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Kurokami the Animation: Volume Six (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 1, 2011 by  



The conclusion of “Kurokami the Animation” is here with the final sixth volume.  Kuro, Keita and friends put up one final fight against the evil Masagami… who will survive and who will die?  A fitting conclusion to this action anime series and also included is a bonus episode featuring the character Excel.  Overall, “Kurokami the Animation” has become an entertaining, action-driven anime series from beginning to end.  It’s worth checking out!

Image courtesy of © 2009-2010 Lim Dail Young, Park Sung Woo/Square Enix/Sunrise, Bandai Visual. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Kurokami – The Animation – Volume Six

DURATION: EPISODES 21-24 (100 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen), English PCM 2.0,

COMPANY: Sunrise/Bandai Entertainment

RATED: NOT RATED (Note: This anime does feature violence)

Release Date: May 22, 2011

 

Originally created by Dall-Young Lim, Sung-woo Park

Directed by Tsuneo Kobayashi

Series Composition by Reiko Yoshida

Original Character Design by Sung-woo Park

Character Design: Hiroyuki Nishimura

Art Director: Shunichiro Yoshihara

Chief Animation Director: Hiroyuki Nishimura

Art Design: Tomoyasu Fujise

Sound Director: Hiromi Kikuta

Director of Photography: Naoyuki Wada

Anime Production by Sunrise

Featuring the following voice talent:

Jason Griffith as Keita Ibuki

Laura Bailey as Kuro

Christopher Kromer as Daichi Kuraki

Crispin Freeman as Reishin

Emily Bauer as Riona Kogure

Eva Kaminsky as Nam

Julie Ann Taylor as Akane Sano

Kathleen McInerney as Yuki Kaionji

Marc Thompson as Hiyou

Mary Elizabeth McGlynn as Mikami Hojo

Michael Sinterniklaas as Punipuni

Patrick Seitz as Steiner

Stephanie Sheh as Excel

With the truth behind Reishin’s actions finally revealed, Keita learns the horrible secret behind Kuro’s power. Now Kuro must face not only the evil power behind everything but also fight against her very own nature. With their true enemy finally revealed, the Tera Guardians muster all their strength to defeat their foe… even if it costs them everything.

The final sixth volume of “Kurokami” is here!

In this final volume featuring episodes 21-24, Kuro and Keita have made a commitment to put an end to the Doppeliner System that has caused everyone so much misery!  But the biggest surprise was that her brother Reishin was never an enemy, he was protecting her from being sacrificed by their village.  But now, the Masagami, red and white incarnations that are part of Kuro have incredible power and wants to form with Kuro in order to rule the world and destroy the galaxy.

It’s the final battle where everything is put on the line.  Who will live and who will die?

“Kurokami the Animation” Back Story

For those who have never heard of “Kurokami”, in the world of “Kurokami” (“Black God”), one sometimes think they see another person that looks exactly like them (doppelganger) but in reality, there are three (doppeliner) which share the same life force (known as Tera). If by any chance, one was to see each other, one would die and the others would have that life force equally distributed. Making sure this “Coexistence Equilibrium” is kept in check are the Tera Guardians.

This is the story of “Kurokami”, a 23-episode anime TV series which is an adaptation of a Japanese manga series by Dall-Young Lim and illustrated by Sung-Woo Park and is an ongoing series published in the magazine “Young Gangan”.

The anime series is directed by Tsuneo Kobayashi (“Glass no Kamen”, “Midori Days”, “Twelve Kingdoms”) and features series composition by Reiko Yoshida (“Aria”, “D.Gray-Man”, “Kaleido Star”, “Peach Girl”). Character designs are by Hiroyuki Nishimura (“Spirit of Wonder”, “Deltora Quest”) and music composed by Tomohisa Ishikawa (“Appleseed: Ex Machina”, “Kite Liberator”, “Innocent Venus”). And now the first volume of the anime series is released on Blu-ray and includes the first four episodes.

“Kurokami” revolves around a teenager named Keita Ibuki. When he was younger, his mother met someone that looked exactly like her and the next day she was hit by a car. So, the existence of a doppelganger has always been in his mind.

