Judge Brett Cullum makes blood not war, like all good Japanese school girls.
Karin doesn't suck.
Karin tells the charming tale of an awkward teenage girl who is a self described "un-vampire." She doesn't suck blood, but rather gives it. It's a teen romantic comedy in the same vein as Twilight only this time the girl is the monster who actually spews the red stuff in a fountain from her nose rather than drinks it like the rest of her family. Her skin doesn't sparkle, but she does have fangs and nocturnal siblings. It's not quite as sexy or romantic to spontaneously turn in to a blood sprinkler, but what can you do? Karin is just going to have to play with the cards she has been dealt.
Facts of the Case
Karin Maaka is a normal teenager and a middle child to boot. She has that same "Jan Brady" complex most of these types do, and Karin enjoys school and her friends. The only thing that makes her different is she is part of a vampire family. They have been living among humans for many years, drinking the blood of people discreetly. Karin is a touch freakish since she can go out during the day, and she does not suck blood but rather produces it in excess. That has only been a problem once a month when she has to get rid of the extra by transferring it in to someone else. This act has a healing property to whoever she does this to. Lately there is a new boy in school who Karin notices has "scary eyes." He makes her feel funny, and now she is producing extra blood at an alarming rate whenever he comes near her. Even worse, he figures out her secret pretty quickly. Can she trust her new love to understand her strange predicament? Will her family ever accept it? Throw in a grandmother out to recapture her youth, a committed vampire hunter, and a girl with mysterious properties, and you have a whole mess of problems that would frazzle even the most placid of teen girls.
Karin is an adaptation of a purposefully silly manga and novel series called Vampire Chibi. The first couple of episodes follow the written version pretty closely, although the tone of the televised series is a touch more serious when compared to the pure comedy of the comic panels. After a few episodes Karin branches off in its own directions even though the source material continues to inspire it. The characters look a lot like they do in the book, and all in all this is a solid transition from manga to anime.
Karin is most charming for the story which has enough twists and turns to always be engaging. These are a good group of characters in some peculiar predicaments, and the mythos they play with will please genre fans. The vampires featured are an interesting breed that have unique powers. Each of them has a "blood affinity" that determines what type of person they like to feed on. The mother likes liars, the father feasts on pride, Karin's brother looks for the stressed out, and Karin is attracted to those in unhappy circumstances. When they feed on a person the victims actually feel better because the blood comes out along with the other bad stuff. Karin makes people joyous and upbeat after her reverse attack. The vamps can also erase people's short term memory so that the victim never recalls what happened. The bitten subjects never turn in to vampires and do not die, so these vampires reproduce traditionally.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Karin is cute, but it's nothing that will wow animation aficionados. It exhibits all the stereotypical traits of most animes, and never seeks to innovate visually. Anime fans will be critical of the series for some clunky backgrounds and cliché character designs. Character faces are angular, and often come off as severe. It's strange to see such an innovative storyline married to some decidedly safe and accepted artistic style. The show plays it safe, and it will be hard to distinguish Karin from other shows.
The english dub is somewhat amateurish. The lead character comes off as extremely shrill, and the male lead sounds like someone bored by translating Japanese in to another language for the audience. As the voice actors go through the series they do get better, but many of the english vocals try to replicate the peculiar character of their Japanese counterparts unsuccessfully. This is definitely one show you will want to catch in the original language with the english subtitles on.
Funimation releases Karin with no extras save for the opening and closing sequences presented without credits running over them. There is nothing here to explain the show or where it came from. The six discs are housed in three slim cases, and all twenty-four episodes are handily included in this one collection. Visuals are crisp and clean without many problems popping up in the transfer. The sound is fine and dandy with dialogue represented nicely along side the jangly J-pop that underscores this teen love story.
Karin: The Complete Series gives us the entire run of an interesting new take on the "teen comedy" which incorporates vampires with teen angst. It's a lively show that moves along at a solid pace, and it manages to hold interest with unique twists and a parody of an established genre. Karin is cute as a button, but unfortunately the animation is standard stuff that won't make the anime stand out on visual merits. Funimation finally gives us one complete package, but they offer no extras and a substandard english dub that will force you to listen to the original Japanese cast. Despite any pedestrian drawings or a bare bones release, Karin: The Complete Series Box Set does showcase a cool program that knocks the corny right off the teen vampire in love stories. I'd rather have a killer nosebleed than sparkly skin any day.
It doesn't suck, so Karin is free to go.
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