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|
Tomoya Shinoda (assistant)
|Produced by||Shōta Wada|
|Written by||Toshiki Inoue|
|Music by||Yuki Hayashi|
|Licensed by||Amazon (streaming)|
|Original network||Tokyo MX, BS11|
|Original run||October 11, 2018 – June 27, 2019|
Karakuri Circus (からくりサーカス Karakuri Sākasu) is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Kazuhiro Fujita, the author of Ushio and Tora. The manga was published in Shogakukan's Weekly Shōnen Sunday magazine from July 1997 to June 2006, and compiled into 43 tankōbon volumes.
The story centers on Masaru Saiga, a young boy who inherits a massive fortune and aspires to become a puppeteer, Narumi Katō, a kung-fu expert who suffers from Zonapha syndrome (a strange illness that stops his breathing unless he makes people laugh), and Shirogane Saiga, a silver-haired woman and Masaru's caretaker who controls the puppet Harlequin. They must fight against the battling automatons (auto-mannequins) and save the world from the Zonapha syndrome.
As of 2018, the manga had over 15 million copies in print.
The events are tied to a cycle of reincarnation that began 200 years ago when two brothers, Bai Yin and Bai Jin, travelled from China to Prague in order to study alchemy and improve their puppetry skills. The brothers encountered a beautiful woman by the name of Francine and they both fell in love with her. The younger brother, Jin, was devastated when his elder brother Yin proposed to Francine and she agreed to marry him. Fueled by hatred and despair, Jin abducted her. After 9 years of searching, Yin arrived in Quiberon, France, only to discover that Francine had fallen ill and had been imprisoned by fearful villagers. In the hopes of curing and freeing her, Yin then worked to create the Aqua Vitae, an elixir of life that could impart incredible healing powers and a greatly increased lifespan. However when he finally completed it, he found that Francine's prison had been set ablaze and she died moments before he could give it to her.
Another 23 years passed and the younger brother Jin had created an Automaton in her image and injected it with Aqua Vitae in hopes of bringing it to life. He was greatly disappointed when he realised that in stark contrast to the original Francine, she would not laugh or smile no matter what he did. He then created automaton clowns to make her laugh, but they failed, so he released the Zonapha (Z.O.N.A.P.H.A.) syndrome into Kuroga village, forcing them to make her laugh or suffer a living death. The Zonapha syndrome is where the body is dominated by the parasympathetic nerves, the trachea contracts, causing breathing difficulties and excruciating pain is felt in every nerve. The symptoms continue unabated until the victim can make someone laugh. Lucille Berneuil was one of the villagers who suffered at the antics of the murderous clowns. Six years later, Yin returned and sacrificed himself to activate the Aqua Vitae with his blood and save the villagers. When Lucille drank the water, she acquired Yin's memories and knowledge along with his puppet Harlequin, and she vowed to crush Jin's automata.
Years later, Shōji Saiga learned swordsmanship at Miura Dojo in Nagasaki while also studying to be a doctor under Dr. Bai Yin. Together they completed a marionette which Shōji named a Shirogane. While treating a sick Mr. Nakayama, Shōji encountered a healing woman who called herself Tohno-dayu, although her real name was Angelina. She held the "Soft Stone" within her body which could produce Aqua Vitia. By accident, she revealed that she had Bai Yin's marionette, Arlequin, which she used to help Shōji escape from a burning building. Later, Shōji tracked down Angelina, where she told him about her past and the vial of Aqua Vitae which was given to her. Shōji had fallen in love with her and he drank the liquid, vowing to spend eternity with her.
Shōji and Angelina began to create their own marionettes. They later adopted the shirogane, Dean Maistre as their son, naming him Sadayoshi. Shōji also encountered the Francine automaton who Jin abandoned because she could not laugh. Shōji adjusted her to make her less powerful, although she wanted to be dismantled because she felt that she was missing a vital gear. Some time later, Angelina became pregnant and gave birth to the baby girl, Éléonore.
The family were attacked by automata searching for the Soft Stone, however the Soft Stone was now inside Éléonore and Angelina entrusted the baby to Francine. Francine fell into a well with Éléonore who automatically turned the water into Aqua Vitae which destroyed Francine although she saved Éléonore. Angelina was mortally wounded by the automata and Shōji decided to keep Éléonore's existence a secret so he sent her to the Quiberon orphanage to be raised by Lucille.
37 years later, Shōji visited the orphanage and found that Éléonore remembered him because of the memories of Francine transferred to her via the Aqua Vitae. Shōji then learned that Sadayoshi has had a son called Masaru whom Shōji raised as his grandson. However Sadayoshi's plan was to leave his fortune to Masaru as bait to cause the destruction of the Kuroga clan. Sadayoshi is the reincarnation of Bai Jin, who transferred his memories into a young Bai boy using his hair and Aqua Vitae and then called himself Dean Maistre who was later adopted by Shōji Saiga. He planned to transfer his memories into Masaru and essentially become immortal, but Shōji destroyed the memory data back at Karuizawa and asked Lucille to send Éléonore to protect Masaru and find the soft stone.
