Karneval (Manglobe) – Genre: Action, Mystery, Fantasy
Score 1 – “Rainbow-Colored Fuse”
Wow, okay. This first episode just totally blew my expectations out of the water. Granted, I should’ve given Karneval a little more credit, but now I’m definitely a believer. I’m not sure why I had doubts because I have quite a history with liking anime series that featured an all-male cast (Tsuritama, Kimi to Boku., Kuroko no Basuke, etc.). Karneval actually seems to have more important female characters than most of those series too, which is fairly exciting for added diversity.
Anyway, the episode starts off with a sort-of split narrative with a scenes in a manor, out in the city street, and on a train being held hostage. At the manor, our shy protagonist Nai (CV: Hiro Shimono, as in Keima from The World God Only Knows) is being assaulted by a scary lady that transforms into an even scarier demon creature. Luckily, he’s kind of saved by the suave tech wizard Gareki (CV: Hiroshi Kamiya, as in Izaya from Durarara!!). Out in the street, we meet a mysteriously debonair man named Hirato (CV: Daisuke Ono, as in Shizuo from Durarara!!) as well as his confidant, a girl named Tsukumo (CV: Aya Endou , as in Miyuki from Lucky Star). It turns out that the two are members of an organization known as Circus, whose group objective has not been made apparent to us yet.
Eventually, their paths converge on the train, which is being held hostage by a group of radicals seeking revenge against a CEO for what they are claiming is unfair treatment. They’re probably right, but as the CEO reasons, there is no way to please everybody in the company and sacrifices have to be made for the greater good. They detonate explosive in each of the cars, one by one, until Gareki discovers that they aren’t using bombs but instead the electrical system of the train itself to cause explosions. Nai possesses an interesting ability with his ears, which allows him to I guess hear the explosions before they actually happen.
It also turns out that being members of Circus means having awesome fighting prowess and other cool abilities because Hirato and Tsukumo kick a lot of ass. They both apparently have the ability to fly, which is already amazing. However, Tsukumo moves fast enough to dodge bullets, while Hirato have seemingly teleport and conjure a staff that can generate wind strong enough to slice the train cars. He does this to rid the train of the electrical device the criminals were using to blow up the cars. While it seemed like the politician was the victim in the hostage situation, it turns out that he allowed himself to get captured in order to assess the strength of Circus as well as Nai. He seems to be taking particular interest in Nai’s ears too.
I am greatly surprised (even though I really shouldn’t be) at how much I enjoyed this first episode. I like the character designs, and the setting is very diverse. The plot also has me intrigued, and I can’t to meet the rest of the members from Circus. We’re left with a lot of mysteries such as Nai’s true power, his bracelets that are so sought-after, and the suspicious man speaking with the CEO.