A few simple words from Elda are continually in Karin’s mind now as she wonders just how bad things can go between her and Kenta.
What They Say
Karin's family is a real piece of work! Her grandmother continues her assault against the blooming love that Karin and Kenta share and Ren's not so happy coming of age story is revealed to an unbelieving Karin. Could it be true that her oversexed older brother had a relationship with another man?! Things go topsy-turvy and even Karin's best friend Maki joins the fracas with plans of her own to capture Winner's heart.
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 fifth volume goes all to the girls as it has Karin in the center being team hugged by both Maki and Anju. The expressions on all their faces are pretty spot on and amusing considering the way the last episode here plays out. 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 some good homemaker clothes on one side while the other panel has the artwork her in a Santa Claus costume proffering up a gift. The included insert has a cute image of Karin and Ren together. 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 a rather adorable Santa Claus outfit. 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 fourth volume of this series was fun to get back into after the delay but it introduced a character that didn’t exactly enamor me. The use of the grandmother, Elda, felt forced and contrived, especially because of the physical similarities shared between her and Karin. It pushed the series in a relatively unwanted direction and it simply gave her too much attention. Thankfully, her time is minimized in this volume but she still has a role to play throughout all four episodes.
So much of Karin’s reaction to Elda revolves around two things; the first is to not let her know that she’s an unvampire and the second is to keep her away from Kenta. This is the central focus of the first episode here in which Elda has decided that it’s time to put some real separation between the two. Her own past issues with humans has put her in this mindset easily enough and even after all these years it’s still at the forefront of her thinking. Of course, with the way everything goes, it doesn’t take much for Kenta to end up coming across Elda but it does turn into an interesting facedown between the two. Kenta’s intent on protecting Karin but the entire encounter reveals what Karin really is to Elda which only makes her more determined to complete her task. The sum of it though comes down to a few simple words in which Elda tells Karin that a relationship with a human will only lead to pain and suffering.
Sounds like any relationship, doesn’t it?
Interestingly, two of the three episodes on this volume deal with the changes that the Marker/Maaka family have gone through in years past and in the present. The words that Elda used come back to haunt Karin regularly, and it’s through Boogy that we find out that similar things have colored Ren’s life as well. His past is explored from when he was still able to be in the sunlight before he turned and was at a private academy for boys. The story is fairly comical at times as it introduces the “black rose princes” of the student council as well as a roommate for him that’s easy to mistake as a girl. It’s all very basic material but it does show us why he’s come to hate humans as much as he does and to treat them simply as food. The maturation process of the vampire hasn’t been kept hidden but we haven’t seen it shown as clearly as this yet either.
While Ren’s story takes place in the past, a current transformation is underway as well. With the details of how one changes into a true vampire, it’s little surprise that Anju would be next on the list. For her, figuring out what her real affinity is about is something that will cause problems but that she knows she’ll be doing for a good reason. Like Ren’s transformation, Anju’s is one filled with pain and heartache that can potential turn her down a darker road as time goes on in regards to humans. Of course, she’s been kind of twisted from the start so it wouldn’t take all that much. While it’s interesting enough how she deals with the gradual transformation and its effect on her close relations, none is starker than how Karin handles it when she finds out about it. It’s filled with a lot of emotion but basic questions as well that should have come up earlier due to Karin’s reverse vampirism.
To offset all the heavy angst, there is some fun little relationship material thrown in as well that deals with Kenta and Karin. The Christmas season is a perfect opportunity to play that up a bit as both of them are working right alongside each other, selling Christmas cakes and dressed up in Santa suits. For Kenta, he’s a bit oblivious since Christmas hasn’t really been a big thing for him, but Maki pushes Karin into doing something from scratch for him for the holiday and that leads to stress on her part, both for making it and for giving it. The sensitivity to emotions and the quiet caution both of them has about expressing their feelings is quite amusing and sweet as it has an air of innocence about it. Even as Karin sprays blood from her nose all over the place.
Karin continues to be a really fun little show. It’s not one that will earn massive raves but it plays up a fun idea and it does it well with charming and accessible characters. The art style is appealing and the stories on this volume are fun as well as being enlightening about the vampire aspects. With Elda mostly out of the way for at least the short term, the fun focuses elsewhere and Karin and the others get plenty of time to shine. The supporting cast makes up the bulk of this however and they come across quite well, if a bit creepy sometimes. And what a tease to end with no less!
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.