Review for K: Return of Kings
K-Return of the Kings’ is the follow up series to ‘K’, a series that I felt was somewhat underwhelming when I watched it a year or so ago. Bridging that series and this one was a ‘movie; ‘K – Missing Kings’ which was actually better than I’d feared (My review can be found here). That set up a whole new level of expectation for the new series and I’m pleased to say, it met them with aplomb, not least through its use of some stunning visuals; more vibrant and ‘out there’ than the first series. Some may say that they occasionally drift into the slightly prurient on occasion (so-called ‘fan service’ is definitely stepped up) but depending on your point of view, that is either a good or a bad thing.
Seven clans are struggling in a power game in contemporary Japan, each with its own king who has the power to gift their clan with special powers. If you saw Series 1, then you’ll already know about the two biggest and most significant clans – the red clan (the street gang also known as HOMURA) and the blue clan, a government organisation called SCEPTER 4.
If you also saw the movie that bridges the two series, you’ll also be aware of the green clan (also known as JUNGLE), bounty hunters for the most part, causing yet more mayhem for all other clans.
With the Gold King out of action, it’s hunting season for the greens, all of who seem hell-bent on racking up the biggest scores to impress their king, Hisui Nagare.
‘Return of Kings’ has a much wider scope than series 1, introducing what seems like an endless stream of characters, most of whom get their 15 minutes of fame at some point in the show.
The Silver King (Shiro) has come back to Tokyo now that his old pal, the Gold King, is dead. He’ worries that this means there is now one less king to protect the ‘Dresden Slate’ which hold the key to all the kings special powers and which is currently guarded by the Blue Clan. The Green King, Nagare Hisui, and his clan (JUNGLE) is determined to have the slate for his own in order to set off a global revolution.
It transpires that the Green Clan have another king up their sleeve who is able to steal the slate. This not only throws the clans into chaos, but endows hundreds of ‘normal’ people with super-powers.
Captain Reisi Munakata of SCEPTER 4 gets blamed (by the Prime Minister) for failing to properly guard the slate. To make matters worse, his most trusted clansman, Saruhiko Fushimi, turns out to be a traitor. It looks Shiro and his crew are the world’s last hope.
The action sequences throughout the second series are top notch; a real visual feast for anime fans with some incredible sequences set against backgrounds that wouldn’t look out of place at a Pop Art exhibition. But the series delivers on other counts too. The characterisation is fun with a bit more focus on what makes characters tick. Like in the movie that precedes this series, punk skateboarder Misaki Yata (of the Red Clan) continues to be his grouchy self, and cat-girl Neko, as cute as ever as, along with Kuroh, supporting King Shiro every step of the way, whatever it takes.
Lieutenant Seri Awashima is as serious and committed as ever she was, despite her enormous breasts all but wiggling out of her top at her every move; a strangely incongruous inclusion, as though a Producer has insisted somewhere along the line. Naturally, there are lots of low angle shots up her skirt too, though this seems to be quite a prevalent and preferred angle in much anime. But the truth is, you really don’t get time to get too outraged, upset or turned on, because the battle soon commences and these brief flashes are all but forgotten.
The series pretty much ties up all the loose ends and the end of the series feels like exactly like that. Whether a Series 3 will emerge, I don’t know, though I’m sure there is more than enough potential to start a brand new story arc.
I watched the series with the US dub which seemed pretty good, despite the almost relentlessly driving score which maybe could have done with a bit more light and shade to get the desired effect.
It struck me as I watched this series that each release has, for me, got progressively better. Maybe that’s because its world is growing on me, as are the characters and the story. After a luke-warm reaction to series one, I’ve been steadily hotting up.
Series 2 is no place to start watching the series; I suspect it would get horribly confusing. You really need to have watched series 1 and the bridging movie, ‘K – Missing Kings’ first. But once you ‘ve done that, you’ll thoroughly enjoy this 13 episode series.