A game of thrones
It’s a surprisingly busy month in the anime scene. There’s a new Sailor Moon, as well as a Dragon Ball Z movie in the works, while K Missing Kings recently made Malaysia part of its world premiere.
For the uninitiated, the anime series K tells the story of seven “Kings” – defined by colours – who rule over their clansmen on an “Earth” with a history different to our own. Each King has different powers and the Kings’ whereabouts on Earth is known due to a giant “Swords Of Damocles” floating above their head.
Confused? Don’t worry; it’s a testament to the storytelling and characters being sharply defined that allow this to actually be an easy and engaging story to follow.
Not having watched the anime series K, I was a little leery about seeing the movie without a lot of time to prep. The original TV series ran from 2012-2013 and had 13 episodes. For folks who haven’t seen the series, the producers made the smart decision to provide a primer course before the true story of the film begins. Kuroh Yatogami (Daisuke Ono), a clansman of the Silver King, takes us through the salient points of the anime TV show in a series of narrated flashbacks.
The movie then picks up where the TV show left off, and is again directed by Shingo Suzuki (the director of the TV series), and written by the collaborative group known as “GoRa” (who wrote the manga and anime).
The meat of the plot consists of two clansmen of the Silver King looking for their missing King, while clansmen of the Red King are despondent due to the death of their ruler at the end of the TV series. Throw in a kidnapping, a Gold King who hasn’t been seen, and a mysterious new warrior, and you’ve got yourself an interesting story to tell.
K Missing Kings has gorgeous animation throughout; a fleet of helicopters taking off during a rain storm through to explosions and fight scenes – everything is rendered just beautifully. Voice acting by the original cast Tetsuya Kakihara, Kenjiro Tsuda, and newcomer to the fold Masakazu Morita is truly top notch, and pairing these items with a sweeping score and catchy pop tunes makes for a very enjoyable time at the cinema indeed.
This being Japanese anime, there are battles galore, lots of sword play and firing of energy projectiles. Woven into the dramatics and fight scenes are moments of genuine comedy. Neko (Mikako Komatsu) is a “Strain” – think of her as a sort of shape-shifting familiar. Neko can appear as a cat or a pretty young woman; with her off-the-wall personality, she provides some of the laugh out loud moments in the film. (Her “ultimate attack” consists of summing gigantic maneki-neko cats to sit on her enemies, thereby crushing them.)
Some of the more dramatic reveals during the movie would have held even more heft if I’d been more closely associated with the characters – that being said, the changes still held impact. It’s a tightly executed piece of storytelling, well acted with sumptuous visuals. The character design is reminiscent of the Clamps style of body – long willowy limbs, impossible hair and large expressive eyes.
The film ends with an optimistic feeling, and a wide open playground for more stories in this universe. What makes this so successful is that as someone who hasn’t followed the anime or manga, I have an awakened interest in not only checking out what’s gone before, but also in what’s to come next from this team of storytellers.
K Missing Kings is in Japanese with English, Bahasa Malaysia and Mandarin subtitles. It will be shown at selected GSC cinemas beginning July 17. Head over to www.gsc.com.my for showtimes and venues.