Dealing with the issue of love, Karin has even more complications now that her grandmother has shown up.
What They Say
Karin goes head to head with her older brother Ren in order to protect Kenta's mother from his not so innocent urge to feed. If you thought Ren was bad, wait until you meet Karin's Grandmother Elda! She makes a beeline for Karin's classmates and has an unnaturally intense desire to feed on Kenta's blood. Only Anju can stop her from taking Kenta's feelings for Karin away!
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 show has picked up a bit in terms of aliasing as it wasn't that strong before but now it's showing up more in the various panning and zooming sequences. Thankfully there isn't much in the way of cross coloration however..
The third volume was pretty heavy on the fanservice so this one cuts down on it a bit as it features Karin in her school uniform while Elda is hugging her from behind. Both of them have big smiles and it’s filled with lots of light girlish colors that give it a very appealing feeling. 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 her waitress uniform on one side while the other panel has the artwork her in her pajamas in a bit of wake-up mode. The included insert has a cute image of Karin and Kenta together in their work uniforms. The reverse side is a sheet of paper that lists the release months for future volumes which is of course woefully out of date.
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 pajamas. 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.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The return of Karin to the market is a welcome event and we’re dropped right into the second half of the season with this set. The things that made up the first half have all brought the series to this point where Karin is now dealing with the realization that she really does have feelings for Kenta. With the way the two have grown closer and the pact that he’s made with her parents, Kenta’s emotions aren’t exactly given much time here, but he’s plainly caring about her and is continuing to be pretty involved in her life. Which of course makes her even more giddy.
Her coming to grips with her feelings makes up the bulk of the first episode as she grapples with the idea in general. That she actually admits to herself that she’s in love is a nice change as most of the time a character will simply blush and look away – even when they’re alone. But Karin confronts her feelings and tries to understand them. Naturally, she doesn’t want to tell anyone else since the family isn’t exactly one hundred percent behind Kenta, and there are issues with how Ren has taken a liking to Kenta’s mother for her emotions and blood. And with the uncertainty of how Anju may react to her sister being in love, well, that’s reason enough alone to not go singing it from the rooftops.
Where things take a rather amusing turn is when Mika gets into the picture and has a study sleepover with Karin before the start of school. The idea of getting all their summer homework done is the main thing, but you know they’ll spend some time in the tub together and that Mika will fondle Karin’s breasts since she’s so unusually bountiful there for her age. Where it is even more fun is that Mika starts talking about the idea that, under different names, the two of them like the same guy. Mika’s fishing out Karin’s feelings on the matter on how they could still be friends afterwards without realizing that Karin isn’t interested in the same guy. Karin’s daftness of course comes into play as she can’t figure out that “K” and “M” stand for Karin and Mika respectively, nor can she make the leap that “W” is actually Winner. God help Mika in that potential relationship…
The second half of the volume has me a little less sure of the series however. The story isn’t an unsurprising one as the school festival preparation is underway and Karin and Kenta’s class is working on a haunted mansion, which of course ties into plenty of Karin’s fears. The plus side to it is that she gets to work closely with Kenta and she’s growing to realize that she isn’t as susceptible to her nosebleeds as she was before since she’s becoming far more comfortable with him. That comfort level doesn’t last long however when her grandmother is suddenly unearthed in the basement of the house and she’s not exactly happy at what went on when that occurred.
Elda’s an amusing character but is still something of a one trick pony so far. She’s very young looking, long lived and has an appearance that’s very reminiscent of Karin but with longer hair. She’s also got the blood affinity for people in love, and in drinking their blood their love goes away. And with Elda not knowing that Karin is a reverse vampire, she’s panicked over the thought of her meeting Kenta at some point. With the reverse vampire aspect being something of a family shame issue as well, much is kept hidden from Elda as they tell her that Karin simply hasn’t blossomed in that direction yet. Of course, Elda is an outgoing and twisted personality, which is made all the more apparent by Karin’s mother talking about how much she hates her, so we get a good idea of why the less Elda knows is the best.
With only two episodes of her, it’s hard to really not pigeonhole Elda at this point. What saves it from being utterly predictable in a way is that her back story gives her quite a lot of reason for why she is the way she is. With her age being that of something like five hundred years or more, understanding where she comes from highlights just how effective and cruel her particular affinity is. It does fit in all too easily with what’s going on in the present, but they provide a good reason for keeping her there as her parents hope that Elda may actually contain some knowledge of unusual vampires like Karin and how to deal with it. Hopefully beyond just putting a stake through her…
What an absolute joy it was to get back into this series. With the downtime between volumes, Karin has managed to continue on without missing a beat when this disc starts up. Karin isn’t a show that’s exactly high art or anything, but it’s the kind of solidly executed piece with a good hook that’s different from everything else. A reverse vampire? Vamprie’s that feed on emotions of others with a particular taste? Surely it’s been done before, but not often in anime form and not as nicely done as here. It’s mostly fluff, but it’s really good fluff that makes you smile and want to see what happens next. Fans of the series will be very happy to see this show return and hopefully others will check it out as well, if not now then when a collection finally lands.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer