Thursday, August 14, 2014

Karneval Review

Karneval Review

Warning: This following review may contain spoilers. If you wish not to know some events in the story, or simply don't wish to find out what happens before you watch the series, please leave the page, since I don't want to damage a watching experience for you.

With that said, thank you and onto the review:

After watching the first season of Black Butler, an emptiness for anime went into my heart and I had trouble figuring out just what the hell to watch. Ikki Tousen Great Guardians Episodes 9-12? HELL NO! Black Butler season 2? Ehh, nah. I know too many spoilers. Which left me looking at the OVA's for a little while.

Last year, this show was one of them that made me look at the screen with awe. I was wondering what this show was about. A year later, in late March, I sat down on my computer, and began to watch the episode via Hulu. And what a hell of a good decision that was. THIS SERIES WAS SO GOOD!

This also led me to watching several animes throughout the year, and it leads me back to this show. The show that got me to fully indulge in series I was interested in. The show that has pretty colors and characters all around. The show. This one show was the reason my anime count has gone up so high in the past few months.


When people talk about this show, they are often disappointed in its story. I disagree with this, because I think the story manages to have a lot of strong elements that the show works with really well.

Nai is searching for a man he knew when he was younger named Karoku, with only a old bracelet as a clue to find where he is. While being seduced by a women named Mine one night, she notices the bracelet and identifies it has a bracelet from the defense agency Circus.

No, not that circus. Circus is an organization that works for the government that help with capturing Varugas, a type of monsters that are created by an evil organization named Kafka, as well as capturing criminals. More on this later.

While there, a thief named Gareki breaks into the building. After running into Nai, Mine returns to the room (I'm not sure why she left since it's been a while since I've watched the show), and transforms into a Varuga, a type of creature that has special abilities. They are created by using human and animal bodies, and given a cell modifying medicine. After escaping via a train, Nai and Gareki run into two members of Airship Two, Tsukumo and Hirato, while solving a crime involving Palendo and his grand-daughter Eleska, who work with Kafka, as this crime was later revealed to be a set-up, to see Nai's abilities.

After seeing a festival put on by Circus Kafka agents chase Nai down a dark alley after he wanders off into town. (even though Gareki said not to, because of trying to stay together), they get rescued by Nyanperona, which actually turns out to be another member of Airship 2 named Yogi. He then takes them to Circus, and so begins the mission of relocating Karoku, as well as discovering more about Kafka.

The overall story could have had many chances to go wrong, and have gotten dragged down by bad direction. However it doesn't, leading us to a satisfying conclusion, with them finally locating Karoku (though not the actual one, but they get the Karoku out of that body, and end up saving him. We also go into Gareki's past by running into childhood friends, finding out that Nai is in fact a combination of a human and niji, and also meeting several characters along the way. 

My only problem though is that some of the characters don't really have equal development with the story, and aren't as fleshed out as others. Perhaps the biggest cause being with the people of Airship 1. I felt as if we didn't get to know a lot about them, and that some could still have some un-developed character traits that could be dug into. Also, with the fact that the shows ends with Gareki going to school to become a member of Circus, there is still some questions left unanswered that we may or may not get depending on the staff of this anime.

Besides this, the show does have a compelling story that sucks you in every time, and some twists and turns will leave you reeling.


The characters in this anime ranger from F**KING MOE to annoying. And when I mean annoying, I mean Kagari and Kiharu, these two Varugas. Even tough they didn't appear a lot, these characters just irked me a lot.

To Kiharu, who annoyed me to no end:

These turquoise eyes tell no lies when they're pissed.

And Kagari:

You were less annoying than Kiharu, but you were no better.

Oh, can I tell you how IRRITATING Kiharu's voice is in Japanese as well?

But I think everyone want to know more about the main characters, as they are the glue to this story. Let's start off with Nai:

GAH ISN'T HE SO ADORABLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I swear, when I first saw him, I just nearly passed out from cuteness.

Some people think he's so super kawaii. Others think he's useless and can't do jack s**t to save his life. I feel that the second statement is false, as Nai actually has powers of his own, as he can sense sound with his ears.

Anyways, Nai used to live with a man named Karoku in a forest near the town of Karasuna. One day, Karoku vanishes to leave a trail of blood from their home all the way to the ocean, and leave a red ID bracelet which is later revealed to be from Circus. Ever since then, he has looking for Karoku in a attempt to bring him home, only using the Circus I.D.

