the karakuri ningyo They are Japanese mechanical dolls known for the care with which they are made and for reproducing complex movements, through an intricate mechanism of cables and gears. Karakuri ningyo inspired mangaka Kazuhiro fujita for the writing of Karakuri Circus– one of the author’s longest-running works, the serialization of which began in 1997 and ended in 2006. In Italy, however, it was first published by Play Press, from 2002 to 2003, then, from 2014, by RW Edizioni, and it is still ongoing.
Between 2018 and 2019, the 36 episodes of the animated adaptation of Karakuri Circus, created by the studio, were published on Amazon Prime Video. VOLN (same as I Want to Eat My Pancreas) – A long-awaited transposition by Kazuhiro Fujita fans. At the end of the vision, we can say that Karakuri Circus managed to entertain us as if we were in a circus, but not without unexpected drops.
The jester’s smile
It is difficult to describe the events narrated in Karakuri Circus without revealing too much of the plot, but if we were to stop only at the first few episodes, we would be talking about a very small portion of what warp has to offer: the authors have put together a complex story. which revolves around a 200-year love story.
Masaru Saiga He is a boy who loves the circus, but at the age of 11 he is already in danger: after the death of his father, although he was an illegitimate son, he becomes the sole heir to the fortune accumulated with the Saiga company.
Masaru has never fully met his father, and the only relative he has bonded with is his grandfather, who recommended that he take a huge suitcase and search Shirogane in the nearest circus, if I had problems. The words of the grandfather push the child to be accompanied to the nearest circus by Narumi kato, a man is suffering from ZONPHA, a strange disease that causes him a sudden and acute suffocation, which he manages to overcome only by making the people around him laugh: Masaru saves his life. To thank him, Narumi agrees to accompany him when the boy is attacked by a group of human-looking puppets. Narumi frees him and together they escape, arriving at a circus where they are rescued by Shirogane, a girl who helps them using a particular weapon inside Masaru’s suitcase: the puppet. Harlequin. Shirogane has spent his entire life training as a puppeteer, giving up any kind of emotion, and now he has to carry out the last task that Masaru’s grandfather gave him before he died: protecting his grandson. In fact, the young man has drawn the attention of his father’s closest relatives who want to take possession of the inheritance.
We prefer not to explain how events continue so as not to ruin a twist that occurs in the first episodes. At the end of the introductory events, Masaru and Shirogane continue their lives in apparent tranquility, joining the circus family. Nakamachi.
Meanwhile Narumi, after losing her memory, finds herself in a medical center studying ZONPHA. From this moment on, the plot changes course, to tell the battle that has lasted 200 years between puppeteers and Automata, sentient mechanical beings that feed on human blood, led by the “director” of the Midnight circus.
Net of a rhythm that may seem too pressing, with pauses that allow to savor the various adventures well, and an apparently simple development, in reality the script hides mysteries and revelations, which they manage to keep. stuck to the screen for the entire duration of the show.
The initial episodes of Karakuri Circus stand alone a preparatory phase, introducing us to the context in which the characters move, that is, a world in which there are people who fight using puppets; In addition, the first characteristics of Masaru, Shirogane and Narumi are described.
Masaru has been deprived of his childhood and is aware of the dangerous situation in which he was involved when he was only 11 years old; but he, after all, would like to continue living in peace, even if he is now an orphan, having given a grave to his dead mother. Because of this, the child feels guilty for endangering the lives of his friends. Shirogane, as mentioned, has no feelings and this makes her enigmatic and cold, but at the same time she is tied to Masaru, whom she sees as a young master to protect and care for. Narumi, for her part, manages to find a smile in all circumstances, and also transmits her positivity to her fellow adventurers: thanks to her influence she instills courage in Masaru, convincing him to stop crying and smiling even in the most difficult situations. and understand from Shirogane how precious life is. The first episodes are limited only to laying the foundations of a more articulated warp, which begins to take shape when the story of the alchemist brothers is introduced. Yin bai me Jin bai. From this moment on, Karakuri Circus moves following the simple concept that it takes to know the past, to understand the present: it comes to life. a story that has its roots in the distant past and that revolves around the rivalry between two brothers for the love of the same woman.
We do not want to go into too much detail, but through a clever and seemingly complex interconnection game between past and present, we are fascinated by how history and the three protagonists are somehow closely linked and influenced by events that took place two centuries. before, touching concepts like reincarnation and the cyclical nature of events.
As events progress, numerous questions arise, but also so many answers: anime, in fact, takes adequate time to explain clearly and simply the various mysteries that accumulate. We should note, however, that in the final arcs the narrative rhythm quickens and some passages are not entirely understandable, relying more on the free interpretation of the viewer, than on exhaustive explanations.
What’s more, in the decisive beats of the adventure, the script seemed even more rushed, not allowing us to appreciate everything that happens: just think that the last episode has interesting narrative implications, which cannot leave a mark because they would have needed more time. to develop better.
Hand in hand with the unraveling of a plot that becomes increasingly complex, but at the same time clear, there is a gradual growth of the three main interpreters. Masaru gradually becomes brave and confident, smiling and facing danger head-on; Shirogane discovers the first human feelings and even if she still can’t understand it, she is in love with Narumi. It is the latter who has undergone the most drastic change, from what he sees after separating from his peers: children with an advanced stage of the disease. Narumi’s change is also partly due to sudden memory loss, but her ideals haven’t changed at all; little by little your the smile loses its value and power, because he is full of anger towards the Automata, who are the true cause of children’s suffering.
In the eyes of many, the man is seen as a demon and this can also be seen in a fighting style that is no longer elegant, but aggressive, violent and destructive. Inevitably, reaching the heart of the warp, new interpreters are introduced.
Some, however, we found not very remarkable, so much so that more space should have been carved out, not being entirely random. An example could be the Nakamachi circus family which, despite the few scenes in which it appears, is by no means secondary as it helps Masaru and Shirogane find a normal life, and plays a key role in the final stages. ; but during the episodes it is not given the importance that could have made us appreciate its presence in the “stage“We would have preferred more episodes to focus on the extended family relationship that develops between Shirogane, Masaru, and the Nakamachi family. This is one of the biggest flaws in the delineation of the entire cast: due to the large number of roles. that alternate on stage, not everyone can boast of a good construction, so much so that they cannot involve us in the most dramatic moments that see them as protagonists. On this front, we believe that a longer playing time (even if 36 episodes is not a few) or a different management of bets could have given the appropriate thickness to the different Performers from the animated “circus” of Karakuri Circus.
Karakuri Circus has a Carthusian design, at the expense of sporadic imperfections in some sequences. The character design of the puppets and the Automata is varied and colorful, reminiscent of Italian masks and clowns, but in some situations, especially the most emotional ones, the Puppets are affected by a CGI that immediately catches your eye. The fights between puppets and automatons are a mixture of technicality, elegance and brute force, and feature fast animations, but with which it is possible to appreciate every movement.
Instead, when Narumi takes the field, fights are close, based on strength and physical endurance, and thanks to good direction and publicity. Smooth animations are fascinating too. The design of the Automatas sometimes highlights a more disturbing nature of the production, even if it is limited only to the initial stages, when some modify their human appearance to become true mechanical monsters.
Net of these situations and a slight presence of body horror, we cannot consider Karakuri Circus with true horror, conveying only a slight sense of disturbance.
The character design of the characters, although varied, did not attract our attention like that of the Puppets and Automata, but it is still fascinating, because if at first it seems that some interpreters are very similar to each other, we soon realize that how this The stylistic choice has a narrative value: we try It also visually strengthens the link between the past and the present..