Before I delve into the actual review, let me start by saying K: Return of Kings is the final part in the K series. Prior to this season there is season one, as well as a movie – K: Missing Kings- that MUST be watched before season two to truly enjoy and understand the series. The movie is a vital bridge between the two series parts. So – if you know nothing of the K series or if you don’t want spoilers – please turn back now.
Those in my close circle know that I LOVE K. Despite the overall shortcomings of the series, it is one of my favorites. I cosplay from it, I have posters galore, I always tweet about it, I’ve seen the first series 7 times at least, and I have read some of the supplemental materials. I love K. It isn’t a secret. So naturally, I’ve been anticipating Return of Kings for a while now, especially with all of the unanswered questions from the first season and movie: Who is the 6th king? What color is the 6th clan? Who exactly is Neko? Who will replace the Gold King? Will Shiro come back? Everything gets answered in RoK – and then some. For now, I’ll start by addressing the art, animation, and music and then I’ll proceed to tell you about the story and characters.
As always, I fell in love instantly with the RoK soundtrack. We were given a lot of old favorites that had been re-mixed and a lot of new tracks. Many of the tracks had memorable beats – as is typical for K – and unlike the classical, calming vibes of Season One, RoK had a lot more techno/dubstep-type music. The opening was written by Angela (Season One Opening – “Kings”) and performed by Yui Horie (voice of Anna Kushina). While I wasn’t sold on it at first, it came to grow on me – especially because of my love for Horie’s voice. The ending theme is “Solution” by Customiz and it has a very interesting feeling to it. At first I hated it but in no time, I grew to enjoy it greatly. And the song in the final episode, performed by Angela, blew me away as always. K will always and forever have a memorable soundtrack that sticks with the audience.
Starting with episode one, GoHands really stepped up the animation game. It was on par with that of the movie and there were barely any flaws. However, despite my love of K – there were various times that I was disappointed. For starters, around episode 5 or 6, a great deal of between-animation was sloppy, faces weren’t bothered with, proportions became even weirder and don’t get me started on all of the re-used animation. The plummet in animation wasn’t quite Sailor Moon Crystal level, but it was very disappointing. And the animation as a whole wasn’t the only disappoint. As for my biggest grievance – they really stepped up the over-emphasized boob animations on Seri Awashima and Neko. This was beyond distracting and not in a good way. I found that even some of the fans interested in the fanservice aspect were disappointed by how oversexualized Lieutenant Awashima had become. There is even a scene where her butt takes up almost the entire screen when she has been knocked over. Completely unnecessary and when she sits up, it is as though she has no spine. Awashima’s proportions were even weirder but hey – her boobs were more round than pointy (first season) and Neko’s waist all but disappeared in favor of her breasts.
Despite these flaws and annoyances in art and animation, the overall story was a roller coaster of emotions. Around the middle of the series, I was afraid that nothing would come to a conclusion. As some doors were closed, more doors were opened. Naturally, main character Shiro Isana/Adolf K. Weissman made a comeback. And without a new gold king, the blue clan was left in charge of the slates. Over time, it seems as though Reisi may turn to a villain as his obsession with the slates becomes way too serious…but we don’t do anything with that by the end of the series and he calms his sh*t….apparently. An alliance is formed between the red, blue, and silver clans as they take on the green clan – lead by a god-modding young man who is kept alive only by the power of the slates (who is partnered with the mysery king – the Gray King. Gray? Really? Why Not purple? We already have silver). Unfortunately, the final battle with him went faster than expected but I was glad to see it wrapped up. Overall, the conclusion of the series comes full circle and questions are answered- which was not something I would have expected during the second-to-last episode.
By the end of the series, wounded friendships are repaired (I cried a lot over Misaki and Saruhiko – okay, I’m a Misaki cosplayer), the clans seem to be getting along, the issues with the slates are resolved, Kuro grows up and writes his own haiku, we get to see Seri and Kusanagi shopping together (a date, perhaps?), Weissman comes back after disappearing AGAIN, and Neko puts on some real clothes. As a whole, the ending of the series is really, really satisfying. I expected cliffhangers galore and while the overall message of the series is not that impactful – the emotion is. For those who have been with the series from the get-go, the series is beautifully wrapped up (haha the finale aired on Christmas) and I couldn’t have asked for a better conclusion to one of my favorite series.