With an appropriate amount of terminology getting thrown around and some core concepts getting explained, it looks like K is settling into its own universe.
Media in general have a penchant for spearheading useless political figureheads, and things are no different in K’s version of Japan – it seems like the only thing the prime minister is good for is succumbing to the Kings’ momentary whims. A little sad, but it does provide a deeper look at the scale of things. Of the seven, the Golden King clearly holds the most power, although it’s hard to tell with the given information whether or not there is a power struggle involved. That doesn’t seem to be an issue as Munekata, the Blue King, seems intent on preserving order as it is, implying he’s perfectly content with adhering to the a world backed by the Golden King. Mikoto, the Red King, and his HOMRA gang then present an anomaly – a mistake that must be kept under control to keep the facade of a normal society.
An important point to consider is Shiro’s apparent unawareness of Japan’s economical/political/social situation. As he has been a completely normal citizen up until now, his ignorance can be applied to the general population, making it possible to assume no one knows the true nature of the current world – at least as far as the Kings’ involvement goes. There are still a number of blanks to fill in, such as whether or not psychic powers are widely recognized; HOMRA members wield it with no care whatsoever, but they seem to be the exception rather than the norm, which explains why SCEPTER 4 are at such odds against them. The philosophical/moral differences between Mikoto and Munekata are pretty clear, even without the color imagery to back it up. There is a wealth of dynamic between them that suggests their acquaintance goes beyond that of mere opponents – it wouldn’t be a stretch to say all the Kings are connected somehow, and the two of them present the most compelling evidence for that assumption. The characters are interconnected far more intimately than what was evident, and the various strings that tie the cast together showcase potentially riveting conflicts and character development, particularly in Fushimi. Already he possesses some interesting dichotomy, having belonged to the loose cannon gang. His conduct does have some of the wild, devil-may-care attitude the HOMRA has that SCEPTER 4 lacks, so in this respect, it’s not too surprising he would turn out to be a former HOMRA member. What does pique interest though, is not only why he switched allegiances, but the possible fireworks that would result as a consequence of a future altercation between him and any of the other prominent HOMRA members.
Yata seems like the one who would have taken the betrayal the hardest, given his absolute unquestioning worship of Mikoto and the ragtag group he’s created. Whatever his story is, HOMRA is the only thing that constitutes any truth and solace to him, so someone or something that betrays it or threatens it would automatically be considered for disposal. The PVs did hint at their eventual encounter, and now adding this newfound information to the equation, that match-up is bound to be explosive, complete with jaw-droppingly flashy animation.
One other key plot-related information the episode brought up is the subject of “succession”. Shiro, by whatever reason, is a successor to the Colorless King. By the looks of it, Mikoto is also due to pick one, as the vague comments Izumo and Munekata make suggest he either isn’t long for this world or that they’re really just running out of time to accomplish their goals. Judging by how uninterested he seems in this whole “King” ordeal, it’s highly likely Mikoto is solely interested in avenging his clansman’s death rather than performing whatever duties he ought to as one of the seven Kings. This seems in line with HOMRA’s values, as they had to have come from somewhere. Strong values like those don’t just sprout from thin air – they are seeds that must have been planted by a firm example, and who better than the leader to show his comrades the things they should fight for? While this is nice, if each King has a role and the continuation of their reigns are essential to keeping the balance, then Mikoto’s disinterest presents a problem that severely blurs the distinction between “protagonist” and “antagonist”. The underdog characteristics of HOMRA made it seem easy to sympathize with them as the “good guys” – they seemed nothing more than neighborhood brats that needed something to pass their adolescence by, but this episode puts a wrench in that by throwing various issues onto the table.
Kuroh’s depiction of HOMRA is nothing short of negative, and Yata’s nonchalant manner of exacting violence doesn’t exactly help enforce a positive image. It raises the question of whose motivations the viewers should support; an answer doesn’t come so easily since neither faction is very clear cut. While HOMRA has the underdog factor going for them, the sheer chaos they create in their wake isn’t something that can be couched with pretty words. In short they’re a fairly wild and selfish bunch, guided only by their own loyalty. Conversely, while SCEPTER 4 seems to be for maintaining order and protecting the current peace, their methods and attitude belie ruthless and cunning individuals who aren’t afraid to sacrifice a few morals for the bigger picture.
And finally, for a drastic change in topic: the title of the episode. I’m firmly of the belief episode titles mean something, and in this case, while I’m not entirely sure how “kitchen” is related at all, it does present some food for thought. Taking into account Kuroh’s preview narration last week, wherein he gave thorough instructions on how to perfect egg rolls, the whole thing is probably an extended metaphor referring to the current state of things in K. Ingredients would be the cast and basic elements, while the process of cooking them would be the different ways those things come together to create the product. Following that train of reasoning, the kitchen would be the location where it happens – hence, the show’s universe. This does make sense somewhat considering the amount of exposition that was given in the episode to set up K’s world. It was the first instance where any detail has been given as to what kind of setting the series takes place in and how things are run on a grander scale.
Next week seems to integrate Kuroh and Neko into Shiro’s world, which should provide some interesting results considering how vastly different their personalities are. Kuroh is an amusing character with an aura similar to a village idiot coloring him ever so slightly that seeing his social inaptitude in a setting that requires a degree of keen awareness and quick thinking to survive will be an exercise in highly entertaining antics.