Anime / K
Twenty Minutes into the Future
, following a slightly Alternate History
, Japan has become a technologically advanced land and one of the world's most flourishing countries due to the power of the Kings. These seven individuals are chosen for their abilities to embody the natural forces of the world, and they have the ability to grant powers to their followers, who form their "clans". Two powerful sides - the Red Clan, HOMRA, and the Blue Clan, Scepter 4, have been at odds, and their conflict comes to a head due to the murder of Red Clansman Tatara Totsuka at the hands of a culprit claiming to be the Colorless King.
Amidst all this, an energetic 17-year old student of Ashinaka High known as Yashiro Isana (or Shiro for short), finds himself chased by a bunch of shady guys, members of HOMRA. Just as he thinks he's saved by the timely intervention of a swordsman calling himself Kuroh Yatogami, he somehow ends up with Kuroh's sword pointed at his neck. And soon after, all display devices within the city begin to static - show a man who is unmistakably himself, identifying himself as the Colorless King and committing the murder.
Written by GoRA, a team consisting of seven Light Novel
is an original Fall 2012 Anime
that premiered on October 4. The anime gained some notice by revealing almost no details about its plot, setting, or genre in promotional materials. It was quickly picked up by both Animax
Asia and VIZ Media
for simulcasting. A sequel
was announced when the last episode aired. In May 2013, the sequel was confirmed
to be a movie adaptation
, K: Missing Kings
, that was released in July 2014. A second season, K: Return of Kings, aired in Fall 2015.
A prequel manga
, K: Memory of Red
, centered on Homra, began serialization in Kodansha's Aria
on May 2012. Another prequel manga, K - Stray Dog Story
, centered on Kuroh before S1, began running in Kodansha's good! Afternoon
on November 2012. Two Light Novels
, called K Side:Blue
and K Side:Red
, were released in October and November 2012. These two were followed by K Side:Black & White
, which was released in May 2013. Another prequel manga, K: Days of Blue
began its run on Kodansha's Aria
on October 2013. K: Countdown
, an interquel manga between The Movie
and the second season was released on December 2014 on Kodansha's Aria
. The final one is the manga K: Dream Of Green
focused on the green clan's perspective during S2.
The series has an official Alternate Universe
, Gakuen K
, where most of the cast goes to a normal high school. A manga and later on an Otome Game
set on this universe, called Gakuen K ~Wonderful School Days~
. was released for the PlayStation Portable
in June 2014. The game is set to be ported to Play Station Vita
on December 2015, and features an original protagonist called Saya Konohana.
A new anime project has been greenlit, called K Seven Stories, announced 4/30/2016. The format and length have not yet been revealed, nor has the story.
K has also been picked up by VIZ Media
and the first season was aired on their Neon Alley
site with an English dub.
Not to be confused with K-On!Tread carefully. Spoilers abound.
This anime provides examples of:
- Accidental Truth: In Episode 2, Yashiro cooked up a fake story about his imaginary sick sister who's been hospitalized since a young age to garner sympathy from Kuroh and give himself ample time to escape. Then in Episode 11, it's revealed that he is Adolf K. Weismann, whose elder sister Claudia died in the war...
- All There in the Manual: Due to a clever marketing ploy K has large chunks of background information and a bunch of characters' backstories provided via manga adaptations, radio dramas, Drama CDs, and novels.
- Alternate Universe: Gakuen K is an official one. The cast goes to an average high school, and HOMRA and Scepter 4 are rival clubs instead of clans.
- Amazing Technicolor World: Like looking through a glass bottle. The colour tends to match whatever clan is most prominent in the scene.
- Ambiguous Situation:
- There is a war of words among fans as to whether or not the Sword of Damocles Yashiro summoned prior to getting rid of his amnesia and learning he was the Silver King was real or an illusion. It comes down to either Yashiro being able to use his abilities without remembering who he was, or Neko's illusions being arbitrarily powerful. Suffice it to say, there is so little said about the subject in-universe that the truth is muddled.
- There's a blink-and-you'll miss it moment in the last episode that has incited quite a bit of debate: A black dog carrying a sword, running with a white cat carrying a parasol. While this is obviously Kuroh and Neko, it is unclear if it means Kuroh is a dog strain, which would come way out of left field, or if Neko was just using another illusion.
- Is Neko a cat or a human? There's evidence pointing to both arguments. As a cat she can be held in Shiro's hand and sit on his shoulders without seemingly to put any kind of strain on him. She also behaves very much like a cat, and animals are known to have powers as well as humans. However when Munakata destroys her illusion she reverts back to a girl. Though there's also the theory of her being a legitimate shape-shifter in addition to holding illusion powers.
- All of the above ambiguous situations have been resolved in side materials. Shiro came up with the plan to fool Munakata, but the Sword itself was Neko's illusion. The dog and cat at the end of the last episode was completely Neko's illusion as well, and Kuro has since been proven to be a normal clansman and not a Strain. Neko herself was born a girl with illusionary powers, but chose to live her life as a cat due to circumstances in her past.
- Animal-Eared Headband: An elite faction of Gold Clansmen are known as the "Rabbits" because they all wear masks adorned with rabbit ears and even have small tufts of fur attached to the backs of their kimonos. In this case the unusual animal-inspired appearance is treated in a fairly serious manner instead of as a cute quirk.
- Apocalyptic Log: Tatara Totsuka's video tape, which contains a declaration by "Shiro" that he is the Seventh King.
- Armor Is Useless: Shown in K Side:Blue that armor is essentially worthless against psychic users. Even though the main character Takeru Kusuhara was equipped in riot gear including a large shield and a helmet, one of the criminal Strain he was facing easily slices his shield with a Magical Gesture as if it was made of butter.
- Ass Pull: In-Universe, Yashiro had to rely on making things up to successfully escape from an almost certainly bloody death at the hands of Kuroh.
