice about K is how beautiful the production values are. The artwork at times is simply stunning. The setting, while not really focused on, is fantastic. The majority of the characters have unique character designs and are distinct, outside of Riesi and Fushima, who look almost exactly alike in every way.
For Audio options of K, we have the original Japanese stereo and a new English dub track. As always I watched the English dub track, which is terrific throughout. One of my favorite aspects of the series was the use of it's beautiful soundtrack. Honestly, K has the perfect music for the appropriate scenes. No noticeable audio dropouts were recognized throughout the set.
- A fantastic 80 page art book. The art book includes Episode summaries, an introduction synopsis of K, character production art, poster art, lyrics to several songs from the show, K artwork, a collection of pictures of the Japanese cosplayer, KANAME, and credits for the staff of all 13 episodes.
- K anime panel. A convention panel with voices actors from the series including Matthew Mercer (the voice of Kuroh), Stephanie Sheh (the voice of the fanservice of the show, Neko), Patrick Seitz (the voice of Reisi Murakata, the Blue King), Keith Silverstein (the voice of Mikoto Suoh, the Red King), and Johnny Yong Bosch (the voice of Fushimi Saruhiko.) Joining the English voice cast are a couple members of the VIZ staff, the Japanese cosplayer, Kaname, who is dressed as Fushimi, and a special video appearance from Sam Riegel (the voice of the lead character, Yashiro Isana.) The panel spans approximately 35 minutes and tackles various subjects including the English casts favorite things about their roles, their first days recording for the series, if there are any similarities between the actors themselves and their characters, if they had any difficulties voicing their roles, among other things.
- A 10 minute interview with various members of the English voice cast including Matthew Mercer, Patrick Seitz, Keith Silverstein, and Stephanie Sheh. They answer various questions about the series including how they first heard about K, their personal favorite thing about the show, and the fan feedback to the series.
- A 3 minute interview with Kaname the cosplayer, he talks about cosplaying for the past 7 or so years and about the different characters he's cosplayed.
- K day convention highlights - a 3 minute video showing the US English dub cast interacting fans, signing autographs etc.
- Clean opening and closing themes.
- Next episode previews.
- A 30 and 90 second preview for the series.
- Original Japanese trailer.
- Kaname cosplay photo gallery.
- Trailers for various VIZ titles including Zetman, Accel World, Lagrange and Coppellion.
- It appears that VIZ is finally starting to listen to their fans about their physical releases. Whereas nearly every release of theirs in the past few years was just a slim amaray recyclable case (that typically damaged the cover art), K comes in a standard Blu-ray case that is not recyclable, housed in a beautiful foiled chipboard art box.
K is a hard series to fully rate as it has a lot of flaws. The series starts off interesting enough, but quickly begins to burn out of gas after the first 2 or so episodes. The middle of the show chugs along, and the back half is action packed with everything coming together fairly well for a great ending. The story is all over the place, and the series has numerous uninteresting/unimportant characters. However, the series is still pretty fun all the way through, even when the plot takes a backseat. K comes recommended