K 03 – Now with more PLOT and JARGON

Rest assured. I have no idea what the fuck is going on.

You have to hand it to this show, it’s not easy to handle so many characters along with a fairly convoluted plot but K makes the ride so entertaining that I find it hard to worry about where it’s heading. I’ve also come to the realization that people think I’m serious when I say K is DEEP. Nope. Not serious at all. There’s a difference between DEEP and being a combination of vague and complex. DEEP is a term better suited for series like Un-Go and Penguindrum. K is more of a show that just wants you to try and figure out how things fall into place– a mystery if you’d like to call it that. It could turn DEEP in the second half but for now it’s all about being an entertaining anime. I’m a sucker for K, it can’t be helped!

The Sword of Damocles

Pandering to his king, Damocles exclaimed that, as a great man of power and authority surrounded by magnificence, Dionysius was truly extremely fortunate. Dionysius then offered to switch places with Damocles, so that Damocles could taste that very fortune first hand. Damocles quickly and eagerly accepted the king’s proposal. Damocles sat down in the king’s throne surrounded by every luxury, but Dionysius arranged that a huge sword should hang above the throne, held at the pommel only by a single hair of a horse’s tail. Damocles finally begged the tyrant that he be allowed to depart, because he no longer wanted to be so fortunate. [source]


So, when the swords fall it literally creates a giant hole in Japan. DAMMIT, K!

The Sword of Damocles is a Greek anecdote that has been constantly referenced in pop culture. To sum it up, it’s about how the great man lives in constant fear and uncertainty despite how fortunate he may seem. This season, K uses it as a motif to represent a character’s kingship. Giant swords are suspended mid air, hovering over the country of Japan. Munakata and Mikoto’s conversation reveal that a weakening King must step down so as to avoid an incident like the Katsugu crater. He is also warns that if Mikoto were to continue drawing power from the Dresden Slates, Munakata would have to kill him.

An interesting implication made here is that all Kings draw power from the Dresden Slates, Dresden being a city in Germany that was severely destroyed during WWII. It’s also revealed that the unit that measures a King’s power is named after the Silver King, Adolf K. Weissman (lulz, not very subtle) who is obviously German.

The show makes a number of visual clues, and the eroding sword we see in the above screenshot clearly depicts Mikoto’s declining powers.

There’s still more to be divulged about the nature of this whole “King” business, but it should come as no surprise that the prime minister himself is a mere pawn. That says a lot about what kind of influence these people have over Japan.

Birds of a Feather

But enough about the gushing. The belief is that the King and his clansmen tend to share similar traits or personalities. Kuroh associates HOMRA with violence but they also share fiercely close bonds, I’ll assume that Scepter 4 represents level headedness or something like that. Another WHATTA TWEEST moment in  the show is that Saruhiko was a former member of HOMRA who betrayed the clan. His methods are nothing like what Scepter4 would do, choosing to work on his own and even ambushing HOMRA in a warehouse.

This is a direct contradiction to Kuroh’s statement. Manga readers who picked up K ~Memory of Red~ should realize that this has also been discussed in regards to Tatara being in HOMRA, he’s nothing like the other HOMRA members, he’s usually calm and is mentioned to have no fighting ability. One has to wonder if this this will turn into a future plot point.

Visual Storytelling

An easy connection to make in this series is the one between Weissman and Yashiro and this episode spent a few seconds confirming that. We see Weissman dancing with a human sized doll wearing a fox mask while images of Shiro appear beneath them. The show isn’t giving Weissman a lot of screentime, but with the two appearances he’s made, Weissman gives off an ominous aura.

In Japanese mythology, fox spirits possess shapeshifting abilities. I wonder if Weissman has a similar ability, that or the human sized doll is actually a golem. Note that Weissman has merely uttered a single line in three episodes, and yet with the use of visuals the series is able to properly convey a number of things.

This scene is fucking fabulous. I just finished of Rose of Versailles so this scene is now doubly fabulous. The way this show plays around with light and shadow is fantastic. I’m well aware that K tends to abuse the lens flare, the show’s aesthetic runs on excess and I doubt GoHands is going to change that soon. But its these techniques that make me curious with the other projects they’ll do in the future. There’s so much thought put into how certain scenes are framed or how shadows are placed that I’d love to see how the groundwork is done.

Two episodes were spent where blue is used as the predominant hue. However, when we visit the HOMRA headquarters, we see the color red takeover. The light that seeps through the windows are considerably much warmer as well.

The architecture in this series is also worth looking at. It’s fun to look at a show that combines the influences of the old and the new, the east and the west.

End Note

(Image above is courtesy of an /a/ anon) The Kagutsu crater is positioned parallel to Shiro’s school and is actually 1000 kilometres is radius. If someone like the Red King were to fall, one can only assume that it might twice the size given how HOMRA has some control in Tokyo. Big holes in Tokyo for everyone!

