There's a lot that can be said about the importance of animation quality. If you've got a show that looks fantastic, a lot of people can look past some fairly large flaws. There's also the problem of animation costs dipping precipitously after the opening episode of a show. It can't be cheap to keep smooth and detailed movement from episode to episode.
K begins with a helluva bang with an energetic soundtrack and some of the best animation I've seen in a non-OVA show. The characters look dynamite, they're voiced by some of the best talent out there and it looks like there's going to be some great action. Unfortunately, I have no idea what's going on and that worries me about the long term prospects of the show. Hit the jump to see my impressions of the first two episodes.
Right away, we're introduced to a group of some rather tough-looking street punks lead by a spiky-haired guy named Mikoto are traveling with a young gothic lolita. The group of them converge on an American business man in a high-rise apartment, where they break in and question him about a guy who we can't completely see. They discover that the business man doesn't have the info that they're looking for, so they try and leave the building. Unfortunately for them, the fuzz is waiting for them downstairs. The punks and the agents of the Fullmetal Alchemist-looking Scepter 4 clash, leading to a pair of giant swords floating in the sky above their fight.
The show then jumps to a train, where students are heading to school. We're introduced to Shiro, a guy who goes about collecting small bits of food from people all over the school to flesh out his rather boring lunch of rice. Everybody seems to know him and he looks to be quite popular. While Shiro is fleshing out his lunch, we see a naked girl with long hair jumping around. Nobody seems to notice her except for the amusing talking trash bins. Shiro makes it to the roof and enjoys his lunch in peace along with a scruffy-looking cat. However, Shiro gets a strange premonition about impending danger, but it quickly passes.
After school, Shiro gets roped into helping out the school council. He's sent into town to grab supplies for the impending festival. While doing his errands, the street toughs from the start of the episode spot Shiro and begin moving into various positions around him. A shadowy figure is shown watching everything, allowing the punks to make the first move. The guy with the skateboard begins to chase Shiro through the surrounding streets. Shiro eventually finds himself stuck between the skateboarding kid and some other punks and takes off down an alley, which leads to an ambush. Lucky for Shiro, the guy that was watching all of this play out steps in and saves the high school kid. The punks know that the guy is Kuro Yatogami, the "Black Dog."
Kuro takes Shiro on to a nearby roof and shows him a video. In this clip, a guy that looks disturbingly like Shiro murders a guy holding a video camera. The guy in the clip then claims to be the Seventh King's successor, the Colorless King. The video is hacked onto all of the nearby screens and cellphones, probably insuring that Shiro will not be getting any sort of peace. The episode ends with Kuro pulling his blade and holding it at Shiro's throat.
The second episode starts with Shiro trying to save his hide. Kuro reveals that he serves Ichigen Miwa, the former Seventh King. Shiro asks Kuro to let him write a farewell letter for his nonexistent, perpetually sick younger sister. When the swordsman is distracted, Shiro ignites the flash-bangs in his bag and hides in the plush suit next to his umbrella. Unfortunately, the punks, a group called HOMRA, continue their hack by putting a ten million yen bounty on Shiro's head.
Shiro manages to play Kuro and the skateboard guy against each other, giving him time to escape again. He makes it back to his apartment and finds that the cat that was with him has turned into the naked hottie from the previous episode. Back at Shiro's school, Kuro arrives to continue his investigation. He meets one Shiro's classmates, who offers to show Kuro to the male dorms. Kuro arrives and is ready to kill, but the cat/girl manages to distract him and uses her power to help Shiro escape. The three continue their merry chase for hours, ending up back at Shiro's apartment. The three agree to put aside their squabble for breakfast.
Well, the drop off in animation quality from the first episode to the second was rather drastic. That's not to say that it looked bad, it just didn't look as amazing as the first episode. On top of that, not that much additional info was revealed. We know that Shiro is being blamed from a murder, possibly relating to the former Seventh King. We know that the HOMRA group is after Shiro for the death of the guy in the video. Besides that…that's it. We know nothing bout Shiro, besides that he's clever. We haven't a clue about any of this talk of the Kings or how these people have magic. It's frustrating because I'm finding myself interested in what's going on. I just get the feeling that K will have some pacing problems later on due to lollygagging in the early episodes. At the very least it'll be entertaining. Viz has got K licensed, so you can watch through their Viz Anime service