Kurokami: Black God, episode 1

by RP on January 20, 2009 · 2 comments

I know nothing about the manga, except that it was written and drawn by a couple Korean guys. Judging by the reactions on the MAL forums, it seemed like the manga fans were pissed, because Sunrise took some liberties in straying from the manga storyline. It’s not surprising. Rarely does the adaption live up to the fan’s expectations based on original source material. Lucky for me, I can just comment on the anime without having to worry about that.

Here’s the show description:

In this world, there are three identical looking people in existence who split between them an energy-like force called “Terra.” This energy can be attributed to the amount of “Luck” or “Life Energy” that an individual possesses. There also exists beings who observe the human world, maintaining the balance of Terra, known as the “Coexistence Equilibrium.” These beings possess ability that surpass that of a normal human being and reside in hiding in places known as the “Pure Place” in tribes. They are called the Terra Guardians. This is a tale of battle that begins with a chance meeting between a human boy named Keita and a young Tera Guardian girl named Kuro. – ANN

The problem with fantasy shows like this is that they have a language of their own. Terra? Doppeliners? Mototsumitamas? WTH? And it usually takes a few episodes to just get the basic language down pat. Basically, my understanding of the story is this:

  • There’s a young girl who can kick some ass
  • There’s some normal boy who’ll tag along
  • And they will fight evil together, kicking ass and taking names (well, mostly the girl will, while the guy will probably be sort of a drag for a while)

The first thing that pops to mind? Shakugan no Shana. Kuro (the main girl) sort of looks like Shana too in the standard poster. So will this be SNS-esque? We’ll see. Onto the show!

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Heroes and villains in the opening scene. The show starts off by raising a question about luck. If you’re resigned to bad luck, will you simply live with it, or will you fight back against it? The theme isn’t particularly interesting, but once they introduce some details, it gets more interesting.

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We’re introduced to Keita, who’ll play Yuji’s role, the normal boy who gets drawn into abnormal things. We also meet Akane, Keita’s older, hot, but sort of ditzy friend, who seemingly does all his household work for him and probably harbors a secret crush on him.

Oh, the lives we don’t lead in the real world. I knew my life was off track when I realized I didn’t have a Tsugumi or an Akane type to a.) basically be my maid and b.) harbor secret crushes on me.

Anyway, we also meet the other two gals in his entourage: Itsuki, a spunky classmate, and Mayu, the cute, adorable kid that lives next door. Unfortunately, for Keita, his posse is going to have some open spots soon. Strange things are brewing. His friend Itsuki mentions that she saw her doppelganger the night before at a concert. Keita jokingly warns her to be careful, but laughs it off as something stupid.

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We learn that Keita’s mom died several years ago, in an accident after having crossed someone who looked just like her on the street: her doppelganger. This has haunted Keita for years. Then a strange thing happens. He sees the doppelganger again and chases after her, unfortunately, he doesn’t catch her. Later, as he’s explaining the doppelganger story to a friendly ramen stand owner, he meets Kuro, who must be fresh from the mountains, unaware of the market price of ramen these days. Keita treats her to a bowl of ramen, as he continues the story about doppelgangers. Surprisingly, this is right up her alley. As she corrects Keita, and explains about the doppeliners. This is actually the interesting detail related to the theme. Apparently, including oneself, there are three copies of every person in the world, except their luck differs. Should they ever cross paths, the one with worse luck (the sub) is annihilated by sickness, accident or whatever. And the one with good luck (the root) absorbs the luck from the sub. Evidently, Keita’s mom was a sub.

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If that wasn’t enough of a hint to suggest that she was no normal girl, the second hint would be that, she gets brutally walloped in the head by some psycho with a baseball bat… and survives. A really sweet hand-to-hand fight ensues, in which after taking an early pounding, she rebounds to beat the crap out of this guy, who apparently wants to consume her tera (it’s like the life force, or her luck or something). The ramen stand guy calls the cops, but by the time they arrive, both Kuro and the psycho are gone.

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Tragedy then ensues for Keita. As if that conversation with Kuro was a synchronicity. Keita learns that his friend Ibuki died in an accident. The next day Mayu runs up to him on the street corner and mentions that she saw someone that looked exactly like her. With all of the strange events prior, this freaks out Keita, but before he can react, she runs out onto the street and gets just slammed by a truck.

Impressions:

So there’s much more exposition about the plot here than I’d typically write. But I felt like it was necessary, before I started throwing terms like doppeliner and tera around. I’ll suspend my disbelief and not think about how that’s possible that there’d be 3 copies each in a world of 6 billion people, but the idea of doppeliners and some having more luck than others is an intriguing concept.

The OP’s not bad, pretty standard female-vocal, upbeat rock that fits the shounen style. There’s some very nicely animated battle scenes in it, but it’s nothing memorable. The ED’s also not bad. I like the song, but the scenes are your pretty standard, character walking through a couple different backgrounds boringness.

Keita seems to be your standard, normal kid. There’s nothing extraordinary about him. Although he does seem to be a magnet for tragedy. After these last couple days, I don’t think I’d ever leave the house if I was him. Kuro is very likeable. She’s actually nothing like Shana. She’s friendly and expressive. Sort of reminds me of Index actually. Except, this one can fight. The character designs are attractive, but a bit on the grittier, realistic side. I don’t think the Gundam and Geass bishies would fit in this show. They also go with a softer, slightly muted color palette, which adds to the realism. The animation is smooth, and it was cool to see a really well done hand-to-hand fight scene. I don’t think I’ve seen one of those in a while. The violence is also brutal. I winced when Kuro was hit in the head by the bat and again when Mayu was destroyed by the truck. They’re not pulling any punches.

In the end, the 24 minutes flew by for me. The concept is interesting. And while the characters don’t stand out yet, Kuro’s very likable. I’m looking forward to this. I know Bandai is running a simultaneous English dub showing, but hopefully they don’t get snippy and kill the fansub community’s support.

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