In other news, Shiro still wants a big samurai sword.

I don’t remember people being this afraid of the gay since No.6. I have no idea why these people still watch anime. I have no idea why Homra isn’t even trying to figure out which school Shiro is from and it really worries me that they’re stealing chocolate bars.

They’re not the brightest bunch. Oh and I thought this is a pretty neat observation: Ana pointed out that a number of HOMRA members are named after mythological Japanese weapons. I know I spent a lot of time talking about the little details, but to end this post, have a hilariously devoted Kuroh talking about his master. His loyalty really suits the title ‘Black Dog’, a perfect foil for the more playful Neko.

MY SIDES.

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14 Comments

  1. So, lots of stupid nitpicky stuff. The stupidest: you call Kagutsu Katsugu the first time. I would actually imagine it has to do with Kagutsuchi, the god that killed Izanami as it was being born. That’s how I heard it, and it’s often used as an ill-omen name.

    The Dresden slate automatically made me think of the Dresden Files book series, haha. I actually thought it was very interesting how the swords don’t seem to perpetually hang there, but rather appear when the Kings release their power. (I think?) Mikoto’s sword might be so much more worn out precisely because his power is growing too great and it’s failing as his “restraining device.” (I don’t think it’s declining, right? The whole problem is that he’s getting too powerful, as I understood it.)

    Then, I don’t think Kuroh meant that clansmen are necessarily all very similar, so much as he was talking about how clans are shaped by their kings. So one king might have the mentality of a gang leader, so he ends up running a gang. Mikoto apparently favors violence but also close bonds, so most of his subordinates also end up going that route. You could argue a kind of self-selection going on. If you don’t agree with those methods, you won’t join that clan. That still leaves room for people who can run with those methods without really fitting the stereotype personality.

    Hrm, that aside, I don’t think anyone in Homura got a good look at Shiro’s uniform. From a distance, it’s a pretty plain black out, which wouldn’t help much. Instead, they’re trying to track down the gun that he (?) used to kill their clansman. (On an unrelated note, I find interesting how HOMRA’s name is spelled. Homura is a very Japanese reading of the double fire kanji, pops up once in a while as a name, like in Sekirei (SHUTUUUUP), but they drop the “u” to make it sound more Western. Also, the all-capitals implies it’s written in katakana. Very western-ized.)

    (Also, I’m still waiting for an explanation about why Shiro needed to take a side door out of the school and why he’s got no cellphone/PDA.)

    Kuroh was very endearing this episode. I thought his nonsense was both cute and funny. Neko was… kinda ominous? I found her “I am Shiro’s and Shiro is mine” to be somehow suspicious and foreshadow-y. Kuroh also pulled a bit of a fast one on me. I assumed that the Black Dog would belong to the Black King, but haha, no, he’s under the Colorless King. Nice.

    • (WTF did i just do i’m so sorry for this)

    • Don’t apologize. I love comments hahaha!

      you call Kagutsu Katsugu the first time.
      An honest typo there, I have no idea how I ended up typing Katsugu instead of Kagutsu, will have to fix that. I wasn’t too sure if I wanted to make that connection yet but given how the Shinto theme in HOMRA is there, this makes sense. Would the Kagutsu crater then be a sign that something worse is about to happen? There also seem to be parallels between Kagutsuchi and Mikoto…?

      The series hasn’t really delved into how the swords materialize, but I suppose it’s something that comes whenever the Kings are serious about using their powers at least. From what I remember in the manga, Mikoto uses his flames but it doesn’t pop up like it does in the first episode of the anime.

      The whole problem is that he’s getting too powerful, as I understood it

      This is also plausible. If that were the case then, why shouldn’t a King be so powerful?

      And here’s another thing that I don’t understand, if the sword crumbles and falls, why would that end up creating something as large as the Kagutsu crater?

      so much as he was talking about how clans are shaped by their kings.

      Rewatched the scene and you’re right. Although it seems to me that the King also tends to attract people of similar traits but that’s over generalizing.

      I don’t think anyone in Homura got a good look at Shiro’s uniform.
      I’d agree but they also have that footage from Tatara. I’m sure there’s a reason for this though, so I’m not going to think it’s much of a contrivance.

      Very western-ized.
      There’s also Kusanagi importing a whole pub from London too.

      Also, I’m still waiting for an explanation about why Shiro needed to take a side door out of the school and why he’s got no cellphone/PDA

      This still boggles my mind. I’m under the impression that at least someone must’ve arranged this for him since he doesn’t seem to have any real clear memories.

      Neko’s attitude does seem a little ominous considering she can create illusions too. I’m still amused how they’re breaking down Kuroh’s stereotype in this show. I’m curious how large of a clan the Colorless is (was?), since it seems like Kuroh’s the only clansman left.

