|Incredibly stylish presentation on all levels coupled with extremely vivid and interesting characters written against a very detailed history and background.||Some felt the pacing of season two was too sluggish, and animation from the first season was recycled at times. Stylish presentation not to everyone's taste.|
Excellent! Excellent, excellent, excellent! Season two of Project K, titled “Return of Kings” delivered for me from beginning to end, and went out with a bang in its final episode. And lemme tell ya, in a season that has had its fair share of unsatisfying, weirdly open-ended or downright poor final episodes it was a consolation to come across a series that nailed the final episode and “placed the cherry on top” of a series whose two seasons have been quite enjoyable for me. In many ways, though, this season and the season before seem to me to be a continuous whole … almost as if they had been created with a split cour format in mind. And re-watching the two seasons in a row really brings out how tightly knit together they are. In that respect the series was refreshingly well done.
As for the story itself, the main “bad guy” this time around is the Green King, Nagare Hisui. He is … quite an interesting character. And just as the Red and Blue clans have their own names (Homra and Scepter 4 respectively), the name of the Green clan is “Jungle”. However this time around the antagonist is not alone – he has the help of yet another King, and a king that was thought to have either died or faded into oblivion: the Grey King, Iwafune Tenkai (Ootori Seigo), who has abandoned his official responsibilities and duties as a king (as well as his old clan, known as Cathedral) and has become a member of Jungle. Both the Green King and the Grey King are very deeply tied to the events that happened some years ago known as the “Kagetsu crater”, when a previous king’s “sword of damocles” fell and caused destruction and a loss of lives on a massive scale. Other than the retired Grey King, Nagare has some very powerful allies indeed who are the higher ups in Jungle, and they more than consistently give the protagonists in Return of Kings a run for their money.
Other than different antagonists, this time around the protagonists are actually composed of several clans working together – the Silver, Red (now led by Anna, who became the new Red King in the movie K: Missing Kings) and Blue clans band together to face off against the Green clan, who has become the most powerful and dangerous clan since the death of the Gold King. The main object of the long and deeply laid plans of Nagare and Jungle involves the stealing of the Dresden Slates (the source of the power of the kings and the clans) and unleashing their power on humanity as a whole … something which had previously been prevented single handedly by the Gold King for decades and something which the Slates themselves, being semi-sentient, apparently wish to do. The Silver King, the main character of both seasons, takes it upon himself to prevent this from happening.
As with season one, the second season was a continuation of the visual and audial stylishness. As mentioned in the “First Look” post for this series made a few months ago this franchise is incredibly stylized, filled with swagger, polish, posing and the “cool factor”. Of course it will not click for everyone (although I must say that Suoh Mikoto, the Red King before Anna, has got to be one of the most powerful examples of anime badassery I have ever come across – seriously, I mean … just … wow) but when it does it really does. The characters are probably the most powerful strength of this series, but not far behind are the character interactions and development. I especially enjoyed the character of Anna. The world building and level of detail was also quite engaging, I thought. That being said, there are areas of the series that were weak. One of them is the story itself … many felt that the second season was unnecessarily sluggish in the pace of its storytelling, and it is true that the studio recycled some of its very expensive animation and at least in one episode early on cut some corners budget wise.
On the whole though I can only whole-heartedly recommend this anime. It was really something that “got under my skin” despite its oddness, and I found myself really coming to love many of the characters. The weaknesses of both pacing and cutting corners animation wise did not bother me anywhere near as much as other viewers. Also – although there has been talk that this is not the end of the series in terms of anime adaptations (perhaps earlier time periods will be adapted – one possibility that comes to mind being events around the Kagetsu crater tragedy, for example) there are quite a few side stories and novel volumes that are available to help continue to flesh out the wonderful world that Project K is set in for those who wish to continue to explore.
This series gets a solid B+ score from me. I have nothing but thanks to GoHands studio for giving such a wonderful second season with a great ending – even if nothing else ever comes out.
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