Kuromukuro: Part One (“Scott Original” Review)

I know this is still airing and can technically be a part of Spring 2016 anime left overs, but no.  Not this time.  Since this is on Netflix and not some other streaming service that posts an episode a week, this is going to be something different.  This is going to be the completely original title of Kurumukuro: Part One.  *Pretentiously lifts up nonexistent glasses*.  Hey, If Netflix can call something they partially own a “Netflix Original”, then I can call this a “Scott Original”.

Kuromukuro is rather hard thing to explain.  That’s not because it’s complicated or because it’s original, but because it’s the sum of a lot of parts.  Very unoriginal parts, but even those are extremely hard to mash together.  It’s a mech show with a heavy mixture of slice of life elements to it.  It has a large ensemble cast, but each character aside from the two mains actually feel like people.  It has a bit of science fiction space element to it, but it also has a “Captain America Capsicle” thing going on.  The miracle is that it somehow all works.  So far, I wouldn’t call Kuromukuro one of the best shows ever, but it is definitely far from the worst.  I would explain the plot more, but I think it’s better to go into this one a little blind.

This show fully utilizes its medium to give the characters and setting more life.  Since this is a fast paced show, the show uses small insistences of characterization to achieve this.  What do I mean by this?  Well, when a main character steals a horse from a farm, does adding a farmer who is yelling at this guy to stop add anything to the story at all?  No, but it adds atmosphere.  The town that Kuromukuro takes places in feels more lived in because of small things like that.  Also, as another example, does a girl’s closet being open and revealing cosplay outfits add much to the story either?  No, but you know a particular character’s hobby when it’s used later on.  This adds a little more interest to the character and makes them more of a person, even though not much time is spent with this one.  A little goes a long way.

Since I am currently on the subject of art and animation, let’s just talk more openly.  OMG P.A. WORKS, STOP MAKING SHOWS THAT LOOK SO BEAUTIFUL.  Seriously, the scenery is just wonderful and beautiful to look at.  A viewer can get lost just looking into a single frame for days on end.  The character designs are also rather greatl and the animation is nothing to scoff at either.  From fluid facial animation to wonderfully choreographed fight scenes, it’s almost as good as it can get.  The only thing I can slightly knock down are the mechs themselves.  While they are cg and stand out a little, they fit in with the backgrounds so much better then shows like Argevollen, Aldnoah Zero, and especially Knights of Sidonia.  The mech designs are nothing truly ground breaking, but the enemies have some very cool, complicated designs.

Okay, let’s talk characters.  The two main characters are a completely average high school girl named Yukina and a young samurai from four hundred and fifty years ago named Ken.  (He has a longer name, but I don’t feel like typing it out.  Yukina loves scenery and has some parent issues, but what young mech protagonist doesn’t these days?  She sits in the back of the two seater mech and is a navigator and sometimes pilot.  While she is scared a lot of the time, I find that a lot of her strength comes from going into the cockpit of the mech anyway.  Ken was woken up in a pod in the first episode to fight what he calls the ogres.  His character arc is falling in love with Yukina and learning to adapt to the modern world.  Together, they form a solid mech team.

The biggest flaw the show has is its pace.  This may sound like one thing, but it affects a lot of aspects of the show.  A lot of details about what is going on in the story are not as well explained as they could be.  A breath explanation is given, but then the camera moves somewhere else.  The side characters suffer a bit too.  Even though we are given hints of who they are, these characters are not as fleshed out as they could be.  The same goes for the setting.  As I said, throughout.

Would I suggest watching Kuromukuro.  Yes, yes I would.  Still, you can watch these thirteen episodes and then wait thirteen more weeks for the rest or watch it all together as a package.  It’s up to you.  This is probably the best, non-gundam mech show that has made an appearance in the past few years.  Right now, I feel pretty confident in the direction that show is going, but it could turn into a turd in the second half.  It’s hard to predict these things, but that’s to be reviewed later on.

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