K: Return of Kings
Episode 6

by Theron Martin,

How would you rate episode 6 of
K: Return of Kings ?
Community score: 3.7

After all of the organizing and laying out of plans and motives last week, indications were that this would be the grand battle episode. In that regard, what actually happens in this episode is a great disappointment. Sure, we get a bit of fighting, but it is nowhere near enough (or spectacular enough) to compensate for all of the dithering around that the storytelling does before it gets there. Pacing – and really, the writing in general – is starting to become a serious problem.

The core of the problem is that the writing suddenly seems unable to find a good balance between style, character development, plot progression, and action. The character development attempts, as reflected by an emphasis on the attitudes and speaking styles of each character, are too often being handled ham-handedly rather than smoothly integrated into the other events, as if the writers do not want us to forget for a second how these characters are designed. At some points this does create some somewhat amusing results, such as an opening scene where the Green King has to repeatedly stop and check that his seemingly-distracted subordinates are actually paying attention as he lays out his plan or the cute way that Neko mimics Shiro as he is talking to Yutoh in another scene. In other cases, though, the effort is eye-rolling; Yukari's continuing blathering about beauty is the best example of this. He sounds like a player in a tabletop RPG who is trying to force out the assigned personality of his character in order to win points/awards for role-playing, and that is definitely not a compliment.

It isn't just the characterizations, though. The pacing has become too relaxed and casual, a problem only exacerbated by an aimlessly undramatic, too-low-key musical score. It suggests an utter lack of urgency, and that can be felt in the opening blows of the actual battles; for all of the dynamic movement of the camera through these scenes, it also uses cut-aways more than the franchise normally does and has very little for blows being struck with much impact. It's like all of the battle energy which the series has been showing before is being carefully regulated to that it can all burst out at once, such as when the Green King steps (well, okay, flies) into the fray himself. While this kind of approach can work, it usually requires a more satisfying build-up than what we are seeing here to be truly effective.

The actual plot is relatively thin. While the Green King explains his plans for assaulting Mihashira Tower (where the Dresden Slates are kept), Shiro takes over a school conference room to outline for the Red and Blue clans why he should be the leader of the counter-attack, a process which takes entirely too long. The amount of timing doing the actual planning is comparatively little, although we do at least learn a bit more about how powerful the Green King actually is: apparently he can go into a sort of God Mode which makes him more powerful than anyone else but only for short bursts. (Perhaps the reason for the body wraps is to keep that regulated?) The Blue and Red forces then set up in Mishashira Tower, with Anna providing magical communication relays, and confront Yukari and Gojou in carefully-planned fashion – only that plan goes a bit awry when the match-ups which were expect get reversed. They're supposed to clear the way for the Green King, but he decides not to wait anymore and jumps in at the end. And that's all the farther it gets.

So will we finally see the big burst of super-powered battle which the series is known for next episode? Nothing more seems to be in the way, but at this point I am not holding my breath.

Rating: C

K: Return of Kings is currently streaming on Viz.com.

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