The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Karin

Title: Karin
Genre: Comedy/Romance
Company: J.C. Staff/WOWOW/Karin Production Committee
Format: 24 episodes
Dates: 4 Nov 2005 – 12 May 2006

Synopsis: Maaka Karin is a seemingly normal high-school girl with an unusual attraction to the new guy in her class, Usui Kenta. However, Karin hides a secret from all her friends: the fact that her and her entire family are blood-sucking vampires… well that’s not entirely true. Karin herself doesn’t actually suck blood—rather, her blood increases under certain circumstances, resulting in rather violent nosebleeds. To complicate things, Kenta one day accidentally stumbles upon this embarrassing secret.

The Highlights
Characters: Simple in design and personality, but given more than enough spotlight time to be likable.
Comedy: Not brilliant or clever, but more often than not funny.
Plot: Suddenly becomes serious towards the end… much to the series’ detriment.
Ending: Totally silly, but works.

Vampire lore is an odd subgenre in anime in that, despite its seeming inclination to succumb to cliché, it has delivered a fair share of interesting titles (such as Hellsing, Tsukihime and the Vampire Hunter D movies). More recently, anime vampire stories have come in contact with anime’s other, more prominent flavour of the month (moé) with some interesting results of its own, the most renowned example being Tsukuyomi ~Moon Phase~. Karin, another offspring of this unusual marriage, lacks the perfect balance of comedy and action and class directing of Moon Phase, but manages to deliver on the most important criteria of all forms of entertainment. For all its inconsequential nature, generic characters and predictable story, Karin is one of the most thoroughly entertaining experiences I can remember for a long time that spawned from the girl-meets-boy formula.

Karin’s comprehensive lack of aspirations for a deep or meaningful story is the thing that saves it from the beginning. Simple character designs with even simpler character personalities are introduced at the beginning and set the mood for this light-hearted high-school romance/vampire romp. Though not quite what one would call “low-brow”, the comedy hardly makes an appeal at the zenith of intellectualism. It’s very much “situation comedy”, but it’s good comedy, even in spite of its abundant predictability. What aids the comedy is (almost as if I’m copying from my other reviews) the likable nature of the characters. They’re hardly complex creatures, but they’re each given an opportunity to show their respective appealing traits that make them sympathetic. The character development is also admirable, particularly between Karin and Kenta, whose high-school romance is preceded by a refreshingly realistic “friendship” period.

Unfortunately, the series is tainted by the introduction of a life-threatening vampire hunter element in the final four episodes. While the majority of the progression had been largely character-focused, the sudden change to a plot-intensive story with a serious mood was too difficult to swallow. What made it worse, though, was that this section was driven by some atrociously silly plot devices. It was the ending itself that redeemed this part of the series, trumping the somber section with a plot twist so asinine that it’s unforgettable. But, more importantly, it delivered Karin back to the light-hearted mood that made it so enjoyable. For this reason, as silly as it was, I have nothing but compliments for the absurd resolution and the note on which Karin concluded.

As predictable and inconsequential as Karin is, I can’t begrudge something that managed to keep me so entertained. With a set of simple, yet likable characters and comedy which relishes in the light-hearted mood, Karin dares not fly among the highest ranks of anime, but delivers on everything it aims to. I almost wish this wasn’t a vampire anime, since this was the weakest component of the story, which was at its best a plot-device and at its worst an obvious excuse for a trite conflict. Fortunately, the rest of Karin, the parts that concentrate on its characters, are enjoyable.

The Rating: 6
6/10

Reviewed by: Sorrow-kun

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