Kurozuka – 01
Well at the very least you can say that Kurozuka is the one show this season that decided to spice things up in the prologue/OP segue with both Noh chanting and garbled metal growling.
Madhouse and Maximum the Hormone STRIKE BACK! (Actually majority of the props for the OP, “Systematic People,” should go to WAGDUG FUTURISTIC SOCIETY, but honestly all I heard was Maximum the Hormone)
We now enter out story courtesy of yet another bleak post-apocalyptic cityscape…
WAIT. WAT. WHERE’D ALL THESE TREES COME FROM? Unannounced time warp to the past was incredibly unannounced.
Seriously, whoever decided to sic generic zombie samurai baddies on a main hero-esque character has seriously got to step up their action cliche game. The ensuing one-sided skirmish is certainly pretty enough, but comes off a bit uninspired as our good guy monk character only really only comes under trouble when…
WAIT. WAT. Random paralyzing flashbacks of creepy silhouettes can really ruin your day. Especially when you’re locked in mortal combat with an undead bag of rotting flesh and expensive looking red lacquered armor. Lucklily for our messy-haired celibate (hmm, actually given how he’s a badass hero, I highly doubt he hasn’t adhered to that part of a monk’s calling), his trusty manservant shows up to save the day.
Apparently our story’s protagonist, Kuro, not only has to deal with exploding cadaver soldiers from the hostile province of Kamakura, but also with a brother that seems to want him dead. The manservant continues to expand upon how many groups/folks want Kuro’s head on a pike (why? he seems like a nice enough killer monk) when Kuro gives us our first real inkling as to what the current time period is. It isn’t the post-apocalyptic future that we first saw Kuro monkeying around in; it’s actually not too long after the Taira clan’s been usurped by the Minamoto, which would make it around the 1180s or so.
The manservant’s name is revealed to be Benkei, which given the time period, would suggest that he is the legendary warrior monk Saito Musashibou Benkei. This in turn, combined with the fact that people want Kuro dead (his brother, and troops from Kamakura), would make Kuro none other than Minamoto no Yoshitsune. This would make sense because that would make Kuro’s brother Minamoto no Yoritomo, the man who would go on to establish the Kamakura shogunate. /history speculation action
Eventually the two happen to spot a light in the mountain forest and decidde to check it out in the hope that if they’re people there, they’ll be friendly to let them stay the night. The light happens to be a small house, dimly lit by a few candles here and there.
Eventually a woman dressed in a bright orange-red kimono comes out to meet them. As Benkei introduces the two of them to the woman, Kuro meets her eyes in a long gaze which culminates in Kuro nearly passing out. The woman eventually agrees to let the monks stay on the condition that they do not peek into her private sleeping chamber no matter the circumstance. Her name is Kuromitsu and she obviously does not enjoy giving free shows.
Anyway, the next morning Benkei has Kuromitsu look after Kuro while he buys some medicine at the bottom of the mountain. On his way down the trail Benkei spots a statue at a grave that has been ominously beheaded; cue the rolling thunder and creepy-as-hell “Tubular Bells”-esque tune and you know Kuromitsu’s going to be up to no good.
Next, Benkei runs into an enormous clearing filled with dozens upon dozens of spider lilies; known as higan-bana in Japan, they’re a well known omen of death.
Kuromitsu decides to put the moves on Kuro as he lays in bed and moves in to seal the deal with a kiss…
Later in the day, Kuro wakes up to Kuromitsu asking him how he feels now. The two go out for a walk and Kuromitsu reveals taht she’s been oh so lonely in the mountain forest… Taking advantage of her loneliness Kuro’s hormones take over and he attempts to force himself upon her for a fleeting moment before the two snap out of their horny funk and settle down.
Awkward escapades aside, the hours pass and an impending attack on Kuromitsu’s house is revealed to the audience. Luckily for our hero, he now shows off some kind of extrasensory perception that effectively gives him some kind of mystical threat radar as he passes through Kuromitsu’s house.
He isn’t able to hone in on where the intruders are exactly, but something else is calling out to him. In a daze, he eventually finds himself in front of Kuromitsu’s bed chamber where he spies her—
Poor wandering villager, we hardly knew ye.
Kuro bursts into her room and confronts Kuromitsu, yet… even though she’s been found out as a vampire she doesn’t launch herself at Kuro to silence him forever. In fact she’s actually shamed at having been found out, yet also slightly relieved that it was Kuro who discovered her secret. However, before the two can make reconciliary whoopie, a GIANT ASS masked stranger appears behind Kuromitsu and chops off her right arm!
A second infiltrator sticks a huge knife in Kuro’s back as more raiders with flaming arrows light Kuromitsu’s house on fire. The strangers are from Kamakura, and apparently they’ve been after Kuromitsu since a huge group look on as a soldier tries to deliver her deathblow—
—yet fails catastrophically as Kuro dives in and relieves him of his forearms and weapon. Kuro manages to off a couple of the baddies with some impressive swordplay, but he’s eventually brought into submission by a stray arrow and the masked main baddie that knocked Kuromitsu out.
Apparently he knows Kuro from somewhere, but before he can elaborate Kuromitsu returns the favor by blindsiding him with a helluva choke grip. Poor sap couldn’t say anything else besides a bloody gurgle as she crushed his throat like a cardboard tube.
Meanwhile, an Onmyouji and troop commander reveal that Kuromitsu’s been hunted since the Heian period (that’s been for about 200 years by this time). They’ve been looking for her in order to understand the secrets of immortality—
—and they wouldn’t have been able to find her if it hadn’t been for Benkei’s tipoff.
Meanwhile, Kuro and Kuromitsu retreat into the forest back to the ancient tree where their feelings for one another surfaced. Kuro’s wounds are too grave and he doesn’t have much time to live…
And it’s then that Kuromitsu bids him to join her on a journey. To eternity.
God, that came off so GOTH.
So yeah, that was Kurozuka‘s premiere; not really all that special in terms of what it had to offer as a vampire story. Kuromitsu’s lair gets outed by an errant discovery and Benkei decides to call in the fireworks to purge the land of evil. There were only two things that really stood out for me here: First is that Benkei decided to ally himself with the boys from Kamakura even though he seemed to have been honestly devoted to Kuro and if they really are Saito Musashibou Benkei and Minamoto no Yoshitsune respectively, this doesn’t really make any historical sense.
Then again, this show does have zombie soldiers and vampires.
Secondly, I was honestly expecting Kuromitsu to be more in tune with her immortal nature; I guess being alive for so long can really depress you especially if you see everyone you hold emotions for wither away over time. So, she’s either very new at being a vampire (well at least 200 years old anyway) and hasn’t had time to become callous to the world, or she’s been alive so long that’s she’s gotten a bit desperate at “living.” Either way, her soft spot for Kuro doesn’t deflect me from her personally and is a rather attractive character trait (her coming to grips with what’s left of her humanity is in ways similar to Seras Victoria’s from Hellsing).
As for the main character? Kuro’s pretty bland himself right now, but hell we’ll be seeing more and more of him (obviously) as the series goes on. I’ll really only be able to pass judgment on him after I’m able to see how deep his love for Kuromitsu goes across the centuries he spends chasing her. As of right now, it’s just a physical infatuation that doesn’t really impress me all that much, but this could very well become quite epic quickly.