OP Sequence

OP: 「偏愛の輪舞曲」 (Henai no Rondo) by GRANRODEO


「なないろ導花線」 (Nanairo Shirube Hanasen)
“Rainbow Fuse”

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!

Full-length images: OP, 19, 21, 24, 33.


ED Sequence




      1. This is technically not from a shoujo manga, but a josei, a manga aimed for women in their late teens and 20’s.

        Even if it was a shoujo, it has a good story, which is good enough for me, especially since the ED leads me to believe that there will actually be quite a number of female characters (and as a straight male, I’ve always thought that there’s a lack of appreciation for how well girls tend to be drawn in shoujo mangas and animes).

      1. I’m a yaoi fan and I absolutely hate that kind of steretypical pairing whether the show is yaoi or not it is giving wrong vibes and innuendos that are never innocent or accidental in any form of representation. the innuendos present in K were acceptable compared to this

    1. Sure you might get a yaoi-vibe from the show but… the story is still more important and I have read the manga for years and from that, I say that the story is pretty good. So just ignore the vibe and try to enjoy it. It’s pretty fun.

  1. I loved The Night Circus! That was a beautiful novel, and Karneval didn’t disappoint. Other then Higurashi, this was the anime I was most looking forward too. The train sequences reminded me of Baccano and the fight scene with Tsukumo was impressive.

    I agree that it has more of a K feel then Pandora Hearts. However, like Pandora Hearts, Karneval does have that Alice in Wonderland feel. I like the idea of ‘Circus’ as a defense force. I love when anime’s take words and turn them into an ideology that is the complete opposite. I definitely looking forward to how this anime pans out. Maybe Nai will gain some personality points down the road.

    1. Glad that you understood my references! I loved the Night Circus as well… highly recommend the book for those that like some magic/fantasy novels.

      Hoping that Nai grows over the series since he’s pretty much like a log right now… >_> I find it hard to really appreciate him as a protagonist as is.

  2. Urgh…I don’t like Nai or his character design(Not yet, anyway). Every time I see his cat ear like hair I get the urge to cut it. Oh..it reminded me Baccano a little.

  3. I think the only reason people compare this with Pandora Hearts is, as others have said, the Alice in Wonderland feel (or something similar). Although, another similarity so far appears to be significant differences between anime and manga. This episode deviated significantly, but I actually think it worked just as well, if not better, than the manga. If you really want to see the impressiveness of Pandora Hearts, then read the manga, because the anime, even if you liked it, does not do it justice.

    1. No kidding. The anime disappointed me too. I still enjoyed it but compared to the manga, it fails in depth and darkness. I mean, so much mindf*** in the manga and suddenly later a new chapter that puts all those missing pieces together. Amazing.

  4. The hype is caused by:

    1. the cast which consists of everyone’s favorite VAs
    2. the long list of pretty boys (and female lolis?)

    No really. That’s the reason people are so looking forward to this.
    It’s like K all over again. (Except we got Manglobe handling the animation).
    So no stunning backgrounds/visuals like the former.

    Add in a 3rd and 4th reason: GRANRODEO is singing the OP and KAmiYU is singing the ED.

    1. I think there’s a strong source material for the anime too. I didn’t finish K but wasn’t it an original anime? And that’s why it was so hard to find any info it before airing…
      I found it really hard to continue watching K because I actually did not like the blue hue over everything! I like my colors thanks >_> so in terms of animation… at least this isn’t all shaded blue.

    2. The animation reminds me of a brighter version of Manglobe’s vastly underrated show of last season: THE UNLIMITED (a cross between K and Code Breaker but 20x more awesome). They’ve been getting much better in their animation as of this year.

      Karneval looks good, and the plot looks interesting, I will be sticking around for more.

  5. This was a great first episode, like Cherrie I love the idea of having a thief as a main character; unlike him I also like Nai he reminds me of Shino from K because of his looks and hidden talents/past. The whole circus thing is a cool them so far we’ve met the Ringmaster and the Gymnast/Trapezist, I can’t wait to meet the clowns, animal tamers, strongman, ect.; also by the sound of it since Hirato was the 2nd Captain of Circus I’m guessing that we will meet rival Circus teams which will be good fun.

  6. Well, this series gave me a crazy K vibe with the main lead.. . doesn’t help matters that he even looks like that series expy in appearance, but personality as well from the first episodes of K. I eventually dropped K for personal reasons, so I don’t know much about it so I’ll just state that.

