OP: 「Desutopia (デストピア)」 by (Glay)
「黒き骸は目覚めました」 (Kuroki Mukuro wa Mezamemashita)
“The Black Shell Awakens”
A fun and exciting sophomore installment whose reach exceeds its grasp
This week, Kuromukuro picks up right where it left off—following Yukina as she follows Kennosuke right into the heat of battle. The writers obviously intended to increase the stakes and excitement tenfold as we head into our very first epic mech battle, and for the most part, they succeeded. Grand, beautiful set pieces allow for a genuinely thrilling action sequence that allows Kennosuke to really display his fighting chops, as well as establish a chippy dynamic between his new co-pilot. However, the entire episode’s ceaseless action fails to pack any substantial emotional weight because of the series’ hitherto scarce level of character development and little explanation of the greater plot.
Aside from a few brief shots at the beginning of the episode, we know little to nothing about our man-out-of-time. We know he’s volatile, gifted in combat, and from the past—but that’s just about it. This is particularly a problem because we just met the guy, and he so clearly holds the reigns this week—shifting the focus away from Yukina. More needs to br provided about his motivations, his insecurities, his personality. The show lets us know of some former, powerful relationship and consideration he shared for a past princess, but this aspect of his character was just briskly touched upon.
So far, he’s certainly been fun to watch—more so than any other character yet. However, little to no time has been spent fleshing him out, which leaves the episode’s greater action sequences somewhat unengaging. When the two protagonists clash with the enemy, I can hardly find a reason to root—and I mean really root—for these characters. I’m not for lengthy monologues, but at least provide some level of general detail on what drives this guy, especially to slay demons. I was just introduced to Kennosuke, and Yukina wasn’t granted the greatest level of depth last episode. If this battle at least tied back emotionally to one (ideally both) of these character’s personal struggles, then that would’ve kept me engaged. However, I’m completely unaware of their internal motivations and demons. There just isn’t enough to work with to make this week’s battle emotionally investing.
Who’s That Robot?
This problem is also in part caused by a severe lack of exposition. The past two episodes have only dropped the slightest hints at the situation we have unfolding here, but a lot more was necessary in order to make sense of all that was going on. This doesn’t necessarily entail a lack of detailed exposition so much as just a vague understanding of what was going on. Nothing was said to even imply the nature, or even existence, of the enemy here. At least something—something—should have been said of what they are in order to incite some level of intrigue. All we got was the title of “demon,” which provides no information. And at least make them somewhat interesting. They’re nameless, faceless, CG robots that are destroying everything—there’s no personality. There’s nothing to keep me invested in asking questions about where they came from or who they are. Again, not asking for lengthy, detailed exposition—just some substantial morsels of information, maybe even how it all ties back to our leads. Just something to keep me interested and asking questions.
My assessment thus far hasn’t been the brightest, but I assure you that there was a lot here I enjoyed. The episode spent at least a brief bit of time building the chemistry between our two leads—establishing the incendiary but surprisingly harmonious relationship the two share both with their personalities and in the cockpit. I was also genuinely interested in what connection Yukina has with Kennosuke’s prized princess, why she understood the graphs and gauges in the cockpit, as well as the general history and sequence of events which led to the ronin’s hibernation. Again, the greater jump in scale and action was fun to watch unfold thanks to spectacular music and animation (aside from that CG). However, it lacked a certain degree of oomph thanks to insufficient character development and plot exposition, that prevented a good episode from being great. The episode’s rushed pacing and refusal to let up on the action did no good to amend this problem. However, this early misstep is easily amenable in the coming episodes, which I hope slow down and take their time really fleshing out main cast so that subsequent battles can be all the more investing. This second episode just went a little too fast and a little too big.
ED: 「Realistic (リアリ・スティック)」 by (MICHI)