Karin

September 2, 2006

Although this is a vampire-themed anime, it isn’t really that all scary. It’s more like chibi-vampire type. That’s right, I’m talking about Karin here. The comical supernatural chibi-vampire with some romance and action (the more later part of the series) all thrown into it. And if you think that it’s taking place at the turn of the century, then you’re worng. It’s actually taking place in the 21st century, modern day Japan.
 
As seen before the opening credits of each episode, we’re introduced to a family of Eastern European vampires, the Maakas, who have migrated and settled down in Japan. Of course, as vampires, they still discreetly suck human blood and have those peculiar characteristics all vampires should have.
 
That is, except for one member, Karin Maaka, the middle child and eldest daughter of the family. What’s so weird about her? Well, if you look at her characteristics as a vampire, she doesn’t actually fit any criteria as one except being borned into a family of one. What do I mean by that? First, she seems able to be exposed to sunlight without getting her skin burned, thus allowing her for a ‘normal school girl life’. Secondly, she loves garlic, something which all vampires hate. Third, she seems immune to any holy water.
 
But the most peculiar trait is that she doesn’t suck blood. More like, she’s a blood maker. Huh? Meaning that instead of sucking human’s blood as a meal, she overproduces blood and usually this over blood production will come out as what other people will view as ‘extreme nose bleed‘. Plus this is the thing that Karin is most embarrassed about.
 
The episode begins with a seemingly young Karin seemingly bitting a neck of another young boy at a lake. Fortunately, it’s all just Karin’s bad dream. Actually, that really happened, as you will find out later in the series.
 
As the rest of her family sleeps during the day, Karin gets to do things all normal school girls would do, as mentioned above, and continues to live her happy carefree life. That is, until a new transfer student, Kenta Usui (looks a bit like Seiji of Midori No Hibi), comes into her life. What’s so bad about him? Well, nothing actually, except that Karin notices that everytime she’s near him, her blood levels will increase and she will have that feeling of nose bleeding again. Is he the boy in that dream? Maybe.
 
So in order not to nose bleed and have her identity revealed, she tries her best to stay away from him. Yeah, won’t you find it weird that everytime you approach a girl, and without valid reason, she just take off as though she’s seen a ghost. Yup, that’s what Kenta thought at first. Could it be his body odour? Nah, I just made that up.
 
Unfortunately, she can’t keep running away from him. So the inevitable happens. Karin nose bleeds in front of Kenta eventually. Fortunately, Kenta thought that it was some serious case of nose bleed and nothing more. Plus, he cleaned up the place and carried her home on his back. Hey… How can some school kid clean up a place soaked in blood, so squeaky clean? Aren’t blood stains hard to remove? Dunno.
 
So we find out that Karin, though not a blood sucker, still have some blood preference just like her other family members. Meaning that Karin is attracted to people who are unhappy or sad. Like how her dad, Henry, likes those who are prideful, her mom, Carrera, those who are dishonest, and her elder brother, Ren, who likes those with stress. Karin’s little sister, Anju, isn’t a full vampire yet, meaning she’s not mature yet and won’t be bogged down by vampire’s weaknesses. Later, you’ll find out that her blood preference are those who’re jealous. Oh, forgot to mention that Anju has some weird doll named Boogie, whom she always carries with her. He can’t actually move except for his mouth and usually talks sarcastically and annoyingly. But sometimes he does say good things. Sometimes. Also one way to avoid this painful nose bleed is for Karin to transfer her excess blood to other people. In the process, that person will lose his/her unhappiness temporarily. But she’s always reluctant to do so as she wished for a more ‘cute’ way to do it, much to Ren’s annoyance.
 
So at school, there’re few instances where Kenta thought Karin’s a vampire and seek to do some tests on her like exposing her to garlic, but with no effect. His ‘test’s are so because she notice some vampire-bite-like marks on her mom’s neck. Plus, he saw Karin and her mom in an ’embracing’ position the other night. And previously, he saw Karin with that same position with an older man as well. So he thought that Karin was prostituting herself. Silly him. Also, with those bite marks, her mom’s depression disappears and she becomes so carefree and happy (until it wears off of course). So, woudln’t anybody feel a little curious?
 
Anyway, eventually Kenta discovered Karin’s secret identity. Boy, Karin was so scared that now her cover and her family’s are blown, she’ll be scorned by society. Good thing for Karin, Kenta isn’t that kind of guy. Yeah, he’s quite understanding and kind hearted actually. But anyway, whether he likes it or not, he still has to keep their identity a secret or risk his memory being erased. In addition, it was Anju’s idea that it’s better to make Kenta to be on their side for Karin’s nose bleed problem.
 
