Karin Vol. #2 (of 6) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, July 17, 2007

What They Say
Humans and vampires have been enemies for ages but there is always an exception to the rule. Karin is such an unusual vampire that her family decides to make a gamble and entrust Kenta Usui with watching over her in the daylight hours. Of course, the price for failure would cost him his hide but when the alternative is losing his memories along with basic motor skills, he gratefully agrees to it!

The Review!
Karin has a number of new challenges to face in this volume but nothing as bad as Kenta as he must face... her father.

The audio mixes for Karin's two language tracks are fairly straightforward 192 kbps encoded pieces. Neither language track really exhibits much in the way of placement or overall directionality but they come across pretty well for a generally dialogue based show. The series has a fairly full mix to it but it's always the music and some of the sound effects that come across the best. The scene change animation and sound tied to it has some of the best moments overall in terms of standout pieces. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout the episodes however and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing in late 2005 and early 2006, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Being such a recent show and one filled with lots of bold and bright colors it comes across as very clean and appealing. The reds stand out particularly well with no bleeding or chroma noise associated with it. Some of the darker scenes with the blues and blacks at night show some noise and mild blocking but it's fairly minimal throughout. The lack of aliasing and cross coloration helps give the show a very smooth feel, particularly during the various zoom and pan sequences.

Using different artwork than the Japanese release, the front cover has a very vibrant piece Karin and Kenta's mother in simple but cute outfits with food falling out all around them. Similar to the previous volume it has a lot of pinks and other bright colors to it but the positioning of the characters just looks awkward and bad. The back cover is set into the usual three sections. The top has a decent summary of the premise while the middle provides shots from the show along with episode titles. The discs features and extras are clearly listed and easy to read. The releases production information round out the bottom in a clean format and the inclusion of a solid technical grid makes it very easy to see what the disc is setup like. The cover does have artwork on the reverse side which includes Karin in a maid like outfit on one side while the other panel has the artwork of Karin in some cute street clothes. The included insert has an appropriate pairing of Karin and Winner which is almost too weird for words. The reverse side is a sheet of paper that lists the release months for future volumes.

Geneon has again set up a decent looking menu but one with no audio to it which feels really out of place considering their releases over the years. The main menu is a cute design of Karin from the reverse cover in her street clothes. The background is made up of lots of pinks and reds with flower petal designs. A few shots from the show are included here as well. The navigation is good as it provides for individual episode access and other basic setup features that I like, particularly in keeping the setup and extras separated. Access times are nice and fast but the disc did not read our players' language presets. It instead defaulted to English language with sign/song subtitles.

The only extra included on this volume is a clean version of the second opening sequence.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While the first four episodes of Karin weren't stand out episodes overall it proved to be an entertaining enough show with some nice if mild twists on the schoolgirl vampire genre. The second set of four episodes moves forward with a good plot point in an enjoyable manner before going into familiar and campy territory with the arrival of a Vampire Hunter.

The main thrust of the first couple of episodes revolves squarely around Kenta and his relationship with Karin. With Anju having made a move to find out more about him at risk to her own health, the family is more willing to listen to her suggestions based on what she's learned. Rather than trying to mindwipe him or control him in some other fashion, the possibility of making him an ally of the family is explored. Everyone has a different reaction to this which is what makes it so much fun. Ren is obviously against it considering what he's seen so far. Karin's father is somewhat into the idea but then his role as her father clicks and get gets all protective. And of course Karin is freaked out by the idea in general but even more so when Anju reveals where Kenta really lives.

There is plenty of fun to be had in watching how the family deals with Kenta, especially when Henry basically kidnaps him for a sit down chat, but the real fun is in watching how Kenta and Karin get along. Kenta is genuinely interested in what's going on with all of this because of how it's affected his mother. There's also a glimmer of interest in Karin for him but that's continuing to be a smaller aspect of their relationship so far. Karin continues to be interested mainly in making sure that he doesn't spill the beans about them as well as trying to ease his unhappiness level so that her blood level doesn't rise too much. Neither is going into this with a huge amount of attraction towards each other but they are becoming closer, slowly, in a more friendly manner that makes it all the more believable " and enjoyable.

Where the show takes a less than pleasant turn it's with the arrival of the obligatory Vampire Hunter. Coming into town while wearing heavy clothes that stand out in the heat of the summary, Winner Sinclair is on a mission for his grandfather to find the vampire infestation in Japan. Brash, arrogant and completely clueless about social interaction with other people, Winner is anything but a winner. He does have some things in his favor though such as his looks which garner him the adoration of pretty much all the women around him. He's mostly oblivious to them however unless it lets him get closer to his target. Winner has an all or nothing style about him that does nothing but get him into trouble.

It also gets Karin into trouble as when he arrives he takes an instant liking to her, going so far as to call her his ideal girl. That doesn't go over well with the other girls and it goes over even worse " or more amusing " when it comes to Karin's family. What Winner's arrival does provide for the series is a way for Kenta and Karin to get closer together as he takes on a role as a protector of sorts. Through Winner's poor understanding of vampires Kenta is able to learn more about the reality of them. This does lead to some really amusing scenes, such as when Winner tries to flush the vampire out of the school, but for the most part Winner doesn't come across as a good character. I suspect that he's a character that will be here until the end but I hope he's a short term inclusion before moving on to something more interesting.

In Summary:
Karin manages to carry on for the most part with what made the first volume as enjoyable as it was. Though the cast is about the same size with only one real new addition it doesn't feel like it's too crowded or too limited. The introduction of Winner is something that hasn't exactly won me over but the continued charm of Karin and Kenta are what keeps me coming back for more. The series has a lot of good quiet moments to it that are mixed in with some very amusing comedy. One of my favorites is when Karin visits Kenta at home and his mother walks in only to think the two of them are going to get intimate. So she climbs into the closet and waves a little flag out for Kenta, telling him to have confidence. With humor like that and good looking animation and character designs, Karin has plenty to offer in the lighthearted entertainment department.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Closing

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI set to 480p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B-
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Karin