Mania Grade: B
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: B
- Packaging Rating: B
- Menus Rating: A
- Extras Rating: D
- Age Rating: 13 and Up
- Region: A - N. America, S. America, East Asia
- Released By: Bandai Entertainment
- MSRP: 24.98
- Running time: 100
- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
- Disc Resolution: 1080p
- Disc Encoding: H.264/AVC
- Series: Kurokami
Kurokami Vol. #01
Kurokami Vol. #01 Blu-ray Review
By Chris Beveridge
July 05, 2010
Release Date: March 02, 2010
Kurokami Vol. #1
© Bandai Entertainment
He wanted nothing to do with other people. But now he finds himself mixed up in a supernatural war he does not understand. Maybe he can at least figure out why everybody else around him is dying.
What They Say
A world in which one's happiness and misfortunes, even their lives are controlled by 'luck'' In this world, there are three identical looking people in existence. Each of these three split between them an energy-like force called 'Tera.' This energy can be attributed to the amount of 'Luck' or 'Life Energy' that an individual possesses.
And between those three, the one with the largest share of Tera is called the 'Root' and the two possessing a lesser amount are called the 'Sub.' If a 'Sub' should ever meet up with another person that looks just like them, they would die. Their Tera would then be absorbed by the remaining two. If two 'Subs' should run into each other, they would both perish, leaving the entire amount of Tera to be absorbed by the 'Root.' That individual would then become a 'Master Root' and come into possession of an enormous amount of luck and lead a life with success at every turn.
This is the hidden truth of existence in the World of Humans and is called the 'Doppeliner System.' In accordance to the rules of the Doppeliner System, there exists beings who observe the human world, maintaining the balance of Tera, known as the 'Coexistence Equilibrium.' These beings possess ability that surpass that of a normal human being, and reside in hiding in places known as the 'Pure Place' in tribes. They are called the Tera Guardians.
This is a tale of battle that begins with the meeting between a human boy named Keita and a young Tera Guardian girl named Kuro'
Interestingly, the only language track available on this release is the English dub. Not a big deal to me since I prefer dubs, but that is sure to irritate some people. The dub is given in TrueHD 2.0, and the mix is pretty nice. The different channels are clear, there are no dropouts among the tracks, and they make good use of directionality. However, with a series that has as much action as this one does, a 5.1 mix would have been appreciated. But what is here is fine.
The video looks decent on this release, but it is not fantastic by any stretch. The lining is clear and the animation smooth. The action scenes are fluid; they look gorgeous. There are a lot of really good effects here, but the transfer is a bit iffy. For starters, this looks more like an upscale than a true HD conversion. That’s pretty standard for US BD anime releases it seems. But along with the upscale comes a heavy layer of grain that mutes the colors and takes away the clarity. At times, the grain almost seemed like a design of the show, and actually goes really well with the fight scenes, but it detracts from the rest.
I like the cover on this volume, but it is otherwise a pretty simple design. The front cover has a picture of Kuro in front in a battle pose with Keita standing behind her. The same picture is on the disc too. The back has screen shots, summary, and technical details. Standard BD packaging.
I really like what companies can do with BluRay menus. Rather than having individual submenus that have to load up like with DVDs, clicking on a selection here just pulls up a popup menu with the additional selections. So the main menu, which essentially just loops the full OP animation, plays the entire time. Very streamlined.
The only extras here are clean versions of the OP and ED. So, if you like those….
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga series Black God, Kurokami is Bandai’s first BluRay release of a new property. To say it has met with some difficulties is an understatement. Some early delays have frustrated viewers, and Bandai’s inability to secure the BluRay rights to the Japanese language track have frustrated others. But if the early episodes had been better than decent, it might not have been quite so bad.
Keita Ibuki lives by himself; his mother was killed by an oncoming truck when he was a small boy, and he has done what he can since to make sure he does not get close to anybody else. As long as he does not get involved with other people, he cannot be hurt if they are suddenly killed. His childhood friend Akane comes by and cooks his meals and keeps him on the right track, but he otherwise keeps her at arm’s length too.
He is also bothered by a strange myth about Doppeliners. According to the legend, everybody in the world has two identical clones somewhere. Most rational people write this off as superstitious nonsense, but the day before his mother was killed, she and Keita ran into a woman who looked just like her. It is not enough evidence for Keita to fully believe, but it stays on his mind.
One night, he stops at a ramen stand to have some dinner on his way home from school, and a girl in strange clothing wanders up complaining of hunger. When it is revealed that she does not have enough money to pay for dinner, Keita offers up his. In their conversation, she mentions the same Doppeliner myth and explains that each person has a spirit that is split in three before they are born. Each piece is given priority, and should one member of the triad meet another, then the lesser one must die, releasing their piece of the spirit to the greater member. This is what happened to Keita’s mother.
Keita is unsure of what to make of all of this, but when a classmate of his is killed in an accident right after she claims she met somebody who looked just like her, his fears perk up. His belief is hammered home when the same fate meets the little girl who lives in the apartment next to his. To make matters worse, he cannot mention his fears to anybody for fear that he would sound like a lunatic.
It is then that the strange girl, Kuro, comes back into his life. She claims she is a Tera Guardian, a higher power that is supposed to protect humanity and the Doppeliner system, but that her brother is manipulating it for his own ends. It is her first time on Earth, and she is lost. Keita has no real desire to get caught up in her problems, but when she is attacked by one of her enemies, he is killed in the confusion. Not wanting him to die in her war, Kuro uses her power to swap hearts with Keita, granting him great power and forming an unbreakable bond between the two. Unfortunately for Keita, this means that he must be involved in her war whether he likes it or not.
The initial premise for Kurokami is decent, if nothing groundbreaking. Through four episodes, the series has built a pretty good cast of characters, which is the foundation of any good story. I particularly like the adorable ass-kickingness of Kuro as she vacillates between the personalities of a powerful warrior and a lost puppy. Her confusion about the way things work on Earth is charming and introduces a nice light hearted touch to the otherwise grim storyline.
I am also fascinated by the possibilities of the Doppeliner system. We have already seen a few people die due to their encounters with their other selves, but the series is also doing a good job of introducing us to some other intriguing future encounters/confrontations among the characters as we have seen a few instances of Doppeliners unknowingly working against each other as the battle lines are drawn. It is a neat concept, and one that has plenty of potential.
But through four episodes, I cannot shake the “been there, done that” feeling I have. The idea of guardians of humanity at war is one that has been done over and over; in fact, it is the basis of many an anime. Even the concept of bonding an immortal to a human to form a connection has been done before. I first saw it almost twenty years ago in the 3x3 Eyes OVAs, and it even came about the same way as there the immortal Pai binds Yakumo’s soul to hers because he is an innocent victim of her conflict; it would not surprise me if it was done before that. Kurokami has potential to be something really good, but so far, it feels pretty cookie cutter.
While I would not go so far as to say that I loved the first volume of Kurokami, I certainly did not hate it either. There is not a whole lot of new ideas at play here, but it is building fairly well. I am particularly interested in how the whole Doppeliner idea will play out over the remaining episodes. There is potential here, but it is starting out slow. Mildly recommended.
English Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, Clean Opening, Clean ClosingReview Equipment
Magnavox 37MF337B 37” LCD HDTV, Sony BDP-S360 BluRay Player w/HDMI Connection, Durabrand HT3916 5.1 Surround Sound System