OP: 「偏愛の輪舞曲」 (Henai no Rondo) by GRANRODEO
「なないろ導花線」 (Nanairo Shirube Hanasen)
KARNEVAL is an anime that is exactly how it sounds. It’s new; it’s exciting; it’s colorful and fun and really brings to life what you would expect from an anime named after a “carnival”. Plus it adds on a ton of exciting and unexpected moments to really keep you interested and fairly amused. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t expect less from an anime like this and I’m only hoping that it lives up to the hype.
The premiere starts off with the introduction of a boy named Nai (Shimono Hiro) who is obsessed with finding a man named Karoku. Apparently they lived near a large body of water together and when he left (possibly bleeding to death), the only thing he left was a bracelet. Fast forward some time later, Nai finds himself in a strange woman’s home – still looking for Karoku. Now the story suddenly gets interesting and we’re bombarded with a ton of new characters and happenings all at once. On one hand, the “woman” that Nai is with is one crazy sonofa*itch and she transforms herself into some form of monster after a chunk of her house explodes. The explosion is caused by another man named Gareki (Kamiya Hiroshi) who blasted the ceiling off to steal from the house. This catches the attention of two seemingly magical beings who can fly! When they arrive at the scene of the crime though, Nai and Gareki have already run off (and jumped onto a moving train) and the monster/woman-thing is dead.
If that wasn’t enough, the second part of the story takes place onboard this moving train. Onboard the train are a bunch of angry employees and their CEO and his granddaughter… not to mention Nai and Gareki and soon to be accompanied by the two magical figures. We find out that they’re named Tsukumo (Endou Aya) and Hirato (Ono Daisuke) and they belong to an organization named “Circus” meant to serve as a defense organization. They chop off a chunk of the train because it’s about to explode and save the day, yay! Point being – it was an introduction to bring together the main characters of the story going forward. We find out that the “CEO” purposely set himself up to be captured by the workers in order to gain more insights to “Circus”. Who wouldn’t want to know more about a secret organization right? Nai also proves himself noteworthy – he has ears which can hear electric currents and he’s traveling alongside Gareki. The kick is that he wears the bracelet Karoku left him and it’s a symbol of the “Circus” as well. Then there’s the actual “Circus” which brings the element of fantasy and magic into the picture.
That’s a lot to take in for one episode, but I wouldn’t expect anything less from an anime that’s built on the intertwined relationships of characters and groups. This reminds me of one of those shows that have a ton of background stuff happening, you have your two main protagonists minding their own business and it all collides one day and all hell breaks loose. This can be done fairly well or terribly bad… and I’m banking on KARNEVAL delivering a great plot line. I love the aspect of thievery (that Gareki brings in) and the hints of magic. It’s not too farfetched that I’m left wondering how that happened… but it’s believable in a sense that it seems to blend well with the theme of the anime. It must be the whole “magical/mystical” feel that they’re aiming for (as if you’re in a circus!).
To be honest, I’m not a fan of Nai and I don’t think I will be for a long while. He seems like a lost puppy most of the time and I’m still not sure how he brings value to the story. I’ll probably eat these words later, but hey! I love Gareki! He’s a great example of someone that probably has a tragic history, had to work hard to get where he’s at and he steals for a living because… well he has nothing else going for him. The blend of characters work well though and I love the cool/bad-ass appeal from both males and females. The villains have been pretty tame so far, but there’s no telling who is really “bad” or “good” at this moment. I’m quite interested to see where this will lead us though and I always love the stories that are told from alternate perspectives that come together.
A lot of people compare this to Pandora Hearts and although I love that anime as well – KARNEVAL comes across more similar to K for me. It has the same idea of groups (or individuals) that come together due to some circumstance and stuff happens! KARNEVAL also reminds me a lot of similar circus-themed novels like The Night Circus or Water for Elephants. It really brings to life what you would imagine the novel to be like if it were animated and I love how it plays with the idea of a carnival (but only metaphorically). Anyway, I would definitely say the first episode was a fun ride; there’s a ton going on and I would expect great plot lines to develop later. The characters aren’t a sight for sore eyes either!
ED: 「REASON」 by KAmiYU