I adore, love, squee about this anime and manga. I first discovered is as a manga and was pretty caught up with the series as of five months ago. Then I discovered that they had turned it into an anime. Of course, it is slightly different then the manga just like any book to film adaptation, but I feel they still keep the mood and the important parts of it. So, onto a summary and then my adoration of it all.
Quick Summary: Nai is a sensitive young boy who is looking for the owner of the special bracelet, it belongs to someone very important to him. During his search he is kidnapped and almost killed when suddenly saved by Gareki-a teenager with a knack for explosives. There for unrelated reasons he ends up saving Nai and getting caught up into something much bigger then himself-Circus. Who just happen to be the most powerful government organization in the world. Now the pair become twisted up in a search for strange altered humans, the owner of Nai’s bracelet, and the secrets Nai holds himself-though he is unaware at just how special he is.
I love Karneval for many reasons. Each character has a unique and fully developed personality. Nai is horribly naive and trusting, his attachment to Gareki like he is an older brother is just so heart warming. Yogi is by far my favorite character. *minor spoiler alert* When you join Circus you generally do so at a young age, where you pretty much never get to see your family again. You belong to Circus and they become your new family. Yogi has obvious separation issues from his family so tries to act like the big brother to everyone on his crew. He is overly protective of everyone, tries to make everybody happy, and always has a smile on his face. I feel a lot of sympathy for him. *End minor spoiler*
The mysteries of Nai, Circus, and his important person are revealed slowly and just when you think you have it something changes the game. The characters change over time as well, which makes for a good series. When characters develop and change because of events, it makes them more interesting and more able to relate to. Even some of the bad guys you feel a little bit of sympathy or just anger because they’re such jerks, haha! Also, one reason that Circus-the super villain catching government group, has their name is because after they catch and often cause a ruckus in a town they apologize-by throwing a huge circus. The crew performs in various ways and it makes the populace happy and more at ease with what Circus does.
Now admittedly there are a few scenes that are probably done as a bit of female fan service, but I don’t think it is too overplayed (at least not in the sense of pantie-shot fan service). There is a lot of slash out there between some of the characters, but in the show there is actually very little romance. Some of the romance is between one female protagonist and her mentor, you can easily see she has some feelings for him but you can’t quite tell if it is requited or not. I appreciate this, that romance is a part of the show and not the whole show.
Overall the manga is better then the anime, for the reason that there are so many more subplots that are played out and information is delivered either earlier or at a better time. Now when reading/watching Karneval it can be a bit disjointed or confusing because a lot is happening at once or sometimes they are trying to be too elusive. Yet this doesn’t detract from it too much (or maybe I’m just biased because I’m in love with it.) If I had to choose, read the manga first then watch the show. Sadly I haven’t hear anything about a second season yet of Karneval, but no worries, the manga goes way beyond the first season. It’s colorful, good music, and adorable chibis at times.
5/5 for me!