There’s just something satisfying about spending twenty-odd minutes every week to watch this show (and not just because I have to blog it). With Hiiro no Kakera much of the satisfaction comes from watching the romance and the subtleties in the writing come to fruition. Kuroko no Basuke was as close to “ideal” as an anime could get by my standards, peppered with some excellent characterizations and the most natural form of drama. Jormungand is entertainment at its best, combining breezy action scenes with a crazy cast to churn out some insane action. Sukitte and PSYCHO-PASS are both shows that are also able to coax that viewer satisfaction quite easily, the former creating a quiet dramatic atmosphere with an easily connectible heroine. And putting the whole Urobuchi Gen brand aside, PSYCHO-PASS’s universe is rife with content that is meant to entertain whether or not the audience’s brain is turned on or off. Other shows I can think of that achieves the same effect are probably Zetsuen no Tempest and Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun!.
This of course isn’t a comprehensive list of what I watch, or even what caught my interest – these series, including K, are just shows that I don’t want to take my eyes off when on screen. Focusing on it is just so natural to the point it takes no effort to do so. There’s no simple way to describe the strengths of these shows – most of them aren’t even the same genre, and there’s not a lot of common thread between them. But there’s no denying it: these shows can hold my attention, and hold it damn well.
Most of my satisfaction from watching K is derived from the characters, yes, but also from watching everything come together. Anyone who’s spoke to me about anime at any length will very quickly realize I prioritize characters over plot, and very rarely do I decide what to continue to watch solely based on the strength of its storyline. Whether or not it possesses a paper-thin plot or one complex enough to create a never-ending maze, I could care less about a show if the vehicles for its emotional delivery is uninteresting or crappily constructed. K’s center of universe is its cast, and everything pivots around them: the conflict, the slowly unraveling plot, and its best moments (yes, the cleaning robots count as characters). It can certainly be argued that some of the characters have very stereotypical origins, but this is where having an A-list seiyuu roster comes in handy – they’re certainly not going to waste with their roles. Almost every single seiyuu in this production can be considered veterans of the industry; time and time again they’ve proven themselves capable of becoming chameleons that give their characters the emotional capability to connect with the audience with their performance. Take Sawashiro Miyuki, for example. She’s easily recognizable in multiple projects this season(BTOOOM!, Zetsuen no Tempest, PSYCHO-PASS), but she manages to distinguish each and every single one of her roles and infuse a little bit of uniqueness in her performances so that nothing sounds the same. Her portrayal of Awashima Seri is characterization itself in the sense that a lot about her personality can be gleaned from Swashiro’s performance alone. Despite her clearly fanservicey appearance, there’s no doubt Seri is a capable and intelligent woman worthy of being the Blue King’s right hand. There’s no need to explain her character at length because so much has already been made clear. This is the difference between pros and amateurs – inexperienced seiyuu don’t have the ability to transform their performances into true acting, merely lending their voices to the characters instead of actually becoming them. It’s what separates the likes of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emma Stone from the Hayden Christensens and Kristen Stewarts of the world.
To that effect, Fukuyama Jun and Miyano Mamoru are also giving some impressive performances, particularly Fukuyama, who is using a tone he doesn’t often get to use in his more central roles. It fits Yata’s character quite well, and it’s his ability to convey the subtleties of Yata’s personality that establishes a firm basis for characterization and gets rid of that annoying necessity of telling the audience Yata Misaki is a reckless and rash brat. If done right, there should be no need to list off personality traits during exposition like the writers are checking off a grocery list – not only is that lazy and unconfident, it’s a serious underestimation of the audience’s ability to understand and digest the characters on their own.
Mamoru’s portrayal of Fushimi is every bit as commendable as Fukuyama’s Yata, with the slightly psychotic touch to his acting giving the character an unhinged and volatile edge that presents a great foil to Yata’s fierce loyalty and hard-headedness. He may seem almost as hot-headed as his former gang member, but there’s a calculating undercurrent to his personality that turns him into a wild card – Fushimi knows exactly how to push people’s buttons and he thrives on conflict. He seems the most alive during his scuffle with Yata, reveling in the chaos he created. Under Seri’s watch however, he is more like a tightly leashed dog going about the motions of daily life. This begs the question of why he switched allegiances – he clearly seems to prefer disorder over an organized environment, and he has no qualms of using the powers he gained from his time in HOMRA. So what drove his betrayal? With Fushimi, it wouldn’t surprise me if he betrayed them just for the sake of betrayal – he seems to be a character capable of anything, so doing something that has no rhyme or reason behind it isn’t something that’s beyond him.
And of course, Fushimi and Yata’s arrival at Ashinaka Academy results in a rather interesting tidbit at the end. Kukuri’s denial does throw things for a loop, but I have to wonder how true it is – with what she was privy to last week it’s possible she’s playing dumb to protect Shiro, but with what is shown of her character, it’s equally fair to say she’s quite unassuming and that lying isn’t something that she’s likely to do. It’s far more reliable to trust Fushimi’s findings at this point, since it’s far more objective and “concrete”. The details are still a little hazy, but Shiro’s lack of an electronic record in the school’s database fits with some of the broader, key facts. Shiro claims he lost his school-issued PDA, but what if he never had one? It would explain why he never asked for another one, since things could possibly get complicated. The teacher not being very suspicious of his presence is a bit trickier to explain, as no matter how uninterested someone is in his students, they’re bound to notice when records don’t align.
Whatever the truth is, things certainly got a lot more interesting.
- Oh, Engrish, how I’ve missed you.
- There’s something off about this shot, and not because it’s a panty shot.