Reviewby Theron Martin, Aug 13th 2007
Anju convinces Ren not to erase Kenta's memories, then convinces her parents that taking Kenta into their confidence and insisting that he help Karin with her excess-blood problem during the day would be a good idea. A meeting with Karin's parents impresses the gravity of the situation on Kenta, while Karin decides that making lunch for Kenta every day is the best thing she can do to keep him happy, thus preventing her blood from increasing in his ever-around presence. Kenta is still worried about his mother's inability to find a job despite the peppy mood lingering from Karin's bite, though, and a new complication quickly arises: the dashing new overseas transfer student, Winner Sinclair, not only turns out to be a young, certified (if blood-shy)Vampire Hunter, but insists that Karin is his dream girl. With her classmates jealous over the attention the much-desired Winner gives her and Winner constantly challenging his perceived romantic rival Kenta to duels for Karin's love, avoiding unhappy people becomes increasingly difficult for Karin, thus causing her blood increases become a more frequent problem.
Episodes 5 and 6 finish establishing the premise: Karin will regularly make lunches for Kenta as repayment for his assistance when her blood increases get out of hand. It is with the introduction of the flamboyantly bold, single-minded, and anachronistic Vampire Hunter Winner (the character previously blacked out in the intro) that the comedy aspect truly takes off, however. The mold for such characters was established long ago by Urusei Yatsura's Mendo Shutaro, and since then they have become a common feature in romantic comedies, but as with everything else Karin puts its own spin on a stereotype by placing it in the context of the vampire element. Not only is Winner the unabashed romantic rival that every anime romantic comedy seems to require, he's oblivious to the fact that the girl he is trying to woo is one of the creatures he's supposed to be hunting. In fact, Winner's inability to recognize vampires, and his ridiculously complicated tactics for catching vampires, quickly become running jokes.
One major side benefit also comes out of Winner's introduction: it elevates Maki, Karin's green-haired friend, from merely the role of the friend who misinterprets everything to a major supporting character who contributes greatly to the comic flow of the series. The way she plays off of Winner, and the way he perpetually fails to address her by name, provides the final push to increase the comedy to full speed. His activities and the scene where Kenta is taken to talk to Karin's parents also give the series the opportunity to cleverly explain the misconceptions about many supposed vampire weakness; crosses don't affect them because vampires are mostly atheists, garlic is only an issue because vampires have sensitive noses, and a wooden stake through the heart? “That would kill anyone,” Carrera Marker says, aghast, in response to Kenta's question about it. A scene where Carrera reads a young Karin and Anju a scary children's story about Vampire Hunters (the vampire equivalent of the boogeyman, apparently) adds an additional nice touch.
The vampire elements are just a gimmick in what otherwise remains a very typical teen romantic comedy, however. They just allow normal story components, such as making a boxed lunch for a guy, getting all worked up in the presence of a guy, or a guy looking after a girl who can't seem to look after herself, to be given alternative motivations. Those looking for an excitingly different approach to teen romantic comedies are unlikely to find it here.
Although the comic caliber of the series is on the rise, the artistry persists as the series' Achilles heel. Bland, often crudely-drawn backgrounds support overly angular character designs that, except for Anju and perhaps Maki, are neither especially cute nor attractive, and Kenta looks too generic to distinguish himself. Winner also looks generic in his school uniform, but cuts a dashing (if also buffoonish) figure in his Vampire Hunter outfit, and Anju still has the loliGoth doll look going for her. Fan service stays strictly limited to the opener, and the content has so far avoided even an opportunity for it to come up. Not much is demanded of the animation, so it works passably well. The musical score more capably does its job, providing a nice complement to the storytelling.
Although the English dub does manage to correct some of its problems from the first volume, weak points remain. The English VA for Kenta delivers lines like he has a speech impediment, and Kenta's mother sounds entirely too much like a teenager. Chelsea Curto has softened the edge of her words enough to improve her performance as Karin to an acceptable level, however, and the distracting resonance which plagued her lines in the earliest episodes is gone. Most other performances manage fine, but the real surprise is Winner. His unique vocal quality and speaking style in Japanese would have been hard to duplicate, but James Shubert gives an admirable effort in redefining the role without changing its spirit or character. The English script, while not always tight, at least stays consistent in meaning. The weak performances still weight the dub down, but at least Odex Private Limited is showing signs of improvement.
The only Extras offered this time are a textless opener, a reversible cover which features better artwork than the original, and an insert picture of Karin and Winner.
Winner Sinclair does not appear in the manga, so his introduction also marks a diversion from the manga's content, but his presence compensates for some of the side stories that are being skipped so it should not present a major issue for fans of the manga. Deals are sealed, myths about vampires are debunked, and Kenta gets a new romantic rival as the increased humor and improvements to the English dub contribute to a better sophomore outing.
Overall (dub) : B-
Overall (sub) : B
Story : B+
Animation : B-
Art : C+
Music : B+
+ Improved humor, dynamic new cast member.
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