- Asshole Victim: Despite seeming like an evil ruthless gang on the offset, the people HOMRA attacks (with the exception of Yashiro) are only those who deserve them - such as violent mafia goons.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: The Kings are the strongest fighters in their respective clans.
- Awesome Anachronistic Apparel: The "Rabbits" wear traditional kimonos as part of their uniform in addition to the fake rabbit ears and tails.
- Batman Gambit: In Episode 8, Yashiro manipulates Scepter 4 to his advantage through a phone call. Munakata, being clever as well, knew what Yashiro was up to and attempted to double-cross him, sending Fushimi and the others - but Yashiro one-ups him as Kuroh notices Fushimi's spite at the last second and Yashiro manipulates him again.
- Battle Aura: All of the kings and some clan members have glowing auras that match their clan's color when using their psychic powers.
- Battle in the Rain: Episode 7 has Scepter 4 cornering Shiro, Kuroh and Neko. Kuroh fights Reisi in the rain to give the others a chance to escape.
- Big Damn Heroes: Kuroh Yatogami saved Yashiro Isana from the HOMRA thugs...and then immediately tried to kill him himself.
- Big Fancy House: SCEPTER 4's headquarters definitely looks like one.
- Bittersweet Ending: Ending of season 1. The evil Colorless King is ultimately killed, Totsuka's death is avenged, and Mikoto's Sword of Damocles is prevented from dropping. However, both Shiro and Mikoto are seemingly dead and the HOMRA clansmen have lost their King. Neko, however, does not believe that Shiro is dead, and she and Kuroh both leave in search of him. The ending of S2 also counts for Yukari and Sukuna who have lost their King and Iwa-san as well as their home. Doubly so for Sukuna, who takes it very hard.
- Bland-Name Product:
- A subtle version - the large-screened clearly Panasonic television in the city with a similar logo is named "anasona". And then there's the conspicuous "Starpucks Coffee" building shown in Episode 1.
- In episode 3, an iPhone advert can be seen in the background... with an orange next to it.
- Bond Creatures: The Dresden Slate is revealed to share its powers with the Kings only after establishing a psychic connection with them once their heartbeats are synchronized to its "pulse".
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: The episode preview dialogues (DVD version) do this a few times. From the preview for episode 2:
Shiro: Hi, I'm Yashiro Isana, the protagonist of this show, who's in the middle of getting himself killed... and I just might be dead by next week!
Kuroh: Shut up.
Shiro: By the way, how do you guys usually hand someone a pair of scissors? Yes, that's right, normally you would hand it over with the blade facing away from the person receiving it.
Kuroh: Shut up
- Brought Down to Normal: Everyone loses their powers at the end of the second season when the Slate is destroyed. Played with as only the Kings lost their immediate powers, it seems like Strains and the clansmen still have some of their powers.
- Bullet Dodges You: The 'bomb and umbrella' supposition, used to describe Kings in the novel K Side:Blue, states that no matter how many missiles or bullets are fired at The Chosen One, they would all miss him as if being deflected by a giant umbrella. But what if a nuclear bomb were to be dropped on their heads? Its power is such that, even if deflected, it'll still cause harm to The Chosen One. The answer is that fate itself won't allow the nuclear bomb to fall - it'll just hang there in the air, suspended by an invisible umbrella.
- Bookends: The side manga Dream of Green counts as In the final chapter Kotosaka is shown to be spying the other clans one by one like he did in Chapter 1 as Nagare was using him as his eyes, only in the final chapter Nagare is no longer there. The front and back cover of the volume count too-Nagare is awake on the front cover, but when you get to the back his eyes are closed as though as he is dreaming again.
- Call Back: In the first episode of Return Of Kings, Shiro once again falls from the sky. Though this time, it's of his own volition.
- Cast Full of Pretty Boys: Ridiculous amounts of pretty. Almost every male character seems to have come from the bishonen closet.
- Cast Herd
- Cataclysm Backstory: The Kagutsu crater that is shown briefly in Episode 3 is revealed to have been one according to side materials. This incident, which was caused by the former Red King's Sword of Damocles dropping ten years before the story began, destroyed a large part of southern Kanto and killed over seven hundred thousand people, including the Red King himself. It was even (indirectly) responsible for the former Blue King's death as well. Also, Neko and Hisui lost their families and Iwafune lost his entire clan.
- Caught on Tape: "Yashiro" murdering Tatara - done deliberately. He knew the camera was there, and he even gloated before it. Then he shoots it.
- Cerebus Rollercoaster: The first episode starts off fairly dramatically and ends on a rather tense note as Kuroh prepares to cut down Shiro for supposedly committing a murder. Then Episode 2 abruptly shifts the tone to comedic during the wacky chase scene between the main trio before the next episode returns the story to a sober tone as it introduces mounting tensions between the Red and Blue clans. Episode 4, however, immediately reverts back to a lighter and more humorous tone as Shiro attempts to prove his innocence to Kuroh, at least right before the ending suddenly changes the tone back to dramatic again. The tone continues shifting between comedy and drama right until the end of Episode 6 where it goes right back to being serious again, only this time it stays that way for subsequent episodes.
- Chekhov's Gun: The fact Shiro is very popular, and in fact seems to know everyone at his school pays off in the first season final thanks to Wistful Amnesia effecting the entire school and allowing the entire school to instinctively trust Shiro when he shows up to guide them to safety.
- The Chosen Many: The seven Kings are all chosen by the Dresden Slate to receive great power and rule over others.
- City of Adventure: Shizume City, the setting of the story.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Revealed in the novel K Side:Red that Anna was tormented both physically and mentally as part of the experiments to get her to reach out to the Dresden Slate and become the Blue King, because suffering and pain enhances her sensory capabilities. She has no scars to show for it because she would simply get healed up by the experimenter in charge.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The physical manifestations of the powers of the clans are more or less the color of their respective kings.
