Tuesday, March 31, 2009


It seems like vampires are one of the most popular subjects for anime with at least two series a year dealing with the most famous creatures of the night. It's not all blood and guts though as vampires are far more likely to star in a supernatural romance then a horror movie nowadays. This is true on both sides of the world as the popularity of franchises like Twilight and True Blood increase each year. Still it seems that vampires have a wider range of roles in anime then in western fiction. Karin in particular caught me by surprise with it's hilarious take on the idea of an "un-vampire" or "daywalker".

Instead of being a normal vampire who drinks blood for nourishment the main character is the exact opposite and produces too much blood. As a result she gets the desire to bite and inject blood into her victims leaving them refreshed and energetic. This makes her the black sheep of her family, whom are all normal vampires that feed on blood. The series itself is cute and raunchy without become a perverted fanservice fest like Rosario+Vampire. The animation is a little low in quality, but it deffinitely makes up for it by having an interesting story. Karin also avoids the brooding and melodramatic portrayal of vampires that have annoyed me in shojo series like Vampire Knight Guilty. Karin is obviously aimed at a female audience and avoids the harem like aspects that plagues other series while still being quite funny.

Ratings: 5 categories with 20 points each

The story is definitely the best part of the anime and its moved along by the idea of a "blood affinity" or a type of emotion that a vampire is attracted to and sucks out of their victim. Karin herself is attracted to misery and her victims usually have a severe personality change as if they took a mega dose of prozac. Some of the story deals wtih the morality of changing people by feeding on them, but thankfully avoids any melacholy introspections. Karin herself would probably never feed except for the threat of explosive nosebleeds if she goes too long without biting someone. The explosive nosebleeds are the main gag in the anime and manage to be both hilarious and kinda gross. It especially works well with a vampire hunter who faints at the sight of blood. I also think there's a bit of a hidden message since the male lead character, Kenta Usui, not only accepts Karin's vampiric nature but also cleans and covers up any overflow problem. It's almost a metaphor for a relationship not always being clean and tidy.

The quality of the animation is average when compared to most other series. It seemed as if the animators payed very little attention to most of the character designs with the exception of Karin, Anju, and Elda. Even though Karin is the main character, it's Anju who recieved the most detailed artwork. I'm going to guess that they had an animator on the staff who was a fan of the gothic lolita look. The other chracters didn't make that much of a impact on me except that Kentau Usui is deffinitely related to Ichigo from Bleach. Other then that the background settings were functional, but sparse. Not every anime can be set in a tropical jungle or a future metropolis.

Karin is portrayed as a overly happy airhead which is a common sterotype found in romantic comedies. However, her vampiric nature and need to reverse-feed prevents her from being passive though it clumsily introduces hints of a split personality. Kenta Usui is slightly more unique as a hardworking young man supporting his mother and dealing with the "evil looks" he inherited from his father. Both character personalities have proven popular and been used in more modern animes like Toradora and Rosario+Vampire. The rest of Karin's family is mostly bland with the exception of Anju and Elda. Anju is a quiet and creepy looking girl who reminds me of Ruri from Martian Successor Nadesico. She seems to be the most parent like one in the series and actively trys to steer everyone away from disaster in the background. Elda who shows up late in the series is probably the most complex character and the only one who seems to know how to fight. She reminds me of an evil Mary Poppins.

Sound and Voice:12
The opening song is the standard J-Pop affair, but at least manages not to make you claw out your eardrums. Unfortunately, I can't say the same about the english voice acting which I found horrible for some characters. Karin and Usui were okay, but the other voice actors bombed. Winner Sinclair was particularly annoying on both the english and japanese sound tracts and made me wish there was third tract where that character was muted. One hidden soundbyte I noticed was that some of the sunset scenes had a guitar piece that sounded like it was straight out of the Diablo game.

Originality: 16
A lot the classic vampire rules were re-written and taken into new directions for this anime. This deffinitely made the anime more interesting then anything I've seen since Blood+. In particular, the "blood affinity" idea allowed the story to explore the nature of personalities and the morality of changing them to suit your needs. There are heavy themes of learning to accept people as they are in the series without being overly preachy. The series only loses points on originality because of the obvious ending and the fact that secondary characters are mostly just stereotypes which allows you to predict their actions.

Final Score: 75 Good

Note: Karin is also getting a release of complete boxset next month and can be found at Amazon.