So I’ve heard people complaining about how awful K is because it’s shallow, fan-pandering, filth that had a lot of potential, but didn’t live up to it in any way. I’ll give you guys the first two, but I honestly don’t get what you guys are talking about at all regarding the last point. I dug it and I don’t think it wasted its potential one bit.
I recently read this article regarding how KyoAni sucks because it’s unambitious and people love it only for its brilliant animation and crap like that. While it’s definitely true that KyoAni needs to animate some action shows someday (or at least quit picking source material that no one else wants to do), being unambitious isn’t exactly what I would call a bad thing. In fact, a lot of anime fail for the precise reason that they are ambitious, but they don’t have the brains to say anything worthwhile. Fractale and Guilty Crown are prime examples of that. Whilst it’s true that the latter anime is enjoyed by most people for being one of the best comedies of the year, the fact that remains that more than half of KyoAni’s stuff is better than them for a good reason. They “mostly” know what they want to be and try to excel at that. And before you guys say “that’s not a good excuse”, let me point out that most of you guys like Girls Und Panzer. That’s also a show that is pretty low-calorie with the only thing going for it is that girls drive tanks. What many people like about it though is that it knows what it wants to be and plays it to the extreme. Does anybody really care about the characters in that show? Or the story? Some of you probably do, but I know that most of you fanboys can’t remember a single goddamn name and are just screaming “more anglerfish, more Katyusha, more motherfucking panzers!”
Basically, being unambitious is not the same as being generic. There’s a difference between the simplicity of Kogepan and the genericness of Infinite Stratos. One is a cool kid’s show with some hilariously dark messages. The other is the same harem series being rehashed over and over again, only with mecha and the harem being international. Miyazaki’s best films in my biased opinion are the ones where he’s not trying to achieve much (My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Whisper of the Heart…okay I know he just wrote that one). As long as it’s fun, then I don’t give a damn if it doesn’t aim high, as I’ve said before. Just make your premise interesting to me and execute it well. Because as time has proven, I’d rather have an unambitious anime executed well than an ambitious anime that doesn’t live up to its potential because it spends too much time focusing on the wrong things (Rahxephon and Shin Sekai Yori? Urgh).
So that brings me to K, which a lot of people have complained “this doesn’t make sense” or “these character are underdeveloped” and all that stuff. Let’s look at the what the premise of K is first. It’s basically a murder mystery plot involving the main character being hunted by a few gangs because video evidence shows he’s the prime suspect. From there, we basically have Shiro trying to escape them with the help of a swordsman named Kuro and a cat girl named Neko, the Homra gang who wants to kill Shiro because the victim came from their gang, and the Blues who want to hunt Shiro as well because…um…I kind of forgot that detail. I know the Blue leader wanted to keep the Red leader alive, but that’s about it.
How exactly does this show waste its potential really? Besides maybe one or two episodes, a lot of the show was spent on doing all that cool action stuff rather than talk about it. Oh, you want to know where these powers came from? How is that relevant to the story? You want to know what the deal is with all of these kings and their war? That’s not important to the murder mystery angle at all. You want that blue filter gone? Fine, I’ll concede that one, but it’s not as bad as Shin Sekai Yori’s blurry cam and changing art styles in my biased view. You want context given to these different characters regarding who exactly they are and what their deal is? It would certainly allow things to make a bit more sense, but again, it wouldn’t change a thing in the end because it’s not important in the grand scheme of things. K was simply an anime about a single isolated incident within the confines of a much larger plot that I didn’t need to know the details of, and it delivered on that aspect fantastically. Things actually happened and ended with consequences: two of the kings and the killer are now dead. Already, it has a better conclusion than Deadman Wonderland and Durarara (although I still like the latter more).
Now this is where people will say, “I wanted some grand Final Fantasy-esque adventure. Not a murder mystery revolving around a bunch of stereotypes.” Again, people don’t mind a tank premise revolving around a bunch of stereotypes but call foul at what K is doing. Yes, there are some premises that people won’t like. I know there are some premises I stay away from (*insert repetitive LN story here*). If you didn’t like the premise of K, then that’s fine. A lot of people didn’t like Kids on the Slope because its music premise was joined together with a romance premise (and yeah, I know the romance and drama got stupid towards the end). Not to mention, there are those KyoAni shows.
Others would say it’s because the characters are boring because we know nothing about them. First off, how would knowing who these characters are make them any less boring? Did people think Neko started being interesting when we learned what her deal was? I don’t think so. If the characters were boring at the start, then they’re going to be boring later, because as I’ve said before (and as Jormungand has proven to me recently), stories can’t make a character interesting (they can degrade a character though, as Chuunibyou has proven). Characters make a character interesting. Yeah, I liked Shiro more when I found out he was actually the Silver King, but I already found him fun to begin with. That reveal didn’t make him interesting. It just increased my interest in him, using my initial interest as a jumping point.
Finally, people would say it’s because the show takes itself too seriously, similar to Sword Art Online. Um, bullshit. The show has a cat girl and a pretty boy main character who gets his jollies off of stealing people’s lunches. I think all seriousness was thrown out the window right then and there. It never once touched on any real issues, it never tried to make its characters human, and it doesn’t attempt to do all that other stuff that the Oscar winners love. It’s just fun shit akin to the 5-6 episode OVAs that anime used to be. I seriously think that trend needs to come back one day and replace the goddamn “rape” and “Imouto” trend that we’re currently on at the moment.
Now with that said, K isn’t exactly my favorite anime of 2012 for a couple of reasons. One, the slow pacing kind of hurts it a bit. Two, the budget sort of dried up in the second half. Three, it doesn’t quite click with me the way some other anime do. But I still liked where it went and I’m definitely looking forward to another season of this. This first season was definitely a good jumping point to further explore the world of K. Let’s just hope it doesn’t try to actually explain shit though. Keep your “reasons” to yourself and give me some kings fighting each other goddammit!
- Yes, I know K-On didn’t live up to its potential either because it focused more on the girls rather than on the music.
- I noticed that teenage melodrama has been considered as ambitious lately. Um, teenage melodrama is practically the most shallow thing in existence at this point in anime.
- I know they explained a few things about the powers regarding Weissman and stuff, but that was mostly kept to a minimum and was vague, so I let it slide.