K: Return of Kings
Episode 9

by Theron Martin,

How would you rate episode 9 of
K: Return of Kings ?
Community score: 4.1

This time around Return of Kings has given up any pretense of actually having an action-oriented episode and instead focuses on the developing fallout of last episode's bold theft of the Dresden Slates. Not only does the writing come out better for it, but the one action scene it does have – a key part of which has no super-powers involved at all – is also arguably one of the better ones in this season. The sad thing is that it probably wasn't meant to be a stand-out scene; it is simply a case of the rest of the action being that lackluster.

The happenings are divided across several venues. On the Silver Clan front, Kuroh has more or less been regulated to the role of househusband while Shiro tries to come up with a way to counter the Slates, which are causing increasing incidents of random super-power flare-ups around the city. On the SCEPTRE 4 front, Fushimi has freed the ninja lady who figured prominently into the movie and has her working for him as part of a scheme to quickly rise up the ranks in JUNGLE. He even helps thwart an undercover mission by Seri and Izumo to infiltrate a JUNGLE party for the elite and learn about who all they're trying to cut deals with. That earns him J rank and a visit to JUNGLE's upper echelon, which shocks everyone else, especially Yata. Meanwhile Munakata promotes the “ogre” to replace him and the Green Clan elite mention a second phase which goes beyond just giving powers and generally seeming pleased with themselves. The way they handle things, though – and especially the revelation that their secret base isn't actually an apartment room, but a mock-up somewhere underground (hence the episode name “Kid's Room”) seems to displease Fushimi.

The real issue here is, of course, what Fushimi is doing and why. Is he performing an undercover infiltration, has he really changed sides again, or is he just looking for some role to play which doesn't involve him having to form relationships with other people, which he seems to have always detested? Evidence tilts towards the latter, such as him seeming perfectly comfortable with having the ninja woman as his employee; “work for pay” is something that he understands, and after all, having it all be about money doesn't mean that you need to get more deeply involved. This could still come down to one elaborate scam of JUNGLE, but it would fit Fushimi's nature better if it wasn't.

On other fronts, Seri has never looked better than when gussied up for the ball; that dress suits her figure much better, looks far less awkward, and makes the figure-featuring fan service involving her less blunt. The action scene involving her and Izumo taking down a hulking JUNGLE flunkie in an elevator is as fully and beautifully-animated as any action scene in this season to date. And yes, Yukari fans get to delight to his various exercise poses. On the downside, the episode still gets too talky for its own good and still lacks a perfectly smooth sense of flow and timing, but it is more an underlying problem here than an overwhelming one, as it has been the last few episodes.

So overall, this episode has some minor improvements from recent standards, but the series still has a ways to go to get back to being good.

Rating: B-

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

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