- Color Motif: The colors of the known Kings and their clans seems to follow these motifs for the most part (red is violent/passionate, blue is calm/rational, gold is wealthy/prosperous).
- Color Wash/Mood Lighting: The anime uses color filters extensively, most often using an Unnaturally Blue Lighting in most parts of the city but switching tints depending on the location (e.g. the HOMRA bar primarily uses deep red and orange colors while the school island uses some noticeable green filters).
- Cool Airship: Adolf K. Weismann's airship, the Himmelreich. Apparently, it flew around the same routes over Japan for over sixty years until it started deviating and going in random directions for the anime storyline. Eventually, it comes crashing down in Episode 8 after the Silver King blows it up when the SCEPTER 4 helicopters attempt to apprehend him.
- After the finale of the first season, he gets another one and hides out there with the dying Gold King until the first episode of Return of Kings. He, Kuroh, Neko and HOMRA crash it near the end of the season to get past Iwafune while Munakata is distracting him.
- Crazy-Prepared: Kuroh carries around a heavy briefcase which turns out to contain a gourmet cooking set. He apparently also keeps a sewing kit in his sleeve.
- Curb-Stomp Battle:
- Saruhiko pulls this off against four members of HOMRA at the same time in Episode 3, although it isn't really shown how he did it.
- Reisi vs Kuroh. The former didn't have to draw his sword or even use his powers to subdue the latter, despite how much Reisi taunted Kuroh to draw his own sword. This is explained by way of Kings being Persons of Mass Destruction, whom even skilled clansmen cannot hope to contend with. This overwhelming gap in abilities in underscored by Munakata's utter lack of concern during the fight, his nonchalant dodging and even when he struck back he chose to bitch slap Kuroh instead of a more serious blow.
- Mikoto against SCEPTER 4 (minus Reisi) in episode 9: he completely destroys Seri and her men in a single hit. They go down so fast it's not even funny.
- Word Of God confirms that any non-King vs. King battle will end up like this, explaining the two examples above.
- The entirety of the Red and Blue clans, including both Kings, vs an overconfident group of Green Clansmen. No points for guessing how that turns out.
- Cryptic Background Reference: The anime is loaded with these kinds of references, especially in the beginning. What exactly is a Sword of Damocles, a Weismann level, the Dresden Slate, or the Kagutsu Crater? Good luck figuring it out while watching because the anime won't properly explain these terms until much later, if at all.
- Crystal Prison: SCEPTER 4's powers are shown to be capable of manifesting as cubic crystals in the novel K Side:Blue, which they can then be used to imprison the physical forms of other psychic weapons, such as an invisible bomb attack, and prevent them from functioning.
- Death from Above: The Swords of Damocles are capable of demolishing entire cities and leaving gigantic craters in their wake from the ensuing explosion if they ever fall to the ground. In fact, the previous Red King is said to have caused a large-scale disaster that killed over hundreds of thousands of people because such an incident occurred.
- Deer in the Headlights: Shiro does this when he sees fireballs heading straight at him in Episode 1. Fortunately, Kuroh jumps in to stop them from hitting him. In Episode 9 Seri freezes as well when Mikoto launches a powerful attack at her and the other SCEPTER 4 members who are blocking his way to the entrance. If Saruhiko hadn't intervened Seri and most of SCEPTER 4 would be dead now.
- Deflector Shields:
- The King's sanctum is capable of doing this as shown in Episode 1 where Reisi's blue force field protects against the violent surge of fire that Mikoto sends out at SCEPTER 4 when he first activates his powers which burns everything else in its path. The novel K:Side Blue reveals these sanctums are powerful enough to protect the people within them from six simultaneous bomb blasts, a hail of bullets, and other kinds of dangerous psychic attacks.
- Saruhiko also throws up a blue barrier with his knives in Episode 9 before Mikoto's attack could reach a group of SCEPTER 4 members, but the attack is so powerful that it simply breaks past it and injures them all anyway.
- Desolation Shot: Mikoto's dream in Episode 6 features one.
- Died in Your Arms Tonight:
- Totsuka dies in Yata's arms while telling him that everything'll be alright.
- Later, Mikoto dies in Reisi's arms.
- Differently Powered Individuals: The seven Kings, and their clansmen to a lesser extent. Strains are another group of supernaturally empowered individuals or animals.
- Discretion Shot: When Yata burns a thug's forehead by heating a gun up with his powers while pressing it against the man's skin.
- Dodge the Bullet: Yata does this when one of the thugs pulls the trigger of his gun while he was still talking.
- Double Entendre: A few.
Yashiro to Kuroh: "Go ahead and do whatever you want with me."
Mikoto to Reisi: "You can stay with me, twenty-four hours a day, in this cell. If I become violent, you can restrain me by force."
- Dress-Coded for Your Convenience: The HOMRA members dress in various kinds of urban casual-wear while the SCEPTER 4 members dress in standardized blue uniforms.
- Driving Question: Did Shiro really kill Totsuka? If he didn't, who did?
- Elaborate University High: Ashinaka High School, which occupies an entire island off the coast of the city, definitely fits the bill with its impressive size. It has an incredibly vast school ground, beautiful high-rise glass buildings and state of the art technology.
- Elemental Hair: Some of the seven Kings seem to have hair colors matching their elements. The fire-using Red King has red hair and the Silver King, ruler of the sky, has silver hair. Averted by the Gold King though, who is shown to have had dark brown hair in the past and has white hair now that he's in his nineties, as well as Ichigen Miwa, the former Colorless King, who had brown hair.
- Enigmatic Empowering Entity: The Dresden Slate is a mysterious pulsating rock that is responsible for empowering all of the Kings and being the source of their powers. Not much is known about it or why it does this, however.
