Halfway thoughts on Kyou Kara Maou!January 31, 2008 at 11:30 pm | Posted in Anime & Manga | Leave a comment
I just finished season 1 of Kyou Kara Maou! so I thought I’d reflect a bit before I make headway on season 2. Plus, it’s semester break :)
To begin with, Kyou Kara Maou! is so damn addicting – I’ve been pestered by an otaku friend to watch Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, but to heck with that, I’m plowing through the rest of KKM. Fear ye not Higurashi fans, for I will eventually get around to watching that too, but moving on…
Originally Kyou Kara Maou! (read the blurb on the site to get what it’s about – spoiler-free since it’s ANN’s official profile) was supposed to be my “chill out” series, meaning an episode or two here or there when I am too lazy to actually watch an attention-demanding series. However, once I got far enough, I was totally wrong about that.
The most obvious element of Kyou Kara Maou! is the comedy. The first 20 episodes or so are more or less standalones as Shibuya Yuuri goes on all sorts of wacky endeavors to learn more about his kingdom and being a successful ruler. The true plot kicks in around the unveiling of the legend of the Four Forbidden Boxes and their respective Keys. The lighthearted mood is still present, but a darker undertone emerges.
The characters are all very lovable and quirky in their own ways – we have tough guy Gwendal and his secret knitting hobby, feminist mad scientist Anissina, and drama queen (king?) royal advisor Günter, just to name a few. Each character has a past connected to the plot (so no useless flashbacks) and more personality depth than they initially appear to have.
clockwise from the very top: Gwendal, Conrad, Yuuri, Wolfram, Günter
Though primarily shoujo, KKM skillfully blends elements of shounen and shoujo anime. You’ve got your fantasy-quest plot and lots of sword-fighting action. The plot has some degree of complexity and does not need loads of fanservice to draw in viewers. The characters are well-developed and memorable. The art style, while not meticulously detailed like some shoujo manga, doesn’t resort to the somewhat cruder shounen art – it combines both sides into a visually pleasing result.
Yes, KKM does feature shounen-ai, but in the way it should. It’s funny, cute, and does not distract from the main plot. This anime is probably the first series that made me approve of boy x boy pairings; Yuuri x Wolfram is my favorite anime couple of the moment.
So far, my only gripes are – season 1 didn’t even tie up since season 2 is a direct continuation (what was the point of splitting it into two seasons? did the animation companies believe viewers would find a 78-episode series too daunting?) and minor inconsistent animation (is it just me or does Wolfram’s hair look progressively less curly throughout the series?). Or maybe I’m just being too nit-picky, haha.
As for what I’m looking forward to finding out most – I want to learn more about Wolfram’s past, Yuuri’s brother Shori since I have a hunch he’s not going to be a throwaway character, and who the rest of the Keys belong to (we already found out one in season 1).
Also, KKM is similar to Zero no Tsukaima in the “hapless boy from Earth gets sucked into a different world and discovers that he has hidden powers” premise but KKM appeals to a wider audience. While ZnT is meant to draw in clusters of fanboys, KKM can be enjoyed by girls and guys equally.
Here’s another strange thing – I never realized the similarities until my friend pointed out that some of the character designs seem to have provided inspiration for some of La Corda d’Oro’s principal characters – Günter and Yunoki both have the whole purple-haired girly man thing going on; Wolfram‘s pretty-boy looks are expressed more gently in Shimizu; Conrad and Tsuchiura have similar builds and hairstyles.
Tonikaku…time to binge season 2!