Sunday, January 11, 2009

Black God vs Kurokami

What do you call a comic made by Koreans, published in Japan, then adapted into anime? Depends on who's publishing it.

As translated by Yen Press, Black God is by frequent collaborators Dall-Young Lim (writer) and Sung-Woo Park (artist), who actually have a surprising amount of work available in English, mainly via Infinity Studios. As Bandai Entertainment renders it, Kurokami is another interesting response to the changed and struggling anime marketplace, aiming for a more or less simultaneous broadcast in Japan, the US, and South Korea. I have a soft spot for Park's art, so I figured I may as well post on something topical I actually have an opinion about.

The basic plot revolves around doppelgangers, though not quite in the way you might expect. In this setting, every human being has two identical duplicates living out separate lives somewhere, and if two meet they are both fated to die, leaving the third as the only survivor. The Mototsumitama are higher beings in charge of keeping this cosmic order running, but apparently have become corrupted by their power and exposure to human society. As in most fight manga, this is all basically a justification for people to whomp on each other with super powers. Our main characters are average dude Keita, who saw his mother meet one of her duplicates and die, and Kuro, a rogue Mototsumitama, weiner dog enthusiast, and token invincible fighter girl.

Anime adaptations are rarely an improvement on their source material, and Kurokami's first episode was no different, with a number of puzzling changes that make the series more generic. Most obviously, Keita has been deaged several years, and changed from a slacker/aspiring game developer to an angsty high schooler. This also changes his relationship with older friend Akane from possible love interest to surrogate mom.

The pacing is also way off compared to the original. Black God basically gets the backstory out of the way once, right at the beginning, but Kurokami repeats it over and over, inventing several new characters just to exposit about it. This eats so much screen time that it interferes with the plot; the first manga chapter ends on a kinda gory cliffhanger the anime actually rewrites the first fight to avoid... so they can insert their own, different one.

The production values are OK at least (the character designs are a decent adaptation of Park's work, but don't quite have that same something that caught my eye), and the fight they get around to is decently animated, but watching it so soon after Air Master didn't do it any favors. The dub is all right. I didn't think any of the performances were particularly noticeable, but none were particularly horrible either.

It's too early to make an ironclad judgement on this one, but going by the pointless changes to the basic setup, it looks like we're on course for a fairly flavorless adaptation of a decent but unambitious fighting series. The novelty of the simulcast will probably keep my attention for another couple weeks, but unless it seriously picks up, I don't see it being worth much time; just read the original instead.


  1. Man, I thought all the incidental characters were downright ugly. Maybe the giant line down the center of their faces.
    And as fascinating at it was spending ten minutes watching completely bland dude do nothing in particular, I was eventually forced to skip ahead to try and find the fight. The fight itself was reasonably vicious, but not enough to overcome the immense hate I had for the entire fucking endeavor.

  2. Like I said, the original has a certain charm that the anime staffers have seemingly gone out of their way to annihilate. None of this moping about being afraid of making friends because EVERYONE WILL DIE, DIE AND LEEEEEAVE MEEEEEEEE BOO HOO HOO