Score 3 – “Phantom Picnic”
After Nai slips into unconsciousness from the battle last episode, a doctor takes the opportunity to examine his body. He comes to the conclusion that he’s actually an animal! Well, maybe it’s a little more complicated than that. Apparently, there is a species of Kyuubey looking rat animals called Niji that live on an island that’s protected by electromagnetic waves that refract light and create mirages. Since Nai’s body composition resembles that of the Varuga monsters, it’s suspected that he is in fact a product of someone’s experiment that combined human cells and Niji cells. This, along with the habitat the Niji live in, explains Nai’s amazing hearing as well as his rather docile personality.
Throughout the episode, Gareki reassesses his relationship with Nai. We get flashbacks of Gareki’s past, with him huddled in the rain over a dead body. In his inner thought monologue, Gareki claims that he’s from a dirty village and harbors anger towards his past. However, being with Nai has been a completely different experience. Where his past was “dirty,” Nai represents life at its purest and most innocent. Nai has a vision in his dreams of Karoku warning him that Gareki will be broken if they stay together. This prompts Nai to start pushing him away and makes Gareki wonder what kind of guy Karoku is. He offers to help Nai find him, probably so he can fight him.
There’s a strong boys’ love feeling between the two of them (even more so then other characters in the series), but I suppose that’s to be expected for a show like Karneval. We’ve seen this scenario many times: with a soft-spoken white haired boy and a tough boy with black hair. That isn’t to say that they’re all the same (in fact, I’m sure they’re all fairly different), the connection is there and it would have been interesting to see something that goes against this growing trend. Whether anything romantic, implied or otherwise, will happen remains to be seen though.
In the middle of the episode, we get a brief introduction to three more characters: Tsukitachi, Jiki, and Kiichi. While they didn’t receive much screen time, Kiichi comes off as a self-centered girl who regards Tsukumo as her senpai (though disdainfully). The team go to the Niji Forest for more clues about Nai’s species, and they’re welcomed by a bunch of angry tentacles. We get to see Yogi in action with his two conjured rapiers. However, the tentacles manage to catch Gareki off guard and carrying him into the forest, leading to a cliffhanger. But we’ve all seen enough hentai to know where this is going, right?