I first watch kurokami two years ago and i remember enjoying it immensely, which is why i didn't hesitate giving it a second watch again when i came across it three or so weeks ago. And while i still managed to enjoy it, i think i will attribute it mostly to the fact that the series was dubbed in English, and those kinds of shows i tend to enjoy more than most. There is something refreshing about being able pay complete attention to the events of an anime without having to constantly avert your eyes to the bottom to read subtitles, then feeling the need to rewind the anime because you missed an especially fast event.
Keita Ibuki is a young high school student that has known nothing but misfortune all his life. Starting with his mother, everyone that he has ever known or come close to has died, sometimes in disturbing and mysterious circumstances. This has led Keita to live his life alone, unwilling to suffer what he sees as a curse upon any that would choose to put themselves in harms way by getting close to him.
On one fateful day, his largely lonely life is transformed by his fortuitous meeting with the cheerful Kuro, a young girl with a veracious appetite that also happens to be a terra guardian. Kuro educates Keita on the existence of terra, a life force that exists in all living things on the planet. According to something known as the dopple liner system, there are three of every human being and their terra is divided up among them. Of these three, one is a root, the originalbasically and the individual that is blessed with the most terra and hence the most luck, and the other two are sub roots, the copies.
When a sub root accidently meets his root, the sub root dies in some unforeseen accident and their terra is shared among the other two, increasing their fortune and luck. If the other sub root dies as well, their terra flows into the root, transforming them into a master root and granting them unimaginable amounts of luck. It is the duty of the terra guardians, a race of man with unimaginable powers, to guard what is known as the coexistence equilibrium, the flow of terra in the world.
Unfortunate events force Kuro to make a contract with Keita to save his life, brining his largely peaceful world crashing down. The world hasn't been a peaceful place for a very long time. Keita simply didn't have the right eye to see it. Powerful forces are moving both beneath and above ground with the aim of acquiring great power. The doppleliner system is being manipulated. Many master roots are being created through the use of artificial means, acts of murder being masqueraded as attempts to avail fate a helping hand, the purpose of which is to put the power of fate, luck and opportunity in the palm of a select few.
The kaionji group, an international firm has fallen under the control of a rogue guardian with nefarious intentions, a party that has close ties with Kuro and her dark tragic past. And despite his best attempts to escape the hand of fate impelling him into the world of super powered human beings, quantifiable luck and mythical attacks, Keita must join Kuro and decide if in his pitiful hands is the power to bring a world wide organization to its knees.
But even as he contends with this new life and tries to understand how his new found loyalty to the little girl will shake the foundations of his best friend Akane's life, he is yet to fully comprehend the life of a contractee. A contract between human and terra guardian will grant the human power and the powerful terra guardian even greater power, but Keita is yet to learn just how great the resulting consequences are to his fragile human body. More importantly, he will have comprehend the truth behind Kuro's intentions, that her journey to earth isn't as altruistic as she claimed it to be and that saving earth and humanity fall a distant second to the vengeance she has nurtured within her heart and which she has come to unleash.
Before the story comes to a close, Keita Ibuki will have to ask himself what it is he is fighting for.
As i mentioned above, the element that first drew me to this show was the English. I want to say that i always love dubbed shows but that isn't always the case. There something, an interesting element that English voice actors always fail to inject into their performance of Japanese anime characters. It is indeed rare for me to find a dubbed anime that i can refer to as quality. I think the best dubbed anime i have ever watched was Inuyasha, followed by Trigun. These to shows somehow manage to inject the right kind of tone and atmosphere into their acting.
Kurokami is a fairly decent dubbed anime. There were moments that caused me to wince the way only horribly dubbed anime can, especially during the announcement of special attacks. Ah, i just remembered what it is about dubbed shows that i usually hate. They simply don't sound natural. And i will credit Kurokami with the fact that it managed to sound quite natural, the characters were clearly comfortable in their element and i didn't feel like i was getting a horrible translation of a Japanese show but rather an original English voiced show.
That much i enjoyed, being able to look away without missing important plot points. I think Kuro's voice was the best done while Keita had moments where he especially irritated me. Akane was pretty natural as well, but Reishin had his strange moments as well. I will admit that i hated the excessive and clearly unnatural grunting that everyone tended to do, especially during fights. It reminded me of dragon ball z where, whenever a fairly dramatic scene occurred, we would get a shot of every single character as they performed there most impressive growl or grunt. Kurokami did something similar to this, again, creating an unnatural air. But i will not complain, it has been a while since i saw something that was dubbed this well, even if this wasn't the best. I will give it a 2/5.
THE STORY: I was intrigued, the idea of everyone having two copies out there and how one's luck and opportunities were determined by how lucky their root was. The kinds of temptations created were interesting to watch, the fact that you could cast off your own miserable life by locating your root and killing them so as to absorb their luck. It was a fun little plot that the show did a good job of exploring. It was a question of what would happen if fate was not only real but something us as humans could control with our wills. Would we be willing to heap untold misery on another just so we could get ahead? I guess there was a moral element that intensified the drama.