I must admit, Nai is a interesting character. Not a lot is known about him ,his age or his birthday, or some of his past. This may make people think that Nai is too under-developed. I think that this just adds to the mystery of his character as a whole, as I was curious to find out more about him, and how he connected to Karoku, and got wrapped in all of this.

In Episode 3, Dr. Akari reveals that Nai is actually a combination between a human and creature called a niji, and that his cells have managed to co-exit in his body unlike the Varugas.

If you want to know what a niji looks like, here's one:

Gasp! It's shiny. MINE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There are two instances where Nai becomes a niji, which makes several people just admire the cute thing, with there eyes.

There are several instances where Nai actually makes a difference in the way that the story goes. It's very interesting to see, and I really liked what growth he got in the show.

Now, onto the accomplice that Nai first meets, Gareki:

Gareki is 15 years old, who normally gets by. How do you ask? By robbing mansions, and the typical "rich people" of society. When first meeting Nai, he was thinking of using him for some of his robberies, but then joins Nai on his quest to find Karoku.

Gareki isn't necessarily a tsundere, but he doesn't really like communicating with people. He finds people hard to trust, though actually has a more softer side to him that he doesn't like to show.

Gareki is related to Circus in some way, in fact, he was the only survivor of a boat capsize that was caused by Circus. From there, he met Tsubaki, who took him in to live with her young brother Yotaka and her younger sister Tsubame. We actually run into them while visiting Karasuna, where Gareki lived, and where Nai lived near in Rainbow Forest.

We find out that Tsubaki was killed by a man she was seeing, but we don't find out what she was killed by. He did manage to give Tsubame and Yotaku some medicine that actually mutated there cells in order to become Varugas. This is successful for Yotaka, and half successful for Tsubame when she manages to kill some people while in a trance during night.

This is the most development that a character got through-out the series, and I manage to get invested in it all. Episodes 4-6 were all super engaging to watch, and left me off with such good cliff-hangers that put me head over heels each time.

Later on, he gets the attention of Hirato, which involves Hirato to ask Gareki about potentially joining Circus. Gareki refuses the idea at first, but changes his mind later on.

Now, onto the most cheerful and childish character of the show, Yogi-kun!

And yes, he's the one with the blonde hair, just to clarify:

Yogi is a subordinate of Hirato, and is the main fighter of Airship 2. He's 21, though he still acts like a child.

No which anime character does this remind me of? Oh yeah:

Mrs. Yukari's brain won't leave high school anytime soon. In the meantime:

Yogi is quite the energetic man. Through out majority of the show, he's always bright and colorful, and never tends to range in emotion from anything beyond that.

Unless you remove that white patch on his cheek, which unleashes another side to him you probably don't want to mess with.

Though, when he turned into that complete psycho in episode 8, here's the thought that crossed my mind:

Seriously, I don't want to get beaten to death. But it was SO intense.

When Circus normally does there public shows, he normally goes as a character named Nyanperona, which he uses to hand out candy for all of the children. He also likes caring for everyone, though has a soft spot for Gareki.

Oh, and if you think that personality is a weakness in fighting, you would be wrong. Yogi is actually pretty strong, though with the short gap of actually fights in this show, you don't get to see it really. But still, Yogi is an enjoyable character, and I can see why he has stolen many fangirls hearts.

Now, onto our next main crew member, Tsukumo:

Tsukumo isn't the expression type, as she normally is serious, yet down to earth. She is very dedicated to her work at Circus, and is a very skilled acrobat, normally doing that at Circus's parades. She is also someone you could trust with some deep feelings, even though she doesn't communicate with them often.

Tsukumo is probably the least developed main character out of the story, as her background isn't talked a lot. However, this doesn't prevent her from being a snooze fest of a character. She is actually a pretty interesting character, even though she could have benefited a bit in direction over time.

Tsukumo is a very good fighter, and actually had a pretty dramatic moment in the series after Eleska nearly runs into her in Episode 9. After running away, she comes across a area where Karoku is, and he knocks her out with elixir, and this is where the episode ends.

After the cliffhanger, this was my reaction:

And when Hirato saved her in the beginning of next episode, I was like:

Even though the cliffhanger isn't drawn out for long, it was still a very tense moment.

For our last spotlight, we have the captains of the airships of Circus, Hirato and Tsukitachi (guess which one gets more time on screen and more development than the other):

(Hirato's on the right, and Tsukitachi's on the left)

Both of the captains are easily polar opposites in there work, as Hirato takes his more seriously, while Tsukitachi skims past all of the small details. However, Hirato is clearly the main focus out of these two when it comes to appearances and development.

