Wednesday, July 16, 2014

K: Missing Kings—the Anime Story Continues

Shizume City appears to be a futuristic metropolis, but beneath the surface, it is like feudal Scotland. Secret clans forge alliances and rivalries, fueled by their unique powers. Kuroh Yatogami and his feline fellow clan member Neko have been looking for Yashiro Isana, the Silver King, who ominously vanished after what fans know as the “Academy Island Incident.” Their fruitless search will be interrupted by more inter-clan conflict in Shingo Suzuki’s K: Missing Kings (trailer here), the feature length sequel to the hit manga and anime series, which opens this Friday in major markets.

The Silver Clan members are not the only ones struggling with potential losses. The Red Clan, known as HOMRA, has essentially been in hiding, largely out of touch with each other. For some reason, the Green Clan (a.k.a. Jungle) is hunting Anna Kushina, a young HOMRA member with Professor X-like powers. 

The two Silver Clan members will team up with Kushina’s protector, Rikio Kamamoto as best they can, but they are temporarily overmatched by Yatogami’s old nemesis and his super-charged ninja accomplice. As a result, an unlikely request for help will be made to Scepter 4, the icily efficient Blue Clan.

Unlike many feature incarnations of popular anime franchises, Missing Kings is not an inconsequential side adventure shoehorned into the established timeline. It advances the storyline in significant ways. That means there are real stakes involved. While that makes it a high priority for the existing fan base, newcomers are not given much exposition to get up to speed with. Granted, viewers should be able to pick up on the basic elements of X-Men and various conspiratorial hidden history motifs at play. However, the relationships between the various clans will be richer and far more comprehensible to those who are familiar with their shared histories.

Fortunately, there is a lot of good action in Missing Kings, starting with a highly cinematic raid on the Gold Clan’s corporate headquarters. In quieter moments, it spins out some legitimate character development arcs, particularly for Yatogami and Kushina. Returning writer GoRa also answers some lingering questions from the series, while still leaving plenty unresolved.

A high quality anime production, Missing Kings looks great and sounds surprisingly hip thanks to a jazzy-quiet storm-ish soundtrack. The faithful should be well satisfied, but it is still an awkward entry point for the uninitiated. Recommended for fans or those who just want to see some well executed anime action, K: Missing Kings opens in some markets this Friday (7/18), but screens Saturday and Monday (7/19 & 7/21) in New York at the Village East. Check for local listings at Eleven Arts site here.