After twelve curious episodes filled with time jumps, flashbacks, and eye-boggling aerobatics, I regretfully find myself tossing Kurozuka into my Almost But Not Quite bin. After all, Kurozuka is almost disturbing, almost intelligent, almost outstandingly beautiful, but not quite. While composed of some highly entertaining ingredients, these are put together in a slipshod manner, resulting in a product of much wasted potential.
Kurozuka is at all times a brooding, slow-burning sort of story with an idiosyncratic jumpy narrative style that initially makes the events quite interesting to follow. In fact, it is easy to like on first impressions for several reasons – superb animation, mysterious characters, and a creative milieu. Moreover, unlike similar shows which fail outright to be interesting (e.g. Devil May Cry), Kurozuka actually has a central theme of obsessive love spanning centuries which is fairly unique.
Ultimately, though, no matter how good the building blocks, it’s how well they get cemented together which makes all the difference. Sadly, Kurozuka feels like the condensed version of a much more complex story; the leaps in time are jarring, there’s no background explanation for the conflict or, indeed, for the characters’ behaviour, and some of the important ones get killed off towards the end without so much as a death speech to remember them by.
Furthermore, the action-oriented set pieces form a perfect example of missed opportunity. Technically, they look good; meaningfully, they add nothing to the enjoyment of the conflict. This is because the only thing that decides the outcome of the battles is whether or not Kuro goes berserk. At times, he will go berserk at the slightest provocation, whilst other times, it takes several knocks to work him up to the right state, but at no point is a reason given for why his strength grows exponentially whenever he’s super-angry. Either way, once he does, whatever unfortunate antagonist happens to stand in his way is doomed to lose. This happens without fail and without variation, which renders the fights after the first few instances rather predictable.
Indeed, amongst the various cobbled-together strands of the plot, only Kuromitsu’s mysterious elusiveness provides any real reason to keep watching. What’s her background? Why does she seem to be the only immortal around? Does she really love Kuro or is it something else? However, any hopes that these questions might be resolved satisfactorily are dashed as Kurozuka dead-ends into a frivolous final episode in which a lot happens that means very little. In stead of offering much-needed answers, everything gets bogged down in more flashbacks and retellings, as if the creators didn’t quite know what to do with what was left of the messy concept.
Unlike the story, Kurozuka’s animation is pleasing through and through. With a dark and glossy style, it’s strongly in keeping with other contemporary Madhouse productions such as Claymore. In an edgier twist, it also boasts lots of Matrix-style bullet-dodging and pointless but eye-catching freeze frame shots. Only the combat choreography, which proceeds in a basic sequence of cuts and still shots, could be more impressive. However, with an emphasis on presentation rather than technical superiority, this is not a major drawback.
Moody, hard, and with a strong feudal flavour, most of the soundtrack serves its purpose well. Kurozuka generally has an aptly eerie atmosphere due to the score, although there are still one or two disappointments, for example the boring ending theme. On the whole, though, Kurozuka prefers the use of natural sounds, which means it retains a great sense of realism.
No matter how many romantic conversations Kuro and Kuromitsu have, there is never a clear-cut reason why the two actually love each other, or, indeed, whether their feelings are of love or just obsession. They’re not portrayed as compatible people with certain tastes, beliefs, and ambitions, but as ciphers to which things just happen. While Kuro mostly ambles into fights not of his own making, Kuromitsu is portrayed in romantic flashbacks or as an apparition conveniently materialising just when Kuro needs her the most.
Perhaps one scene sums up the senselessness of the protagonists perfectly. In a rare moment of self-reflection, Kuro asks another character who knows Kuromitsu what she is like because he doesn’t truly know her. It’s a very good question. Alas, the response, which is not so good, is that whatever Kuro already knows about Kuromitsu (keep in mind, he knows NOTHING) should be more than enough to keep him searching. This is precisely the kind of evasive characterisation that cripples their believability throughout. Generally, the message seems to be ‘don’t ask and we won’t pretend we’ve thought this through’.
The supporting cast is even worse. Flat and dull, their role isn’t to appeal to the heart, but to make it beat that little bit faster. Hence, if they’re not dying gruesomely at the hands of the Red Imperial Army, they’re laying waste to their enemies with no more than a heavy brow and deadened eyes. Needless to say, they’re forgettable as soon as they exit the story.
I genuinely want to like Kurozuka since, like the more successful Claymore and Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, it promises the best that Madhouse can buy. Sadly, Kurozuka is just more proof that being pretty to look at can’t compensate for having something worthwhile to say. I recommend this only to those looking for a mild distraction.
Kurozuka is a title which proves that no matter how great a book looks, it still needs to have some sort of manageable writing in it to sell and be liked. This only meant to be a metaphor and not my opinion of the source material, which was a novel, turned manga, turned anime. I haven’t read those (which I hear are far more entertaining) and I am only going to talk about the anime version.
