K – Episode 1

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When I first saw trailers for this series back in the spring, there were two things that really stuck with me: one, that everyone in the show is extremely attractive. Sure, most anime characters err on the side of pretty anyway, but this is a bishounen lover’s anime dream here, no lie.

I’m certainly not complaining.

Second thing: the animation was very shiny. Not only that, but it looked like the animators would be using some unique techniques with their visuals. I took that as a good sign.

Episode one follows up on both these assumptions, and I for one wasn’t disappointed in the results.

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What a beautiful, shiny day!

Immediately, the visuals jump out. It’s not just that everything is almost ridiculously shiny (which it is, and I don’t mind it), but the use of light overall is just done very well. The animation itself is smooth also. I’m glad for it, else the nice character designs wouldn’t have mattered. There IS a muted quality to the colors of everything that takes a moment to get used to. It’s atmospheric, if not a little dark at times. Makes all the shiny ‘pop.’ There are some interesting angles and perspectives used too, my favorite being the fish-eye lens effect about midway into the episode. I’ve never seen this used in anime before. I like it.

As far as the plot goes, this episode does a good job of juggling numerous unrelated things, then bringing them together unexpectedly. It starts off with a psychic square-off between two groups: a sort of rag-tag street gang who may or may not be on the side of good, and an official looking uniformed group. Group 1 is led by ridiculously good-looking redhead Mikoto; Group 2 is led by ridiculously good-looking glasses Munakata.

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A psychic version of West Side Story. Without the snapping or the dancing.

The big fight that builds up in the first few minutes of the show gets cut off, so we don’t know how it ends right away. Whatever happens, there’s some serious psychic and/or magical power being flung around here.

From there, the show jumps into more familiar territory: the Japanese high school. The focus is on a student named Shiro (short for Yashiro), who seems to be the happy-go-lucky type. He’s friendly, but not really close to anyone at school. Things are calm and relatively normal for a futuristic high school setting, save for a couple of things. First, there’s a naked girl bouncing around the school that no one seems to be able to see, excepting the robotic trash collectors. Safe to say, the fanservice in this show is equally kind to both the male and the female viewers.

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Assuming that naked cat-like girls are not the norm in this universe, I’m guessing she’s invisible.

Then there’s a strange premonition that Shiro seems to have while resting atop one of the school buildings: that the country of Japan will soon be meeting its end.

Things don’t get much stranger for Shiro until he’s sent out on a student council errand. The street gang from the first half of the episode makes a reappearance as they hunt Shiro down through the streets of the city. Why? Everyone seems to know Shiro’s face, but Shiro doesn’t seem to have any idea what is happening. He’s saved at the last minute by a mysterious third-party who whisks him away from the fight; but Shiro isn’t out of hot water yet. The stranger (identified as Kuroh Yatogami ) isn’t necessarily friendly towards Shiro either. At the end of the episode, we find out that Kuroh has one goal: to slay the “evil king.” This proclamation is followed up by a video appearing on every video screen all over the city: a quick, remorseless murder.

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Things aren’t looking so great for Shiro right now.

When the camera falls at the end of the scene, it’s clear that the murderer is someone identical to Shiro himself. There’s also the added fact that the murderer was humming a song Shiro was humming when he first appeared in the episode. Things close out on a tense scene, with Kuroh pointing his sword at Shiro, who is unable to deny that it does appear to be him killing a man in this video, which is no doubt the source of his newfound popularity. It’s clear that all the major players of the show have seen the video by this point. We’re even treated to a glimpse of the uniformed team’s HQ, where the redheaded leader of the street gang is being held in a cell. Well, we can guess how that fight at the beginning ended.

So far, this series has my attention. We have numerous things going on in the plot, a large cast of characters that could prove to be interesting, and a solid mystery by the end of the first episode. There’s a little bit for everyone here: action, mystery, some sci-fi/fantasy elements, attractive male and female characters, pretty visuals, and even just a tiny hint of BL attraction between Shiro and Kuroh. It’s slight enough that it shouldn’t bother you if you’re not a BL/yaoi person, but it’s clear enough to delight you if you are.

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Is that a blush I see?

Strong start so far, K. I’ll be watching more.

Check it out for yourself over at Viz!

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