The Fall 2015 Anime Preview Guide
K: Return of Kings

How would you rate episode 1 of
K: Return of Kings ?



Theron Martin

Rating: 4

Review: One point must be made clear up front: Return of Kings is actually a sequel to the movie K: Missing Kings and not directly to the first TV series. Familiarity with the movie and the major developments it entails is critical for making full sense of this first episode.

That being said, you don't necessarily need to understand what is going on to appreciate what it shows you. Set the plot aside and you have what is easily one of the year's most ambitious visual efforts, an episode where the camera and the perspective it shoots from is almost constantly in motion within a 3D space during action scenes. The first series and the movie saw a fair amount of camera mobility, too, but here it moves around to a far greater degree, and with greater fluidity, than ever before, whether it be rotating around a scene or zooming forward or backward, up or down, as characters move and fight. This results in flowing, dynamic action sequences on a level rarely seen in TV series anime. While character designs have a more traditional look (though still one stylized for the franchise's distinctive design points), nearly everything else is rendered in CG, which sometimes creates an odd visual contrast but also helps give the series a greater-than-normal sense of depth. And yes, it includes detailed animation of the jiggling bosom and almost criminally-short skirt of one particular female character.

The plot, by comparison, is almost an afterthought. Nearly the first eight minutes are taken up with an extended reimagining of one of the major Blue/Red battles, but once that passes the story splits into two main branches. One follows Kuro and Neko as they continue their quest to find Shiro (akar the Silver King), while another involves chief minions of the Green King trying to provoke Homra and draw the Blue King (whose Sword of Damocles was seen just starting to crumble at the end of the movie) into a position to exhaust himself. The Green minions also seem to be wrapped up in playing some sort of online game in which they actually increase in power and rank within the organization – or at least believe that they do – by using explosive versions of their king's parrot to kill opponents in real life. The problem is that they underestimate who they are messing with, especially since Homra is now reunited and as strong as ever under a powerful new Red King.

One phone conversation indicates that drawing Homra into the fight was not directly the Green King's initiative, and so that ill-advised move happened below him, but that still leaves the question of what the Green King is hoping to accomplish with the whole game scheme. Or is that just how the rather odd Green clan operates? Either way, seeing how that plays out should be one of the major early motive forces for the series. What will also be interesting to see is if the level of animation in this episode is just an advertising effort or if the series is actually going to be able to keep it up. Whatever the case may be, this is nonetheless looking like a pretty strong start for anyone who was a fan of the franchise up to this point.

K: Return of Kings is available streaming at Viz.com.

discuss this in the forum (544 posts) |
bookmark/share with:

back to The Fall 2015 Anime Preview Guide
Season Preview Guide homepage / archives