The plot centers around three main characters, Masaru Saiga (才賀 勝 Saiga Masaru), Narumi Katō (加藤 鳴海 Katō Narumi), and Shirogane (Éléonore) (しろがね (エレオノール)) and combines the settings of a circus, alchemy, and karakuri puppets. The story starts when Masaru Saiga's father dies and leaves 18 billion yen of inheritance solely to him. His uncle and half-siblings each plot to kill or abduct Masaru to seize the money. By coincidence, the Zonapha sufferer Narumi Katō rescues Masaru from his uncle's henchmen with help from the Shirogane Éléonore. As the story progresses, a 200-year-old tragedy is uncovered involving the origin of the Shirogane, Automatons, and the Zonapha syndrome. The people of the Shirogane group and the Nakamachi Circus group must work together to save the world and prevent its destruction from the Zonapha syndrome.
After the third volume of the manga, the story splits into two separate but related arcs. In the first arc, Narumi Katō joins the Shirogane to battle the automatons (auto-mannequins) and save the world from the Zonapha syndrome. In the second arc, Éléonore and Masaru join the Nakamachi Circus and attempt to live a normal life as possible but their fates are still heavily linked to their pre-determined destiny. The events triggered by either Narumi or Éléonore's arcs are mentioned on each other's story, sometimes directly affecting one another. Eventually, during the climax of the story, the two paths intersect.
The manga began serialization in 1997, in the issue 32nd of Weekly Shōnen Sunday, released on July 23, 1997. It ended in 2006 in the issue 26th of the same magazine, released on June 14, 2006. It spanned 425 chapters, which were compiled in 43 tankōbon volumes, with the first volume being released on December 10, 1997 and the last one on August 11, 2006. The manga has been reprinted and collected in multiple editions:
- My First Wide: Collected into 16 volumes, released from November 2008 to February 2010.
- Wide-ban: Collected into 23 volumes, released from July 2011 to April 2013.
- Bunkoban: Collected into 22 volumes, released from May 2017 to February 2019.
- Kanzenban: Collected into 20+ volumes, released from September 2018 to TBA.
A 36-episode anime television series adaptation aired from October 11, 2018 to June 27, 2019 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' first opening theme song "Gekkō", and Lozareena performed the first ending theme song "Marionette". The second opening theme song is "Haguruma" performed by KANA-BOON, and the series' second ending theme song "Yūdachi" is performed by Memai Siren. The third opening theme song is "Over me" performed by Lozareena, while the third ending is the previous first opening song "Gekkō" by Bump of Chicken. The series was simulcast exclusively on Amazon Video worldwide.
- Komatsu, Mikikazu (October 12, 2018). "Karakuri Circus will Also Get Stage Play Adaptation in January 2019". Crunchyroll. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
- "BUMP OF CHICKEN、アニメ『からくりサーカス』OPに新曲書き下ろし。一部が聴けるPVも" (in Japanese). Rockin'On Japan. September 26, 2018. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
- 週刊少年サンデー からくりサーカス(藤田和日郎). Media Arts Database (in Japanese). Agency for Cultural Affairs. Retrieved November 11, 2018.
- からくりサーカス 1 (in Japanese). Shogakukan. Archived from the original on October 12, 2012. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
- からくりサーカス 43 (in Japanese). Shogakukan. Archived from the original on October 12, 2012. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
- "からくりサーカス（第1巻） （My first wide）" (in Japanese). Rakuten. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
- "からくりサーカス（第16巻） （My first wide）" (in Japanese). Rakuten. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
- からくりサーカス １ (ワイド版) (in Japanese). Shogakukan. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
- からくりサーカス ２３ (ワイド版) (in Japanese). Shogakukan. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
- からくりサーカス 完全版 １ (in Japanese). Shogakukan. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
- からくりサーカス ２２ 完結 (in Japanese). Shogakukan. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
- からくりサーカス 完全版 １ (in Japanese). Shogakukan. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
- "Karakuri Circus Manga by Ushio & Tora's Kazuhiro Fujita Gets TV Anime". Anime News Network. March 12, 2018. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
- "Karakuri Circus Anime Gets 36 Episodes". Anime News Network. March 27, 2018. Retrieved March 27, 2018.
- "Karakuri Circus Anime Unveils Cast, Staff, Video, October Debut, Amazon Streaming". Anime News Network. July 31, 2018. Retrieved July 31, 2018.
- "Karakuri Circus Anime's 2nd Promo Reveals More Cast, Bump of Chicken Opening, October 10 Debut". Anime News Network. September 25, 2018. Retrieved September 25, 2018.
- "Karakuri Circus Anime's Promo Video Previews Lozareena Ending Song". Anime News Network. October 3, 2018. Retrieved October 3, 2018.
- "Karakuri Circus Anime Reveals New Theme Songs' Artists in Promo". Anime News Network. December 20, 2018. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
- "Karakuri Circus Anime's Latest Promo Video Previews New Opening". Anime News Network. March 29, 2019. Retrieved March 29, 2019.
- Pineda, Rafael Antonio (April 5, 2019). "Karakuri Circus Anime's Latest Promo Video Previews New Ending Song". Anime News Network. Retrieved April 5, 2019.
- Komatsu, Mikikazu (March 14, 2018). "Kazuhiro Fujita's "Super Important Announcement" is Revealed as "Karakuri Circus" TV Anime". Crunchyroll. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
- Pineda, Rafael Antonio (March 27, 2018). "Karakuri Circus Anime Gets 36 Episodes". Anime News Network. Retrieved March 8, 2019.