Eh? Wait, what? There’s a second season, right?
Despite all the fanfare last episode, I didn’t feel like this episode was much of a finale at all. There was a lot more of that “final battle” vibe going on in episode 12 compared to the actual end, and to be honest I feel somewhat cheated here. I’m not sure if a second season is slated for this series (though I’ve heard that the Blu-Rays are selling very nicely), but for a first season I’m kind of confused as to what this was all about. All this time we’ve been led to believe that reaching Karoku would be the climax of the plot; that meeting him would clarify everything (or at least something) about Nai and Khafka, but in reality we get no answers at all. In fact, we get more mysteries than ever. After all, the Karoku Nai meets isn’t the Karoku we’ve come to believe he is; instead, he’s some sort of imposter, though we never find out who he is or what his purpose is in harming the real Karoku. And since the real Karoku is unconscious until the very end, we never hear anything of the real story from his end either.
If there’s any resolution at all to be had, it’s in Gareki, however. This whole season, Gareki has been something of an add-on to the Circus retinue; a free-loader without much skill to be of any use, a fact that he himself has often lamented. It’s only now, at the very end, that he finally does something about it and decides to leave the Second Ship for the sake of going to school and gaining a certification to become a true Circus member. It’s rather shocking to me, really, that such a departure would occur at the very end; it gives Gareki the resolution he’s been lacking all along, true, but it feels like a placeholder, a bookmark, in the story, which I’m sure is supposed to be the point. I’m assuming this either means the studio already has a second season in the works, or that we’re supposed to go and read the manga now, but in any case, the separation only adds to the questions. For what reason was Gareki on a Khafka research ship in the first place, and why is this a reason for Circus to be so interested in him?
In any case, I’m somewhat bummed out at the lack of answers; even if this is the prelude to something greater, it feels wrong to leave all the mysteries completely unsolved. I can’t even tell if this is an anime original cliffhanger or one derived from the manga, but regardless, I really do wish some little thing was solved, if only to make things easier to place in perspective later.
Note: I sincerely apologize for the late post; I’ve been having a good share of technical difficulties lately.
KARNEVAL is a series that’s much more difficult for me to talk about than a series like Hataraku Maou-sama!; I’ve mentioned this before, but where the latter is a work of great execution, the former is a work that revels in its own curious and fabulous world-building. The series is never willing to address its plot if it isn’t directly related to some atmospheric wonder or fun aside, and even when things get dark, this isn’t the type of show to ignore any dramatic advantages it is liable to take. I get the feeling that KARNEVAL doesn’t always take itself seriously, and that it does it as flamboyantly as possible, but that’s never really a bad thing. This is a show that loves flair and drama, the way a real carnival or circus might, and it places that exotic and whimsical atmosphere as its priority no matter what sort of story it tries to tell. Without that style, I don’t think the series would do as well as it does; there’s too much mystery and not enough answers, though that’s only in the perspective of a non-manga reader. However, because I don’t follow the manga, I find it a lot more difficult to invest myself in a series that doesn’t really try to let me get at the bigger picture. Since I can’t be fully certain that this end merits a second season, I have to take it as a standalone work, and that makes this finale and the general pacing of the show feel a lot less wise than, say, a more concise plot over the last few episodes may have been. Nonetheless, barring the less than satisfying finale, I’m still more than a little sad to see the series go. Perhaps it’s all the adorable animals getting under my skin, or the melancholy truth that there will be no more random tea parties to liven up my week, but though I’m aware there’s probably a good deal of adaptation decay at work here, I think I’ll really miss KARNEVAL and it’s zany, strange ways very soon.