KarnevalA government organization called Circus protects society from preternatural enemies, seeking out and destroying verugas: humans who have been made into powerful monsters by a criminal organization called Kafka. Members of Circus have their own special abilities and technology, but they have not yet been able to root out the head of Kafka. Their luck changes one evening when agents of Circus encounter two boys on a hijacked train. Gareki is a teenaged cat burglar, while Nai is a naïve boy wearing a deactivated Circus bracelet and looking for its owner, a man named Karoku. After the boys assist Circus in saving the train, they continue on their way. But it soon becomes apparent that Kafka is pursuing Nai and Gareki, leading Circus to place the boys under their protection.

Karneval starts strong from the first episode and keeps a steady pace with a satisfying balance of action and character development. The story never lags, nor does it ever feel rushed. Because the plot advances so much in 13 episodes, it avoids feeling episodic and its characters are colorful and varied. At first, many appear to be stock characters, but over the course of the series, their endearing personalities blossom and the audience has the pleasure of watching them grow closer to one another. The end of the series draws many of its issues to a close, but there are a few loose ends that leave the audience eager for a second installment.

Interestingly, many actors in the English dub are cast outside their typical roles. This was a little disorienting at first because one grows accustomed to hearing certain voices attached to particular character types. Here, Greg Ayres and Jad Saxton portray darker characters, more mature than many of their other roles, while Ian Sinclair is featured as a straitlaced personality. Christopher Bevins also does a splendid job tapping into the strength and vulnerability of the character Yogi. These actors are all very talented and it was fun to hear them trying on new personalities.

Due to some mild language and violence, Karneval is recommended for teens and mature tweens. Those who are fans of Black Butler and Fairy Tail will especially enjoy this anime. Because the story begins moving quickly, it would also be a good choice for anime club screenings.

Karneval: The Complete Series
FUNimation Entertainment, 2014
directed by Eiji Suganuma
325 minutes, Number of Discs: 4, DVD/Blu-ray Combo Set
Company Age Rating: TV-14
Related to: Karneval by Touya Mikanagi

  • Emily Shade

    Past Reviewer

    This reviewer is not longer actively working on our site, but we would not be here if not for our many dedicated contributors over the years. We thank all of them for their reviews, features, and support!

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