One night when he went out for ramen, he meets a girl named Kuro along with her dog Punipuni, they seem quite hungry. He offers her his ramen and all seems well until a madman comes out of nowhere and assaults her.

Keita tries to help her but is easily beaten by this madman. But what he sees is this girl’s incredible fighting power. After all is done and Kuro overcomes her assailant, she tells him that she is out to kill her brother.

The paths of both Keita and Kuro cross again and Kuro explains to her about the doppeliner and that she is a Tera Guardian. As Keita tries to deal with this and possibly learn why his mother died, his childhood friend Akane (who likes Keita) tries to help both Keita and Kuro as well.

One evening, a group of thugs with extreme power go after her again but this time, Keita tries to help but is mortally wounded. Kuro manages to escape with him but because he is dying, she decides to exchange hearts with him in order to keep him alive and thus a contract is created. But she warns him that they must be near each other at all times or her heart will become necrotic if its too far away from her. Keita has now become the contractee and his life is forever bonded with Kuro.

In volume 2 of “Kurokami the Animation”, Keita and Kuro confront a group of Tera Guardians in battle, meanwhile we learn about Kuro’s past and also information about Keita’s deceased mother. But most importantly, Keita is told the truth about his status of being a contractee and that contractees can easily be killed and are not invincible.

For Keita, his thought was that he wouldn’t die during a battle but now knowing that he is vulnerable may change his status of how he fights with Kuro. Meanwhile, Keita, Kuro and Akane left to Okinawa and confronted two survivors from the Hiba Clan.

In volume 3, it appears that others are looking for the survivors of the Hiba Clan and while Reishin makes his appearance. Keita discovers that contractees can be “negative roots” but would he ever dare going that direction. Also, a friend who had been dead has made his appearance once again and the news he has for Keita will surprise him.

As Kuro and Keita barely survive against their battle with Reishin, thanks to the help of Excel and Steiner, Kuro and Keita are able to escape. But unfortunately, in order for them to escape, Steiner sacrificed his life. Meanwhile, Kuraki and Raiga then take on Reishin to for the control of the Kaionji Group.

In volume four, this begins the second season of “Kurokami”. Kuro and Keita take on the powerful Shinra and both find a way to combine their life energy. Meanwhile, Akane is revealed to be a master root. Everyone in the world except Tera Guardians and contractee’s have collapsed for some unknown reason and the Pure Land has been created.

“Kurokami: The Animation” features the following characters:

  • Keita Ibuki – When Keita was young, he met a woman that looked like his mother. The following day, his mother died. One day, while trying to defend a woman who was getting beaten by a Tera Guardian, he is severely injured in the heart area and before he was to die, Kuro saves his life by forming a contract with him. As long as the two are close together, he has the ability to heal Kuro and also develops his skill as a contractee.
  • Kuro Shishigami – One of the last remaining members of the Shishigami clan and a Tera Guardian. She is after her brother Reishin Shishigami who murdered everyone in the clan (including their mother) except her. She now has formed a bond with Keita and together they take on other enemy Tera Guardians.
  • Reishin Shishigami – The older brother of Kuro who was thought to be the evil enemy ends up being a brother trying to protect his younger sister.
  • Akane Sano – A childhood friend of Keita, Akane is in love with him but has a hard time expressing it to him. She occasionally joins Keita and Kuro on their adventures.
  • Punipuni – Kuro’s small doberman pup and is always hungry. He also seems to understand people when they talk to him.
  • Excel – A veteran contractee who worked with the Tera Guardian named Steiner and later Mikami. She has the ability to create Hexagon shields.
  • Yakumo – A Tera Guardian that survived the massacre and does all he can to protect Kuro. His contractee is Riona Kogure and both are often traveling with Kuro and Keita.
  • Riona Kogure – A contractee of Yakumo. She escaped from the Kaionji group when she found out that she was going to be experimented on.
  • Mikami Houjou – A powerful Tera Guardian from the Ginko clan. She once worked for the Kaionji group for medicine to give to her dying contractee. She later forms a contract with Excel.
  • Nam – A Tera Guardian who has the sole job of not interfering but recording the history of the Tera Guardian.  She is also very well-endowed, hungry and having discovered real food, begins to freeload at Keita’s home.

