*This review contains spoilers. Tread with caution.
Two years after the finale of the 2012 anime K Project, writer GoRA surprised fans by releasing a movie sequel entitled K: Missing Kings in 2014. Due to the first season’s ambiguous ending and loose ends, fans eagerly looked forward to the movie hoping to find answers to some important questions regarding the series’ ending and its beloved characters. The movie surely didn’t disappoint, having been able to successfully tie up loose ends and more.
K: Missing Kings takes place almost a year after the events of the anime’s first season. The first half of the movie focuses on the aftermath of the Colorless King and the Red King’s deaths, and the disappearance of the Silver King, thus fittingly titled ‘Missing Kings’. Throughout the movie we witness the disbandment of the Red Clan (HOMRA), the Silver Clan (White Rice Party)’s search for their King, and the emergence of the Green Clan (Jungle). The movie ends with the awakening of the new Red King and the revelation of the Silver King’s location, capped with hints of a second season of the anime.
I give props to the movie’s animators. They cleverly included the stunning visuals from the first season into the movie and made it even better. The backdrops show an amazing attention to detail that made the characters’ interaction with the setting seem more genuine, allowing the viewers to feel immersed. Probably the most noticeable animation style in the K series is the use of lighting and colors. The lights aren’t just there for aesthetics, but for symbolism as well. For instance, the red flicker in Yata Misaki’s eyes highlight his loyalty to HOMRA and the blue patterns reflected in Munakata Reisi’s glasses during a scene centered around the Blue Clan (Scepter 4). The sudden appearance of green lights in some of the scenes can also pertain to the awakening of Jungle.
The voice actors from the original series reprised their roles in the movie. The most notable performance was during Anna’s dream sequence. Anna’s voice actress, Horie Yui, did an excellent job portraying Anna’s emotions despite the nonchalant expression her character always wears. In that same scene Suoh Mikoto’s voice actor, Tsuda Kenjirou, only did around three lines yet he was able to produce a delicate softness to the scene that made it the most tear-jerking moment of the movie. The background music only made it better. K Project seems to have two types of music – melancholic instrumental music and fast-paced battle music. The piano instrumental is the one used the most in the movie due to the plot centering around the tragic events of the first season. K Project is certainly not the first anime to use instrumental music as background, but the way it was utilized in certain scenes could induce some tears as the events unfold. As for the battle music, I have mixed feelings about it. It’s difficult to gauge the genre it belongs to. There are also times when the instrumental music is used during battle scenes instead. Confusing as it is, I have to admit the transition between the soft instrumental and the engaging battle music really makes you feel on edge in every scene.
It’s a tad difficult for casual viewers to fully immerse themselves within K: Missing Kings without having seen K project first but don’t fret as the film included a recollection of the anime leading to the current setting of the film. The film however, spent more time recalling in the first half such that the pacing suffered. It felt rushed. That or 73 minutes just wasn’t enough to comfortably fit an abridged version of the anime and new plot contents in the first place. Yes, it was successful in providing context to questions left unanswered in the anime but that’s it. Loose ends? Tied up, next.
Plus there’s also a lot of side-plots added in. The part about Scepter 4’s takeover of the Gold Clan (Timeless Palace), and that scene when the film delved deeper into Yukari and Kuroh’s history. However, with these added scenes on the side, it felt like the emphasis and focus on the main point of the film, which was Anna’s kidnapping, was somehow diminished. However, these side plots weren’t added all for nought. If one were to pay close attention to them, the side-plots foreshadowed a second season. These hints turned out to be correct when the second season of K-project (again, aptly titled) K: Return of Kings was announced in October 2014. And a year later it aired from October to December and comprised 13 episodes.
Aside from the side plots, another plot point that teased the possibility of a second season was the introduction of a new set of characters, namely Jungle. You can’t just throw a new clan (with so much potential) into the mix, but give it little limelight. Only one of its members, Mishakuji Yukari, was properly integrated into the story in the first place while the rest of the clan only made a short appearance towards the end. A good move on the writer’s part I must say. It left the viewers just enough questions unanswered to still be engaged and gave them that anticipation for more.
Overall, K: Missing Kings is a must watch for anyone who’s a fan of the series. Though I can’t say if it’s the best or worst movie ever. It had questionable moments that made your head spin with everything that’s happening, but there were also wonderful moments that made you feel glad and grateful to be part of the fandom. The best way to sum up my feelings for the movie is that I’m satisfied. Kudos to GoRA and studio GoHands for making a movie that reaffirms your love for the K series.
*Japanese names in this review are written surname-first