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From Blackout: The protagonist, Masaru, has just inherited a big fortune after the death of his father. However, people are trying to get their hands on it by any means necessary, even if it means killing him. Narumi helped Masaru from being kidnapped after fighting some weird guys. He found out that they're not humans but wooden puppets with amazing strength. After a hard fight, Narumi was forced to admit that he's no opponent for them; and just when he started to think that Masaru would be captured, Shirogane, Masaru's watcher arrives from France with a weapon, the puppet Arlequin. Here, begins the story of Karakuri Circus.
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After 43 volumes...
I tend to avoid shounen manga that contain lots of fanservice, but I make this particular shounen an exception. Thankfully, the fanservice isn't too severe, except for a few scenes that I skip, but overall, the story isn't that bad at all. Asides from several shounen cliches (i.e. freckles for Westerners, people being sacrificed constantly, etc.), my feelings after the 43rd volume are close to how an actor/ress would feel if you get too attached to playing a certain character. (It could be that or it's because I went through all 43 volumes within just a few days. O__o)
I can easily say that the ending part of the story was an "eeeh" for me. I feel it does need a bit more improvement, but at least, it has a happy ending which I'm a sucker for.
Now, this manga series may not be for everyone, but if you're looking for a plot motivated action/adventure story that has two different sides to itself, then by all means, give it a shot. It also has some fleshed out character development between all three main characters. There are certain scenes that'll make you go "what the!?" Oh, and family relationships and "moving on from the past" are important themes throughout the story. Last, but not least, there are going to be pockets of filler stories so you may find some of them a little boring. I skipped some pages just because the fights were falling into shounen cliche or nothing really else goes on, except for character interaction (which is actually good, character-development wise).
Time to emote...
Warning: These spoilers are seriously spoilers so if you haven't looked at the raws (past whatever has been scanlated), then, I wouldn't recommend you to see this box. I translated certain parts of the story just to understand it better so I'll be mentioning certain things that probably, even people who looked at the raws would go 'huh?"
Spoiler (highlight to view)
- At first, I didn't know what to think of the part where the story actually goes into a different direction. I was just curious as to where the "reincarnation" part would fit in with Masaru being the target of his family. Then, I let the whole adventure fully sink in. I enjoyed the beginning arc (a.k.a. pre-Narumi loses an arm arc). I thought the plot would be a bit simple with Masaru finally getting over with his family issues, but it wasn't like that at all. I felt that the story really picked up after Narumi lost his arm and his memory.
- I did feel that the time Masaru was with the village (a.k.a. I nickname "filler village"), a rather sluggish part to the story. I was hoping for this arc to end soon, because, really.. It's great to see Masaru meeting new friends and helping each girl (and one boy) to their problems..but...buuuut, it felt kind of endless! I was so looking forward to getting back to Narumi by the time the puppet festival popped up.
- Whenever I see automaton!Narumi's eyes, I just get several chills. It's clear that the guy looks half dead. Also, very sad how he was deeply scarred by (automaton!fake) "Francetta" and how he wants to "kill her". But then, he just had to really lose himself when he meets up with Shirogane... Poor Shirogane. Such a sad thing when you let the past events consume you like that. Then again, when you have amnesia, it just makes things worse. But, I wish he ragained everything earlier than the last volume. Grr...
- It bugs me a little. Since Narumi's past life is In, I was hoping to see some alchemy from him. Boo... >D Ah, and the other thing is Narumi's sensei's history scroll. Edit: Nevermind of what I had here, last night. After going through that chapter again, I realized there was text there. Just on the side. =.=
- Final volume spoiler -> Ok! What's with the second Feiesures (I'm spelling his name almost all the way out in romanji because I'm not good in equating a Western name to it) telling Masaru: "You really are an idiot, Masaru." three times in the space station!? I mean, sure... The guy is crazy with his Francetta obsession, but, seriously...he has short term memory in his speech!? Masaru would've probably thrown one of his wrenches at Feiesures at the third time and respond back, "I got you already! Stop calling me an idiot, idiot!" The mangaka and his staff, are not perfect in their script, but something as simple as having the character repeat his lines could've been prevented.
- I actually wish Feiesures II could meet up with Narumi. It would make a very interesting encounter and would give both guys some real closure instead of Feiesures' option to stay on the station to die. Masaru going off to the space station to knock sense into Feiesures II was nice, but, it definitely needed more Narumi action. Narumi remembering Shirogane, finally calling her "Shirogane" again, and telling her he loves her was heart-warming, but that's all!? It's like, all three started in the beginning. Then suddenly, Masaru takes up the ending spotlight? The Masaru-Narumi reunion was too short for me. ;__; There should've been an ending scene with all three re-united!
