I "love" it when an anime tries to ask deeply philosophical and ethical questions, only to answer them with fists, feet, and super powers. Personally I find it annoying when characters claim that they can overcome things like God, Fate, Destiny, Karma, etc, with nothing more than willpower and a kickass partner (since the main character so often is a complete novice in combat, or has no redeeming qualities whatsoever).
Enter then Kurokami, as a shining example of these things at work.
Now, when I started watching this I had no idea that Kurokami was originally a manga Sung-Woo Park (illustrator), and Dal-Young Im (story), and to say that the anime and manga are like chalk and cheese would be an understatement.
The story in the anime version centres around Ibuki Keita, a highschool student with a very similar isolationist attitude to Ikari Shinji from NGE. The reason for this is that, for no apparent reason, everyone around him seems to die. One evening he meets a young girl named Kuro, and it is from her that he learns the true nature of the world.
I'll stop there as the story is quick to hit its stride, however I have some big issues with the plot on the whole, the first issue being why Keita, who in the manga is a 19 year old games programmer, is suddenly a high school student in the anime. Now, many of you may think this isn't a problem, but in actuality it causes a major incosistency in the flow of the story and the development of the characters.The plot for the manga has been written with Keita as a 19 year old who is working. This means that many of the thoughts, feelings and actions he takes in the story are based on the fact that he has already completed high school and is effectively an adult. The anime, on the other hand, portrays Keita as a teenager, a "child" so to speak. The reason for this change is purely a marketing issue. The producers wanted this series to appeal to a teenage fan base, in paritcular the fans of shows like Shakugan no Shana, Zero no Tsukaima, Fate/Stay Night, etc.
Imagine for a second the difference in your own thought processes over over a two year period, in particular, the difference in how you perceived the world, and more importantly, how you reacted to it. Beginning to see what I mean? The plot for the anime stays true to the manga for the most part when, in truth, it should have been rewritten completely.
Another big change is the fact that the manga involves transplanting an arm. The whole idea of transplanting hearts was, again, purely a marketing strategy. That change was made so that it would appeal to a more "romantic" audience, something which the anime could have done without.
Both changes (and they're unfotunately not the only ones), have severely damaged the flow of the plot and the development of Keita and Kuro as characters. The original concept was very good, and if they'd stuck to it instead of pandering to the audience in an effort to cash in on the Shana/Louise/Sabre franchise, then it would have been a much better show.
Animation is another issue I have with this series. Overall its not too bad, but Sunrise and Bandai really didn't seem to put any effort into this show on the whole. The animation is often jerky and confusing, especially during the action sequences. The studio has tried to make the show look "cool", with the proviso that this be done at the lowest cost possible. There's naked character transformation scenes in the style of the mahou shoujo genre, overblown, overpowered special moves with silly names in the style of Bleach et al, strange character actions (like running, eating, etc), and an overall sense that the animators really couldn't be bothered to get their fingers out.
The art for the backdrops is actually pretty decent on the whole, and is the main reason why I scored the art as mediocre instead of bad. Unfortunately, these backgrounds don't have the same kind of vitality to them that can be found in other shows, and are often there so that one of the characters can be sent crashing through it with a punch.
The characters have been designed along the lines of the manga, so no real issues there. I just wish they'd put more effort into the overall work though.
As far as the sound goes, the only reason I didn't give this area a good rating is because of the cumulatively annoying OP and ED, and the change of OP midway through the series only compounded this.
The rest of the music throughout the series can is generally okay, however there are points where the music and mood don't match. The voice actors are on the capable side, but once again there doesn't seem to be any real effort involved in their portrayals as the acting is sometimes very wooden.
The characters are, again, pretty decent on the whole. There isn't any real development that goes on with any of them barring the two main characters, and any changes in the persona of the sub characters tends to happen off-screen. As for Keitaand Kuro, the fact that Sunrise and Bandai's marketing teams got involved with production means that there's some annoyingly inconsistent threads running through their development, Keita's relationship with Akane being an example of this.
This is an odd anime. It's clearly influenced by the likes of Fate/Stay Night and Shakugan no Shana, as well as Bleach and DBZ (surprisingly). The confusing plot and the inconsistencies stand out so it makes suspension of disbelief more difficult. It's enjoyable in it's own way, but is still one of those "watch once and forget" titles that seem to be cropping up more frequently.
On the whole, this is not a good series, but it isn't bad either. The fact that it tried to include a complex plot with some deep philophical and ethical issues is one of it's few saving graces.