Reviewby Theron Martin, Oct 13th 2007
DVD 3 - Thicker than Blood
Anju reflects on the history and nature of her relationship with her older sister as she helps Karin and Usui work through a minor misunderstanding. Later, both Karin and Usui reflect on their fathers while Usui tutors Karin for some make-up tests, an occurrence which many observers (especially Karin's father) misinterpret as something more romantic. Once summer break is in full swing, an invite to a water park by Winner leaves Karin in a quandary as to how discourage Winner's interest in her, but even with Maki's help her attempts may be doomed to failure due to Winner's tunnel vision and the truth about Winner's dream girl. Later still Ren, disgusted by his sister's behavior, decides to set his sights on Usui's mother, while Karin also contemplates biting her again. But when Karin pushes her luck too far on trying to resist her urge to bite someone, the consequences could be great.
The third volume, which consists of episodes 9-12, brings the series to its midway point. Unfortunately, given Geneon's recent collapse, this could be all the farther the American release of the series goes for quite some time. That's a shame, because while Karin has never been a production gem, it has consistently proven itself entertaining enough to justify the time and money spent on it, and this volume is no different. Worse, this is perhaps the only volume in the series that actually ends on a cliffhanger, or what passes for one in the series thus far.
The main plot (such as it is) carries on with traditional romantic comedy elements like The Misunderstanding, The Study Session, and the Water-Related Episode and tosses in additional typical elements such as the overprotective father and ongoing denials of romantic attraction. And this series being what it is, it also makes sure we get a full dose of Karin nosebleeds. At times the content does wallow too much in its clichés, but what saves it here are regular doses of effectively funny bits, some actual drama, and a well-executed episode focusing on Anju which drips with loving sentimentality; should the rest of the series eventually become available, keep that episode in mind, as some things said in it come into play in another Anju feature episode later in the series. The vampire angle also still lingers in the background, of course, but just as entertaining and novel is Fumio's situation; the running gag about the lascivious effect she unconsciously has on men has yet to lose steam.
The series' biggest detracting factor remains evident: it won't win any awards for its artistry, although Karin and Maki (and, surprisingly, Winner, too) all look remarkably good in their swimsuits in the water park episode. That episode, and one scene where Karin and Anju are in the tub together, give the series more good opportunities for fan service than it has seen in previous volumes, and it doesn't waste them. While some character designs (especially Anju) still look nice, the continuing third-rate background art and lackluster renditions of other designs prevent the series from improving its artistic grades. The animation does not have many opportunities to show its stuff but puts a decent effort into what it does do.
The soundtrack works best in the gentle, wistful harmonica and piano melodies indispensable to the more sentimental moments, carry-overs joined by equally effective acoustic guitar pieces. At other times it returns to the workable but less impressive light or enthusiastic synthesized numbers backing comedic parts. The unremarkable opener and charming love song closer remain unchanged.
Odex Pte. Ltd's English dub continues with its incremental improvements, primarily due Chelsea Curto sounding more comfortable in the title role; her performance is actually at its best when voicing child Karin parts. Karin's parents, Maki, and Winner, whose English VA does as good as job as could be expected in duplicating the original's unique style, serve as further good-side floats, while Kenta, Fumio, and (to a lesser extent) Anju remain anchors dragging it down. English scripting never strays far. It still isn't the equal of the original Japanese dub, but it isn't a disaster, either.
Extras once again remain limited, but at least this Geneon offering does have some. A clean closer can be found on the disk, and the traditional reversible cover and art insert are also present.
Little of their content (beyond the vampire angle) could be called fresh, but these episodes nonetheless find a nice balance between comedy, light drama, and sentimentality. However, unless this is a must-have series for you, waiting until more is known about when (or if) the next volume will be available is recommended.
Overall (dub) : B-
Overall (sub) : B
Story : B
Animation : B
Art : C+
Music : B
+ Good sentimental parts, entertaining characters.
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