The cover of the first volume of Karakuri Circus
|Genre||Action, dark fantasy|
|Written by||Kazuhiro Fujita|
|Magazine||Weekly Shōnen Sunday|
|Original run||July 23, 1997 – June 14, 2006|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Satoshi Nishimura|
|Produced by||Twin Engine|
|Written by||Toshiki Inoue|
|Music by||Yuki Hayashi|
|Licensed by||Amazon (streaming)|
|Original network||Tokyo MX, BS11|
|Original run||October 11, 2018 – present|
Karakuri Circus (からくりサーカス Karakuri Sākasu) is a manga by Kazuhiro Fujita, also the manga artist of Ushio and Tora. The manga was published in the Weekly Shōnen Sunday magazine (1997 No.32–2006 No.26) and compiled in 43 tankōbon volumes.
Although this story is vastly different from Kazuhiro Fujita's previous title, Ushio and Tora, it inherits many themes from his previous work. Themes such as a boy with sense of justice willing to go against great odds to save others, a man chose to become a demon to fight great evil, and as well as a tiger puppet featured in volume 24.
The most recognizable similarity between the two titles is the curse brought by the ultimate weapon against the evil. The wielder of the Spear of the Beast inherits not only a great power, but also the creator’s hatred and killing intent. Drinkers of the water of Life obtain eternal life but also the hatred toward auto-mannequins. This leads to the cursing the user of both items to spend the rest of their life to carry on the original creator’s unfinished works.
The story centers around three main characters, Masaru Saiga (才賀 勝 Saiga Masaru), Narumi Kato (加藤 鳴海 Katō Narumi), and Shirogane (Eleanor) (しろがね (エレオノール)) and combines the settings of a circus, alchemy, and karakuri puppets into one story filled with mystery and action.
The story starts when Masaru's father dies and leaves 18 billion yen of inheritance solely to him. His siblings (all from different mothers) and his uncle set out to either kill or abduct Masaru to make all the money their own. By coincidence, Narumi ends up rescuing Masaru with the help from Shirogane.
Each of the main characters are tied in reincarnation cycle that is the result of the tragedy of 200 years ago. After the third volume of manga, the story splits into two separate but related arcs.
Narumi Kato joins the other Shirogane to battle against Automatons (auto-mannequins) to cure the world of Zonapha syndrome. Meanwhile, Eleanor and Masaru Saiga join the circus and attempt to live a normal life but their fate are still heavily linked to their pre-determined destiny.
The events triggered by either Narumi Kato or Eleanor side of the story were mentioned on each other's story, sometimes directly affect one another. After a while, during the climax of the story, the two paths came to a cross. Every member of the Shirogane group and Karakuri Circus has to save the world from Z.O.N.A.P.H.A syndrome and its utter destruction. More importantly, bring the 200 years cycle of tragedy and hatred to an end.
- Masaru Saiga
- Voiced by: Chihiro Ueda
- A young boy who is the illegitimate son of the C.E.O. of the Saiga corporation and his mistress. His father left him 18 billion yen as part of a plan to uses Masaru is bait to trigger the destruction of the Kuroga clan who engaged the Saiga to build their puppets. Masaru is now the target of his father's siblings who hire assassins with puppets to abduct or kill the boy to get his money.
- Narumi Katō
- Voiced by: Rikiya Koyama
- A tall, strong young man who practices the Chinese martial art Xing Yi Quan but suffers from the Zonapha syndrome. This syndrome causes difficulty in breathing and the only cure is to make someone laugh, however he isn't very funny. He decides to protect Masaru after encountering the boy being attacked in the street.
- Shirogane Saiga
- Voiced by: Megumi Hayashibara
- She came Japan to protect Masaru and repay the debt to Masaru's grandfather for helping her family. Her real name is Éléonore and she was raised as an orphan in Quiberon, France, where she was callously taught how manipulate puppets. She becomes Masaru's bodyguard/caretaker and controls Harlequin, one of the most powerful puppets in the story.
- Eiryō Ashihana
- Voiced by: Takahiro Sakurai
- He is a member of the Slaughter Team, hired to kill the Masaru and controls the puppet Pulcinella.
- Gii Christoph Resh
- Voiced by: Nozomu Sasaki
- Vilma Thorne
- Voiced by: Marina Inoue
- Shinobu Nakamachi
- Voiced by: Hisao Egawa
- Head of the Nakamachi Circus
- Noriyuki "Nori" Nakamachi
- Voiced by: Ryōta Iwasaki
- Son of Shinobu Nakamachi.
- Hiroo 'Hiro" Nakamachi
- Voiced by: Kaito Ishikawa
- Son of Shinobu Nakamachi.
