Karin Vol. #3 (of 6) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Tuesday, September 02, 2008
Release Date: Tuesday, September 02, 2008



What They Say
Karin's tries to get along like the rest of her friends but her true nature tends to throw a wrench into the works at every opportunity. A simple study session invokes the ire of her overprotective father, a day on the town reveals hidden secrets from the past and Karin's older brother targets Kenta's mother to prove a point to Karin that she shouldn't long for a life among humankind...


The Review!
Karin and Kenta try to settle into something resembling a normal school life and routine but the vampire aspect and Karin's family continue to play havoc with that idea.

Audio:
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.

Video:
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..

Packaging:
Going right for the fanservice this time, the front cover has an amusing if obvious choice with Karin and Maki pressed together while in their swimsuits. Lots of smiles and giggles along with plenty of bright colors and a solid helping of skin makes it work just right. 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 a cute image of Karin along with her parents in their usual outfits and mannerisms. The reverse side is a sheet of paper that lists the release months for future volumes.

Menu:
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.

Extras:
The only extra included on this volume is a clean version of the ending sequence.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Though Karin as a whole isn't all that different from many other shows, it manages to play into its gimmick well enough that you don't mind. There isn't anything terribly original here as Kenta and Karin go about their daily lives while dealing with the problems each has, but there is something a bit stronger to it in that the pair have reasons for keeping each other happy which is slowly growing into a real relationship. Having the two leads actually fall in love with each other over the course of the show rather than be instantly in love is a welcome change in itself.

What proved to be the most problematic for me in the previous volume was the character of Winner and all the things he brings to the table. He's not exactly minimized in this volume but he doesn't play a strong role in each of the episodes which helps. There are some good moments for him in this volume, particularly the ones that go some distance in explaining his past and how strong his connection with Karin really is. They do tie it to an episode focused around the pool, but even there they tweak it nicely. Winner is obviously interested in Karin, mostly because he knew a girl that looked just like her when he was younger, so a traditional date episode isn't unexpected. Karin's agreeing to it is unexpected but she goes into it with Maki and the idea of showing him how bad of a girlfriend she could really be. It naturally backfires in different ways but it sheds some good light on Winner and actually makes him fairly sympathetic.

It's unfortunate that he has too many Inspector Gadget moments however, such as the appearance later on when Ren is going after Kenta's mother. Winner shows up with a flashing siren on his hand and a pair of tuning devices spinning around in his hands which makes him look even more ridiculous than usual. Beyond this though, Winner is given less screen time and he's not engaging in fights with everyone, particularly Kenta, which helps immensely. It's surprising that he doesn't get more involved though considering the way Kenta and Karin are growing closer together through fairly standard plot devices. Having her nearly fail a class and having to study hard for a make-up exam, putting her with Kenta since he manages to succeed in that area is an obvious angle.

The relationship growth for the two of them is nicely done here with small moments that neither of them quite realize. Where it gets to be a lot of fun is in how it pulls in other people. Karin's father is drawn heavily into the show during a few of these episodes as he can't stand the thought of his daughter dating. Yet he has to let her go through with the studying aspect since if she fails they'll have to have a parent-teacher conference. That would mean their secret is out and they can't have that. So naturally he goes through a number of silly scenes in his attempts to find out what they're doing and keep them apart. It also has some good reaction moments for Karin and Kenta as they have different reasons for appreciating what he's doing and realizing that he really does just have their best interests at heart.

For all that it does throughout the four episodes, Karin is still a fairly predictable series. It has some decent looking clean animation to it, a bouncy enough score and fun characters that are light and bouncy. It has its dark areas to it, if you can call them that, such as Ren and Anju and what they're dealing with, but for the most part it's taking the lighthearted approach to Karin's problems. The series has some really nice moments to it as it ties things together for the characters and their pasts, notably with Winner and Karin, but also for others. Having Kenta realize that some of his troubles with his mother are caused by his own perceptions of things and not seeing how she sees them is dealt with when he sees how Karin and her father interact. For both Karin and Kenta, they're learning more about themselves through knowing each other.

In Summary:
Karin continues to be a pleasant surprise and a rather charming vampire romantic comedy. It's managed to find a good balance when it comes to introducing the silly moments and it retains a good tinge of darkness to give it a mild edge. The show isn't going to be anything heavy or serious but it's agreeable and fun to watch. Karin herself is fairly simple and somewhat shallow at times but seeing the way she handles her blatant embarrassment at everything while also having to deal with reacting to the emotions of others is a good bit of fun. You do have to wonder how well they can clean up all those bloody messes however...

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening

Review Equipment
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.



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