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Manga Chronicles Part 4: Karin (Chibi Vampire)




Karin (Chibi Vampire)

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think or Shounen romance? Bland? Shallow? Stagnating? Un-progressive? Well, for about 90% of the Shounen romance mangas that is indeed correct. Karin however, is a different story. But before we jump into that, first some background information. Karin (Chibi Vampire in the US) is about Karin, your average 16-year old high-school girl, but she has a secret. She is a vampire, a mysterious vampire, who can walk in the sunlight, and when Usui Kenta transfers to her class, all sort of different kinds of events start rolling ahead.

The manga, drawn Yune Kagesaki, by started it's serialization in late 2003 and finished February 2008. It consisted of 58 chapters and 8 special chapters (omakes and special side story chapters), spanning through 14 volumes. Karin also got a full anime of 24 episodes, which started airing late 2005. There was a light novel series of Karin in 2003, written by Tohru Kai and illustrations bythe original author of the manga, which spans 9 volumes and is fully transated in English, both the manga and the light novel.

Back on topic, I read Karin about 2 years ago in my native language in a library close by. Needless to say, it was my first romance-driven manga I've read. I say it's a Shounen manga, but honestly it feels more like a Shoujo manga, but it's officially tagged as such, so I'm rolling with it. As I was saying, Shounen romance is just torture to me, but luckily I had no clue about manga and it's classification, so I didn't mind at that point, and if had, I probably wouldn't have read this wonderful piece ever.

As a Shounen manga, you probably have some doubts about this manga's romcom nature. I'll say this, throw those doubts in the incinerator. As I said, this manga has a huge shoujo feel to it, basically meaning it actually has good, progressing, heart-warming romance in it, and it has a conclusive ending, believe it or not.

The start of Karin is a little on the slow side, and shows Karin's personality well in the first few chapters you'll read. It tells you your main character's personality well, and with almost no needless filler. In those few starting chapters, you get to know the supporting cast, the Maakas and Usui Kenta. As Karin gets to know Usui better and he more or less unintentionally finds out Karin's rather bloody secret, she and Usui get more friendly. Usui's situation also gives an insentive for some rather generic romcom moments, albeit with refereshing twists. This goes on for a while, with some side cast developments, like Karin's little sister, Anju, and Usui's mother, Fumio.

This goes on for a while, until the first major twist comes into play when everything literally blows up in Karin's face in a bloody fashion, and as a result the Usuis think of leaving the whole town, with pressure from an other party. This brings us to our first conflict, which gets resolved quite nicely with drama, but not too much drama. Quickly after that Karin and Usui become an item. The second half of the manga is basically lovey-dovey romcom, an introduction of a new character that plays some importance to the plot and the final twist. I won't spoil it as you should read it yourself. The climax and the ending are something to look forward to.

All in all, the plot is nothing too special and it doesn't really bring anything new to the table, but the twist are executed so well. It has some Shounen air to it, but overall plays out like a Shoujo manga. The art is pretty stellar for something made in the early 2000's, but it's till weak sometimes. It plays well to the theme and the facial expressions are really cute. I have zero issues with the art style. The characters, even side ones, are well fleshed out, and bring some nice color to the scenes. The length of the manga is average. It's not that long, but the chapter total can be deceiving as the chapters are long, spanning from 20 pages to even over 40.

For a manga made rather early, it's one of the only ones I really adore. It'll blow your expectations of what Shounen romance manga is out of the water and leave you with a nice feeling. I'll quarantee it. Still to this day, it's my favorite Shounen romcom. You should definitely give this old-ish classic a try. I heard that even the anime is pretty good.


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