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Karneval Episode 01
Is it just me or did anyone else feel as though they were dropped into the middle of episode two or three?
Despite double and triple checking that yes, this is indeed episode one, the first episode of Karneval feels like it’s already been going on for some time. What would have been a pretty solid second or third episode feels rushed and confusing for a first episode. We get dumped straight into the action with no time to get acquainted with these characters, their motivations, or even where the heck they are as the episode rushes speedily along through a rescue, a train hijacking, and a bomb threat, with some brief flashbacks interspersed between. Gareki’s flashback was particularly bemusing. It seemed placed there out of the blue with little connection to what was going on at the time.
Personally, I found myself disconnected from all the action and I thought that the pacing left much to be desired. I’m also slightly ambivalent to Gareki and Nai’s relationship. I understand that Gareki saved Nai in exchange for the bracelet, and perhaps the chance that Nai might be useful, but despite this I can’t help but feel that they’ve been shoved together rather unnaturally. Perhaps this is because, without an explanation of why the heck he was trying to steal from Mine, Gareki’s presence seems like one huge plot device for the purpose of saving Nai. I only hope that their relationship will grow into something more natural as the series progresses.
On the plus side, all these unanswered questions mean that I will definitely tune in to the next episode in hopes that I will get some of them answered (how did Nai end up in Mine’s clutches? What is Circus? Why was Gareki snooping around Mine’s place and just what was he looking for?). If you try to block out the niggling questions, there are some very cool characters in the form of Tsukumo and Hirato. They have some interesting powers that will be fun to explore later on. I did like that the person they saved from the hijackers turned out to be a possible antagonist. Gareki also had time to briefly shine as our resident bomb expert. My only fear is Nai. I have allergies against the “woobie guy that everyone loves” trope. Whether he will fall into the archetype set for him or evolve into a more nuanced character, only time will tell.
My interest in Karneval was tweaked by the promo pictures, (yes, I am that shallow) and the character designs intrigued me. I am pleased to say that, although the animation wavers between average to slightly above-average, everyone is nice to look at (at least all the important, characters) and you’ll probably see Karneval-inspired cosplay at your next convention.
In short, a rather rushed and confusing intro, but with plenty of intriguing teasers that make me want more. If things go well, there is lots of potential here for an enjoyable show.