Here we are yet again with another FUNimation release pulled from the midst of obscurity due to its original publisher closing up shop. Originally released in Japan in 2005, Karin is a 24 episode show which never made much of a splash here in the States. The series was only released on individual volumes before Geneon shut down, so a complete collection was never shipped to the masses. Well, it seems as though the discs were still lying around, because FUNimation has a boxed set for you to sink your teeth into with the original six Geneon discs.
Produced by J.C. Staff and directed by Shinichiro Kimura (Venus Versus Virus, Maburaho), Karin (also known as Chibi Vampire) is a 24 episode anime. Though the vampire is its main character source, the show is a comedy rather than a horror, so if you're looking for something along the lines of Hellsing you may be disappointed. What Karin does offer is a multitude of charming characters, quirks, and all manner of traditional school girl antics with a twist. It's a fun show that is definitely off the beaten path, so if you're looking for something that's out there and fairly unique you'll definitely want to give this one a spin.
In the world of vampires Karin is something of a freak. This 15 year old girl comes from the Maaka family of vampires, though she's arguably the black sheep of the family. Instead of being deficient with blood and needing to feed off other, Karin actually over produces the red stuff. When she bites people she injects them with her blood, rather than drains them. Making matters worse for Karin is the fact that if she doesn't do this she tends to get some severe nosebleeds as her body attempts to drain the excess. Odd, yes? Not only does Karin possess that strange trait, but she also can get around just fine in the sun, sleep like regular humans, works a job, and even attends a normal human high school.
Though she's something of an odd duck, things seem to be going fairly well for Karin. She's doing fine at school, her family seemingly tolerates her, and for the most part life seems normal. Well, as normal as life can be for a blood producing vampire. That all changes when a transfer student named Kenta arrives to her class.
There's something about Kenta that sends Karin's body into overdrive. Her blood flows powerfully whenever she's around him, and it often leads to some serious nosebleeds. Making matters worse is the fact that they are in the same class together and work in the same place. Karin's opportunities to get away from Kenta seem small to say the least. As the show moves forward the two develop a close friendship and it's revealed that Karin's overflow problem stems from the fact that Kenta is unhappy. You see, in the world of Karin each vampire is attracted to a specific type of person, or blood. In Karin's case she feels the need to feed (inject her blood into) on people who are miserable. Since she and Kenta become friends, Karin wants to keep him happy so that she doesn't have her bleeding out problem. To this extent she makes him lunches every day and does what she can to keep him cheery, but naturally that doesn't always work.
Karin and Kenta's relationship develops quite a bit over the course of the series and predictably they eventually fall for each other. Honestly, I'm not giving anything away with that. You can tell right from the beginning that they're going to be shoved together. To that extent there are some charming moments and the quirk of Karin being a vampire definitely lends itself to some interesting situations. Thankfully, though that material would get dry by itself after a while, there is some other content to help flesh out the show and add some spice.
Complicating matters for Karin, and her family, is the fact that a vampire hunter has recently transferred to her school as well. Naturally with vampires living in the community and Karin attending the school, this creates some awkward situations. It's something that's touched upon quite a bit throughout the show and towards the end the hunter plays an important role in the outcome. Adding to Karin's stress is her family itself. An older brother who is a full-fledged vampire, a young sister who is a goth Lolita, parents who want Karin to be "normal", and a crazed grandmother all make her life much more difficult. They actually make Kenta's life more of a challenge as well and leave you wondering if he would have been better off not meeting Karin in the first place.
From start to finish Karin is a very entertaining series that presents a unique concept in a charming little package. Karin is adorable and you'll love watching as she attempts to live a normal life. There are a couple of missteps along the way and some of these episodes feel a little tired or cliché, but ultimately this is a strong series that is worth a look. There's plenty of charm to spare and just like Karin's blood the laughs flow from episode to episode.
Karin is presented on DVD with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio that has been enhanced for anamorphic playback. The show looks pretty good and considering this is basically a FUNimation reprint of the original Geneon transfer, the show looks the same as it did two years ago when it was first released. With that being said the series presents colorful artwork that pops, there's virtually no grain, and the overall image is quite clean. There are some aliasing and interlacing issues, so it's not a perfect transfer, but all around the quality is quite acceptable.
The English and Japanese language tracks are bother presented with a 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo offering. This is the kind of show that didn't really need a 5.1 track, but the lack of surround is felt in some scenes. Still, it's a relatively suitable presentation that is no frills, but gets the job done. As far as the dubbing quality is concerned I felt that the Japanese team did a far better job with the content, though Geneon had assembled a decent English cast as well. Overall the sound quality for Karin is good, but nothing to get really excited about.
Clean animations and some trailers are included, but that's about all you're going to find on this boxed set.
If vampire shows are your thing and you also enjoy comedies you'll definitely want to pick Karin up. It's a fun and imaginative show that may feel a little familiar at times, but breaks the mold in so many other ways. I had a great time with the series from start to finish and I'd recommend the show to anyone. If you missed out the first time around, consider FUNimation's release your best bet to pick up this chibi vampire.
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