Anime DVD Review: K: The Complete Series

The K: The Complete Series DVD box set is a two-disc set that includes all 13 episodes of the television anime series. The first disc contains seven episodes, while the second disc includes the remaining six episodes and the bonus features.

K: The Complete Series
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Format: DVD
Release Date: February 25, 2014

The main character of K is a high school student named Yashiro Isana. He’s an easygoing teen whose world is suddenly turned upside down when he is accused of murdering Tatara Totsuka from HOMRA, a group of guys who come across as thugs. HOMRA is seeking vengeance for Tatara’s death, so they hunt down Yashiro with the hopes to kill him.

Yashiro finds himself on the run, and he finds himself being accompanied by Neko, a mischievous girl who can transform into a cat. She also has the ability to create illusions, shapeshift, turn invisible, and sensory interference. They encounter Kuroh Yatogami, who is hunting down the next “Colorless King,” and he believes that Yashiro is his target, since it’s believed that he is the one who killed Tatara in cold blood. Fortunately, Kuroh gives Yashiro a chance to prove his innocence.

We learn that there are “seven kings” in the world this story is set in, but we are never introduced to all seven of them. The main focus falls on Mikoto Suoh, the “Red King” and the leader of HOMRA and on Reisi Munakata, the “Blue King” and leader of Scepter 4.

The series focuses on Yashiro and his interactions with HOMRA, Scepter 4, the Golden King, and other characters, as well as on trying to the truth behind Tatara’s murder.

After watching all 13 episodes of K, I have to say that while there was a decent concept presented, the execution of the concept fell apart over the course of the series. Unfortunately, it didn’t help that there really weren’t any explanations given as to several of the major elements of the series until the third episode. There were also times throughout the series where the storytelling felt choppy and rushed. I also found myself thinking that the character of Neko was a bit on the obnoxious side.

Another major problem with the series is the number of characters that appeared during this 13-episode series. While some characters are central to the story, other characters only have one important event they take part in but are otherwise “just there” most of the time. Either the field of characters needed to be narrowed down by combining some of the characters to give more of a possibility to develop the characters, or to have had more episodes in order to have more time to develop all the main characters in the series.

In the early episodes, the animation was a standout feature of the series. Computer animation was utilized quite a bit in the series, and K definitely has some of the better use of CG that I’ve seen in a television anime series. Some of the backgrounds almost look like they could be live-action shots, but it’s just noticeable enough that it’s actually CG. While you can tell that these elements were created through computer graphics, they don’t stand out nearly as much from the 2D animation in comparison to many of the anime series that try to combine 2D and CG animation.

Unfortunately, the quality of the animation falls apart once you hit the final four episodes of the series. The animation loses a lot of the detail that was apparent in the early episodes, and the colors in many of the scenes look so washed out that it’s almost painful to watch.

When it comes to the actual DVD set, I have to say that Viz’s release of the series was very well done. There were a total of five bonus features included the two-disc DVD box set release. The first is “K Events US Convention Highlights,” which is three-and-a-half minutes in length. This piece is hosted by Charlene Ingram, Viz’s Senior Manager of Animation Marketing. During this piece, Charlene interviews some cosplayers who were cosplaying characters from K. There are also brief introductions from some of the voice cast for K. I believe this was originally produced for Viz’s Neon Alley service, and it was decently done for the type of featurette that it is. That’s definitely a nice thing about Neon Alley – the featurettes such as this that are produced for the service can also be used as bonus features on home video releases.

Next is the Cleaning Opening and the Clean Endings. Both of these features allow viewers to select if they want English subtitles or Romaji subtitles. I thought the option for subtitles for these features is a nice touch, because this isn’t something you normally see included for Clean Openings and Clean Closings.

There are three trailers for K included as bonus features. The first is a Japanese trailer that’s nearly three minutes in length, but there are no subtitles included. The second is a 30 second English trailer, and the third is a 90 second English trailer. “More From Viz” includes five previews of properties that Viz Media was promoting at the time this DVD set was released.

While I may have been disappointed with the K anime series, I have to give Viz Media a lot of credit for their release of the series. Personally, I can only truly recommend this release to anime fans who are already familiar with the K anime series and enjoyed watching the series, either through the initial Japanese simulcast or from seeing it on the Neon Alley service.

I wrote this review after watching a review copy of K: The Complete Series that was provided to me by Viz Media.

Additional post about K:

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