- Everyone Went to School Together: A few separate cases.
- Mikoto and Izumo knew each other due to having gone to the same school.
- Fushimi and Yata were friends back in school, revealed in an offhand mention by the latter on their "cafeteria days".
- Evil Laugh: "Yashiro" in the video does this, along with some Evil Gloating, before he turns around and shoots Tatara.
- Face Palm of Doom: Reisi to Kuroh in their scuffle in episode 7.
- Fanservice: As part of its multi-demographic appeal, the series is determined to provide fanservice for all its bases. For the ladies, we've got lots of bishies and Ho Yay. For the gentlemen, there's the Male Gaze with the naked, busty Cat Girl, Seri's ample cleavage, tight clothing, and gratuitously short skirts.
- Foreshadowing: K is particularly good at dropping subtle hints that people don't notice until they re-watch. Here are a few examples:
- The opening song showed Yashiro falling from the sky. It's significant.
- In episode 1, Kukuri says that she keeps an eye on Yashiro because it feels like he would disappear if she didn't. Later she has no idea who he is.
- Also in episode 1, the robot reacted by saying, "You're too kind," to a supposedly invisible Neko (Kukuri couldn't see her). Later, it turns out that she isn't actually invisible. She just fiddles with the sensory perceptions of surrounding people such that they cannot see her. It doesn't work on robots, of course.
- One more for episode 1. In his very first appearance (aside from the Opening), and a few times after that, Shiro ( as well as the Colorless King) hums Beethoven's Symphony No 9, specifically the Ode to Joy part. Later we find out that he's actually Adolf K. Weissmann, a German.
- In episode 2, Shiro looks at a flyer with the name "Marilyn" on it and tells Kuroh that his imaginary sister is named Mari. His own name, "Yashiro Isana", is based on a poster he saw as well, detailing a certain Isana Shrine (Jinja, which consists of the same kanji as "Yashiro"). Additionally, that poster had made appearances in the background prior to this reveal.
- In episode 4, the cleaning robot in Yashiro's room doesn't recognize him as a student and tries to clean out the "trash". He's not a student.
- Also in episode 4, the alibi photo which Kukuri found of Shiro had Shiro with his coat zipped up. To hide the bloodstains, of course.
- Shiro lacks a cellphone, one thing that tells perhaps most about the owner - friends, acquaintances, personal information. Cue False Memories entry.
- Shiro is highly competent, such as knowing how to pilot a helicopter, possessing a rational and methodical and almost scientific manner unusual for his age, and knowing exactly how to work flash bombs. Then in Episode 11, it turns out that he is actually Adolf K. Weismann, a German war scientist during World War II...
- In Return of Kings, Fushimi joins the Green Clan, JUNGLE, after arguing with Munakata. In the ending theme, Fushimi was shown not wearing his uniform, wandering around, and playing with his PDA. In the side novel LSW, Nagare had still kept his account open. He specifically said, "Iíll keep your account active. Please log in anytime you feel like it. Farewell." Played with as Word of God states Hisui does not remember Fushimi in S2 but Fushimi does.
- The ending theme also alludes to the Grey King with his gun appearing for a blink-and-you'll miss it moment halfway through.
- The video of the Colourless King killing Totsuka is shaded in eerie green. The second season reveals that the Green King was the one who approached the Colourless King, resulting in canon.
- Forgotten First Meeting: In one of the LSW manga chapters, Yata and Kamamoto actually met Fushimi long before HOMRA, when they were involved in a hostage situation on a bus. Here◊
- Fireballs: Izumo uses them in Episode 1 after flicking his cigarette in the air and sending out a bunch of them at Shiro.
- First Episode Spoiler: Tatara Totsuka is murdered by a man caught on video and the murderer is believed to be Shiro.
- Foe Romance Subtext: So much between Munakata and Mikoto. Blink and you miss it, but their cigarette smoke forms heart shapes
- Funny Background Event: In episode 4, when Shiro and Kuroh speak to a member of the school newspaper in the hopes of proving Shiro's alibi, Neko is riding around on one of the cleaning robots, repeating what it says until it actually gets angry. Doubles as a Brick Joke from earlier in the episode, when she got into a fight with another one and wound up jumping on top of its head.
- Gratuitous English:
- Gratuitous German: First in the beginning of episode 9, spoken by German researchers. Then at the end of episode 11, when Shiro remembers that he is Adolf K Weismann.
- The researchers are horrific and even native Germans barely understand a word they force out but Namikawa Daisuke did an okay job.
- Gray Rain of Depression: When Shiro realizes he is not really who he thinks he is and all his past memories were fake and that he may very well be the murder of Totsuka.
- Grey and Gray Morality: Any conflict between HOMRA and SCEPTER 4, since neither side is particularly good or evil.
- Go-Karting with Bowser:
- While Kuroh is still trying to kill Yashiro and Neko is pwning him, they stop to eat together. Kuroh cooks. Afterwards he gets up to start killing Yashiro again.
Kuroh: (slurps tea) Alright, time to kill you.
- Seri is apparently a regular at Izumo's bar, and the two maintain a rather casual friendship despite their clans being at war.
- Hammerspace: Yata pulls his baseball bat twice out of nowhere in the first episode.
- Happily Ever After: Season 2 ends with Nagare's plan being foiled and everyone, including Reisi and Shiro, get to continue living a normal life with their close ones. Debatable as there is no way to bring back Totsuka and Mikoto who have gone on, and from the Green's perspective their family was broken apart.
- Having a Blast: A criminal Strain who appears in the light novel K Side:Blue is described as possessing the power to create an "invisible bomb" from midair which he can then detonate nearby people for explosive results. Naturally, he uses this dangerous psychic weapon with impunity against the riot police officers during a bank robbery attempt, but is eventually stopped when SCEPTER 4 arrives and Reisi proceeds to contain all of his bombs within force fields to prevent them from working.