- Gryphon-kun! <3 Geeze, I'm curious about his backstory, since we don't get one at all. It's like the mangaka just threw him in because he wants a talking animal. Ok, technically, Gryphon-kun isn't a real animal, but he's close anyways. I'm sad he had to die like that... Aww... Darn it, Feiesures II! Why'd you have to be so stubborn to stay there!? We could've had Gryphon-kun alive! Then, we'd have at least one automaton actually alive in full health! Every other automaton, whether good or bad, are pretty much dead. That's just......sad. Some automatons deserve to live equally enough with other humans.
- Enjoyed Guy's backstory. It truly shows how he developed into who he is until his dramatic death. *sniffs* Even if he lived for 90 years... Oh whyyyyyyy...!?
- I wonder if Masaru will ever tell Shirogane who her parents are? I find it rather disheartening that Shirogane's father has been alive for all this time so she could've met him before he met his end.
- It's a wonder that Masaru's genius' head can store so much complete with two memories. I feel bad for him that he was being used like a memory bank. But, I love how he ingeniously tricked Feiesures I into thinking he joined his side. Almost had me convinced too with Masaru's eyes being bulged out like that. O.O The way they said "me" to each other could've been spoofed in an omake.
- My favorite puppet is definitely Jack-o-Lantern! Hands down... An energy saving flying puppet! I would definitely trade my car in for that.
Yosh... Overall, this story had great potential using just about almost every classical circus member out there.. (except for the Goth Loli automatons. They'd probably fit in well in Cirque Du Soleil.) It just fell a little short on certain aspects, but it's definitely something I can't stop thinking about now.
... Last updated on September 6th, 2009, 1:19pm
Spoiler (highlight to view)
Although I really didn't like the parts where they killed a side character who had a crush on Narumi. And the ending, the way it ended, argh, its hard to decide whether I like it or not. Shirogane has two men after her, so yeah, one has to win and the other has gotta give i guess.
The references from Les Miserables was quite nicely put in, especially since it became the entire background story for the whole older brother and younger brother plot and their fight over a woman way past 200 years.
So much blood...
This series has far more action than comedy. That said, it really is quite the drama. At 43 volumes with under eight fully scanlated though, I'm more than a little worried about keeping it on the reading list. For what it's worth, the eight don't disappoint.
Well, I'm into the 7th volume right now and I'm still waiting for Narumi to pop out of nowhere and be alive and everything...It doesn't seem right that he died? If he actually did that is. I would give this a 10, if I find out he's alive.
Really good manga
Very addictive and good from the beginning to the end. If you are a shounen lover, you should give it a try. It is a manga with a lot of action, blood, and a good storyline. If you are looking for some deep stuff, then it is not for you, it is simple and light (don't give you headache like most of shoujo >,<).
... Last updated on May 18th, 2008, 6:28pm
It's been a few months since reading the series, but time hasn't bettered my opinion. I waited on writing a review because I really despaired at seeing how the manga destroyed my expectations.
The series' best scenes are at the beginning. The manga is very SHOUNEN, whether it be the inter-personal relationships or the fights.
The people whom you hope will come together, the relationships you wish comes into fruition, the characters you hope will graduate from sub-character A, the conflicts you wish come out into the open, never do. The series is really one disappointment after another.
I can't recommend this manga. You WILL be disappointed, unfortunately. You will probably end up thinking, just like me, the characters have so much potential.. but were ruined by a blockhead mangaka.
Thank you Blackout for introducing me to the manga a few years ago(before I thought I would actually ever read Japanese). The first few volumes are excellent. It's because of this I don't regret learning of this manga. I have quite a few ideas on how I would change the story. The setting has some very good points and there is a lot of potential.
myopius: The first 3 volumes are the best. Don't read on lest you defile the good memories you once had of the series.
serogane: I'm amazed you can call this your favorite after Berserk. You did read the whole series? Every crappy standard shounen villain line spitted out by the automata? You saw how underdeveloped Masaru's friends were(any of them)? How after the circus people's story is told they lose any importance to the story? How a certain characters takes actions that turns their former self on its head? How singular and shallow Shirogane is?
Doing a critic of each volume could give you an idea of how crappy the series becomes later on, however it's an empty effort. If you like the series now I hope you feel the same way 20 volumes later and eventually to the end at vol 43.
Up front, it did not look interesting at all. However, I found as I continued that the romance and the premise in the plot kept dragging me further into its storyline. I think that anyone looking for a good read should try this.
ansaris - For you
Edit (April 17th, 2008) - To ansaris: Yes, I have read the entire series (I started following this series from volume 10; I suppose my experience with this series will be a little different, since I had access to the first 10 volumes from the start and thus was able to bypass the mediocre beginning circus arc in one go).
To be honest, I did not like parts of the ending (Hence the removal of this series from the top spot); I didn't like how all the characters had their own prospective final villain to fight (Yes this includes the circus crew). While this makes it more realistic in that the non-combatants had to participate regardless of skill, it just seemed too convenient.
I don't like how Shirogane yells "Les arts martiaux"/some move in French every time she fights - It just seems silly after a while.