    Now comes the fun part, the cast quickly threw me back to Baccano!, words cannot express how much I loved that series and how the entire cast is full of eccentricity! By God, each of the characters in that series is rich in development and completely amusing to watch. If anyone is familiar with Baccano!, you know exactly what I’m talking about. It didn’t help matters that the first episode revolved around a train.

    That’s Baccano! in a nutshell when it comes to location since a major part of the series took place inside a train. Because of this I’m conflicted about this series. The Baccano! aspect of it is making me not to want to drop it yet, I do love eccentric characters and stories, so it may get better down the line, it’s too early to say. I will give it the 3 episode rule though.

  7. I’m all up for this if it won’t eventually try to bring out these little yaoi vibes more & more.

    The plot’s interesting enough and the anime as a whole doesn’t give the whole “LOOK AT ME I’M SO COOL!” premise that K did(which I dropped after ep3).

    3 ep rule time!

  8. Rather strange how some anime viewers feel that this anime will turn ‘yaoi’, almost like they’re expecting it to be one. But it isn’t, at least not from the source material I’ve read so far. The first episode was rather fast pace but nicely done, better than I’d expected. So, I’m looking forward to seeing how well they’ll adapt the story from here on.

  9. I absolutely LOVE the manga, but I’m still not sure what to think of the anime. The first episode left me with mixed feelings. They seemed to have changed quite a few things but I really can’t put my thumb on what disturbs me the most.

  10. Anyone else getting rpg vibes from the intro? The whole episode reminded me of Wild Arms 3.From Gareki’s bombs blasting walls open to make an escape to the train escape and Gareki’s attempt to disarm the bombs (a little standard rpg puzzle perhaps?), I felt like I was watching the intro of a rpg.

    I thought that Shotarapist lady would turn into a snake, but it was some kind of long armed mummy with sharp teeth.

    I wanted to read the manga before watching this, but I kept putting the manga on my backlog because of the other stuff that I read so it’s too late.I’ll still read it later to see the difference though.

    I’m not getting any yaoi vibes from the anime at all, even if it did turn out like that, the actual plot interests me enough to keep me watching just like other anime/manga like Fuushigi Yuugi, which I loved.

    Ever since Psycho Pass, I don’t trust old people in any anime that isn’t a slice of life or romcom anymore.That old man is up to something.

    Good first episode btw, can’t wait for the next one.

  11. I’ve read the manga a little bit and I think Nai and Gareki’s relationship gives more brotherly vibes instead of yaoi. Also, it has an engaging story and I find every character’s personality to be likeable. The anime translates this well: pleasantly colorful and decently paced. This might be a fun carnival, and I’m gonna watch it till the end.

  12. For some reason I just felt that most of the episode was rather dull, which is quite strange as I was rather looking forward to this anime.

    I’m not sure whether I should watch for another couple of episodes or not.

    1. Have to agree with you there, sekai.
      It had a nice amount of action w/ explosions and that circus girl destroying those gun-totting lot with flawless kicks but, it was kind of like that was all there was ._. no continuum I guess?

      Tbh, without Cherrie’s commentary on this episode I would not have noticed the fact that Karoku(?) was possibly bleeding out there in the intro.
      >I just thought it was some random guy standing there for whatever reason he may be 8D. Was there even any blood? I should go revisit that bit…

  13. I read the manga and the things I didn’t expect were Nai’s voice and some colors like the violet in Nai’s ears and the pink in Hirato’s staff(?). Lol. I just had to say Nai’s voice haha, I really wasn’t expecting that. I don’t know much about seiyuus so I guess I’ll gradually get used to it.

    It wasn’t a first episode that was exciting and all that, since it’s the same in the manga. And I’m not sure what’s dull or not for others and it lacks that bit of action, but it has an interesting setting and pretty cool character designs and personalities so I’ll still watch it till the end even though it turns out unsatisfying like K, which I also finished. XD

    I loved the animation in K and would love that kind of animation in Karneval too, but oh well, that’s just my preference.

    Show Spoiler ▼

    It got long =p It’s my first time to comment in an anime blog so, forgive me if I’ve stepped on some rules. It’s just that I love this manga so I’m really looking forward to the anime.

    Thanks for your hard word, Cherrie!


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