Let's start off with Airship 2's man in charge, Hirato. Hirato is often very mysterious, some people would for sure be nosing into his own matters. He is a very welcoming leader who may seem a bit distant and over-powerful, but maybe he offers a bit more than the normal leader?

Now, onto Tsukitachi. He on the other hand doesn't take his job as seriously as Hirato, but even he doesn't go hands on with his job either. Tsukitachi is a bit comical, and may come across as someone who just likes being rude for the sake of being rude. However, this is only because he's being upfront and straightforward with what he observes..

Both captains are the same age, though Tsukitachi is older by 6 months. Though I think we can all agree that Tsukitachi acts a whole lot younger, right?

No? Okay then......

The rest of the characters range from a doctor, the first ship's lieutenant, the members of Airship 1, the villains, and Karoku himself. Some of them are given proper development, while others are just scrapped along like litter box junk, and properly not given the magnifying glass of doubt.


The animation for this series was done by the studio Manglobe, who have no means putting out shows that have amazing artistic quality, such as Ergo Proxy, Deadman Wonderland, Samurai Champloo, The World God Only Knows, and Michiko to Hatchin. And to say this show doesn't have the qualities of those would be very wrong. This animation is INCREDIBLE!

Each character is given amazing designs to work with, the backgrounds are animated to extreme, and the visuals are not only pretty, but are some of the most eye-catching I've ever seen.

The character designer also manged to do designs for the Pretty Cue series, mainly noting Yes! Pretty Cure 5, including it's sequel, as well as Smile Pretty Cure, which is possibly why the characters look so sparkly and makes them stand out more.

Beside that, no complaints on animation otherwise.

Yes Yui, the animation is quite amazing indeed.


The music for the show was composed by Shiro Hamaguichi, and Keiji Inai. Shiro is most known for his efforts to One Piece and my second favorite harem series, Rosairo + Vampire. Keiji is most known for composing the music for Btoom! and the two recent addition to the Gran Turismo video game series, being the game Gran Turismo 5 and 6.

There are some pretty good orchestral tracks in this series, as well as some laid-back ones. However, the music doesn't do fully a lot to stand out, which dissapoints a bit in the end. But the song Crepping Fear is some pretty good stuff.

Both the opening and ending were great to listen too, though the ending takes a little bit more to get fully wrapped in it's arms. The opening is sung by the band GRANRODEO, while the ending is done by the duo KAmiYU, which is a duo of the seiyuus Hiroshi Kamiya and Miyu Irino, who also star in the show as well. (With Hiroshi Kamiya getting a more prominent role)

The show's Japanese audio is very good to listen to, and does have some pretty good stand-out seiyuus voicing the characters. The English dub is also a nice treat to listen, but isn't as of high quality of other dubs that Christopher Bevins has directed, such as Jormungand, and The Devil Is A Part Timer.

The dub hosts a return to Sean Micheal Teague, which prior to the dub of Karneval, hasn't been in some FUNimation English dubs as of late. It also manages to have some prominent FUNimation veterans, including J. Micheal Tatum, Greg Ayres, Aaron Dismuke, Alison Viktorin, Tia Ballard, and Vic Mignogna.

I haven't seen all of the show in English, so I can't really make a full judgement on it. But one thing that really irks me is the pronunciation of Gareki's name. In Japanese, they pronounce it Gar-e-kei. however in English, they make this really weird pronunciation change that makes it sound like Grr-e-kay. (Yes, like the sound that lions make) This makes it a bit frustrating to listen to the dub, as I have to mentally facepalm myself as something that I probably won't get used to.

Yeah, just like that.

Beside that, the English dub is actually pretty good considering otherwise. But the Japanese might be more up your ally.

Highlights of the original Japanese include Hiro Shimono, Hiroshi Kamiya, Daisuke Ono, Koji Yusa, Aya Endo, Mamoru Miyano, Daisuke Hirakawa, Junichi Suwabe, and Sayuri Yahagi.

English highlights thus far are Greg Ayres, Christopher Bevins, Jad Saxton, David Matranga, J. Micheal Tatum, Tia Ballard, Anastasia Munoz, and Josh Grelle.


Overall, this show was very enjoyable, and was a gem to watch. If you enjoyed Black Butler, or are simply a fan of mysteries, this show should be pretty high on your To Watch list. The animation is amazing, and some of the characters are gems. What more could you ask for?


Score: 9.5/10


Story is interesting

Main characters are all given equal treatment of the spotlight

Great plot twists

Entertaining to watch


Side characters aren't given time to flesh out

Ending leaves many questions

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