Kurokami The Animation Reviews Online.
This is a review of the preview disc (not the retail release) containing episodes 1 to 6. Being a preview disc, the visual presentation is compressed more than would otherwise be done, there is only the English dialogue track, and there are no extras.
Kurokami (lit. Black God) has an interesting underlying premise: imagine if there are three clones of you, each having a portion of “luck” or “tera”. The strongest is referred to as the “root” and the others are “subs”. If one of the subs spots another, then they usually both die and the tera is forwarded onto the root. Sometimes things don’t always go to plan and one of the subs survives – putting the coexistence balance out of whack. Out in the world are guardians whose job is to maintain the balance sometimes through direct intervention. These tera guardians usually have super-human capabilities and belong to different clans. So far, so good.
Keita Ibuki is your typical teenager at high school, sort of. Somewhat disinterested and aloof, he had seen his mother killed in an accident as a child after both seeing her doppelgänger. He has been living on his own since and an older childhood friend, Akane, has been looking out for him. He seems to avoid making contact or entering into relationships with others, possibly afraid of losing them too. Ironically, an act of kindness by giving up his meal started the relationship between himself and Kuro, a young tera guardian. Kuro explains briefly the notion of the “doppelliner” system, which then raises several questions in Keita’s mind. The act of kindness goes wasted when someone attacks Kuro and the first major fight ensues. Afterwards, Keita finds out that another school friend and a neighbour were both killed in accidents after seeing their doubles and begins to question whether fate can be pre-determined.
The relationship between Kuro and Keita starts off a bit rocky until another major fight leaves Keita virtually dead, and Kuro super-charged. Kuro ends up swapping hearts with Keita to ensure his survival, and thus enters them both into a pact. So begins a relationship between them that will determine their futures. We get to see the relationship between Keita and Kuro grow, sort of. Keita is the reluctant protagonist, who feels he has been dragged into something he’d rather not have a part of; while Kuro is the enthusiastic young girl, naive but well-meaning. The pact, of course, means they cannot separate as one relies upon the other to survive. Other characters, both good and nasty, are added progressively. We also get to see other tera guardians, which usually results in a fight with Kuro — go figure; meanwhile another clan is trying to take over the world by upsetting the equilibrium. The motivations of the others are not fully explained by the end of episode six, so there could well be a bit more to look forward to as the story evolves.
There are bits of this show I found intriguing and kept me more-or-less entertained for the six episodes; as well as enough character and plot development occurs to keep the story moving between the fighting (which becomes increasingly dominant). The fight sequences were entirely unremarkable and predictable: Kuro usually gets roughed up a bit to begin with, but then finds her second wind and turns the tables, so to speak. As a precursor to the “big fights” is the “naked transformation sequence” (yes, really) where Keita and Kuro synchronise, resulting in Kuro’s combat capabilities increasing several-fold — sometimes even in the middle of a fight when Keita finally decides that it is okay to commit fully to the battle… Yawn!
Visually, the presentation is pleasant enough to look at. The show is in a 16:9 widescreen format, which can be helpful for an action series. Character designs are pleasant enough to look at, even if they are a bit ordinary. Keita’s design has “typical teenager” written all over it; while Kuro is young, wild and has a rough vagabond look about her. Other characters, Akane, et al are what I’d consider “typical” anime designs and, while pleasant to watch, don’t stand out much. Settings are typically urban and look like any anime representation of Tokyo, or whatever other major urban centre the story is placed in. Some of the places look nicely rendered by CGI, and there is plenty of detail in the scenery. Fight sequences are mostly fast and fluid, but we usually have the slow-mo dramatic pan and multiple angle shots for a climax.
The English dialogue comes across well enough on a basic stereo presentation. Keita’s voice has the indifference of someone who just doesn’t care; while Kuro is bubbly but, when the time demands it, she also goes cold and dramatic (“I must go and kill my brother”). Other characters perform to expectations and the dialogue flows well. Music is overly unremarkable with the usual upbeat rock opening and the slower ballad finish. Background music works well, even if it isn’t memorable, with the “day-to-day” parts having a relaxed overall feel to the music; and the fights having a darker grittier mix.
The bottom line — Personally, I’m undecided about this series: if the fighting becomes the mainstay, I think it will go downhill fairly quickly, unless seeing a young girl beat the crap out of her opponents is your thing. If the story about the doppelliner system becomes the dominant angle, there could well be enough reason to continue following it. The bits that appealed to me most was the whole doppelliner concept, but the fighting got old fairly quickly and I’m just not sure whether the characters are enough to hold my interest as they are hardly original. I’d give this a cautious three stars for a different but interesting basic concept that could go either way depending on how the remaining episodes pan out.