K was an original television show that started airing in Japan in October 2012. It spawned an entire franchise of manga, light novels, and sequel animation.
The story of K takes place in Shizume City in an alternate present — one with slightly advanced tech. There exist seven kings, each identified by a distinct color, who wield abundant psychokinetic powers. They lead clans, the members of which are granted a portion of their king's abilities. HOMRA (the red clan) is out for blood; the murderer of their clansman Totsuka Tatara is out there somewhere and they intend to find them. All they have is a video clip of the perpetrator that looks eerily similar to the protagonist, a young highschool student named Isana Yashiro.
The story quickly spirals into a captivating whodunit as we learn the characters' backgrounds and intentions. Not everything is as it seems, not just because of hidden motivations, but we've also got a mysterious cat lady with powers of sensory influence!
One of my favorite things that the authors of K did was introduce a literal sword of Damocles into the story. Our psychokinetic kings, when manifesting power, actually summon a tangible construct that looms high above their heads. Should their power run amok, the massive sword falls on their poor mortal coil, causing widespread destruction. What an amazing and unique interpretation of the Greek myth!
K is jammed into thirteen episodes. I think they could have easily filled twenty-six and gone into more detail (but then they'd deprive themselves of the hordes of cash they're getting from printed spin-offs and sequels). A few concepts weren't explained in great detail, or at all, but for the most part we get a pretty good idea about everything by the time the show wraps up.
In the departments of cinematography and audiovisual production, K is nothing short of a masterpiece. The quality of art never missed a beat. Color wasn't just important to the plot, but entire scenes and episodes were tinted in favor of a king. Shots and editing were snappy and brilliantly executed. It's no wonder — many important K Project staff worked on the visual delight that was Samurai Champloo. The music was just stellar, everything from hip-hop-influenced electronica for street battles to delicate piano pieces. Also, let it be said that the opening theme song, "Kings", was dynamite. Finally, the cast of seiyuu is top-notch (I didn't watch the dub).
The Character designs are solid; so many pretty people on the screen. Virtually all of the cast is male, and lots of people refer to K as "fujoshi bait". You know, rightfully so. There are several action shots between boys that seem outright flirty, but not indulgent. There's also a tiny bit of fan service from the girl characters, but it's pretty few and far between. Let it be noted that there are just a horde of character archetype tropes to be found in K. The brooding bad-boy, the quiet loli, the bespectacled pretty-boy tactician, the short-fused street punk, and the list goes on and on and on. Is that bad? Well, it never really bothered me.
A K movie came out in theaters last year but hasn't seen its way to North American video shelves. There are plans for a sequel TV show in late 2015. Personally, I can't wait for either.
I guess let's sum-up this thesis. K is visually stunning with fantastic animation direction and great choice of color. Its sound score is completely appropriate. It told a great mystery story. It seemed squeezed into the amount of episodes it had. Only a few minor things rubbed me the wrong way or left me scratching my head. You should watch it.