The Unambitiousness of K is a Bad Thing?

So I’ve heard people complaining about how awful K is because it’s shallow, fan-pandering, filth that had a lot of potential, but didn’t live up to it in any way. I’ll give you guys the first two, but I honestly don’t get what you guys are talking about at all regarding the last point. I dug it and I don’t think it wasted its potential one bit.

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I recently read this article regarding how KyoAni sucks because it’s unambitious and people love it only for its brilliant animation and crap like that. While it’s definitely true that KyoAni needs to animate some action shows someday (or at least quit picking source material that no one else wants to do), being unambitious isn’t exactly what I would call a bad thing. In fact, a lot of anime fail for the precise reason that they are ambitious, but they don’t have the brains to say anything worthwhile. Fractale and Guilty Crown are prime examples of that. Whilst it’s true that the latter anime is enjoyed by most people for being one of the best comedies of the year, the fact that remains that more than half of KyoAni’s stuff is better than them for a good reason. They “mostly” know what they want to be and try to excel at that. And before you guys say “that’s not a good excuse”, let me point out that most of you guys like Girls Und Panzer. That’s also a show that is pretty low-calorie with the only thing going for it is that girls drive tanks. What many people like about it though is that it knows what it wants to be and plays it to the extreme. Does anybody really care about the characters in that show? Or the story? Some of you probably do, but I know that most of you fanboys can’t remember a single goddamn name and are just screaming “more anglerfish, more Katyusha, more motherfucking panzers!”

Basically, being unambitious is not the same as being generic. There’s a difference between the simplicity of Kogepan and the genericness of Infinite Stratos. One is a cool kid’s show with some hilariously dark messages. The other is the same harem series being rehashed over and over again, only with mecha and the harem being international. Miyazaki’s best films in my biased opinion are the ones where he’s not trying to achieve much (My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Whisper of the Heart…okay I know he just wrote that one). As long as it’s fun, then I don’t give a damn if it doesn’t aim high, as I’ve said before. Just make your premise interesting to me and execute it well. Because as time has proven, I’d rather have an unambitious anime executed well than an ambitious anime that doesn’t live up to its potential because it spends too much time focusing on the wrong things (Rahxephon and Shin Sekai Yori? Urgh).

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So that brings me to K, which a lot of people have complained “this doesn’t make sense” or “these character are underdeveloped” and all that stuff. Let’s look at the what the premise of K is first. It’s basically a murder mystery plot involving the main character being hunted by a few gangs because video evidence shows he’s the prime suspect. From there, we basically have Shiro trying to escape them with the help of a swordsman named Kuro and a cat girl named Neko, the Homra gang who wants to kill Shiro because the victim came from their gang, and the Blues who want to hunt Shiro as well because…um…I kind of forgot that detail. I know the Blue leader wanted to keep the Red leader alive, but that’s about it.

How exactly does this show waste its potential really? Besides maybe one or two episodes, a lot of the show was spent on doing all that cool action stuff rather than talk about it. Oh, you want to know where these powers came from? How is that relevant to the story? You want to know what the deal is with all of these kings and their war? That’s not important to the murder mystery angle at all. You want that blue filter gone? Fine, I’ll concede that one, but it’s not as bad as Shin Sekai Yori’s blurry cam and changing art styles in my biased view. You want context given to these different characters regarding who exactly they are and what their deal is? It would certainly allow things to make a bit more sense, but again, it wouldn’t change a thing in the end because it’s not important in the grand scheme of things. K was simply an anime about a single isolated incident within the confines of a much larger plot that I didn’t need to know the details of, and it delivered on that aspect fantastically. Things actually happened and ended with consequences: two of the kings and the killer are now dead. Already, it has a better conclusion than Deadman Wonderland and Durarara (although I still like the latter more).

Yeah, you knew this pic was coming.

Yeah, you knew this pic was coming.

