Saturday, October 5, 2013

Karneval: Complete Series

Age Rating: 13 and up

Rating: 8 out of 10

Episode Count: 13

Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Comedy, Action, Supernatural, Drama, Mystery

Format: Japanese with English Subtitles


"Nai searches for someone important to him, with only an abandoned bracelet as a clue. Gareki steals and pick-pockets to get by from day to day. The two meet in a strange mansion where they are set up, and soon become wanted criminals by military security operatives. When Nai and Gareki find themselves desperate in a hopeless predicament, they encounter none other than the country's most powerful defense organization, "Circus"."


Carnival, once synonymous with a large festive celebration in which elements of a circus, parade, street party, and costume ball are mixed together to create the world's biggest block party, will now forever be synonymous in my mind with KARNEVAL (spelled differently but pronounced the same): A Pandora Hearts look alike packed to the brim with sentimental statements, whimsical OSTs, shocking animation, electrifying colors, cute characters, and riddle-filled story telling.

Immediately after raising its curtain, Karneval's stage is set and its cast and crew ready to perform, bringing you everything from laughs and gags, tears and cheers, and screams and sighs. And although I can't honestly say that Karneval lived up to exactly what I'd planned for it, I can, however, with all honesty say that I enjoyed every head scratching minute of it.

Karneval is one of those rare and tricky little series that seems to be able to slip past your love radar right up until it endsthen it leaves you to realize your deep affection for it, and desperation for more.

In many ways Karneval reminds me of a quote from one of my favorite series, Code Geass, in which Lelouch (the main character) reminisces on a time when his childhood friend, Suzaku, and Nunnally (his little sister) discuss happiness.

He says, "A long time ago, Nunnally, Suzaku, and I talked about something. We wondered what happiness would look like if we could give it a physical form. If I'm not mistaken I think it was Suzaku who said that the shape of happiness might resemble glass. His reasoning made sense. Even though you don't usually notice it, it's still definitely there. You merely have to change your point of view slightly, and then that glass will sparkle when it reflects the light. I doubt anything could argue its own existence more eloquently."

I found myself inclined to agree with both Suzaku and Lelouch's statement, happiness is indeed similar to glass, and I truly doubt anything could argue its own existence more eloquently.

That's how Karneval struck me. Even if you never really noticed it, the happiness and joy it spreads in its path is still thereyou merely need to turn and look at it from another angle, and its brilliance will then sparkle. I myself am at fault for not seeing this series' splendor--I was too consumed in picking apart its flaws and criticizing how it didn't meet my expectations to see how vividly it truly shined and how much pure joy it brought me while watching it. Better late than never I suppose.

In truth, even the flaws of this anime, in some way or another, go to prove its splendor. For instance, Karneval allotted next to no time for story or character development, however it gives you the distinct feeling you've known its characters forever. Like when you meet a person for the first time, but you just can't shake that overwhelming feeling that you've known them your whole life. And it seems that no matter what you tell yourself, you just can't get over having an odd since of comfort around the person. Does that count as a false sense of security?

Nevertheless, as fragmented and riddled as Karneval was, its tenderly kind hearted and endearing characters are its heart and soul, and their ever friendly and fun loving presence more than makes up for their series confusing story, and inability to fully express its gentle nature through words.

I'm a firm believer in ye old "actions speak louder than words" rhetoric though, and however jumbled Karneval's words may be, its actions are undeniable. It's a hopelessly poetic series, desperately searching for the right way to express itself. And although words seem to escape it more often than not, Karneval still manages to convey its feelings in an undeniably audible message. It merely wants to live up to its name by bringing a smile to the face of anyone watching it, as well as a pep to your step and a song to your heart.
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