Run away with the circus… literally!
Japanese Name: カーニヴァル
Air Date: April 3 2013 – June 26 2013
Nai searches for someone important to him, with only an abandoned bracelet as a clue. Gareki steals and pick-pockets to get by from day to day. The two meet in a strange mansion where they are set-up, and soon become wanted criminals by military security operatives. When Nai and Gareki find themselves desperate in a hopeless predicament, they encounter none other than the country’s most powerful defence organisation – ‘Circus’!!
How long has it been since I wanted to watch Karneval? Probably a few weeks by now, but the animation and cast list really tempted me so here I am with the circus!
I’ve had a bit of an obsession with Tomoaki Maeno and Hiroshi Kamiya recently. I don’t know how it started, but it hit me hard on the face. I think the Maeno-san obsession began shortly after UtaPri where he voiced Camus… that voice was enough to make me faint on the spot! So when I found out Maeno-san is in Karneval… let’s just say I may have died and then reincarnated *nervous laugh*. As with Kamiya-san, I think it was because of the horde of handsome characters he’s been voicing this year: there was Erec in Ixion Saga DT, Rio in Hakkenden and now Gareki in Karneval!
Is this woman some sexual predator or… ?! Honestly what is it with people and wanting to fulfil their desires through physical contact? It’s crude and plain disgusting if you ask me. This woman was holding Nai captive and they’re in… bed. She starts teasing him and touching him but Nai, being the innocent little boy he is, says that she’s making him feel “nauseous” best thing I’ve ever heard. You keep on telling her that Nai! Obviously the woman gets pissed off and turns out, she’s some creepy puppet monster thing where did that come from?! And wait, what was Nai doing at her house/mansion in the first place? Is it because he was searching for clues concerning this ‘Karoku’ person? Well Gareki is Nai’s knight in shining armour, and saves him from the woman. He seemed to be quite interested about Nai’s bracelet… but he is adept at disarming bombs as well as using them!
Nai, the protagonist, is a white haired boy with drooping ears rested on his head. He is saved from the evil woman mentioned above by Gareki. I can see why so many fans dote on Nai… he really is adorable. Those big, round eyes, and the animal like ears are enough to send a girl into paradise. What makes him even more adorable is that he’s voiced by Hiro Shimono! This man is amazing. The entire voice cast is one of the main reasons why I started watching Karneval. There are a lot of big names I recognise including Daisuke Ono, Kouji Yusa, Junichi Suwabe and many more. Plus, my bias towards Mamoru Miyano keeps on growing… it cannot be degraded and will only continue to increase so try all you might, Mamo-chan will always be number one in my heart! So when the precious being named Yogi (Circus’ Second Ship fighter) appeared… I squealed like a 5 year old girl receiving a Barbie doll for the first time. Everything about Yogi is so kawaii! Mamo-chan uses his cutesy, playful voice too which was awfully adorable; I can’t stop going “awww” at everything he does. Whether it’s wearing Circus’ mascot suit or when he’s complaining about Hirato’s authoritative tone, he really is charming which becomes more and more impossible to hate him (*´ω`*) it’s hard to believe that he’s 21 years old… yes, 21! He hates fighting because it always makes him nervous, but will fight if the situation calls for it. If you hate Yogi despite all this, get lost right now. I mean it.
At first, I was rather confused but I’m glad that Hirato – the Second Ship captain of Circus – has started to clear things up. The woman from the first episode was called Mine and she was a species called ‘Varuga’ – beings were once human or animal, but a cell-modifying medicine given to them by a group called Kafka slowly took over their bodies until they were fully transformed, at which point they became monsters. Circus is currently trying to bring down the group who are in charge of making the monstrous beings. If Varuga blood comes into contact with a human body, than the human’s body will involuntarily transform into one of a Varuga. Because both Nai and Gareki came into contact with Mine, Hirato explains that the two must be examined for precaution… they have no right to refuse. Turns out, Gareki didn’t kill Mine – and here I thought he did, so I was having a party to celebrate. Also, regarding the bracelet Nai carries, it is an older model of Circus ID which was meant to be destroyed. Tsukumo (another fighter for the Second Ship) and Yogi are entrusted with the task of guarding Nai and Gareki, as they are being targeted. Speaking of Nai and Gareki, their relarionship has moved on pretty quick for only two episodes. Though Gareki claims that they’re not friends, it’s obvious that they’re indeed close. No matter how you look at it, he has a soft spot for Nai.