Now this is where people will say, “I wanted some grand Final Fantasy-esque adventure. Not a murder mystery revolving around a bunch of stereotypes.” Again, people don’t mind a tank premise revolving around a bunch of stereotypes but call foul at what K is doing. Yes, there are some premises that people won’t like. I know there are some premises I stay away from (*insert repetitive LN story here*). If you didn’t like the premise of K, then that’s fine. A lot of people didn’t like Kids on the Slope because its music premise was joined together with a romance premise (and yeah, I know the romance and drama got stupid towards the end). Not to mention, there are those KyoAni shows.

Others would say it’s because the characters are boring because we know nothing about them. First off, how would knowing who these characters are make them any less boring? Did people think Neko started being interesting when we learned what her deal was? I don’t think so. If the characters were boring at the start, then they’re going to be boring later, because as I’ve said before (and as Jormungand has proven to me recently), stories can’t make a character interesting (they can degrade a character though, as Chuunibyou has proven). Characters make a character interesting. Yeah, I liked Shiro more when I found out he was actually the Silver King, but I already found him fun to begin with. That reveal didn’t make him interesting. It just increased my interest in him, using my initial interest as a jumping point.

Finally, people would say it’s because the show takes itself too seriously, similar to Sword Art Online. Um, bullshit. The show has a cat girl and a pretty boy main character who gets his jollies off of stealing people’s lunches. I think all seriousness was thrown out the window right then and there. It never once touched on any real issues, it never tried to make its characters human, and it doesn’t attempt to do all that other stuff that the Oscar winners love. It’s just fun shit akin to the 5-6 episode OVAs that anime used to be. I seriously think that trend needs to come back one day and replace the goddamn “rape” and “Imouto” trend that we’re currently on at the moment.

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Now with that said, K isn’t exactly my favorite anime of 2012 for a couple of reasons. One, the slow pacing kind of hurts it a bit. Two, the budget sort of dried up in the second half. Three, it doesn’t quite click with me the way some other anime do. But I still liked where it went and I’m definitely looking forward to another season of this. This first season was definitely a good jumping point to further explore the world of K. Let’s just hope it doesn’t try to actually explain shit though. Keep your “reasons” to yourself and give me some kings fighting each other goddammit!



  • Yes, I know K-On didn’t live up to its potential either because it focused more on the girls rather than on the music.
  • I noticed that teenage melodrama has been considered as ambitious lately. Um, teenage melodrama is practically the most shallow thing in existence at this point in anime.
  • I know they explained a few things about the powers regarding Weissman and stuff, but that was mostly kept to a minimum and was vague, so I let it slide.

25 responses to “The Unambitiousness of K is a Bad Thing?

  1. This article reeks of moronic tones from the very first word to the ending sentence.
    How the hell can you use Fractale as an example of wasted potential when you haven’t seen anything beyond the first episode of the series instead of mindlessly agreeing with the opinions of people online how about you actually watch the series before you form an opinion on it. Its like saying you don’t like a certain type of food before even trying it how would you know if you don’t like it or not when you haven’t even tried it. Its common sense.

  2. I’m quite sure my point was that KyoAni sucks because their shows are content-wise piss-poor and that everyone is more forgiving to them precisely because their crap is unambitious and that studio bonus thingy + technical merits. Nevertheless, I did not say that KyoAni sucks because there aren’t any ambitions behind their shows. I also don’t think that an ambitious show is automatically to be considered as a good show or that unambitious shows are bound to be doomed. I hope I have made myself clear at this point which is apparently something I failed to do with my article.

    I think having ambitions is a good thing, what matters, however, is the execution and that’s where things get tricky with ambitious shows – they are more likely to fail, considering how they are far more difficult to pull off. As you said, GUILTY CROWN is a fine example. Throwing in some nice ideas won’t cut it.
    Conclusively, I can agree with your first few paragraphs. I haven’t read the rest though since I have yet to watch K #13 and want to avoid spoilers for that one.

    • Well, I’m guilty with my article as well obviously in making my point clear if your comment is any indication. I didn’t say that an ambitious show is automatically considered good (I did read your thing regarding Bones after all, which has a history of raping me with their awful stuff). I’m certainly not KyoAni’s biggest fan either, although I hold firm in my beliefs that Hyouka is greater than Haruhi.