So basically, the problem with this show is that it lacks context. And by that, I do not mean action, cool looking warriors, explosions, and the like. It has lots of it and it is artistic up to a point to boot. The problem is that it lacks ANYTHING ELSE other than that. The characters never manage to become sympathetic to you, the story is simple and still manages to be confusing, and there are no oversexualized lolis and boobs all over the screen every five minutes to keep you interested into watching just for that. As cool as the action and the cinematics are, people would gladly choose something with no action and no art, as long as it has likable characters and erotic service.
The production values are downright amazing as long as superficial looks go. This is Madhouse we are talking about and it poured lots of cash to make everything look eye-catchy, dynamic, and cool, with lots of cinematics and artistic overtones, ranging from a traditional Japan to a futuristic steampunk dystopia. They even went as far as deliberately drawing characters in an almost grotesque way, with spider legs and bizarre faces as to further make it look special. The action scenes are also very good to stare since they are usually very brutal and gory, while the soundtrack and the voice acting fill in just fine.
Most who watched the first episode were simply amazed and impatiently waited to see what follows next. And then they watched the second episode… and then the third… and then most lost interest. Why? THERE IS NO CONTEXT! Why is everything happening, for which reason, why should we care, and how long can we just be content with fancy visuals and over the top action? Everything and everyone are downright basic.
- The setting switching from past to future has been done numerous times in the past, mostly in videogames, and the result is always the same: It looks good as a button-mashing action game but it sure as hell makes a boring story.
- The characters are distant from the viewer; they feel too unsympathetic, cold, stuck on a one-track mind. Most of them are nothing but mass produced freaks without personality, existing only to be killed by the hero who simply looks for someone major to kill. That is all.
- For most of the duration, all you see is the hero going around, butchering freaks, and gathering bits of confusing information that by the end of the series don’t even offer anything of importance. It’s just all about finding the Big Bad and to off him/her; all the rest of the plot is a completely uncaring-for-the-viewer witness of repetitive search and destroy missions. It gets boring really fast.
- The action, as cool as it may be, still is too unreal and over the top to tolerate for many episodes. Improbable motions, scene mistakes, injuries not being important, and characters doing some really basic mistakes for the sake of the script pile up so fast that you can’t ignore them after a few episodes. And since the action is about a distant super warrior and a bunch of faceless freaks, there is no emotional bond with all that happens and again you have no reason to keep watching.
There you have it, a show that tries to pass as cool without first winning your sympathy. This is why I always say the characters are the backbone of any series; if you don’t care about them, then you might as well be watching a WW2 documentary. A similar title which did the same mistake is the “Highlander: The Search for Vengeance” movie; equally flashy without any actual context (and duration) to back it up. A title which did it right though is Samurai Champloo; it has a simplistic plot but its characters are very likable early on and you watch for THEM and not the two-lines-long story.
I do not recommend this anime. It starts in an amazing way but loses steam faster than those steampunk monstrosities the hero slices to pieces.
Kurozuka is a really artsy anime. It's quite different from most main stream anime in the way it presents it's story. As soon as you see Vampire and Romance as part of the tags you may be expecting a normal Vampire love story. You would be dead wrong. Honestly calling what is here Romance is quite skewed. This is a story of repitition for 2 people who will last till the end of time... well 1 and 1/2 people anyway. Your going to need some pacience to get through this anime but the action and some of the artistic ways they present the story will help you get through it. If you have read the manga. Don't come with expectations. This anime is very different. It uses some of the stuff from the manga but even Kuro the main character is changed considerably. There are several parts that are confusing, however, things become more clear at the end.
The animation in this show is really interesting usually I don't have much to say, but this time I do. Though the animation itself is not any better than the normal anime it's their unique approach to it which earns my respect and admiration. The fight scenes are spectacular and the way they color the screen when Kuro uses his powers makes the presentation more intense and artistic.
The Opening song may not be something everyone would like but it is one of my favorite in Anime. In addition the sounds are all done extremely well. The voice acting is also flawless.
The characters in this Anime Vary a lot from it's manga counterpart. While Kuro is understood quite well the rest of the characters really don't get explored enough other than Kuromitsu who is sopposed to be Inigmatic to begin with. Karuta for example. When he dies... they show the characters emotional yet... I felt nothing for him because he did very little of note the whole show until right before he died. I liked Rai's character a lot and I felt it would have been a better anime if they expanded more on Kuro and her relationship... but they don't. The Villans were also Varied. Some were the pinicle of Cliche while others were.... too unique.