      • Kagutsuchi is often used as a name for “god-killing” weapons or techniques. So it might just be a name that implies that someone on the level of a “god” was killed there. Or it could tie into reminding Kings that even they can be killed (the way even a god could be killed).

        Going back and rewatching that first scene, it really isn’t quite as clear as I thought, but I have assumed that the sword falls if the king becomes too powerful. The logic progression was kind of “your level is too high” -> “the sword will fall” -> “if you try to draw more power, I’ll kill you stop that from happening.” It’s a kind of safety device, to stop kings from getting too strong, or something. As I said, on rewatching, it’s not quite that explicit, so I might be misunderstanding.

        Someone probably created those swords for this exact purpose. I haven’t seen the manga, but I think it might have to do with the level at which you activate your powers. If you only do a little, the sword doesn’t react, as it were. But in the first episode, both the Kings were showing off their power, so the swords appeared (Mikoto melted a building and several streets around it).

        The crumbling is probably more of a visual metaphor, and the swords are clearly some kind of magic in and off themselves. Clearly, they explode upon impact. Like Angels. Bonus points for cross-shaped explosions. (Oh, Eva, how I hate you.)

        “I’d agree but they also have that footage from Tatara.”
        But… Tatara’s the guy who got shot right? But “Shiro” is wearing just a white jacket there. Not his uniform. (It’s the same shirt and tie under it though.) I would even venture to guess that Shiro probably didn’t go to the same school back then. (If we’re right guessing that he’s got some kind of benefactor who arranged his current school situation.)

        “I’m curious how large of a clan the Colorless is (was?), since it seems like Kuroh’s the only clansman left.”
        Kuroh might have been the only clansman. If his King was as crazy as he seems, the man might have simply never acquired anyone else. Also, he could see the future, so there was that. Of course, we would need to know how long ago the man died. Given Kuroh’s craziness, it might have been years ago.

        • Someone probably created those swords for this exact purpose.
          If it’s to prevent Kings from being ‘too strong’ then I can see the advantage of eliminating a King who becomes too powerful. It’s funny though, that someone considered so powerful is actually in danger of being destroyed because of that power.

          (Oh, Eva, how I hate you.)
          I’m an Eva fan myself, but gof forbid this show starts going that route.

          (If we’re right guessing that he’s got some kind of benefactor who arranged his current school situation.)
          Rewatched the scene and you’re right, it’s not particularly easy to tell but the ribbon is such a prominent part of the uniform. Speaking of benefactors, it’s highly plausible that the Silver King might be involved with Shiro in that sense. I have no idea why though.

          Kuroh might have been the only clansman.
          Oh this would make so much sense. The colorless king seems more like an outcast and given the flashback we saw in the preview, he must’ve been some kind of hermit. I have no idea, I just assumed because he looked like such a carefree guy.

          • I think that makes the sword system even better (for it’s purpose). Not only does it stop a king who gets too powerful, it also encourages others to stop kings before they get there. Nice multi-layer protection.

            Anyway, going back and rewatching, past-Shiro actually was wearing his uniform, judging by the cut of the jacket. But the lighting is so weird, I thought the jacket was light grey or something. I’m still willing to say that they can’t tell much from the video and that the uniform is not unique enough to be much use (there are a lot of schools in Tokyo). For the girls’, maybe, but the guys’ are plain as hell. Not even a school pin or anything. Also, going back to school scenes, most of the guys either wear nothing or red ties. Shiro’s ribbon is unique.

            Among the first episode techno-babble, they do mention that Mikoto’s Weissman level rises as he activates his power — 75, 80, then “Vertical over,” which is the point the sword appears.

            On an unrelated note, I love the soundtrack for this show.

            • The Sword of Damocles system is really intriguing stuff, and it really adds a layer of complexity to Mikoto’s character. He’s a rebellious king and you can’t get any KUURUU than that.

              Shiro’s ribbon is unique.
              Okay, this makes it more understandable.

              Will have to take note of the whole Weissman techonobabble because that’ll get me more hyped up to see those swords.

              On an unrelated note, I love the soundtrack for this show.
              Thinking of importing the DVD or Bluray for the soundtrack alone. Great music.

  2. So glad you’e blogging this series (and Psycho Pass, which I’m also very excited about following this season. I’ve been meaning to catch Zetsuen no Tempest as well but that will happen later and I will stalk your posts about it when I do). I remember your posts about Un-Go were my favourites and since a lot of the fall season line-up looks stunning so far, I’m excited to see what you make of it.

    With K, I’m not sure if I’m just so swept up in all the prettiness or if I’m that slow but I feel like I will have to go back and rewatch these episodes to figure out all this jargon and the whole hanging swords business. Glad you are talking about it all here though (saves me time). I appreciate that this show is kind of shameless in showing off its visuals. Does it come across as excessive? A tad, but is that a bad thing? Not by a mile. There’s some gorgeous, overwhelming art production happening and it’s wonderful to see.