- Hesitation Equals Dishonesty: Yashiro hesitates before giving a fake name for his "little sister", showing the viewer that he's lying. Kuroh does not catch on it, though.
- Homoerotic Subtext: A natural product of the very beautiful cast and their very devoted/passionate relationships with each other.
- I Lied: Yashiro coming clean about his fake little sister to Kuroh. After he's safely departed the premises, of course.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: All the episode titles begin with the letter K, except for the 12th, which features it as a character's middle initial.
- Ill Girl: Yashiro's little sister. Whom he made up to garner sympathy from someone trying to kill him.
- Indirect Kiss: In Episode 13 in a flashback with Yata and Fushimi in their middle school days, Yata forcefully grabs Fushimi's drink, drinks from it, and angrily tosses it. Mikoto catches the bottle and proceeds to drink from it as well. So Yata got an indirect kiss from Fushimi, but Mikoto got an indirect kiss from both Yata and Fushimi.
- In-Universe Camera: In some of the scenes especially when Yata is on his skateboard.
- In Medias Res: The first episode begins with an apparent street gang with superpowers breaking into a criminal hideout, beating up the men inside there, interrogating the leader about someone, and then leaving before running into another group with superpowers where they have a brief confrontation. Only near the end of the episode do they start to explain the context of the introduction.
- Invocation: The SCEPTER 4 members have to announce their preparation to go into battle by first saying their family names and then "Battou" (literally "drawing the sword") in order to unlock their sabers and draw their powers into the blades.
- Ironic Echo: In episode 6:
- Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: The series doesn't answer any of the deeper mysteries of the plot right away, and only slowly reveals bits and pieces at a time.
- Laser-Guided Karma: The Japanese Prime Minister gets a dose of this when he dismisses Reisi as captain of SCEPTER4 and secretly backs JUNGLE. He ends up regretting it when the Slates start a Mass Super-Empowering Event, causing mass chaos, embarrassing him due to the Power Perversion Potential of his new X-Ray Vision and leaving him to contend with the attackers at his doorstep. And because he dismissed Reisi, he can't get into contact with him.
- The Law of Conservation of Detail: Relies heavily on this for its storytelling, particularly near the beginning. Some acute fans were quick to notice certain visual clues in the early episodes that hinted at important plot details. Special mention goes to that one inconspicuous poster hanging on the wall of a school building in Episode 4 that foreshadows where Yashiro Isana received his new name and identity. Not to mention the subtle similarities between Adolf Weismann in the past with Yashiro in the present, which lead to the theory that they were the same person well before The Reveal in Episode 11.
- Let Them Die Happy: Used humorously with Kuroh when he's out to get Yashiro. The first time he was willing to do Yashiro a last favor for the sake of his ill little sister and the second time he was willing to make Yashiro a nice last meal.
- Line-of-Sight Name: In the scene where Kuroh throws Yashiro on the floor while preparing to gut him, a red flyer drifts into the camera. Said red flyer helped Yashiro think of a name for his imaginary sick younger sister. Kuroh liked the name.
- Masquerade: Most of the muggles in the setting are completely oblivious to the fact that their country is being run by seven supernaturally empowered "Kings", or that there are many people born with supernatural powers living amongst them. Only the Kings themselves, their clansmen and some of the Strains are fully in the know, with even the regular police force and government kept somewhat in the dark. The Gold Clan particularly enforces this trope by wiping the memories of any normal people who end up getting involved in supernatural affairs.
- Mass Super-Empowering Event: The Green Clan JUNGLE's goal in Return of Kings is to start one of these. They succeed in Episode 11 with people all over the world developing Strain powers.
- Medium Blending: The show's preview clips had quite an impact for their art, most notably the different mediums. There's the traditional stop-motion anime style for characters and objects in the foreground, but there are also live-action segments for some backgrounds and certain motion sequences. The styles blend in a strangely appropriate way and are conducive to the somewhat ephemeral and uncanny premise of the show.
- Memento MacGuffin: Kuroh's sword is a relic of his deceased king. He obtained it in a test of character after Ichigen Miwa's death.
- Memory-Wiping Crew: The Gold King's clansmen are capable of erasing memories involving any supernatural affairs or events whenever they arise. By the end of K Side:Red they do this to Anna Kushina's aunt who loses all her memories of ever having a niece as a result.
- Mood Whiplash:
- Episode 4's ending abruptly shifts from the earlier humorous antics of the main trio as they try looking for evidence to prove Shiro's innocence to Shiro discovering the bloodied shirt from the crime scene in his closet and becoming horrified as he remembers the video.
- The Fushimi/Yata Drama CD. It's all fun and games for the first ten minutes' interview until the end when it goes into details of their past and showing the reason behind Fushimi's messed up personality.
- Moment of Silence: When Mikoto punches a hole through Shiro's chest, and again when Reisi stabs Mikoto before his Sword of Damocles could drop onto him.
- The Movie: The sequel to the first season is announced to be a movie.
- Multiple Demographic Appeal: This is what the developers seem to be aiming for. The cast is full of all kinds of bishonen, but also has various types of women with differing fanboy appeal.
- Mundane Utility: The power of the Silver King lets his clansmen levitate themselves and fly. While that in itself has quite a few mundane uses, the King temporarily makes people his clansmen so that he can float them and move them around easier.
- Mutant Draft Board: According to the novel K Side:Red, there is a research center (disguised as a hospital), under the Gold King's jurisdiction, where Strains are regularly sent for residence and education as well as to hide them from the public eye. By the end of the novel, however, it gets closed down temporarily.
- The Name Is Bond, James Bond: Episode 1.
