Jan 292015

I remember seeing an early trailer for K that made it look like it was going to have a lot of shounen-ai going on. It does, sort of, but it’s less a consequence of intentional romance and more a product of gender balance. In terms of its major characters, K is such a sausage-fest I half expected it to turn into a sports anime. The only major female character is a fetish object, a catgirl who has a dislike of clothes as an actual character trait. The less prominent characters — the improbably busty lieutenant of Scepter 4, the gothic lolita girl from HOMRA, the sweet high school girl whose most important plot activity is to get possessed by the villain — also tend towards the fanservicey and thinly-realized. This pushes relationships between the developed male characters to the fore.

That’s not to say that the show doesn’t have any male-male sexual tension. This is obviously going on between Mikoto and Munakata, but in the context of the show’s juvenile approach to women (and the existence of stuff like Love Stage!!) the decision not to make this more explicit feels like cowardice rather than narrative restraint. Dramatic ineptitude also characterizes the dynamic between Misaki and Fushimi, which is shot through with useless flashbacks that take up valuable time (even in the finale!) without really explaining why they made the choices they did. Nor does it bother to bring their conflict to even partial resolution. I don’t know what else to expect, though, from a series where the whole plot hinges on the main character’s amnesia and a series of ridiculous coincidences.

Tonally the series doesn’t work either. Out of 13 episodes, one is given over significantly to comedy and ends with Kuroh’s bizarre decision to become Yashiro’s live-in cook. In a series that wants to be big and dramatic, this episode is a waste, and it sucks up a lot of time that could have been used to develop the rest of the cast, which badly needs it. It’s not all terrible; the show does a good job of showing why HOMRA are so keen to avenge Totsuke’s death and the final scene of their chanting is appropriately powerful. But it’s much less than it could have been, in large part because it doesn’t seem to realize that it should be a show about HOMRA and not team Yashiro.

In short, K is a bad show. The thinness of its female cast, both in terms of numbers and realization, is symptomatic of its larger dramatic deficiencies. It rarely sets up its character dynamics completely and essentially never pays them off. The writing is sloppy, the tone is inconsistent, and the story’s focus is misplaced. Don’t waste your time.

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