Just enjoy the colors.
It is probably worth mentioning that I originally dropped Karneval during its initial run and only picked it up months and months later out of a sudden perverse need to finish it despite it being wholly underwhelming to me. Why? Maybe it was the bright color palette. Maybe it was that Tsukumo has a cute chest. Maybe it is an innate masochism on my part that Day Break Illusion didn’t somehow manage to satisfy.
Having picked up Karneval after about five and a half months of ignoring it, I would suggest this approach to watching:
- Watch episodes one through four.
- Drop it for three or four weeks.
- Watch episodes five and six, preferably while drinking some cheap hooch, like Burnett’s or one of those vodkas with the fake Russian names.
- Drop for three weeks and drink more to wipe away most of the finer details of episodes five and six.
- Watch episodes seven through thirteen. Skip the middle third of episode ten, and resign yourself to the fact that much of episode eleven is stupid and annoying, but that there are too many salient moments scattered throughout to easily skip a chunk of it.
- Accept that there won’t be any more Karneval anime since it sold poorly.
Karneval is not a good show. In fact, for much of its runtime, it is a pretty terrible show, as there exists no true connecting thread from one episode to the next much of the time – and even where there is one, half the time its a sign of a two-parter that will have little bearing on whatever follows it. Some shows do not require an overarching plot, but Karneval isn’t at all one of those, as one finds themself moored in the middle of the show wondering, “Wait, why the fuck has any of this stuff happened? What’s the point? Where are we going?”
Luckily, a storyline that feels like a real storyline emerges, at long last, in the final third of the show. Unfortunately, though, dear reader, nothing gets resolved – its all finally reached a purpose that seems at least mildly compelling, gives us some matters the audience can actually begin being curious about, then bows out, not a prayer of a sequel ever materializing. Some folks surely howled, “Wait, that’s it?!?!”, but it honestly isn’t that much of a drag, as, like I said before, it isn’t a good show, and even with some momentum the early awfulness inclines me to not wish for more where it could all just go pear-shaped again. Instead, I will simply express mild disappointment that the manga will likely never get a North American license, although it does have two official English language releases, one in Singapore, and another in New Zealand and Australia. Sadly, books are a rather pricey thing in those places even before the shipping costs are factored in, so that may be the final word on that matter.
Disappointment over not being able to read a manga of which I found the anime adaptation lacking? Well, the pieces are there for Karneval to be a decent if fairly derivative tale, but it was quite honestly one of the most poorly directed anime I’ve seen in a while. It got better as the show went on, but the first half is just flat out bad – hell, the aforementioned Day Break Illusion may’ve been terrible itself, but at least one got a sense of it moving toward something, and the Point A to Point B stuff made sense even if it was frequently ragingly idiotic.
This is a pretty negative review, I’ll grant. I did actually enjoy the second half of Karneval, although even the second half has some really obnoxious segments. Too bad – this had a lot to it off the bat that was up my alley, from the bursting colors to the cute girl (Tsukumooooo) to the BL potential, but better luck next time.