Shiro: My name is Isana. Yashiro Isana.
- Named Weapons: Kuroh's special sword given to him by Miwa Ichigen is known as Kotowari. Similarly, Yukari's sword is called Ayamachi. According to Word of God (via Twitter), each of the SCEPTER 4 members' swords are named as well (e.g. Reisi's sword is named after a star (Sirius), Seri's sword is named after a flower).
- Neck Lift: A variation in Episode 2. Kuroh lifts Yashiro by the back of his uniform's collar while he was preparing to stab him with his sword.
- No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: After Kuroh is helplessly defeated by Neko's strange powers, Yashiro convinces him to stop fighting and have a meal with him.
- Oh Crap!: Yashiro in Episode 2 when he sees Kuroh again after barely escaping from him with his life earlier.
- Old-School Chivalry: Kuroh, of course, fitting with his Samurai theme.
- One-Letter Title: Although the logo actually has two K's.
- Only Six Faces: Beautifully averted as every character, even background characters, are unique.
- Order Versus Chaos: The Blue clan versus the Red. The Blues have uniforms, all wield the same weapon (a sword), ritualistically announce themselves before drawing their swords or using their powers, and are basically a second police force. The Reds are pretty much a street gang with superpowers, to the point that most of their weapons are baseball bats and skateboards.
- Our Souls Are Different: The Silver King's soul escaped from his original body and went into another nearby one with all his powers and consciousness intact after the Colorless King tried to possess him. The Colorless King's powers also presumably operate this way by allowing his soul to take over different bodies at will by slipping into them through the eyes. Additionally, according to one of the side novels, the King's soul is actually connected to the Dresden Slate psychically which is where they draw all of their powers from.
- Overdrawn at the Blood Bank: Happens to Iwafune in episode 12 of S2 after Munakata stabbed him off screen, with a huge pile of spreading blood on the ground.
- Panty Shot: An incredibly egregious one happens at the end of Episode 5 to Kukuri when Yata talks to her. They happen again to Kukuri in the last episodes as well. Happens in S2 to Neko during episode 5 and several times to Awashima.
- Pillar of Light: Episode 11. When Shiro awakens as the Silver King, Adolf K. Weismann, a pillar of light appears where he is, eventually dissolving to reveal his Sword of Damocles.
- Please Kill Me If It Satisfies You: Exploited. Yashiro attempts to use it on Kuroh to garner sympathy such that he'll think twice about killing him, but it doesn't work and he has to resort to a fake Last Request.
Shiro: *sad smile* Please go ahead and do whatever you like with me.
Kuroh: *grin* You've finally accepted your fate! *prepares to stab him*
Shiro: Wait wait wait wait!
- Portent of Doom: The sword of Damocles is not only a sign of a King's immense power but is also a sign of great danger since it is capable of destroying the surrounding environment and killing off thousands of people if it ever drops due to the King losing control over their powers.
- Power at a Price: The seven humans who are chosen to become Kings receive tremendous supernatural powers at the price of having a literal sword of Damocles always hanging above their heads, which can easily kill them (and everyone around them) at any time should their powers grow completely out of control.
- Power Levels: The "Weismann levels" are used as a scientific measure of a King's powers, with the numbers quantifying the current level of power being used as well as indicating the stability of the King's power (higher numbers indicate greater instability). Episode 1 shows that SCEPTER 4's technology can allow them to track it accurately when Mikoto uses enough power to release his Sword of Damocles.
- Power Source: The source of all the Kings' powers is revealed to be a mysterious object known as the Dresden Slate, which is an ancient-looking tablet with inscriptions on it. How it chooses Kings is unknown, except once it does pick someone, the chosen person (or animal) has a customized Sword of Damocles that literally hangs overhead whenever they activate their powers and is called a Sword Aura.
- Powers in the First Episode: The first episode features both the Red and Blue clans and their respective powers as they face off, and later goes on to show Kuroh displaying his own powers to rescue Shiro from a sticky situation.
- Prophecies Are Always Right: At first, it seemed like Ichigen's prediction that the next Colorless King must be killed if he's evil is wrong when Shiro is the one believed to be his successor. However, his prophecy is later proven to be true without a doubt when the real Colorless King finally shows himself.
- Psychic Powers: The seven Kings are said to have psychic powers that can affect the reality around them. Their clansmen and Strains have these powers as well, only to a weaker degree.
- Psychoactive Powers: The Kings must always keep a sense of balance and remain mentally stable at all times in order to maintain constant control over their immense powers. The Sword of Damocles literally enforces this rule on them by dropping if they were to ever lose control over that delicate balance.
- Randomly Gifted: The Strains, a name that refers to people or animals spontaneously born with supernatural powers without receiving them from a King, are an example of this since no one knows where their powers come from. However, it is at least theorized in one of the side novels that their powers might have come from the Dresden Slate as well, and that they are possibly people who failed to become Kings despite receiving power from it. The Kings themselves are also an example since they are randomly chosen by the Slate for unknown reasons to command over others.
- Reality Warper: According to the side novel, all Kings are practically demigods who can bend, twist and distort the laws of physics that govern the world to their liking.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: K has several of these:
- Friendly, cheerful Yashiro Isana and cold, calculating Kuroh Yatogami.
- Shiro and Kuro are both blue onis to Neko's red.
- The two main clans, HOMRA (red) and SCEPTER 4 (blue). The former is close-knit and its members tend to be vengeful and impulsive, while the latter is organized and its members seem to be strictly on professional terms with each other.
- Rival kings Mikoto Suoh (red) and Reisi Munakata (blue). While both are The Stoic, Mikoto is more ill-tempered and close to his clan (to the point where he'll kill to avenge one of their deaths), while Reisi is elegant and composed.
