In a futuristic Tokyo, seven coloured kings hold sway, supported by their clans. But the Blue King, Reisi Munakata, has defeated the Red King Mikoto Suoh and the Silver King, Shiro, who holds the key to the mysteries surrounding the clans, has disappeared. In the power void created by their absence, the Green Clan has begun to assert itself. Shiro’s faithful supporters swordsman, Kuroh and shape-shifting white catgirl Neko have been fruitlessly searching for their missing leader – when they are confronted by a Green Clan swordsman accompanied by a talking green parrot. The smooth-talking newcomer announces himself as Yukari Mishakuji, a fellow student of Kuroh’s master, Ichigen Miwa, the Seventh King. In the meantime, the members of the Red Clan HOMRA, at a loss without their leader, realize – too late – that the Greens have targeted their youngest member, Anna Kushina, planning to abduct her and use her psychic powers to track down Silver King Shiro. The stage is set for a battle between the clans – but can Blue, Red and Silver put old enmities aside and work together to protect little Anna from this new threat?
Newcomers to K: Project be advised: this is not a good place to start watching! Missing Kings is a direct sequel to the first TV series (2013) and it assumes you know all the characters involved as the action picks up just after the end and carries on regardless. (Apparently there was originally a 30-minute précis of the first series tacked on to the start of this film, but it’s not in this edition.) And like many films attached to anime TV series Missing Kings is entertaining but doesn’t achieve a great deal in its runtime. To be fair, it introduces a new clan, the Greens, and establishes the groundwork for the second TV series Return of Kings (to be released by Anime Limited at the end of the month). The central scenes focussing on Anna are the heart of the drama and make the film worth the watch. Missing Kings also wraps up one dangling storyline regarding the main – though mostly absent – character: Shiro.
It looks very pretty with a muted palette of colours until the glowing magical energies light up the screen in bursts of emerald, ruby and sapphire as the clans fight. The giant Swords of Damocles representing the titular Kings that appear ominously in the sky overhead, are strikingly presented. There’s some slightly iffy CG and the same attractive but OTT fanservice in the character design as before (director Shingo Suzuki was also responsable for the character design). The women, whether it be scatty Neko or punctilious Lieutenant Seri Awashima are either scantily clad (the former) or bursting out of a uniform several sizes too small (the latter). Almost all the men are bishonen – and some of the voices can sound too mature (especially for Munakata) given their youthful looks and slender frames.
The film does not start well. The opening is underwhelming and is let down by some of the worst of the music by Mikio Endo which is so banal and dreary here that it sounds like lift musak. I was not convinced by his score for the first TV series and here he is, doing it again, the almost random drum track, straight off of an old 90s Casio, irrelevantly chugging along with a ‘cool beat’ while other instruments do something mostly unrelated on top. It really saps the drama of any sense of urgency or vibrancy. Thank goodness, there’s less of it later on and some of the better themes devised for individual characters come into play.
The rather meh Ending Theme is “Different colors” by Angela but there is also an attractive Insert Song “ – Flame of Red-” which is sung by Anna Kushina’s Japanese voice actor, Yui Horie.
The US dub makes a good alternative to the original Japanese version. I prefer Yata’s voice in the Japanese version (Jun Fukuyama) but Stephanie Sheh is still my favourite Neko!
Anime Limited are offering a Collector’s Edition with DVD/Blu-ray combo, a poster and art cards. Extras are limited to a promotional trailer and a few other trailers (not all for titles available on R2). You can see the unboxing here.
The K mythos is a compelling one: the clash of the kings and their clans takes on an almost mythical status in this near-future setting. The story comes to life when it forgets about trying to be cool and concentrates on the characters and Anna’s plight is genuinely affecting. By the end of the film, new and surprising developments have taken place, which will trigger a new confrontation with the new enemies. And as for Shiro… will Neko and Kuroh’s long wait for his return be rewarded?