Monday, April 14, 2008

Karin – review (series)

dvd set

Directed by: Unknown

First aired: 2005

Contains spoilers

Karin is an anime series that is a step away from the normal vampire anime I have seen and is more a romantic comedy than a fantasy adventure. That said there is some unusual lore within the series that is worth looking at. The comedy elements, on the other hand, didn’t work that well for me but there might be a reason for that in relation to the DVD set I have.

Karin and AnjuThe series itself surrounds a family of vampires, the Marker family – though the family moved to Japan 200 years before and the kids have adopted the kanji version of the name Maaka. Karin (Sayuri Yahagi) is the middle child and goes to a normal, human school. We discover later that the elder brother, Ren (Junichi Suwabe), also went to school until he awakened as a vampire. Youngest daughter Anju (Yuka Inokuchi) does not seem to be in school, though she is in the manga.

nose bleedKarin begins with a scene, when Karin was younger, and first bit a human. We discover later, however, that she is not your normal vampire. She is a blood-producing vampire. Rather than needing to feed, her body produces too much blood and she needs to inject this into her victim, or release it through nosebleeds. She is getting along okay until a new student arrives, named Kenta Usui (Katsuyuki Konishi). Karin discovers that her blood reacts to misfortune and his misfortune is so great that her blood constantly increases. Karin makes it her mission to make him happy and the two grow closer.

vampires in the sunKarin has, due to her unusual condition, no real vampire powers. She daywalks and her senses are dulled to human standard. The other vampires burn in sunlight, have eye mojo and the ability to wipe memories. They are not effected by holy items and garlic is repugnant only because its pungent aroma offends their heightened sense of smell.

being stakedAs to how else they can be killed, we are unsure. We certainly see survival from being staked in a back story section concerning Karin’s grandmother Elda (Yuri Shiratori). It is through Elda that we discover that being kept locked in a coffin (Elda was locked away by her daughter-in-law Carrera (Emi Shinohara)) actually makes a vampire become younger rather than wither.

Karin bitesThe real difference, and something I really liked, in the lore was that each vampire is attracted to a different emotion/trait. Carrera prefers the blood of liars, Ren of those who are stressed and Karin’s father Henry (Dai Matsumoto) prefers the blood of the proud. When they feed they draw that emotion/trait from the individual. That is all well and good when it is something negative but Elda is drawn to the emotion of love. As for Karin, when she transfuses her blood into someone it makes them happy and full of energy.

Winner SinclairThe comedy, to me, did not work that well. Much is set around embarrassment – particularly that of coming of age and first sexual blossoming. Thus Karin and Kenta find themselves embarrassed by their feelings. Things are complicated by the arrival of vampire hunter Winner Sinclair (Kouki Miyata). He was, unbeknown to himself, Karin’s first bite and falls head over heels in love with her, much to her embarrassment. As nosebleeds are a metaphor in anime for sexual attraction, Karin’s habit serves a double function.

EldaThe comedy seemed a little off to me, but that might have something to do with the subtitles on the Malaysian release of the DVD being very literal and thus the nuances of the joke became lost. The whole coming of age issue also became a little stale and things became much more interesting when winner’s vampire hunting grandfather and Elda came into the story.

avoiding KentaThere is some joking also around the size of Karin’s boobs, which seemed a little inappropriate due to her being shown as only 16 – this is a cultural difference obviously. Elda and Karin are almost identical (bar eye colour and hair length/colour) except with regards to boob size and much pointing out the difference and grabbing by Elda, asking where they came from, went on.

a chibi type momentThe art style is also one that may not appeal to the casual anime viewer. Whilst a variety of styles was used there was a lot of use of, what is commonly known in the West as, chibi or ‘super deformed’ stylisation. This style is used to show exaggerated emotion and I quite like it, but it is not to everyone’s taste.

The romantic comedy sections did drag a little in places but there were certainly some interesting ideas contained within this. Overall, however, I feel it is a little above average compared to other vampire orientated animes I have seen. 5.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

the main characters


Anonymous said...
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Taliesin_ttlg said...

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