K-Series Collection (Blu-ray) (2012)

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Released 16-Apr-2014

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Anime Booklet-Character Art Book
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 317:53 (Case: 325)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Shingo Suzuki
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Daisuke Namikawa
Tomokazu Sugita
Kenjiro Tsuda
Daisuke Ono
Mikako Komatsu
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Mikio Endo


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Japanese Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Seven Kings are contesting control on the streets of modern Japan, although the clan of the Blue King, Reisi Munakata (Tomokazu Sugita), control the security forces. When the clan of the Red King Mikoto Suoh (Kenjiro Tsuda) mistake the dorky high school student Shiro (Daisuke Namikawa) for a person who murdered a member of their clan, and set out to kill him, Shiro is saved by Kuroh Yatagami (Daisuke Ono), a vassal of the now deceased Colourless King. However Kuroh, otherwise called the Black Dog, also intends to kill Shiro for reasons of his own. Shiro escapes, but with numerous people after his head he must try to prove his innocence before he is caught again. But is he really as innocent as he maintains? And just who or what is Neko (Mikako Komatsu), the pink haired girl who runs around naked, although not everyone can see her, and seems to be helping Shiro?

     K is an original anime not based on a manga, and is a mixed bag. In line with many anime it creates a rather obscure underlying world. It is modern Japan but there are hints of a greater power at play; the Blue clan gives orders to the Prime Minister of Japan and the Swords of Damocles hang, quite literally, in the air over the city. Although there are seven kings it is not explained how people become king and the story focuses on two, the Red and the Blue, although some others come into play when half way through the series the story line changes quite dramatically. Then we get a giant airship in the sky and the story flashbacks to the firebombing of Dresden in 1945, where the powers of the kings may come from. In contrast, the first half of the series is more a mystery where the storyline focuses on the actions of Kuroh and Shiro, and especially on whether Shiro is involved in a murder.

     The other confusing element in K is the multitude of characters who flit in and out of the series, some looking quite similar such as Munakata and Fushimi, and it takes a while to sort them out. Some characters are interesting, but are not really developed, such as the young girl Anna with some sort of psychic powers, or the bar owning Izumo Kusanagi. Neko also could have been more interesting if we had some idea of what she was, or how she came to exist. But as it is she is an excuse to animate a naked girl and to add in humorous cat mannerisms. There are however some intriguing characters including the multitalented Kuroh, who is as adept with a cooking pot or a sewing needle as he is with his sword, or the fiery Mikoto who is a much more complex character than it seems.

     The animation of K is also a mixed bag. There are some beautiful colours and some of the backgrounds especially of the high school island look like a watercolour painting, but much of the series has a very blue palate feels overdone, and the much of the anime is rather too static with stills instead of movement especially in the climactic battles, reflecting the show’s budget.

     To my mind the second half of K is a let-down; it is confusing and has too much talk and too little action. It does explain the events of the first half, and climax sort of makes some sense, but at the end I was thinking yes, but . . . However, the first half has some good moments and the interplay between Kuroh and Shiro is interesting. K ran for 13 episodes in Japan starting in October 2012. This Blu-ray K Series Collection contains all 13 episodes on a single disc.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     K Series Collection is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, in 1080p, using the MPEG-4 AVC code. The IMDb gives the original ratio as 2.35:1. I seriously doubt this is correct for this TV production and the anime certainly does not look cropped so I have not deducted a point from the ratings.

     This is also not the sharpest anime but lines are clean, blacks fine. Detail and colours on the High School Island are generally vibrant with the greens exceptionally bright. Elsewhere, however, the series has that distinct blue palate that may make sense when the Blue king and clan are around but the blue elsewhere looks unnatural and strange. I did not notice any artefacts or marks.

     It is anime so lip synchronisation is very approximate in either audio track.

     The English subtitles are in US English in a clear white font. They did not contain any spelling or grammatical errors in the sections I sampled. In the first episode when Japanese language / English subtitles are selected Japanese subtitles occurred for the sections of English dialogue.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is a choice of Japanese or English LPCM 2.0 stereo at 1536 Kbps. Both share similar characteristics and the English dub is recorded at the same level as the Japanese. The audio (and subtitles) cannot be changed on the go with the remote – you must go back to the menu.

     I prefer to listen to non-English films in the language in which they were made although the English dub of K is reasonable. Both the Japanese and English dialogue is clear and centred. Neither track is surround encoded so all music and effects are in the front speakers. Indeed, effects are fairly minimal except for the fights so the audio is mostly music and dialogue. There is no subwoofer use.

     The original music by Mikio Endo is diverse and incorporates at times piano, hip hop, classical orchestral and pop. Some selections seem jarring, such as a jaunty pop sound which accompanies action, and the music does sometimes call attention to itself.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

     The menu is very slow and cumbersome in operation.

Character Art Book

     The only extra is a 24 page booklet of character drawings. I did find this useful when watching the series as it helped identify who is who!

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     Our release of K Series Collection seems identical to the Region B UK version. In Region A Japan individual episodes have been released separately, and some include a CD of the music although none of the Japanese releases are English friendly. The Region A US gets a Blu-ray /DVD combo and a Blu-ray which, from reviews, has alternative English credits, interviews and a Q&A. Seems a win to Region A.

Summary

     Seven kings contest control of modern Japan and a high school student with an unusual friend may or may not be a killer. It may be me but I found the series unnecessarily confusing; the details of the powers and the alternative world of the kings is unclear and there is too much talk and too little action. There are some interesting ideas and characters however so anime fans may like to take a look.

     The video and audio are acceptable although not the best advertisement for Blu-ray. A booklet is the only extra.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Friday, May 09, 2014
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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