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Karneval Vol. #05 Manga Review

4 min read
Karneval Vol. #5
Karneval Vol. #5

Returning what was lost, and losing what was gained.

Creative Staff
Story/Art: Touya Mikanagi
Translation/Adaptation: Su Mon Han

What They Say
When Nai’s bracelet mysteriously reactivates, he and Karoku find themselves transported to the wilds of an unknown land. Worried, Gareki requests a leave of absence from Chronomé Academy to join in the search for Nai, but he is forced to make a difficult decision concerning his future…

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Karoku, who was the target of Nai’s search for so long, proved to be less than advertised once recovered. Even once freed from Kafka’s grasp and told that he was brainwashed, he remained just a shell of his former self. Considering the resources spent on finding him he turned out to be something of a dud. Every time that Nai pushed him to remember the pain caused Karoku to lash out and hurt the poor kid. The last push sent both of them teleporting by some mysterious power of the bracelet that Nai holds.

I expected them to return to the pocket dimension Karoku was found in, but that’s not the case. Nai finds himself alone with a prone Karoku, struggling to protect his creator from harm. When Nai takes a serious blow for Karoku it’s finally the spark which ignites Karoku’s memory. The return of some of Karoku’s memories only leads to more questions. The major one being why exactly the bracelet decided to teleport Nai and Karoku into the middle of nowhere. If it had transported them back to the rainbow forest that would have made sense, but instead it dropped them on the other side of the continent and to a place we’d never seen before.

Meanwhile, Gareki is forced to answer a difficult question. In a moment of blind concern, he turns his back on Chronomé and decides he has to find the missing Nai. He gets his wish when he too is whisked away to the location of the missing foundlings. His classmates are at a loss to explain it. Gareki’s future is now back to being a precarious thing. His short-sightedness may have cost him his closest friendships.

Circus uses Gareki to track down the other two, and soon all of the gang is back together, if only for a short while. Nai is seriously injured and spends the remainder of the volume unconscious and somewhere between life and death. Like a young child, he remains oblivious to the danger to himself or how close he is to death’s door. It’s now Karoku’s turn to wait by the bedside and fret, and I can’t help but feel it’s apt payback for all of the hitting earlier.

On the trip back the second ship detours to stop by a hot spring at the top of a mountain. There are some silly antics here, and some pandering for readers as everyone is lounging around in towels and not much else for a few pages. The levity is short lived. Circus is tracking the actions of its missing traitor, and stumble into a town overrun with varuga. One of which appears to be a little girl with a pet cat, that just happens to eat people. Battle commences and with the little training he’s had Gareki is able to dodge and stay out of harm’s way. Outnumbered, Dr. Akari goes against orders and takes it upon himself to remove Yogi’s patches. Uninhibited, Yogi cleans up the town with his abilities.

Yogi’s alter-ego has been one of those lingering mysteries that the series has teased for awhile. When this volume ends we still know little about his physiology, although it’s easy to guess that he has more in common with Kafka than he’s probably comfortable with. I’m eager to see how this is addressed. Karneval continues to be a series always dancing around its dark edges. There’s a creepiness to the pastel colored world these characters live in. It always manages to keep that slightly unsavory element just out of reach, tantalizingly low key. With every volume I keep waiting for Circus to admit to wrongdoing. It’s that eeriness that’s intriguing.

The translation for this series continues to be very good, with everyone speaking very naturally considering their unnatural (to us) world. Yen continues to include color pages with each volume, and this series has some lovely color spreads so that’s very much appreciated.

In Summary
For as jam packed as this volume of Karneval is, it’s also bidding its time. For every step that Nai takes forward, one draws him back. We finally get a glimpse of the Karoku that raised Nai, and why Nai is so fond of him. However, it generates more questions than answers. Gareki’s future with Nai is now firmly up in the air, literally, as Hirato might be the only one who can find a way to keep him enrolled in Chronomé. All of this will have to wait, as Circus is in yet another battle with the varuga, and Yogi’s split personality issue has to be dealt with immediately.

Content Grade: B +
Art Grade: B +
Packaging Grade: B +
Text/Translation Grade: A –

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: July 19th, 2016
MSRP: $19.99