First Look: Kuromukuro

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Alternative titles: Black Corpse
Anime original by P.A. Works
Will stream on Netflix once completed

Premise

Several researchers from all over the world gathered around the newly-built Kurobe Dam after the discovery of an ancient artifact. The mystery deepens when Yukina, who attends school along with all the other children of these intellectuals, meets a lone samurai who has awakened from his artificial sleep.

The west will not be able to officially watch Kuromukuro until the end of the season, because Netflix are so dedicated to their crappy binge-watching model they actually prefer massively delaying a show they’ve licensed over just releasing it weekly as a TV show should be. This is definitely how you’re gonna beat piracy, guys!

Iro’s verdict: Pretty, Boring, Pretty Boring

…making it your usual P.A. Works joint. About the only thing I can praise about this show is the quality of the animation. There are a good amount of small, humanizing touches to the way the characters move, and I like the green, overgrown look of the government facility featured in most of the episode. Unfortunately, the CG mecha look mediocre and have uninteresting designs, and there’s not much plot-wise to make me care about any of it besides that; not even the beam katana. We may be a bit starved for mecha this season, but Kuromukuro doesn’t leave enough of any impression to make me want to keep watching.

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Artemis’ verdict: Resounding Meh

In hindsight, there was never any good reason for me to watch this. I’ll make my biases clear: I usually don’t like mecha to begin with and also have an incredibly poor track with P.A.Works. In fact, I haven’t fully enjoyed a single title from that studio since 2013 – their stuff tends to look good but the writing… yeah, not so much. And to be fair, Kuromukuro does indeed look pretty good. It’s hard to tell what sort of tone the story’s going to go for based just on the first episode, but if you like nice-looking anime and you like the genre, then chances are you’ll find Kuromukuro at least watchable. Story-wise there were a couple of moments that even I liked, though these were mostly little details that I very much doubt will have any particular bearing on the series as a whole. In general, I found the whole thing rather flat and dull – not even the sudden appearance of a naked man waving a sword around towards the end of the episode was enough to wake me up sufficiently to care. This just isn’t my kind of show, and I see nothing here that indicates it will be anything above average even if it did happen to personally appeal a bit more. By all means give it a try if the plot sounds in any way appealing to you, but this sort of thing does nothing for me.

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Zigg’s Verdict: Outside the Comfort Zone

There’s a lot of things I like about this first episode, like the way PA Works are attempting to meld together their trademark slice of life stuff with a more action oriented framework, or the way we appear to be finally be getting close to a mech show with a genuine female protagonist. Their reputation for great animation continues unabated too, with lovely subtle character work and some truly excellent background and building designs. So why doesn’t this click? Partially i think it’s that pacing is just too slow – the long ponderous opening isn’t really used to build much character but instead to just deliver some classic ‘cute girls talk about nothing’. Plus, the mechs are uninspiring and the CGI is bad, which is a real dagger in the heart of what they’re trying to do. Still there’s potential here. even if this first episode is a little more listless than it ideally would be.

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