Karneval wastes no time in getting going. As the anime opens there is a young man handcuffed to a bed and a lecherous noble woman astride him. Kinky? It would help if the noble woman wasn’t also a hideous monster who literally hungers for flesh.
Thankfully for our innocent hero – “Get off, you’re heavy” he protests before we discover the noble isn’t as attractive as she seems – a young thief is in the protest of robbing the castle and so creates the opportunity needed for escape.
The aesthetics of Karneval really appeal to me. It’s often night. The architecture is brooding and gothic. The vampiric creatures are nicely done. This is steampunk meets Dracula.
There’s a twist. If Karneval is set on Earth then it is set in a near future earth. The ghoul monsters? They’re created by science.
Against the monsters is a National Defence Agency called “Circus”. Our two young men quickly find themselves rescued and adopted by Circus. The agents of Circus seem to have the ability to fly and the ability to fight the demonic horrors with magic like abilities. Once again, though, is this magic or is this just suitably advanced technology?
The two Circus teams travel around the European-esq landscape in giant airships. These are sea-creature like vessels with brightly coloured underbellies. Each of the airships are defended by a small army of robots… with a catch.
The catch? One of the robot armies is that of humanoid sheep. The other is humanoid rabbits. Of course, for the “Circus” theme the concept of magical rabbits is entirely proper. These two forces flit between being surreal, being in-theme and, of course, being cute.
Speaking of cute – all the guys in Karneval are cute. They’re tall, thin, good-looking and span the emotional sharing spectrum. They’re prone to either hugging each other or brooding.
Despite the opening scene if Karneval offers any nod towards fan service then it’s to the ladies. Indeed, I was so wrong-footed by this I checked Wikipedia where the demographic “Josei” is confirmed. Josei translates as “Ladies’ comic”.
The fact it took me a few episodes of Karneval to start wondering about the demographic is a nod to the storytelling success of the series. If you’re a bloke I’d suggest you’re equally as likely to enjoy the show. I’m sure; there’s plenty of hero battles monster action.
I enjoyed Karneval in terms of story and character. It’s a 13 episode series that reaches a conclusion. My frustration with the series is that it doesn’t reach much of a conclusion. What’s the truth behind our boy from the opening scene? Will Circus win against Kafka and the monsters? What’s going on?
Sadly, we don’t get near any real answer. The conclusion we get to with Karneval is our thief character finding acceptance and settling down.
I think Karneval is a good compromise anime to watch when there’s a few of you with mixed interests in the room. I imagine you could use the series to bridge the gap between any series to any other.
My copy of Karneval was provided for review. Karneval is due out on the 8th of September in the UK in DVD and Blu-ray from Manga UK.