This manga has a lot of characters (If you've seen the cast role at the end of volume 43). It wouldn't be prudent to go into everyone's background too much (Though enough is always given). Besides, the school scenes were more about Masaru's change/growth and his new interactions with his classmates and not about the individual classmates. They were mostly disposable characters solely for the purpose of showing off the new Masaru. And yes, I can believe his 180 change in character after reading the first 3 volumes.
Later on, the manga does provide explanation for why he's so talented at controlling puppets from the get-go, child genius reasons aside. It's a pretty big revelation so I won't ruin it here (Volume 27). His potential for a drastic change in character could be attributed to that as well, though that was never implicitly stated in the series.
Remember, the main character *is* Masaru (And Narumi for the first good part). All the other characters are side characters. But yeah, I didn't like reading about Masaru's arc until way later, when he finally leaves that damn circus troupe behind to figure out his past and why the inheritance was left to him (20+ volumes later, sigh). Narumi serves as a good buffer for the first 28 volumes of the series for people who don't like Masaru.
Eventually Masaru does shine through, mostly because he doesn't give you a reason to hate him.
Shirogane is like that because that's how she was brought up. If you read about her background later on (I think volume 24?), you'll understand. She's really not a deep character at all, but she does become a lot more lively by then.
The circus people's backgrounds does come into play at the end, but it's really not an integral part of the story.
Villains? Yes this series has a lot of automata. Most of them are fillers, I definitely agree with you there; but you don't really need background for automata when they're coming in droves. Besides, good villains do show up later, so that kind of makes up for it.
Granted, I'm rather partial to this series because I bought the series only by its cover (Well having read his others series Ushio and Tora helped a lot, but I wasn't a super big fan of that series).
Volumes 1 to 23 - Narumi takes center stage, Masaru takes back seat.
Volumes 23 onwards - Masaru and Narumi both share the stage equally.
Yeah the circus arc is kind of boring compared to Narumi's Karakuri arc. For the first part of the series, I was mostly reading it because of Narumi.
Berserk is my favorite series *because* of Gatsu, not because of the story.
... Last updated on April 17th, 2008, 12:59am
The circus, ftw.
I just figured out how circuses can become more popular. Instead of clowns, they need hot ninja-like acrobats who can act as bodyguards or assassins.
Anyway, as people have stated, this story experiences a dramatic shift in style from the fourth volume onward. You could almost consider the story before that a prologue. Let me say, the first three volumes are masterful. I wasn't sure if I'd like the story in volume 1, it seemed to me to have no depth, it just consisted of undeveloped characters running around without any real idea about the plot's meaning. Then, it developed. (In other words, don't quit at volume 1, if you bother to pick this story up at all.) By the time you're well into volume 2, you should be able to see the story's potential starting to surface, and by the end of volume 3 you'll have experienced its true merit. Basically, these first three volumes consist of unique plots and characters which both experience intense story-based development. The depth of plot and technique for narrative used in character development really impressed me.
However, immediately from volume 4 chapter 1, the story's plot and themes experience a major change. I'm not sure if I like it. I can tell you that a lot of the plot developments from there onwards could be described as shounen cliches. I'll provide with you with a very trivial example, I could describe better ones but sadly that would ruin a major part of what the plot's time is spent on.
Spoiler (highlight to view)
When a humble character is prompted by others to do a difficult task, and because of their talent or special ability/characteristics (which the reader is familiar with, but no one else is) ends up doing it so incredibly that everyone praises them, and they become instantly popular.
What I disliked most about these cliches, however, isn't that they're cliches, it's that they're not well-done. The author has trouble with the characters' voices and fails to allow developments to arrive naturally. Often it's pretty clear there's a deus ex machina. This wasn't present at all in volumes 1-3, oddly. There have also been a problems with realism... The characters perform a feat which violates common sense, which you didn't know they could do, usually while another character voices aloud how they did it in a very "deus ex machina" manner. Usually it's not too important to the overall plot, but it's bothersome to me. Examples:
Spoiler (highlight to view)
Utilizing Kung-Fu energy to bend steel bars, saying "Trust me, I'll handle this" and running toward a person with a gun while their bullets miss and then knocking over that person, and an animal tamer commanding a bunch of stray dogs and cats to attack someone. lol. Don't worry, this stuff doesn't happen all the time, and in the third case (of the animal tamer) it didn't even need to happen, just a humor-based plot line there.
The first three volumes also clearly showed that the future of this story has a lot of epic potential, with quite a few hints at facets of the story which will probably become cool plot developments later on, but only one of those facets has been pursued by the start of volume 6 (and in retrospect, I see that it just served as a brief unimportant plot device). I'm certain at least one or two of them will have to be followed up on in volumes to come--they have to be--but in the meantime it's like they've been cast aside.
Anyway, this story has a lot of potential, and the recent chapters haven't been bad, they just haven't been as spectacular as the early ones. I'd recommend that anyone who has some spare time give it a shot.
spoiler: its just an arm
Sorry but i have to write something about it to let go of my frustration. Why o why did you die, you better come back to us!!! (people who have read up to the 3rd volume will know what i mean )