KUROMUKURO Seasons 1 and 2
Review by Dennis D McDonald
Released in Japan in 2016, this 26-episode “mecha anime” TV series is now available streaming on Netflix. It's an example of the "everything but the kitchen sink" approach and includes familiar elements like these:
- Aliens invade Earth from a giant spaceship perched in orbit
- Giant agile human-controlled "mecha" fight it out using swords and lances
- A magic crystal
- Adolescent high school angst and hijinks
- Ample examples of strong female leadership
- Sentimentalized family relationships
- A cute little furry pet
- Large eyes on the cute young girls
- UN authority over Japan's military
- Dependence on high school kids to operate giant mechanical fighting devices
- Side trips to hot springs in the hills for relaxation
- Lots of gunfire, explosions, and military equipment on display and on the ground, in the air, and in space.
- Lots of tears, grunts, and beautifully rendered Japanese landscapes.
Despite all these seemingly familiar elements I was fascinated by this enjoyable series and can recommend it to anyone willing to devote time and attention to a familiar but very well executed story. Several things stand out:
- Despite the many characters, distinct personalities are developed. By the end we know them and care about their fates.
- Voice and physical mannerisms (I watched in Japanese with English subtitles) are excellent. For example, you can recognize individual characters just by their walks from far away.
- Americans aren't automatically portrayed as heavies.
- There is remarkably little “fan service.” What skimpy clothing or nakedness occasionally on display is relatively modest and usually integral to the story; at least that is the case with the version being shown by Netflix in the U.S.
- The "fish out of water" trope is handled cleverly and includes a young samurai warrior brought out of deep sleep after 450 years (Kennosuke) and an alien "twin" of young Yukina, the main female character.
This may sound like a mess but it is very well put together with fun dialogue, exciting action, cliffhangers, and frequent humor throughout. Recommended!
Review copyright © 2017 by Dennis D. McDonald