- Talanda "Lise" Liselotte Tachibana
- Voiced by: Tomoyo Kurosawa
- A young girl working in Nakamachi Circus as the animal handler and beast tamer of the lion called Drum.
- Shōji Saiga
- Voiced by: Masahiko Tanaka
- Zenji Saiga
- Voiced by: Akio Ōtsuka
- Lucille Berneuil
- Voiced by: Romi Park
- Liang Jian-Feng
- Voiced by: Katsuhisa Houki
- Liang Ming-Xia
- Voiced by: Yoshino Nanjō
- Voiced by: Ayane Sakura
- George LaRoche
- Voiced by: Kenji Hamada
- Voiced by: Hiromichi Kogami
- Voiced by: Tomokazu Seki
- Voiced by: Toshio Furukawa
- Voiced by: Megumi Hayashibara
A circus of Automatons that travel while spreading Zonapha syndrome in hopes of one day fulfilling their late master/makers final wish "to make Francine smile/laugh".
The queen of the circus. She is a highly complex automaton who was created to be her master's bride of sorts, but no matter what he did she wouldn't smile. He then created four powerful master automatons based on the designs of clowns and jesters with the sole purpose of making her smile . Since his passing, she has assumed the role of leader and has created many other automatons to realize her masters desire of making her laugh. Her solution was to spread the Zonapha syndrome. She hopes to find someone with the soft stone which is the key element in making aqua vitae which is supposed to grant life so she can become "alive".
One of the four master automatons, he is the musician of the circus. His clothes are all white and his instrument is a mandolin. He is thoughtful and seems quite proud. His attacks involves the manipulation of fire.
One of the four master automatons, he is the ball walker of the circus. He is quick to anger and is the most irresponsible of the four. His main form of attack is using his arms which possess a very high level of strength making him the physically strongest of the circus.
One of the four master automatons, he is the juggler of the circus. He wants to know what the word "delicious" means. He can extend his arms and his hat has a razor sharp brim.
The only woman among the four master automatons, she is the acrobat/rope walker of the circus. She wants to live a love story like the ones she's read in books, the only flaw is that she can't feel the sensation of the skin of another person. Being the acrobat of the circus she can jump very high.
The manga began serialization in issue 1997-32 of Weekly Shōnen Sunday, released on July 23, 1997. It ended in issue 2006-26 of same magazine, released on June 14, 2006. It spanned 425 chapters, which were combined in 43 volumes. The manga has been reprinted and collected in multiple editions:
- My First Wide: Collected into 16 volumes, released from 2008 to 2010.
- Wide-ban: Collected into 23 volumes, released from July 2011 to April 2013.
- Bunkoban: Collected into 19+ volumes, released from May 2017 to TBA.
- Kanzenban: Collected into 4+ volumes, released from September 2018 to TBA.
A 36-episode anime television series adaptation premiered on October 11, 2018 on Tokyo MX and BS11. The series is animated by Studio VOLN and directed by Satoshi Nishimura, with Toshiki Inoue and Kazuhiro Fujita handling series composition, and Takahiro Yoshimatsu designing the characters. Yuki Hayashi is composing the series' music, and Twin Engine is producing the series. Bump of Chicken performed the series' opening theme song "Gekkō" and Lozareena performed the ending theme song "Marionette". The series is being simulcast exclusively on Amazon Video worldwide.
|1||"The Curtain Rises"|
"開幕ベル" (Kaimaku Beru)
|October 11, 2018|
|Narumi Katou is dressed in a bear costume, handing out leaflets for the Straw Circus when Masaru Saiga accidentally bumps into him wheeling a large suitcase. Narumi begins to have a Zonapha attack and tries to make any passer-by laugh. Eventually Masaru laughs, saving Narumi, but the boy is abducted by three men in black suits. Narumi goes to his aid, but the men are too strong and he carries Masaru onto a train to escape. Masaru tells Narumi the story of his father’s death and huge inheritance, and that Saiga men have always had an interest in Karakuri clockwork puppets. His grandfather told him to take a special suitcase and seek Shirogane for protection if anything should happen to his father. When more men in black suits ambush them on the train, Narumi realizes that they are puppets when one is destroyed. In desperation, Masaru calls out "Shirogane" and a woman appears wearing a harlequin outfit. She opens Masaru's suitcase and the puppet Harlequin pops out. Shirogane manipulates it to attack and destroy the only remaining black-suited puppet. After explaining who she is, Shirogane accompanies Narumi to a local clinic to treat the unconscious Masaru. Meanwhile, one of those pursuing Masaru sends the puppet Pulcinella after the boy.|
|October 18, 2018|