Oh god, why is this so sad?! Urgh, this ugly sobbing has got to stop. JUST STAHP ALREADY. Gareki, Nai and Yogi visit Karakuna – the town Gareki used to live in. While there, Gareki’s past is revealed; he was sold by his parents at a young age and one day, the ship that he was on gets ruined and he is found by a woman named Tsubaki. She took him home and he is introduced to her younger siblings Tsubame and Yotoka who are twins. Tsubaki starts giving the three a drug to help an unknown man with his experiment, but only the twins take the drugs; Gareki refuses to take them. Later, Tsubaki is murdered much to the grief of Gareki and the twins. Turns out, both Tsubame and Yotoka became test subjects for a drug to turn people into Varugas, and Yotoka becomes a Varuga having taken most of Tsubame’s portions. The man behind this appears before them (Meiga) and controls Yotoka – he fights Yogi while Gareki stays. Tsubame is able to restore some consciousness to Yotoka but Meiga commands him to kill Tsubame. As Yotoka begins to choke Tsubame, he begs Gareki to kill him… but is killed by Hirato instead. Gareki is grief-stricken and remains depressed for several days… I’ve been hit full-on with feels (ಥ＿ಥ）
I’m just going to waste this paragraph by expressing my love for Yogi, Gareki, Hirato, Akari, Tsukitachi (First Ship Captain), and Uro. I’ve already proved my adoration for Yogi simply for Mamo-chan; there’s not enough words to describe him! Gareki… oh Gareki! He’s just so hot and he’s FIFTEEN. It should be a crime to be that age and look so smexy, hurhur (¬‿¬) and he’s a tsundere! Hirato is perfect as always… as expected from the voicing talent of OnoD, he really is the ideal gentleman; polite, good-mannered and he takes things seriously (๑´ლ`๑) Akari-sensei is reserved and stoic but like Hirato, he’s serious about his work and he is actually a very gentle person who cares for living beings. Yogi seems to be scared of him for some reason, but that is what’s lovable about Yogi! I took an instant liking to Tsukitachi because… it’s Kouji Yusa! Although he’s a captain, he’s very easygoing and can be rude… but that’s only because he is being straightforward with his observations. And finally, Uro. What can I say? First off, he’s voiced by Junichi Suwabe which is a win. Second? He’s a villain… a hot one at that! He hasn’t appeared much though, which makes me sad TT^TT
This is my honest opinion, but I feel like there’s a lot that we’re not being told. It doesn’t help that there has been barely any progress concerning Kafka and Varuga. Perhaps both parties are hiding something? I dunno, it’s only an assumption so I hope everything gets cleared up soon. Maybe I should read the manga? There’s something that’s really off though. And it involves Karoku. The Karoku who is in Nai’s memories is much colder, and distant. His words are more harsh. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has picked this up…
The show must go on! No seriously!