Since Karin knows that it’s Kenta’s unhappiness which causes her blood levels to increase, she decides to make him lunch everyday. Yup, this should keep him happy and her blood levels normal. And her best schoolmate pal, Maki Tokitou, got the wrong idea and thinks that they’re in love.
 
But why is Kenta unhappy? You see, his mom (who seems to look young) just lost her part time job. Because she’s quite attractive, many of her employers would try to take advantage of her. But in the end, some mishap will cause her to get fired anyway. So in order to financially support themselves, Kenta has to work part time at a cafe called Julian’s. Who knows, Karin too ends up working there. And the manager of Julian’s always seemingly ‘match-making’ Kenta and Karin and always his eternal line "Seishuun da…" (Youth).
 
Well, all seems to go well, until some foreign guy named Winner Sinclair appears. What a weird guy, he seems to talk through his nasal and the way I see it, he’s more like a loser and an idiot, though because of his good looks and speaks fluent Japanese for a foreigner, he seems to steal the hearts of every other girl. Actually he’s some sort of a vampire hunter (not a very good one too). A new transfer student too at Karin’s school, but the moment he sets eyes on Karin, he fell in love with her and doesn’t hesitate to confess that she’s the ‘ideal person’. Some more, claiming that he and Karin had kissed before (to the class’s shock and amazement) but then said was only his dream (also to the class’s shock and amazement). *Ding*. And how ironic that he fell in love with a vampire when he’s suppose to eliminate them. Anyway he seems oblivious to them. Even unknowingly bumping into Karin’s other family members on the streets and calling them good citizens. Sheesh.
 
Oh yeah, Winner’s afraid of blood too. What the? A vampire hunter having phobias of blood and fainting or feeling dizzy with just a mere sight of them. It’s all in the mind, Winner. Even that paint Karin and Kenta used as ‘fake blood’ to escape Winner’s vampire traps, even made Winner a little nauseating. Baka. Oh, forgot to mention too that he’s the guy in Karin’s dream as seen earlier on in episode 1. Wow. Karin really did that to him, huh? No wonder Winner’s got only her on his mind. The reason as we’ll find out later, that Winner’s such a bad vampire hunter that his grandpa had scolded him for not being up to mark. So being depressed he met Karin and her blood
 
Before you know it, he sees Kenta as his arch-rival. Another misunderstanding and jealous case. And proceeds to challenge Kenta over Karin. Actually, Kenta couldn’t be bothered except that Winner called him a chicken and things like that so he couldn’t back down. Another thing is that, I can’t believe that Maki would really have a crush on Winner. It’s confirmed that he’s such an idiot, but yet she still likes him silently. Maybe it’s the looks. To add salt to the wound, Winner always call and refer Maki as ‘Karin’s friend’. Can’t seem to remember her name, huh?
 
So basically, it’s like this, Karin with the help of Kenta tries to keep her identity a secret. Then there’re factors which tests their relationship. Like Winner. Though Karin and Kenta don’t really see each other as a couple, I figured out that eventually they’d turn into one, don’t you think? Plus small adventures here and there like the part where Winner invited Karin (with Maki tagging along) to some pool resort and bragging it to Kenta how he spent the whole day with her. Or the time where Maki stayed over at Karin’s place to be her tutor. Or the part where Karin couldn’t hold back and needs to bite Kenta’s neck, but manage to withhold it. But Kenta’s so understanding that he doesn’t mind if Karin bites his neck now and then if she can’t control it.
 
Soon, we’re introduced to another family member of the Maakas, Elda, Karin’s very youthful looking grandma. Though her son, Henry is pleased of her awakening, the other members aren’t too pleased. Especially Carrera who can’t seem to get along with her very well. When she found out about Karin’s relationship with Kenta, she decides to break it up. Yeah, something to do with her life in those days where she was in love with a human but society’s stereotype thinking that humans and vampires shouldn’t mix made her think all humans are trash. Can’t blame her entirely. She doesn’t want Karin to experience the same heartache that she went through.
 
Eventually she had to put her plans on hold, when she heard the name Sinclair. Yeah, Winner interupted to save Karin just when Elda’s about to make her move on Kenta. Though it was bungling somehow. Elda left to do some research on how to turn Karin into a full fledge vampire, since she too found out that Karin’s a blood maker.
 
There’re flashbacks for other characters as well. Such as Ren’s on why he hates men and human (something to do with some supposedly guy who looks like a girl but Ren thinks is a girl kinda story), Anju’s love for her dear sister (didn’t get that make an eternal snowman thing), or Henry going all out to save Karin when she had her first uncontrollable nose bleed at school disregarding his safety under the sunlight.
 