Ultimately i liked the mythical elements that this series was based on; the doppel liner system was a solidly created element that the series did a good job of utilizing without creating major plot holes and breaking its own rules. Many series have a tendency to do that, create rules that they then break for the sake of the story especially in favor of the primary protagonist.
RATING: 4/50, this series offers a surprisingly large number of surprises and twists as you advance through the plot. There is less good Vs. evil and more 'doing the wrong thing for the right reasons'. You eventually find yourself sympathizing with those that seem to have found themselves on the wrong end of justice. The question of what is right or wrong doesn't play that important a wrong because there is usually no denying who is right and wrong; it is more a question of whether you can condemn someone for doing something wrong if they did it for the right reasons, because they had no other choice.
THE CHARACTERS: I hated Keita Ibuki for a large part of the series. As the primary protagonist, he was way too whiny. He basically made everything about him, and he would pretty much choose to runaway and ignore the suffering of others if it meant he could go on living his peaceful life. I get what the writers were trying to do in showing how the life he had led, surrounded by death, has changed him; but i just couldn't feel pity for him, not with how he was treating the easily likeable Kuro. She, as a character, i loved. She had that kind of fun and cheerful personality that endeared you to her. I am disturbed by how many times she would apologize and break her back for Keita despite the how much of a jerk he was to her. I would have rather seen her smack him round the head and march off to find a more suitable partner. Even when she saves his life, he is nothing but whiny and ungrateful, ready to shift blame where necessary and never willing to take action.
But i guess that made the show all that more watchable. The cast is fairly wide and covers a large portion of society. Reishin, Kuro's brother, was an impressive villain, powerful, mysterious and secretive. There was always more going on with him that seemed. I was fascinated by how easily the master roots were willing to turn a blind eye to the sufferings of those less fortunate around them, especially their own copies, the sub roots. It was basically one of those 'it is there fault, if they wanted to enjoy a good life, they could have been born into better families' kind of crowds you can so easily hate. They basically treat the privilege one is born into as a choice and a right to tread upon those below them.
It was fun to watch both sides duke it out; Keita was always the odd man out, a sub root contracted to a terra guardian, which was basically a normally unwanted combination because subs had little terra to give to their terra guardian compared to roots who were endowed with massive amounts of terra.
I will admit i enjoyed seeing Kuro on screen She lit her scenes up.
RATING: 5/5, minus the voice acting, this was an impressive cast. They could have done more with it but it was none the less impressive.
THE ACTION: The action is fairly typical in KuroKami. Guardians are normally stronger and faster than normal humans, equally agile and even more durable. When they make a contract with a human being, they are able to draw upon that human's terra in battle, increasing their originally impressive physical abilities. When human and terra guardian synchronize, they achieve a new level of power where they are not only capable of drawing on even more power but executing a special attack known as an exceed.
The form of these exceed varies, with some being one time single strike attacks like Kuro and Keita's mega and giga exe, while others have longer term effects such as Excel and Steiner's stampede. The fights are fairly interesting, i say fairly because it can be exciting to watch these characters throw each other through buildings and throw superhuman attacks at each other. But they are also rather typical and far from unique, best described as brawls rather than intricate combat styles.
Most times characters throw themselves at each other and match endurance and terra. It is nothing sophisticated. But it is entertaining especially as the series progresses and the enemies get tougher. The last fight does what final battles should do, satisfy by going over the top and trying a nuanced approach to the typical terra battle.
RATING: 3/5, it is an interesting system of battle with a specific set of rules that the series did its best to follow. But it was nothing particularly new.
VERDICT:> This isn't the most unique anime. In fact you could say that the plot is fairly generic, yes it has a unique concept with the whole doppel liner system and terra, but the execution and overall plot was pretty basic. None the less this is an entertaining anime, 23 episodes of fun that i would recommend to any anime fan whose only interest is to sit down and have good time without having to cogitate any complex concepts and ideas introduced in the story.
The series will not blow you away, but it will satisfy where it has to, with characters interesting enough to hold you attention, each with a diverse set of agendas that will eventually clash with another, entertaining action scenes that last only as long as they need to, basically never so long that you need to fast forward, interesting and fairly inventive attacks in between, and a finale that will accomplish the objective it set out to do.
RATING:> 3.5/5, Kurokami is best described as simply fun. No complexity, no specific sophistication in terms of story telling, simple none convoluted fun.
The title kurokami roughly translates as black god. The manga was written by Korean Japanese Dall-Young Lim and illustrated by Sung-Woo park. The anime, directed by Kobayahsi Tsuneo was produced by the studio sunrise in 2009.