KuroMukuro (Black Corpse )is an original anime coming from P.A Works (Angel Beats,Another ) as a celebration of their 15th anniversary as an animation studio. It’s a fairly standard mech story that’s split between the modern world and Feudal Japan.
It’s one of the most mediocre shows this season (Spring 2016) but excels in one area that most of the mech/general anime have failed at. The CGI. Very rarely do I praise 3D CGI in 2D shows but here it is handled exceptionally well , so it might be worth checking out just to see that.
“During the construction of the Kurobe Dam, an ancient artifact was discovered, and so the United Nations Kurobe Research Institute was established. Intellectuals from all over the world gathered to study the object, and the children of those researchers attend Mt. Tate International Senior High School, including the institute head's daughter, Yukina Shirahane. In the summer of 2016, a lone samurai once again awakens.”
As I said above the story isn’t all that well fleshed out and I was struggling for a way to easily describe it ,even a few episodes in. Now it’s obvious that this show is not trying to win any awards for its narrative and is just here to throw some badass mech fights in your face. Which I would totally respect if they did try and stick to that. Whenever the show forces in too much “ story “ I start losing interest. Saying all that I think there was potential for a great story here , the scenes where the mechs are in ancient Japan are always breath-taking and if the modern half of the show was removed it’d be a more streamlined and original show.
The sound design here is spectacular. Nothing kills a mecha series for me harder than watching a colossal robot take a heaving step only to have it sound like a kitten walking over a pillow. Every step feels weighty and you can just feel the sheer, raw , power of these giants.
The soundtrack is great and fits each of the periods respectively treating us to a mix of classical Japanese and modern pop.
I praised the CG in my introduction ( I will praise it some more , in a bit ) but in reverse fashion I had issues with the 2d portions. Mainly how almost every scene has ( at least ) two different visual styles going on inside of it. For example there’ll be a very complex and detailed background and then jarring characters in a thin minimal pencil drawing. I was taken out of several scenes where it looked like the characters were floating.
When the backgrounds are on their own however they’re usually gorgeous and look distinctly hand-drawn. Where this shines the most is in the ancient Japan portions where the artists could take more creative liberties.
Both natural and mechanical lighting are done very well and are great mood-setters.
The direction is in some parts ( battle scenes mostly ) phenomenal and feels very inspired. The choreography of the mechs is really fluid and the shifting back and forth that mimics samurai sword-fighting is varied every-time and kept my attention every time. Not that surprising seeing how the director , Tensai Okamura, has worked on legendary shows such as “ Neon Genesis Evangelion “ and “ Cowboy Bebop.
The CGI , is just...wow, which is a slight exaggeration but has blown out the water almost all the 3D CGI I’ve ever seen in a 2d anime, and I’ve seen a lot. The giant robots feel like...giant robots , they carry a lot of weight and cause enormous destruction with every blow and it’s great to feel the world shake and tremble beneath them. However they’ve retained the fluidity and speed of a samurai. The machinery and movements are well thought out and feel solid.
Now usually my major gripe with CGI is that it’s unwelcome and adds nothing to the show except for jarring with the 2D. Here there’s been a deliberate effort to keep the 2D and 3D seperate when possible so they don’t butt heads. Not only that but the shading on the textures is so well done that it can easily blend into with the background.
The characters have a very distinct “ clean “ pencil style of thin black lines and minimal detailing which works rather well. And hides some of the background animation flaws. Character movements are fluid and they don’t stay static during conversation. The minimal design allows for some more small detailing in movement as there’s not a lot to worry about. The detailing on armour and dress in the Feudal Period does very well to separate the two worlds and draw you in.
The characters themselves , just like the story, aren’t the most original and most of the supporting are forgettable but the main duo have a certain “ odd couple “ charm to them and a believable chemistry.
Each of the mecha units feels different and very detailed. Clearly a lot of work went into their creation. They don’t emote much nor represent their pilot very much but since their main aim is to smash against each other , it’s forgivable.
Just like the story the science and operation isn’t explained very well and the writers do their best to just wave it away , which might ruin the experience for hardcore mecha otaku.
This isn’t something I’d recommend to most people. I feel that cutting out the modern portion \and just focusing on mechs in Feudal Japan would have made for a more solid story. The 2d art is a bit disappointing and there’s a strange unfocused with the clashing art styles. But the CGI , which is miles ahead of what most shows are offering in terms of both design and animation. I have my doubts for a second season seeing how this was a project to celebrate the studio's anniversary and with such a weak story there’s only so far “ mech battles “ can carry you. If you have an interest in 3D animation watch an episode or two and focus on what it does right.