Overall, this anime is one that I think some people will really enjoy and other people will find either confusing or repulsive. I myself enjoy this anime. I like the action and artistic presentation. There are even some really weird and funny parts that you wouldn't expect in such a dark story. The humor is quite dark though. That being said, there is a lot that isn't made clear and many of the characters are not really fleshed out enough. So I am giving this story a 7.
- Reviewed for Monthly Marathon
There seems to be a lot of confusion about this Anime - let me offer my two cents.
In terms of literal plot summary I think there is little argument about the basics. The Vampire Kuromitsu falls in love with Kuro, tries to make him immortal so that she has a companion for eternity, but only partially suceeds. She then spends the next thousand years again and again replacing his still-aging body until a time comes (22nd century-ish) where cloning has progressed to a point when an immortal body - made from Kuro's blood - can be fashioned so that the two of them can be together forever. The cycle of beheading, memory loss, reattachment, and seeking Kuromitsu has repeated itself (for Kuro) for a thousand years by the time Kuon - Kuro's eventual body replacement, is finally created. However that attempt fails as well, and Kuro is left bodyless again, wishing for death.
If taken too literally this plot seems convoluted and lacking - but I don't imagine the author intended it as such. Kurozuka is a *love story* (maybe the ultimate love - eternal) and should be viewed entirely metaphorically. The simplest way I can summarize the overarching message is this:
"Our love will last forever, in the face of terror, destruction, pain, suffering, and even if our bodies die - our love is timeless."
Kurozuka is basically the ultimate love letter from one lover to another. Kuromitsu may seem cruel, but isn't the madness of an eternity without love a reasonable excuse for her actions - for her trying to save Kuro again and again? In her heart she is holding together the one thing that has meaning to her - their love. It may seem cruel - but posession is always a slippery slope in love.
But for Kuro it seems like madness of course - as he keeps losing his memory. This serves a great purpose in the film, as it allows love to free itself from rational explantion (what love *is* rational anyway?) and instead sets up Kuro as the ultimate lover. Imagine what a woman would grow to feel for a man that continually seeks her for 1,000 years without knowing why, and falls deeply in love with her the moment he meets her, each time, only to "die", be reborn, and seek her again? This has to be the greatest high and aphrodisiac ever. From a woman's point of view (which I don't have claim to) I imagine this is amzingly, stupendously, ultimately romantic.
I write this having finished the series only 30 minutes ago. I'll consider it further - but to me it seems simple - a story of timeless love in the face of all odds. The details are less relevant than the theme. Much like it is in real love in our lives - when you're in love - nothing else matters.
[edit - of course this all begs the question why weren't the characters of the eternal lovers - and the reason kuro and kirumitsu fell so deeply in love - better explored? The characters are thin here - too thin for the ambitious reach of the story arc. It's a shame because so much of the rest of Kurozuka is A material. Still worth the watch]
I was really hoping this would all tie together in some kind of awesome, non-obvious, but clearly plausible and tied-together way like "12 Monkeys" or for a non-time-related example that's an anime with much better fight scenes, more badassness, characters with development that you feel something for, and a plot that all comes together at the end, "Hellsing".
Instead, the ending was shit. No payoff. So just a bunch of half decent fight scenes in the end. There's some time I'll never get back.
I normally like endings that aren't happy, but this one was unhappy in a really boring way. Just horrible selfishness; which based on the tenor the author seems to think is somehow noble.
No honor or plan for improvement of the situation or intelligence or anything. And the horrible thing is that was the most obvious explanation for quite a few episodes, which meant for me it must not be what the author came up with. But indeed it was.
Best part of the series: opening credits are pretty badass. Including the nemesis-dude who says vaguely wise things, and you hope will turn out sort of awesome in a wants-to-do-something-other-than-just-kill-the-main-character way. In fact, that is what he wants to do.
Also, sort of the worst stereotypes of men and women. Dude, bitch don't love you. Also, totally unclear why it took around 1000 years to get in a room with her to tell her about that.
And given how she treats people she does profess to love, you should be happy about that. Go do something interesting and constructive with your long life. That's another implausible thing about this; guys who don't move on from a view of love most get over in high school.
And it's even more stupid because the physical problem that means the male love interest needs to keep on fighting forever could just be solved by technology that doesn't involve fucking other people over likely not all that far in the future. Fuck could probably even clone the female love interest if she'd be up for it. It's also implausible that given 1000 years the 3 locked in perpetual conflict wouldn't like grow as people a bit and sit down and talk about shit instead of just trying to kill each other with swords.
Hell the guy who the gal doesn't love even says he's accepted she doesn't love him, and the guy she does love says he's forgiven the other guy long ago (even though based on the internal logic of how he experiences time he shouldn't even know who the hell the other guy is). And then they fight for unclear reasons anyway.
As you can tell I'm a bit angry about this.