Karneval started off on the wrong foot. It seemed more concerned on introducing characters rather than establishing the plot, which can obviously lead to later confusion. Most anime spend roughly around two or three episodes to lay the groundwork for the plot, and let it build up over the course of the series. Karneval’s approach was indeed different and progression did feel somewhat imbalanced. There is a large cast in this show, and the majority of them played pivotal roles so the plot was too thin as the series focuses more on each character and their relation to the overall plot. It’s still the same in the end, so nothing new is explained. However, I can say that Karneval has two plots to give it direction: the first being Nai and Gareki’s relationship. The relationship of a simple minded, innocent boy and a cold-hearted, common thief was one of the deeper plots. It was more like a personal journey for both of them as they experience different things and sometimes, their relationship is the shoulder they lean on. Nai loves Karoku, but he is also attached to Gareki albeit a little too much. It comes to the point where Nai is conflicted about staying with Gareki because someone threatned to harm his companion. Gareki is also troubled because of his changing feelings, but he can’t seem to leave Nai. Despite the personal conflicts, they always seem to worry over the other and their relationship blossoms. The second concerns Circus and their pursuit of the organisation, Kafka. This second plot does get a decent build-up but it is done in vain, as the ending wasn’t too climatic; there is however enough to keep viewers intrigued and watching.
What irked me was the lack of explanation about Circus and Kafka. Bits and pieces regarding them are slowly introduced as you keep watching the anime. Circus fail to explain that they are actually a secret organisation working for the government that hunts down criminals and they all possess the ability to fly. Their base is a flying spaceship and to avoid being detected by the public, they are in the guise of a circus. Yup.The secret crime fighting organisation known as Circus plans to keep their secret intact by ingenuously being a circus. They also seem to answer to some mysterious council that barks criticism at them behind the scenes and have ranks within the organisation. Circus is crucial to the series’ plot yet the anime didn’t explain exactly what they are. It’s really annoying and it does ruin the experience as bit since you’re piecing together information regarding this group. All of this, you figure out yourself.
Seeing as Karneval is more of a character driven series, there really wasn’t much character development asides to the fact that there was rarely any plot development either. Karneval focused on its characters most of the time yet nothing new occurs aside from the odd bit of information they decide to throw at us. With this much focus, nothing was actually accomplished. Nai and Gareki don’t really get their deserved character development. There are scenes where they have their monologues but it doesn’t get them anywhere. Nai will forever be the cute boy with a naive personality while Gareki will always be the tsundere with a handsome face. To be fair, their personalities are good enough to make them interesting in the story but there is potential that was clearly not met.
The animation was where Karneval truly shined. You have the overly feminine design of the characters while sporting the bishounen look and this is the main hook of the anime. The male characters have slender, yet sexy, builds and they’re dressed in bright and stylish attires which is the perfect combination to attract girls – it definitely worked for me! The body builds and expressions were a great way to make the characters stand out – you can tell what Gareki and others are like because their personalities were weak. The bright outfits and the great use of single colours make the characters even more appealing and the use of these colours also captured the circus theme of the anime. You won’t get tired looking at the characters because of how great and how flashy they look at almost every scene they are in. Really, the animation is fantastic; the playful banter between characters was nicely captured and the subtle shounen-ai elements were translated well. Fight sequences were awesome; the clever use of camera angles and smooth transitions made them thrilling.
Now for sound… the opening is ‘Henai no Rondo’ by GRANRODEO. We all know I absolutely love GRANRODEO, so this song certainly did it for me. The beginning had a little tune going on and really sounded something from a circus! Henai no Rondo is a gorgeous rock song and the guitar instrumentals give the song that extra oomph. Throw in the dreamy voice of KISHOW (Kisho Taniyama) and some masculine – yet romantic – lyrics and there you have a good tune. The OP sequence features all the characters, both good and bad, plus a montage of the events of the anime. The ending is ‘REASON’ by KAmiYU and… it’s sugary sweet and awfully catchy. The ED sequence features all the characters in their visually appealing glory in still shots while the camera moves upwards.
Despite all this, I loved Karvneval to pieces! And it’s mainly because of my precious Yogi (づ￣ ³￣)づ the ending left a lot to be asked and a lot to be desired. A lot of questions were left unanswered and that normally leaves a sour taste in my mouth. It doesn’t help that a second season won’t be announced unless sales of the DVDs were good… I DEMAND A SEASON 2!! QUESTIONS NEED TO BE ANSWERED!