It’s the third and final installment of a show in which a few chosen are granted power by a slab of rock known as The Slates. These people are recognized as Kings. It is an original anime with no previous manga, light novel, or game to base it on. I’ll now take a look at the finale, K: Return of Kings
First and foremost… this is a show that cannot be watched as a standalone. It is, pretty much, required that you watch K and the follow-up movie K: Missing Kings before diving deep into this show. The story synopsis will be a bit brief because it is a continuation.
In the third installment, the Green Clan known as JUNGLE seeks to steal The Slates and release their power now that the Gold King is dead. The Red, Blue, and Silver clans unite to take on The Green King, Nagare Hisui, and stop him from unleashing the power of The Slates as doing so will grant the powers of a King to anyone and everyone, throwing the world into chaos.
If you want a quick synopsis of what has lead us here, then read on. Just be warned that there are SPOILERS for anyone who has not seen the series. If you don’t wish to be spoiled, then skip this next paragraph to continue with this review.
In K we were introduced to the Red and Blue clans and Shiro is framed for the murder of a Red Clan member, Makoto, the Red King, and his clansmen seek revenge. However, SCEPTER4, the Blue Clan, needs to uphold order and it causes the two clans to clash. It is revealed that Shiro is the Silver King known as Adolf K. Weismann and disappears. In K: Missing Kings, the Gold King has gone missing and because as such, the Green Clan JUNGLE rises up in an attempt to steal The Slates in which the Gold King was guarding. The Red and Blue clans work together to thwart JUNGLE and Shiro returns at the end of the movie to set up the third installment.
After mulling it over, I decided not to outline the characters, but instead point you towards my review of K: Missing Kings. The reason being is that the characters haven’t changed AT ALL and discussing their roles here in K: Return of Kings would actually spoil this series. I know you could make the argument that I spoiled K and K: Missing Kings in the paragraph just above this one, but the difference here is I, first and foremost, warned you, and secondly, it is past installations that people have had time to watch. Here, K: Return of Kings was just released by VIZ Media and not everyone may not have seen the final part just yet.
I will touch upon the character development without going into specifics. I actually loved the development here as they actually made the 13 episode format work. Going into Nagare’s history, the introduction of the final king, Kurou’s growth, the mystery behind Neko, the growing relationship between SCEPTER4 and HOMRA, hell.. even Fushimi and Yata’s history was all laid out. Everyone got their characters fleshed out well and while I felt that they could have spent a little more time on them, the show was pretty slow-paced as it was and it’s not easy cramming that much information into a small format like they did, but what they did offer us was pretty good and it satisfied me from a lore perspective.
Art, Animation, & Sound
The artwork was absolutely gorgeous and it really shines on Blu-ray! I kind of gushed over the artwork in the K: Missing Kings movie as I thought that the movie budget shined through, but the television anime budget seemed just as big. The CG effects didn’t look out of place and it really enhanced the action and complimented the rich and detailed backgrounds. The character designs were pretty awesome as well as everyone stood out and had a unique look that matched their personalities.
GoHands always does an amazing job with their shows in the art department and seeing their work in 1080p is an absolute joy. There are only a handful of animation companies out there that can match this level of quality for a TV anime. Just take a look at some of the screenshots below to see how they use a wide variety of color to give the show a vibrant and unique feeling!
The soundtrack is something that I was disappointed in not because it wasn’t good because, believe me, the soundtrack was a joy to listen to, but it’s in the fact that they reused SO MUCH from the first season and the movie that I was just begging for something new.
The opening theme song “Asymmetry” by Yui Horie is either going to be hit or miss for some people. Personally, I didn’t like the song at all and found myself fast-forwarding through it each week, however, the ending was absolutely amazing in both music and artwork!
“Kai” by CustomiZ should have been the opening as it had all the feelings in the world of it being one. It’s definitely one of the best endings I’ve heard for a series in a long time. It is a shame that CustomiZ broke up because they produced some great music.
Sadly, there was just your standard fare of extra features on the Blu-ray including creditless openings and endings as well as trailers for the anime. The English voice acting as pretty decent, but once you’ve heard the characters in their native Japanese tongue, it’s a bit hard to believe the characters as they sound in English. Neko in English was a bit on the annoying side, but so was her Japanese counterpart so I guess they nailed the character in that regard, but at least the Japanese version is a bit more on the tolerable side.
Dubs have always been hit or miss and while this dub isn’t a complete miss, it’s not a complete hit, either. It is somewhere in the middle to the point where I think someone would enjoy the dub, but only if they haven’t heard the voices in Japanese first.
The entire series was interesting from beginning to end. I felt the last installment served as an information dump with action sprinkled in to help break up the monotony. There are some episodes which re-used footage from the movie and there was even one instance where the entire opening to episode one was re-used as a flashback scene later on in the same season. That’s…. pretty desperate if you’re pulling footage from eight episodes earlier to fill space.
Despite those annoying flaws, K: Return of Kings put a nice bow around the entire package and I still recommend it to anyone who wants a good series to get into. It has a great cast of likable, relatable characters, some pretty good story development, some shocking moments that you may not have seen coming, and really great action. Not to mention the artwork rivals that of ufotable and anyone who has watched Fate/Zero or God Eater knows how good ufotable is. GoHands did an amazing job here and if you want to wait for the English dub, Viz Media has this series licensed and the entire series is available to purchase from them.
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Until next time,
*A Blu-ray copy of this series was provided for review by VIZ Media
K: Return of Kings
Despite some of the slow pacing and reused footage, K: Return of Kings offers a compelling story and beautiful artwork.