Kurozuka Series Review

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In the rush at the end of the fall season and the start of the winter season, I just couldn’t find the time to write up several series reviews of shows I had finished. In this time before I start getting the spring preview ready and working on the winter season awards, I’m going try to get to some of these done. The first is the gory action anime Kurozuka from Madhouse.

Final Series Score: 11/12 10.5/12  Strong A
Rewatchablity: low-med
Pros: stylish and slick animation, knows it’s an action title and doesn’t bog itself down with needless story and exposition, interesting setting, well done action scenes, recap and previews were done as Noh theather which was unique and cool
Cons: The story is very disjointed at the beginning, making it very difficult to figure out what’s happening; the very ending (last 7 minutes or so) is profoundly confusing because it creates a huge list of questions about the show and what really is going on

Awards given to this show by this blog

  • Best Action Anime for 2008
  • Best Animation for 2008

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Story

Around a thousand years ago, in feudal Japan, the brother of the Emperor is fleeing for his life and happens to find a cottage in the deep woods. The young and attractive woman living there allows him to stay on the condition that he never enters the room in the back of the cottage. The guy slowly falls deeply in love with the mysterious woman, for if he wasn’t deeply in love – then what he finds in the back room should have terrified him. Instead, he allows her to initiate him into the same dark secret and this starts a love affair between the two that will last over a thousand years.

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Thoughts and impressions

Most of the time, for a show to be liked by me it needs good character development and an interesting story but sometimes a series can come along and skip these items (or have a very minimal amount) and still succeed. Kurozuka is one such title. For most of the series, we are as clueless as the main character as to what’s going on. The thing we and the main character latch onto is the need to find Kuromitsu, his beloved, because she must know what’s going on. Nor during this time do the characters show any sort of character development, they’re too busy fighting for their lives. Yet, this show remained riveting from start to finish.

Another thing that sets this show apart is how bloody and gory it is, which might turn some people off. I didn’t feel it was gratuitous for what the show was but they certainly didn’t shy away from showing these scenes. I was just really glad they didn’t use censoring like we’ve seen in other shows like Nabari no Ou because it’s a cheap tactic to try to up DVD sales and it hurts the show artistically.

I wanted to give Kurozuka a perfect score and if the only problem I had with it was the disjointed first couple of episodes it might have earned a perfect 12 but the ending really bugged me. It was almost like they wanted to give themselves an out that would allow a sequel to be made. To accomplish this though, they had to make the viewer question much of what they have learned about the show over the past 11 ½ episodes. It let the show end on a sour note and was completely unnecessary – they could have just ended it with him waking up once again on the hilltop.

I’d definitely recommend this title to anyone looking for a well-produced action anime or just looking for something different to watch with the caveat that it is violent and bloody.

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Essential Information

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8 thoughts on “Kurozuka Series Review”

  1. Say, should I watch this if I’m looking for an anime with gratuitous violence and a realistic art style, but just enough charm to get the viewer through it unscathed? Alternatively, should I watch this if I liked Samurai Champloo?

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  2. @Killifish: I think so, I was charmed by it but it does lack the quirky and likeable character dynamics of Samurai Champloo.

    Since you mention Samurai Champloo, the people that did that show recently did a series called Michiko to Hatchin. It’s not exactly like Samurai Champloo but it had some of the same feel to it – so you might also enjoy that one as well.

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  3. This story could not be understood until the last 7.5 minutes. After that last sequence, of course, the whole series is changed and the plot, which did appear disjointed up until that point, comes into resolution. Clearly, we have a combination theme here. The eastern scheme of repetition and rebirth, and the western (medieval) idea of salvation-through-questing. In the case of Kuro, the very reason for his existence was to quest for Kuromitsu. She, in turn, tied the very definition of her being to the quest itself. ‘I exists because a hero is out there questing for me.’ To a western (and Christian) mind, this sort of cyclical story of endless struggle and seeking falls flat. Our mythology is linear, with triumph and resolution winning the day. That is why the 3rd Matrix movie sucked so hard by the way.

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  4. i was hoping he would end up killing her because in the end she was putting him through so much shit i would have killed her even if i did love her.
    I mean really if it comes to the point i cant dissipate reality from a dream I would go crazy.
    but anyways i didnt like the way it ended. it basically cut off and now i really want to know what happens.

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  5. Something I immediately caught on in episode 1 that didn’t seem to get much notice is that this uses old Japanese phrasing and grammar. For those that can comprehend spoken Japanese, it’s a significant departure and mood setter.

    Also it was easier to tell what was going on with the time shifts if you know the Japanese history concerning edo and Genke and Benkei.

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