OP2: 「偏愛の輪舞曲」 (Henai no Rondo) by GRANRODEO
「フォーチュンキャット」 (Fōchun Kyatto)
If you like your bishounen varied, your plot nigh impossible to unravel, and your curiosity piqued, then KARNEVAL is the series for you.
Whereas Hataraku is a series that showcases the power of great execution, KARNEVAL is a series that works its premise to maximum effect. The intrigue here lies in the big picture, in the overarching questions of what is going on and why, and in the curious stylistic flair that suffuses it all. This isn’t a series that wants to be made sense of; it’s an anime that plans to toy with its viewers by teasing secrets out in every bit as whimsical a manner as the title suggests.
In keeping with this tendency, there are far more questions than answers to be had in this second episode, and there’s quite a bit more world building than there is character development. Circus is revealed to be a sort of fantastical intelligence agency passing off as an actual circus (not the easiest way to keep from attracting attention to oneself, I’d presume, though there’s something to be said about hiding a tree in the forest), and it has an enemy organization: the group behind the creatures who have been after Nai from the very beginning. Regardless, it’s not yet clear why Circus exists or why they’re fighting this opposing organization, but whatever the goals, the reality is that Nai (and Gareki by association) are now too deeply involved in the fight to get out unscathed.
To their rescue, however, comes another addition to the bishounen party: Yogi (Miyano Mamoru), another member of Circus and the resident mascot Nyanperona, is nothing if not perky (and easy to pick on as a result), but he’s also more than meets the eye. He and Tsukumo seem to be the muscle behind Circus’ operations, and this time it seems they’ve been assigned to watch over Nai and Gareki. It’s a little soon to speculate just what it is that Circus is planning to do with the two boys, but Hirato at least doesn’t seem to want to keep them (completely) in the dark about their situation, targeted as they are. While Nai seems to be a special case, possibly due to his as of yet unknown connections with the mysterious Karoku (Hoshi Souichirou), Gareki and his thieving skills might just turn out to be an asset to the organization, at least in Hirato’s eyes.
The one thing I’m rather disappointed about so far is the lack of characterization. It’s not completely fair to say that these characters are flat, because they’re not, but they’re not nearly as well rounded as they could be either. We don’t know a whole lot about Nai, for example, who continues to act as lost and wide-eyed as a wild animal in the city, and I’m starting to wonder if that isn’t a lot more indicative of his nature than it seems at first glance. Why wouldn’t he know what blood is, for one thing, and just where did he come from? At the moment he just seems to fill in for the shouta stereotype (though with a pretty inappropriate voice actor, which I have to admit is amusing to listen to), and he’s much more a mystery than he is someone to relate to. This is true of most of the characters so far, but is this a result of adaptation, of the dizzyingly complex premise, or simply of a lack of development?
Perhaps the case is that, as with it’s plot, KARNEVAL is simply not willing to hand out answers in any form. After all, sometimes the best mysteries are those that make sense only in retrospect, and mystery and intrigue are certainly aspects that this series excels at.