Wednesday, November 25, 2009

DVD Review: Karin the Complete Series

Vampires are cute, aren’t they? Well, Karin is anyway. This 24 episode show used to be under the Geneon brand, but FUNimation rescued the license of obscurity and released a complete set a little while ago. For all intents and purposes this release is a re-issue of the original discs, so if you happen to have them in your collection there’s no reason to get excited. However, if you are new to the show then don’t hesitate to pick this one up! It’s a lot of fun and quite the charmer.

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 lot. Instead of being deficient of blood and needing to feed off other, Karin actually over-produces the 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. Not only does Karin possess that strange trait, but she also can get around just fine in the sun, sleep like regular humans, work 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 teenage girl. 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 at inopportune times. Making matters worse is the fact that they are in the same class together and even 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 if you will. In Karin's case she feels the need to feed (inject her blood) on people who are miserable. Since she and Kenta become friends, Karin wants to keep him happy while helping herself out at the same time, so 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 that doesn't always work.
Karin and Kenta's relationship develops quite a bit over the course of the series and predictably so 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.

Karin is presented on DVD with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio that has been enhanced for anamorphic playback. The show looks pretty good with colorful artwork and a presentation 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. The audio comes with 2.0 English and Japanese stereo, and it’s a simple presentation that is pretty functional though. The dubs are solid as well with neither really standing out more than the other. The bonus features for this set are only clean animations and some trailers.
From start to finish Karin is a very entertaining series that presents a unique concept as a charming little package. Karin is adorable and you'll love watching as she attempts to live a normal life, but often fails miserably. 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.

Maki Rating:

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