|Ashihana directs Pulcinella to attack, and Shirogane counters with Harlequin which is more than a match for Pulcinella and it shreds the other puppet. Meanwhile, Ashihana's gang capture Masaru, but fortunately Narumi is there and rescues the boy, although he begins to have a Zonapha attack. Narumi can't make Shirogane or Masaru laugh and desperately he rushes out to make someone laugh, which is only successful after Shirogane beats him up in a convenience store. Shirogane and Masaru move into Narumi's apartment where they settle into a version of domestic life, however they are being watched from outside. Suddenly, the puppet Grimaldi grabs Masaru through a window and escapes with the boy, leaving Shirogane and Narumi standing in the street. They are approached by Eiryo Ashihana who tells them that he is from the Slaughter Team, hired to kill the boy, whereas Masaru was abducted by the Kidnap Team working for another client and he is being taken to the Saiga villa in Karuizawa. Ashihana offers to take them there, however he warns that the villa is full of the late Saiga's heinous Karakuri puppets and their puppeteers.|
|October 25, 2018|
|Masaru's uncle Zenji Saiga tells the boy that he is safe with him, but he is suspicious. While the Slaughter Team prepare to attack the Saiga villa, Narumi bursts through the gates with Shirogane in a frontal attack on the Kidnap Team, prompting the Slaughter Team to follow. Shirogane encounters Takami, but Nakata attacks with the Rolling Arms karakuri, however the main door is a trap which destroys the puppet and kills Nakata. Shirogane then releases Harlequin who destroys the door allowing Ashihana and his men inside. Takami then attacks with her karakuri Theogualtier, but Shirogane destroys it with Harlequin. Meanwhile, while hiding from Zenji, Masaru finds notes written by his father saying that Masaru is bait to trigger the destruction of the Kuroga clan who engaged the Saiga to build their puppets. Meanwhile Narumi and Shirogane fall into a trap and Narumi has a Zonapha attack where Shirogane tells him why she cannot laugh and how she became a puppet master. In the tower above, Masaru desperately jumps from a window to escape Zenji, and fortunately lands safely near Ashihana. Masaru then offers to hire Ashihana's Slaughter Team to work for him.|
|November 1, 2018|
|Ashihana refuses Masaru's offer to work for him, but changes his mind when shown a diary detailing that the Slaughter Team were being used as lab rats by the Saiga. Ashihana uses Grimaldi to burst back into the villa, but Yamanaka trapps Narumi and Shirogane in the basement, so Masaru agrees to become Zenji’s son. However, Zenji still plans to kill them, so Masaru savagely attacks him. Meanwhile, as Shirogane tells Narumi about her sad childhood, Masaru and Ashihana use Grimaldi to rescue them. Yamanaka attacks them again, but Narumi and Shirogane cannot defeat him, however Masaru takes control of Harlequin, turning the tide of the battle until suddenly explosives planted in the villa destroy the building. Masaru, Narumi and Shirogane emerge from the wreckage, and Ashihana manages to help Shirogane escape, however Masaru and Narumi remain trapped in the burning building. The next morning, Masaru is alive, but all that remains of Narumi is his left arm.|
|5||"Circus – Departure"|
"Sākasu 〜 Shuppatsu" (サーカス〜出発)
|November 8, 2018|
|Two months later, Masaru has recovered from his injuries and lives with Shirogane who looks after him. She enrolls in the high school next to his school protect him from bullies. However when the bullies try to antagonize Masaru he shrugs off their actions and shows the scars he received in his encounter while he was away. Elsewhere, Mr. Shinobu Nakamachi is about to be evicted for non-payment of rent while he tries to rebuild a circus. At school, Masaru becomes more accepted, and at high school Shirogane becomes popular because of her many talents, including her acrobatic skills. To cheer up Shirogane, Masaru takes her to see Mr. Nakamachi and convinces her to join his circus with Nori and Hiro and their animal handler Liselotte. Elsewhere, Narumi lays unconscious in intensive care, missing his left arm.|
|November 15, 2018|
|Narumi awakes in a hospital in Illinois in the United States, with amnesia and a prosthetic left arm. His savior introduces himself as Guy Christophe Rech. Narumi finds that the hospital run by Dr. Banhart is a research facility and houses 2,000 children suffering from Zonapha, but the staff are also suffering to ensure that they are always smiling to prevent the children from having Zonapha attacks. He also learns that in the final stages, the Zonapha sufferer cannot die, and he sees older children lying comatose, caught between life and death. Rech explains that automata are used by the Midnight Circus to spread the Zonapha syndrome and he asks Narumi to become a Shirogane and help him fight them. He tells Narumi that the last amount of Aqua Vitae which was created by an alchemist many years ago was used to heal him. Lucille Verrneuil enters and announces that Paulmann and his puppet Anselmus are attacking the school so Rech goes out to confront them. He uses his Karakuri Olympia to attack the automata and then Narumi joins him to effectively finish them off.|
The manga had over 15 million copies in print as of 2018.
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