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K Project (Season 1)

When Yashiro Isana got up to go to school, he assumed it was going to be just like every other day. Go to classes, bum some food from his friends, relax on the roof with his pet cat, and get chastised by his fellow classmates for forgetting his school PDA. It isn't until he goes on an errand outside the school grounds that things start to get weird. A group of street thugs with strange powers, going by the name of HOMURA, attack him. Claiming that they are getting revenge for the murder of Tatara Totsuka, another HOMURA member. With video evidence that the killer is identical to Yashiro himself, Yashiro will have to uncover the truth while avoiding HOMURA and their conflicts with another powered group known as Scepter 4. Who are the “Kings” that lead these groups, how did they get these powers, and how is Yashiro going to succeed in finding the truth with so many people out to capture or kill him?

K, also known as K Project, is a thirteen episode anime that came out on October 2012. The series was developed by studio GoHands and was directed by Shingo Suzuki. The series has a number of light novels, manga volumes, radio dramas, and as of 2014 a movie that served as a sequel to the series. A anime sequel series, carrying on the story from the movie, is scheduled to release in the 2015 fall season.

One thing that will strike new viewers who choose to watch this show is the indisputable high quality of animation. I have never seen an anime before or since with such breathtaking visuals outside of a full-length motion picture. Not only does it give you a wonderful experience during the first episode opening, and establishing this slightly futuristic city and the characters who call it home but it adds a lot of atmosphere and enhances the already well-choreographed action sequences.

Aside from the visuals, however, the story can be a hit or miss with certain viewers. I personally found it to be very entertaining mystery as to who the main character really is. Main characters in anime with amnesia is so common it has become very cliche, but Shiro turns the cliche on its head due to his calm and easygoing demeanor. In fact, all of the side characters, while some fitting into certain anime stereotypes, all have likable qualities. My particular favorites being the HOMURA gang member Yata Misaki and his rivalry with Scepter 4's Saruhiko Fushimi.

Still, if I had to pick the weakest element of this series, it would still lie in the story's execution. With as many episodes as there was with such consistent quality of the animation, I was satisfied by the ending. However, I can also see why certain viewers may feel like this is more style than substance. That with only thirteen episodes there is not nearly enough time spent with the characters to really become attached to them, and the constant jumping back and fourth between three different groups could be a bit hard to follow. Part of the problem I feel lies in the fact that besides the anime, various other media for the K Project exist to fill in the gaps of the series. Such as novels and manga volumes expanding on the back stories of several major characters along with radio dramas that give a better insight to how certain characters would interact of each other. Sadly, the novels are at the moment untranslated and the radio dramas are difficult to find outside of Japan. Though with the release of the move, Missing Kings, and the announcement of a sequel season, there is promise that any nagging questions and the continuing evolution of the characters will continue.

Despite its few faults, K Project is a unique gem in the anime industry and is highly recommended to anyone who has the time and access to watch it. Even if you can't get invested in the story, the animation alone should be enough to get you through to the end.

K Project is available on Blu-ray and DVD and streaming on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon.