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

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Friday, December 12, 2008
Release Date: Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Karin draws to a close as a way is discovered to turn her into a full vampire, just as Winner’s grandfather arrives to put a stake through them all. 

What They Say:

It's a family feud when the Sinclair family relentlessly hunts down the Marker family in an effort to annihilate the vampire clan once and for all! What can one lone girl do when she is struggling with her own life? He best friend has been bitten by her loving sister, she missed meeting with her boyfriend, and her grandmother has found a way to turn her into a true vampire!

Contains episodes 21-24.

What We Say:

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:
The final volume lets Karin take center stage as she’s here, with her little fangs visible, while wearing a really great outfit that’s rich in the deep purples. Of course, giving her a microphone and playing up the idol aspect a little feels a bit odd, but if you take that away it’s a perfectly wonderful cover. 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 nun outfit with her hands clasped together on one side while the other panel has the good looking pairing of Kenta and Karin together in their normal school clothes. The included insert has a cute image of Karin and Elda riding a very happy Winner Sinclair.

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. 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:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The end of Karin is something that while I wasn’t looking forward to it, I’ll certainly welcome it if it can close it out right. The series had hit a bit of a malaise in the middle section where it wasn’t quite sure where it wanted to go. Beyond some background stories of interest with characters like Ren and Anju, it ended up falling into the past by dealing with Elda and the history that’s there, which really felt like a stunt more than actual storytelling. Of course, it does have ties to the present, but it took the time and attention away from Karin and Kenta, which is what I wanted to see more of.

The final four episodes juggle quite a number of stories overall and they manage to weave a rather good narrative. Even with Elda running around, the show has managed to find a very good balance here as it’s trying to close out a number of storylines. The events that have been happening now have come to a crossroads where everything is going to change no matter what. And unlike a lot of shows, all the storylines are pretty interesting and would have worked well if they were the only story being told at the moment. While the secondary characters have key moments here and there, by and large this is all about the lead characters finding their way back together and realizing what they really want.

Elda’s discovery in the ancient texts of a way to turn Karin into a true vampire is the big focus at first as she’s come back with the intention of setting everything right. That puts Karin in a very awkward position because in some ways she’s really not sure she wants that life, even though it’s really all she’s known because of her family. Even before meeting Kenta, it’s easy to imagine that she would have been extremely happy if she kept on as she was and functioned in normal human society without any issues. But with Elda discovering a path and her intention on making things right, it’s not that she doesn’t have a choice but rather the pressures are so strong from the family side that she can’t help but go along with it.

And one of the events that helps it move forward even more is that Ren makes a play against Kenta by doing his best to convince him to let Karin go so she can move forward proper. The way that the vampires live their lives, especially in regards to their lifespans, is something that he brings up as a way to show that it won’t work between the two of them and he should cut his losses now, but more so in order to prevent Karin from a more serious heartbreak later. Kenta’s nature is one where he’ll realize all of this and the sense that it makes and his desire to make sure she’s never hurt will rise above all else. When he goes through the motions on this, in classic teenage anime boy way, it’s the final straw that Karin needs to truly agree with what Elda has presented to her.

The other game changer that has come into play here is the arrival of Victor Sinclair, Winner’s grandfather. With a special device that allows him to actually track and locate vampires, he’s ready to put an end to the long standing grudge against the Marker family and is very glad to have Winner with him. Winner’s still oblivious to who Karin really is, but it’s not a surprise at all that events lead him to finding out. That puts a huge spin on his mindset where he’s now trying to come to grips with it. At the same time, Maki has finally made her move on him and revealed her feelings so he’s getting even more conflicting signals and ideas now. Toss in the pressure from his grandfather, especially after he realizes his grandson has feelings for a vile Marker vampire, and Winner isn’t his usual over the top self for a lot of this. And that’s a strong positive for him since he’s actually an engaging character as he deals with the internal conflict.

In Summary:
As a whole, Karin had some weak parts to it in the middle but I really like how the ending tied a lot of things together. Some of it is obviously done up a little too easily and I would have liked to have seen more of how things went between Maki and Winner. But at its heart is the story of Kenta and Karin and I came away feeling very pleased by it. Everything comes to a head here at the end, which is little surprise, but the stories are balanced well and just about every character had some good time here and a few key moments. Even the Marker parents came across quite well here. If there’s anything to be sad about, it’s the lack of a good ending for Boogy who is still quite quiet. Beyond that however, Karin is the epitome of a good light romantic comedy series that did some fun little things such as the reverse vampirism and the idea of blood affinity to various emotions. It left me smiling quite a lot and has left some very good impressions for the long haul. Definitely recommended.

Features:

Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles

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: N/A
Age Rating: 13+
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (Mixed/Unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Karin