As the series nears its end, there’re other problems cropping up too. Such as, Anju is finally turning into a vampire and in doing so, sucks Maki’s blood, only to Karin’s horror when she discovers it. Then there’s the time where Ren told Kenta about leaving Karin as she’ll soon turn into a full fledge vampire, at the same time showing him what it’s like to be a vampire. So a reluctant Kenta decided to leave Karin alone only to realize that it’s should be him that should be deciding his fate and not others. I think something like that lah.
 
But the climax of the story is when Winner’s grandad, Victor, arrived to exterminate the Markers. Who? Actually it’s the Maakas. They changed their names when they migrated. He looks like a real bad ass compared to Winner. At the same time Elda came back with the required method to change Karin into a full fledged vampire, only to bump into Victor. And a battle between them ensues. It’s also the part where Victor told Winner that Karin’s a vampire. Oh, the horror and the shocked he must be in to hear those words.
 
Luckily, Victor’s presence is made known to the rest of the Maakas as they proceed to escape. Seems that they’re heading to the lake where it all started to complete Karin’s transformation. Unfortunately, Elda was killed by Victor during the battle and their house was totally burned down to the ground. Then the persistant Victor resumes his hunt for the other family members.
 
During that time, Maki manage to confess to Winner (still in shocked mode) his feelings and kissed him! Saying something that now she’s level with Karin. Silly girl, still couldn’t give up on him, could you. And for the first time, he called her by her real name. Surprise, surprise. But Winner and Kenta isn’t going to sit around and let nature takes its own course, as they both teamed-up and went to save Karin. I wonder where did Winner get that horse?
 
So at the lake as the Maakas prepare for the process of Karin’s transformation, Victor arrived. But during the process, Karin is unable to move as she watch helplessly how Victor kills her family members one by one as they try to stop him. Just as Victor is going to eliminate Karin, Kenta and Winner arrived. The process too is now completed and it seems Karin has transformed into a more ferocious beast and is going to pound on Kenta. Victor commanded Kenta to move away (he was protecting Karin from being harm from Victor in the first place). But Kenta refused and wouldn’t mind being bitten by her. And that’s what she did.
 
However, contrast to Victor’s believes, Kenta didn’t turn into a vampire. But Victor still insists and seeks to eliminate them both. Now here’s the funny part, as Victor made his attack, he shreds Karin’s clothes. I couldn’t help but notice how come Karin’s breats were so huge now. Anyway, seems that Victor’s a pervert too, as he has a nose bleed of his own (hahaha) and faints after seeing Karin’s naked body.
 
Then the thing is, the whole of Karin’s family members aren’t dead yet, even Elda who’s seen soaking herself in a bathtub at their burned down home. It seems that vampire’s body are much stronger in withstanding these kind of things. And that Victor didn’t do a good job in eliminating them. Yeah, how come he doesn’t really make sure they stay dead. Failed as a vampire hunter too. So in order to solve Victor’s problem, all of them bite Victor (and they say how horrible it tastes), taking away his pride, dishonesty, stress, unhappiness, and jealousy. And what do you get? A very carefree and genki grandpa. Yeah, and he’s making embarrassing remarks about Winner. Hey, Winner didn’t do that much to help Karin in those last parts. Yeah, he was out cold. Too bad.
 
Later back home, it was found out that the process to turn Karin into a full vampire was actually a breast enlargement process! And you can see that with Carrera’s too as Elda is seen shrieking and pointing at it from behind. So hilarious lah this part. She’s like freaking out. Oh well, I guess, Karin’s still the same ol’ self.
 
And at Julian’s cafe Karin seemed to have made a ‘love’ bento just for Kenta, with all their family and friends watching, much to their embarrassment. Yeah, Winner’s still not giving up on Karin, as with Maki too on Winner. And it seems that Kenta’s mom is happier too. I wonder if she and Julian’s manager would make a great couple. I mean, they seem to get along well and have the same thoughts about Kenta, Karin and youth. Hmm… So, do you think Kenta and Karin would make a good couple? Maybe. All the signs are pointing towards it. Okay, maybe it’s just my intuition.
 
Overall, I guess this anime’s kinda ok with all that humour and steady progress of the storyline. Also the character developments were quite ok too. I like Karin’s deliriousness and sometimes ‘denseness’, she seems funny and kawaii that way. As for Winner, I just like the way he looks and dress, otherwise I think his role was merely to provide comical relief (what else).
 
So it goes to show that vampires aren’t really all that bad as seen in those classic horror films. Vampires are people too. And they have feelings just as well. At least in this anime.