- Also Misaki Yata (red) and Saruhiko Fushimi (blue). Misaki is almost always angry or happy, while Saruhiko is consistently bored, stoic and highly intelligent. However, Saruhiko is the more mentally detached of the two, so it's a possible subversion.
- Religious and Mythological Theme Naming: Almost every character name has its meanings, many of which alludes to Shinto Gods. See the Character page for more detail, as they are too long to list inhere completely.
- It isn't limited to character names. Himmelreich, the airship Adolf K. Weismann rides on, means heaven.
- Schattenreich, the new airship Yashiro rides on in K: Missing Kings, means the underworld, and possibly reflects how Yashiro returns after dying once and being reincarnated again.
- The Reveal: Shiro is Adolf K. Weissman, having lost his memories because of the Colorless King.
- Running Gag: Kuroh using his cassette followed by Yashiro saying "Creepy!"
- Rustproof Blood: The bloodied shirt in Yashiro's closet from the night of Tatara Totsuka's murder still has the blood fresh red instead of dried brown.
- Samurai: The cleaning robots seem to be modeled after samurai...for some reason.
- Scenery Porn: The art is too amazing for you not to be drooling over it.
- School Festival: So far, all episodes are set before this event, which is why all the students are so busy preparing.
- Screen Shake: In Episode 4, when Yashiro opened his closet to find a blood-stained shirt inside, to show his current mental state. It also shows elements of an Impairment Shot.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Supernatural Powers!: The side novels reveal that there are many people naturally born with supernatural powers (known as Strains) who only end up using them for crime or violence, including bank robbery attempts. The level of danger they represent with their powers is ranked according to class: common (weak) and Beta (powerful).
- Sentient Phlebotinum: The side novel reveals the Dresden Slate is actually alive and has a pulse that it can link with the humans who are chosen to become Kings. The Slate also imparts a sense of knowledge to the Kings about their purpose after giving them power.
- Sequel Hook: Both Kuroh and Neko express hope that Shiro might still be alive and are last shown running off somewhere while hiding themselves in illusory animal forms.
- The Movie itself is also this, since its purpose is to be a prologue to the second season.
- Shoo Out the Clowns: The cleaning robots don't appear in episode 6 which is quite an intense episode.
- Shout-Out: In episode 3 when Kusanagi's bar gets hurt, his reflection in the falling glass is in The Scream pose.
- Also, in the eighth volume of the spinoff Manga K -Count Down-, Sōta Mishina unsuspectingly feeds a lemon-shaped bomb, which explodes later, into the mouth of a statue as part of his Jungle mission. In other words, the lemons are are combustible lemons
- Show, Don't Tell: Makes considerable use of this. Exposition is almost entirely nonexistent (except in Episode 3), and the characters' motives are almost never fully disclosed to the audience due to a lack of interior monologue, making their spoken words and actions all the more meaningful as well as the driving forces of their characterization.
- Sick Episode: Once in middle school, Fushimi fell ill but continued to work on his project hoping to create a method of communication immune of JUNGLE's spyware, so that he can communicate with Misaki. Misaki went to his house to take care of him, cooking him food and making him take a break. It was also when Misaki first ran into Saruhiko's abusive father.
- Slasher Smile: The "Yashiro" in the video, as he shoots the camera.
- Snow Means Death: Teased, seemingly averted, and finally played heartbreakingly straight.
- Spell My Name with an "S": A few instances:
- Munakata's first name - "Reisi" or "Reishi"?
- Kuroh's name - "Kurou" or "Kuroh"?
- HOMRA's romanization - "HOMRA", "Homura" or "Howling Flame"?
- Sphere of Power: Both the Red King and Blue King have one which is shown briefly in Episode 1 when they activate their powers. These are called the King's sanctum and are able to protect the people inside them from harm as well as strengthen the powers of the clansmen serving the King.
- Spin-Off: Since a one cour anime could not possibly provide enough details about the universe and its large cast within such a limited frame of time, there are many supplementary materials that help to elaborate on the setting and the characters' backstories, including manga adaptations and novels.
- Squeaky Eyes: When Yashiro and Neko blink in disbelief at Kuroh gushing about his master, in Episode 3. Saruhiko does this in Episode 8 when Seri offers him to sit down and eat the gross dessert she's made.
- Stock Footage: The opening sequence reuses quite a few scenes that are later shown in the episodes themselves. There's also that egregious Male Gaze focus on Seri whenever she starts swinging her sword at someone which has been reused three times. The eight minor SCEPTER 4 characters who announce their names and then draw their swords in orderly fashion has also been reused three times. Episode 11 is especially guilty of recycling quite a number of scenes during battle, although Episode 12 does as well.
- Super Empowering: The Kings are all able to empower ordinary individuals with the same kind of powers they possess, usually after they pass a test to prove their worthiness. For example, in HOMRA, newcomers need to pass a test where they must shake hands (or otherwise come into physical contact) with Mikoto while his hand is on fire. The powers bestowed on the clansmen appear to be permanent once acquired, however, since choosing to leave the clan afterward doesn't remove them as Saruhiko reveals in Episode 5. The death of the King doesn't take away their powers either since the original SCEPTER 4 members were able to keep their powers while working in the organization for ten years after the first Blue King's death.
- Superpower Lottery: The seven Kings' powers appear to be ranked according to this: while the Red and Blue Kings only have powers specializing in either offense or defense and are ranked as third and fourth respectively, and the Gold King is able to draw out the latent talents of his clansmen to reach their full potential as the second, the Silver King as the first is said to possess immortality and has not even aged a day after gaining his powers, as well as having control over gravity. Likewise, the previous Colorless King's power was explicitly a less ostentatious ability to sense the future. The current Colorless King can merely possess the bodies of others and is otherwise not even a physical match for Kuroh (who, in turn, is nowhere near as formidable a fighter as the Blue and Red kings).