“Kurokami” vol. 6 features the episodes 21-24 of the TV series on one Blu-ray disc. Here is a brief, spoiler-free synopsis of each episode:

  • EPISODE 21 – Deity – The fight against the Masagami.  Who will live and who will die?
  • EPISODE 22 – Destiny – The aftermath of the fight against Masagami… but was the Doppeliner System eliminated?
  • EPISODE 23 – Path – The final episode. A recap story that ends with us knowing what happened to Kuro, Keita and Akane.
  • BONUS EPISODE 24 – The Tigress and the Wing – The following is a bonus un-aired episode featuring a recap of Excel’s life and her becoming the contractee for Mikami Houjou.

VIDEO:

“Kurokami The Animation” is featured in 1080p High Definition. The series is quite vibrant and looks absolutely beautiful in HD. Blacks are nice and deep, colors pop and I didn’t notice any edge enhancement or compression artifacts during my viewing of the series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Kurokami The Animation” is presented in English PCM 2.0. And as mentioned in my previous review of volume 1 of the series, “Kurokami” does not include the lossless Japanese audio while the DVD does include both soundtracks. It is discussed on various message boards that because the series is being released at the same time in Japan, to prevent reverse importation, the lossless Japanese soundtrack was not granted for the U.S. release (note: In Japan, the Blu-ray release costs about three times as more than the U.S. release and to prevent reverse importation over there, they didn’t include English subtitles).

Unfortunately with Japan and the U.S. on the same region for Blu-ray releases and people demanding simultaneous or near simultaneous releases, this is easily going to be an issue for American anime fans if more series continue to feature the lack of a Japanese audio track.

As for the English dub, for the most part the English dubbing was well-done. Jason Griffith (as Keita) known for his work for the character Shadow for “Sonic X” does a very good job but anime voice acting veterans Laura Bailey (as Kuro) and Julie Ann Taylor (as Akane) do a solid job as the voice of their characters.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Kurokami the Animation vol. 6” contains the following special features:

  • Textless ending themes – Included are two textless ending themes for “Kurokami the Animation”.
  • Bandai Entertainment Previews

With the last fifth volume of “Kurokami the Animation”, the action-packed volume and also the final reveal about Reishin was a surprise and now here we are with the continuation but also the final volume of the series.  While the last volume was all about the action, this final sixth volume concludes the action with episode 22 with the final fight against the Masagami but also knowing what must be done to end the Doppeliner System.

In the end, “Kurokami the Animation” gives fans closure to how the series ends and what happens to the characters.  The ending of episode 23, the final episode of “Kurokami”, was quite touching but also sad at the same time.  But by watching the series from beginning to end, I felt it was the only conclusion that had to happen.  Especially having to conclude the Kuro – Keita – Akane angle.  The final episode, features a narrative of the three protagonists of the series and  gives us insight in the minds of Kuro, Akane and also Keita and it was a fitting end to this series.

Also included on the Blu-ray release (and DVD) is the un-aired episode about Excel and gives us good insight about her and the relationship she had with Steiner but also how she became a contractee for Mikami.

Although listed as “episode 24”, this is not the final episode, this is an unaired bonus episode that was created but has no place in the pacing of the series as the director kept the focus on Kuro and Keita.  But it was a good bonus episode to have on the Blu-ray release and to also let us know why she is so wise despite being a teen.

“Kurokami – The Animation” is an enjoyable anime series sporting cool characters, cool animation/background art and also fight sequences.   The series had its share of dark moments but also its fair share of hilarious, fun and upbeat moments. But the storyline while focusing on action, actually has a clever storyline about doppelgangers, fortunately the diverse characters in this series have made “Kurokami” worth watching.

While I know there are anime fans who are put off by the fact that this is the only Bandai Entertainment release thus far that does not contain a Japanese soundtrack, fortunately the English dub is well-done.    I do wish that the Blu-ray releases had more special features outside of the usual textless ending themes but in the end, the anime series throughout its entire run was entertaining and with each release, had me wanting more and more.

Overall, “Kurokami the Animation: Volume Six” was a fun and enjoyable action series from beginning to end!  Was it the best anime series, definitely not.  But would I watch it again?  Most definitely.

If you have been curious about this anime series, “Kurokami the Animation” is a series that I can easily recommend!






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