Check-out Station: Karneval ep13 (I came here to see action and kissing)
And daggonnit – I’m not getting any of that!
So here we’ve come to the end, of the season anyway. I have no idea if this will get another season, but I will say I’m a tad disappointed. Is it because I’m wading into unfamiliar waters? I rarely view josei, yaoi or any other material that is geared towards females or written by them. So perhaps my disappointment is due to misguided expectations and a lack of understanding. Then again, that hasn’t stopped me with other series, so get ready for some b*tching!
With things largely turning in Circus’s favor and only a half episode left to wrap things up before the series has to start winding down, we see a very heated battle . Uro breaks free and starts being a nuisance again. There’s one lone, dumb Varuga giving Yogi and Gareki a hell of a time. Then there’s Kiichi and Tsukitachi dealing with the inside of the building. And Jiki babysitting Nai as he stares at that rainbow like a moth does a flame.
Oh and before I forget, the situation with the mole turns out to be more emotional than I thought. There is a lot going on during the first half of this episode.
However, in the end things boil down to the fateful meeting our awkward pair and the infamous Karoku… Karoku? Hmmm, not quite.
As the battle inevitably concludes, Gareki and Nai are the ones who are able to get past the waves of Varuga cronies and to the base of the rainbow, where they’re drawn in to some netherworld. There Karoku awaits, and I get to make silly jokes about Boyfriend B finally meeting Boyfriend A, while love interest Nai fawns over A.
OK, this is really unnecessary, these characters have names and I DO remember them. The encounter is pretty much a trap for Nai, and once again Gareki appears to be the unneeded third wheel. But it’s Gareki’s presence that saves Nai from capture. He notices a body lying on the ground near them that Nai hasn’t even noticed, he also notices that he’s being paralyzed and having a hell of a time moving, let alone speaking. Not to make him sound badass when he really isn’t, but Gareki is able to will himself into speaking and shooting at the “fake” Karoku. Nai shaken from his dazed lust for the false Karoku notices that he’s not the same person he previously knew. The bloody and broken Karoku on the ground is the one he wants. Through sheer whim, it seems that the false Karoku (maybe I should be calling him new Karoku) is willing to wait for Nai and let’s all three of them go.
I really have no idea what’s going on at this point. I knew I saw two Karoku’s in the previous episode, but the “how” and “why” of all this completely escapes me. I’m sure eventually some manga reader is gonna step in here or on Twitter and tell me I’m a moron for not seeing the subtle nuances, so shoot me now.
The conclusion of all this chaos isn’t spectacular. The leader and Uro both escaped custody. I assume those two Varuga that were fighting Kiichi also escaped. I can’t imagine them merely dying from a few explosions. But they were able to shut down one of their strongholds, gather information and get a hold of Karoku finally. Though it’s a broken near dead version.
And I don’t know why I keep forgetting about this plotline, but the mole also escapes. Though I’m sure he’s doomed given that he’s being tailed by someone Hirato has confidence in. It was interesting to see some actual emotions aside from anger and annoyance come out of Akari for once. He seemed deeply hurt that someone he trusted so much, and who still looks up to him, would betray and hate him at the same time. That is some twisted jealousy right there! I say kudos to the show for that plot twist. It was done quite well!
The episode and the series concludes (for now) with Gareki being given a path into Circus and saying a very emotional (though most of that emotion was on the side of Yogi and Nai) farewell to his junior Circus comrades, Tsukumo, Nai and Yogi
End of series.
Hmmm… I have to admit that just like with Valvrave, it’s probably hard for anyone reading these posts to understand whether I love or hate these shows. And the big problem I’ve had with both is that the answer that type of question is that I don’t love or hate either. It’s just that with Valvrave the show is such of mess of a good or bad that my opinion strangely comes up neutral on it. The problem with Karneval for me is that it is a blander form of neutral. And ambivalence is the worst enemy of reviews and opinion. Such a thing dilutes all it touches. It’s like taking a dish that is best served hot or cold, and instead serving it lukewarm and a day old. No one wants that. That said I do have some decent pluses and minuses for this show.
First of all, it is generally a beautiful show. The animation isn’t spectacular, but the color are appropriately bright and vibrant. The character designs are appealing and stray from being too similar. Though I will say stuff like Nai’s design, which I’m sure makes sense to someone because of his origins still irks me feverishly. At the very least, the mysteriousness of characters like Hirato and Uro comes through just as well as the frantic emotional eruptions of someone like Yogi. And the music does have its moments. The OP theme isn’t an all time favorite, but I certainly like it. And I’m sure if I take a moment to look up the artists for it, I’ll find someone familiar.
The show also managed to fill in a big excitement gap that I found was too often missing in the show in the last two episodes. We got a decent feel of what battles were like involving Kafka and their Varuga and Circus and their agents. And they can get downright vicious at times.
Those things said, the show just wasn’t doing it for me in so many areas. And the main area was emotionally. any fear or excitement I had for a character and their peril was usually wiped away easily. The only ones who really seemed to be in danger were Nai, Gareki and Tsukumo. And Tsukumo is too dead pan for me to really even care about. She may as well be one of those creepy robotic rabbits that haunt the ships with their incessant maintenance and creepy swirly eyes (shudders). Nai threatened to be the most annoying character in all existence in the early going, but somehow the show was brilliantly able to deflect that by saying that he’s really some magical creature in human form. Though I’m not gonna be thrown by that excuse. There’s some serious yaoi being teased here.
And this leads to me to Gareki. Oh hell. Gareki! I should’ve just nicknamed him “Princess” through this series because he was constantly being useless and needing to be saved. His moments of splendor were very few and far between. I just hated how you are given this potentially cool character with a … decent character design, and just have him suck. I’m guessing that later on he becomes a total badass. But from what you see in the anime it comes across as a totally flat promise. Maybe this is because of all the shounen battle anime/manga I’ve experience, but usually that sort of character gets at least one crowning moment of glory to give people hope. By the last episode Gareki was failing so hard that he literally broke down in tears. And sorry, but I didn’t want to hold him, I wanted to kick him in the face.
Much like Gareki, the show just failed to deliver anything exciting and emotionally moving to me. The action isn’t nearly exciting or well- animated enough to you immersed in them solely based on the fight itself. And with most of the characters just kinda either looking cool or inept, it didn’t entertain me. And I know “not exciting” isn’t the most damning of conviction when it comes to someone’s opinion of a show, but it’s not good either. And that’s especially true for a show in a medium like anime, a medium known for being exciting, brash and over-the-top. This isn’t some deep psychological thriller, it’s main intent isn’t to teach people about the human condition. This is basically magicians fighting monsters, with some anime tropes thrown in to keep things accessible to a larger audience. It doesn’t get a pass for not being riveting when all it has going for it is subpar action and a bunch of pretty faces.
Concluding my experience with Karneval, I have to say that it was an average show at best, terribly subpar and boring at worst. But never outright terrible. And I definitely won’t see it winning over people who aren’t already into… josei-style action shows? Crap. This is more niche than I ever thought the whole three months I watched this show! So while I don’t regret sitting through this show past the initial five episode test, I definitely won’t be giving a second season a try, the manga won’t be touched either.
See you guys later!