- Superpower Meltdown: If any of the Sword of Damocles (the large floating swords that appear whenever the Kings release a large amount of power) were to ever fall to the ground, they would cause an explosion powerful enough to destroy a large city and leave a massive crater in its place.
- Super Registration Act: The side novels reveal that SCEPTER 4 regularly enforces this law, particularly towards Strains. While the organization outwardly claims to be a mere family registry division of the Tokyo Legal Affairs Bureau (fourth annex), they are really only interested in registering and keeping tabs on supernaturally empowered beings. Their register office even alludes indirectly to their real purpose by claiming to be a registry for "special foreigners," which is actually a metaphor for people who possess special powers, not those born from a different nationality. In the past, they also sent any unregistered Strains they discovered to a specific research center meant for residential and educational purposes.
- Sword of Damocles: Literal giant swords appear floating in the sky in the first episode when the Red and Blue Kings activate their powers, and are described specifically as the "swords of Damocles." Similar to the legend, they always hang directly overhead when released by a King, and must remain airborne at all times. If any of them should ever fall, they'll create an enormous crater after exploding on impact with the ground. They seem to reflect their Kings' condition by their appearance as well (disintegrating swords are a sign of emotional strain).
- Synchronization: K Side:Red reveals that the seven people who become Kings must be able to synchronize their heartbeats to the "pulse" of the Dresden Slate in order to establish a psychic link through their soul and receive great powers.
- Taking You with Me: Adolf K. Weissman attempted this in Episode 8 when he screams at the SCEPTER 4 helicopters to get closer and closer to his Zeppelin, and when one of them finally does he immediately presses a button that causes his entire airship to explode. This is revealed to have been the Colorless King's actions and not his own, though.
- Tall, Dark and Handsome: Kuroh Yatogami and Reisi Munakata's designs follow the same aesthetic—tall, dark long hair, pretty face and slim bishonen build in long cloaks.
- Technicolor Blade: The SCEPTER 4 members are described in the side novel as channeling a form of synchrotron radiation that glows blue in their sabers when they release their powers. The fortification also gives these swords the ability to cut through things quite easily.
- Technicolor Fire: The HOMRA clansmen's fire powers are often bright pink or violet-colored rather than red.
- That Liar Lies: When Yashiro goes around trying to find a solid alibi, his words are all shot down by other evidence.
- Thirteen Episode Anime
- Throw the Dog a Bone: Saruhiko and Misaki finally get a break when the two become friends again in ROK Episode 12.
- Twenty Minutes into the Future: Extremely recent, in fact. According to K Side:Blue (which chronologically takes place at least a year or two before the anime's storyline), the year is 201X.
- Underestimating Badassery: The clansmen of JUNGLE do this twice in the first episode of Return of Kings. One clansmen attempts to assassinate Kuroh and Neko at the beginning of the episode, and later, he and large group of other JUNGLE clansmen bait HOMRA and SCEPTER 4 into an obvious trap. Unsurprisingly, the trap turns into a Curb-Stomp Battle in HOMRA and SCEPTER 4's favor, and Kuroh and Neko show up no worse for wear at the end to try to interrogate the now depowered assassin.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Averted in Episode 1 where Shiro's white hair becomes noticeable enough for a HOMRA member to spot him from a distance and immediately contact the others. Otherwise, it gets played straight by most of the civilians walking around in the city who seem indifferent to the psychic battles that are going on around them.
- Wham Line: Episode 5's ending scene.
- From Episode 7 of Return of Kings:
An unknown sanctum has appeared inside the tower. It's a King, sir!
- Return of Kings, Episode 8:
Fushimi: Fine, I'll be a traitor then.
- Wham Episode: Almost every episode in S1 from Episode 6 onwards counts as this, but special mention goes to Episode 6 and 11.
- Episode 6: The motive for HOMRA chasing the Colorless King is elaborated on and Shiro finds that his memories are fake.
- Episode 11: The Colorless King is a body surfer and Shiro is a King, The Silver King.
- Return of Kings, Episode 8: Iwafune defeats Reisi, and the injury to his resolve massively damages his Sword of Damocles. The Green Clan makes off with the Dresden Slate. And Fushimi resigns from SCEPTER4...and joins JUNGLE.
- Return of Kings Episode 12: After several years of turmoil, Misaki starts understanding Saruhiko and the two become friends again. In addition, Sukuna is severely injured by Fushimi and Yata and falls into a deep pit, while Iwafune is apparently killed by Munakata causing the tables to turn on the Greens.
- Whole Episode Flashback: Episode 6 is mostly about the memories of Tatara Totsuka from the time when Mikoto and Izumo first met him to the moment of his death. Gets very apparent in S2 where almost every episode has flasbacks of the movie or S1.
- Wrong Context Magic:
- Most of the superhuman characters have Charles Atlas Superpowers and/or the ability to spew flames everywhere. Neko's abilities, though, seem very out of place. She can use illusions that affect all five senses, and has the ability to implant or manipulate memories in other people. Her powers are both Played for Laughs and serious usage.
- This is something that's generally true of Strains - people who develop supernatural powers seemingly naturally, without becoming a King's clansmen. While clansmen generally obtain powers similar to that of their King, all bets are off for Strains.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Among the main characters, Yashiro, Anna, Sukuna and Adolf K. Weismann all have white/SILVER hair while Neko has pink hair. A few minor characters have some odd hair colors as well, such as SCEPTER 4 members who have blue hair and a female high school student and later Hisui Nagare who has dark green hair.
- You Have to Believe Me: Yashiro tries to convince Kuroh several times that he is innocent.
- This also happens in the final episodes when Kuroh tries to convince the clans of the issue surrounding Yashiro
- Zeppelins from Another World: The Himmelreich, the domain of the Silver King, Adolf K. Weismann.