Friday, 9 January 2009

Kurokami: The Animation - Episode 1

Kurokami (or Black God, to use its translated name) starts out as the story of a normal high school kid... But then again, what series doesn't these days? In fact, calling him normal is a bit of a stretch really, as the boy in question, Keita, is something of a loner, a state of affairs which seems to have occurred after the death of his mother in a traffic accident when he was younger.

So, Keita is being looked after by a childhood friend, Akane, but there's more to Keita's aversion to company that means the eye - The day before she died, his mother met a doppelganger of herself; in other words somebody who looked exactly like her. The next day the accident happened - But surely this is just a coincidence? Keita doesn't think so, believing as he does the legend that should you meet your doppelganger, one of you is destined to die.

So, the whole doppelganger theme becomes a recurring one in this opening episode of Kurokami right the way through to it's brutal pre-credits ending. Along these lines, Keita also ends up meeting a decidedly odd girl while out eating ramen one night - A barefoot girl with a dog who seems to know, or at least claim to know, a whole lot more about the entire phenomenon and what it's all about. Before he can quiz her about it further however, she gets smashed around the head by a guy wielding a baseball bat (as you do), and so a fight ensues between the two. Just what on Earth is going on?

As with any series, and particularly one like this which is going to take quite some time to really set up its premise, it's far too early to make anything but a cursory value judgement on Kurokami, but it has to be said that this first episode oozes quality production values, from its opening and closing credits through to the often gorgeous city backdrops on show, and from the general animation quality through to that very nicely realised (and combo-tastic for a moment there) fight sequence. It's a Sunrise show that's airing in both Japan and the US, what did you expect? Beyond mere aesthetics, the early signs of this series seem good to be - I'm already fascinated by the doppelganger premise presented as a core tenant of the show, and I'm getting a bit of a Gantz feeling from the final post-end credit sequences too. It could well fall flat and turn out to be a case of great animation glossing over a cliched storyline, but as of right now I can't wait to catch some more of this show as it looks like having a lot of potential.

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