    As for the character interactions, I thought this episode was very telling about histories in a lot of ways. Someone elsewhere mentioned that you could tell there was some history there just from the glimpses we saw of the Red King and Blue King in the prison cell. Yes, Munakata was offering threats but you could tell that he really, really did not want to follow through with them, and that on top of all the easy familiarity/almost reluctant fondness is something you don’t usually see between the leader of rival gangs. I haven’t read Memory of Red but Saruhiko coming out of the woordwork I’m also curious to see how the pasts of Red and Blue were linked.

    Kuroh destroying expectations is still my favourite thing about this series though I am also pleasantly surprised by how fond I’m becoming of Neko.

    And people being afraid of the gay in their anime will always crack me up.

    • I remember your posts about Un-Go were my favourites and since a lot of the fall season line-up looks stunning so far, I’m excited to see what you make of it.
      I’m really glad to hear you enjoyed my posts on Un-Go. It’s been a while since a season has me this intrigued with so many shows so I’m very excited to see how it turns out.

      K’s incredible visuals have been working like a double edged sword for the show. The art direction and the photography, along with the attractive character designs definitely give it an x-factor, but I have a feeling that this shiny exterior has been taking away from the plot. That isn’t to say that the visuals are all K has to offer, but rather the visuals may be distracting for some people especially since the anime has been so vague with the overarching plot. That said, I’m really impressed with the staff. GoHands isn’t very well known, but they’re delivering a very polished product.

      I’m very curious what Mikoto and Munakata’s histories are. It seems like they’ve know each other for a very long time. The manga hasn’t really delved into it, but there is that familiarity that the voice actors conveyed very well.

      The Colorless Trio (yes, I’m calling them that now) is very endearing. They’re really running away from the stereotypes, and Neko’s personality is basically– a cat. Her chemistry with Kuroh is something I look forward to seeing every week.

      And people being afraid of the gay in their anime will always crack me up.
      I know right? Of all the things to scare people away. There’s so much rape this season and that hasn’t stopped people from watching BTOOOM! Dammit.

  3. “I don’t remember people being this afraid of the gay since No.6. I have no idea why these people still watch anime.” Man if they didn’t get out at the end of the first episode then they have nobody to blame but themselves, it’s not like anyone is forcing them to watch K…

    • I think the main problem here is that they see the potential in K, but because the series hints on the main male character being attracted to TOKEN MYSTERIOUS SAMURAI MAN that somehow ruins it for them. It’s weird and sad. Sigh.

  4. K has been pretty fun so far. It’s kind of meh on the story department for me, but I like Shiro-kun so I’ll keep with it. I think as long as the show in general maintains this sort of “silly-deep” atmosphere it will be enjoyable to watch. I’m not quite sure how to describe the atmosphere at the moment, other than calling it extremely ANIME.
    The animation is definitely the top-selling point at the moment, and I personally quite like all that it’s doing with color. These nefarious baby-devouring filters haven’t bothered me one bit. ;P
    Regarding story, I do feel that you may be making the story much more interesting for yourself by doing all this extra research. Which is fine, obviously, though I do wonder how many people (such as myself) will actually be able to follow who all these side characters are and the significance of all these plot elements as the series goes along. A good story should be able to get across all that it needs to without readers/viewers having to look up character relation charts and such, you know? And hopefully K will do that–it will just depend on what it will actually devote its screen time to.
    Perhaps the funniest thing about online reaction to K is all the hullabaloo regarding Shiro-kun and Kuroh. I’ve noticed hardly a quibble from anyone about the naked catgirl prancing about the whole episode, but two seconds of a couple boys blushing and K is suddenly for hardcore yaoi fans only! =P

    • other than calling it extremely ANIME
      Sums it up PERFECTLY.

      I personally quite like all that it’s doing with color.
      The more I watch this show the more I’ve come to like how the colors are done. It’s different and I liked how they made a contrast between night and day in episode 4.

      I do feel that you may be making the story much more interesting for yourself by doing all this extra research
      This is true, and I’d like to think that there’s a lot of thought put into the visuals of the show and not so much into the actual script. I’m not really sure if K is as confusing as a lot of people are making it out to be. I mean I would certainly rate Baccano a lot higher in the confusing scale of things and it pulled everything off magnificently around episode 7. I’m not sure how K is going to work out, but it’s too early to judge things. I like the comedy and the characters so I’ll stay a little longer and see how things unfold.

      but two seconds of a couple boys blushing and K is suddenly for hardcore yaoi fans only! =P
      TOO HOMO TO HANDLE!

    • OH AND–
      nefarious baby-devouring filters
      GET THEM AWAY FROM OUR CHILDREN!

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