      As I said in the later paragraphs, if you don’t like the premise, then that’s fine.

  3. K isn’t unambitious because it wasn’t ambitious to begin with ? Why not, makes sense at least.

    That doesn’t make it worth watching anyway. And I think that doesn’t explain why it’s so pretentious.

    (I should add it’s not a matter of Girlz Und Panzer, because I didn’t watched it past 10 minutes, and not KyoAni either, since the last serie I’ve watched from them was The Second Raid. Just sayin’ before people start jumping at me.)

    • I’ve never considered pretentiousness as an inherently bad thing. Bakemonogatari, A Clockwork Orange, and Psycho-Pass are pretty pretentious. But the pretentiousness is just sooooo good to me.

      • It’s just that, when one’s obviously pretentious, one should have what it takes to back it off. A Clockwork Orange do. Bakemonogatari, to some extent. Psycho-Pass, not that much (and I don’t enjoy that show as much as I could because of that).
        So technically it’s not inherently a bad thing yes.

  4. Focus is crucial.

    If people got what they wanted and these powers were explained, the boredom would be *quantifiable*– at least one episode, possibly two, spent explaining things that don’t actually matter.

    Good read, and I agree. K does what it does well.

    I think this is my first comment here, so cheers. 🙂

  5. The problem with K is… it has a lot of wasted scenes and episode, which can be used instead to satisfy some group of people who wanted clearer explanation on the world building, me included.
    They spent a whole episode on showing Kuro chasing after Shiro, with Neko using her power every now and then. A whole freaking episode!
    They spent a whole episode to show flashback, about the killed, insignificant guy. All right, some people may argue that he is not insignificant, because he is the reason for Shiro being chased. BUT. The 7th king may kill Yata / beardy fatso / Anna / mr. bartender, and achieved what he want!
    They spent a whole episode showing Yata and the fatso, searching for Shiro in the school, with zero result and zero plot advancement.
    All these episode should just be shoved down under the gutter, and give us more explanation to what’s the deal with the floating sword / weissman level / why only a king can kill another king. Did they mean that these kings won’t die if they drink poison? I need more explanation, damn it.

    • Here’s what I think of each episode: funny, a little too long, a little too long but they had that awesome fight scene so I let it slide.

      As for all those whys, I honestly don’t give a damn. I actually hate it when shows try to answer questions that don’t have anything to do with the actual plot or what went on. Why can only a king kill another king? Does it really matter? I don’t think so.

  6. K sucks ass really its an example of why 2012 was such a weak and embarrassing year for anime as a whole at from the new world is something unique yes its flawed but everything that has come out this year in some shape or form has been underwhelming. 2013 at the moment only has two things that I deem to be worthwhile Makoto Shinkai’s new film that is coming out this spring and Attack the Titian that comes out in April.

    • Makoto Shinkai has got to be one of my most hated directors in anime. His films are basically K without any fun, too much talking, and nothing happening.

      Also, I’ve got to disagree on 2012 being a weak year, given that a lot of my favorite anime of all time aired this year.

  7. K had these awesome cleaning robots.
    They are the best part of K, but they decided to drop them at the end (Haven’t seen episode yet, though…)
    They add a dimension that they couldn’t achieve in the rest of the serie. Something to do with their funny and creepy aspects.
    I says that totally unironically.

    I think you can prove your point if you compare it to Code : Breaker. C : B fail each time it try to be serious. That’s awful, pretentious and painful to watch. The dumb fun moment are pretty enjoyable (Heike – Toki fight is incredibly dumb in every way, but it”s incredibly fun).
    K accepted from the start to be a fan-pandering fun anime, and at this, it never disappointed. It did never take itself seriously, and that’s why it was enjoyable.

    On aside note, Psycho-Pass actually gives itself the means to be pretentious. It takes itself seriously, because it proved it could take itself seriously.