"I only ever have three choices: enemy, nobody, or prey."
A fifteen-year-old boy named Gareki, who gets by on stealing from rich people's mansions, one day comes across a strangeyoung lad named Nai. Nai had been searching for somebody important to him with only an abandoned, blood-covered bracelet as a clue, but wound up being captured by a cruel, abnormal woman because of his otherworldly naivety.The two are set-up within her mansion wherein Nai is held captive and where the rest of Gareki's crew is slaughtered, and soon become wanted criminals sought out by military security operatives. Just as Nai and Gareki find themselves in a desperate predicament, they encounter none other than the Second Ship of the nation's most powerful defense organization, Circus, with its deceptive captain Hirato, its fighters, the cheerful Yogi and dedicated Tsukumo, and its odd black mechanical sheep.As they learn more of Nai's past and its relation to Kafuka, a dark and hidden organization involved in illegal genetic research that vehemently opposes the government, the two continue to meet allies, friends and enemies alike through Circus, and eventually become wrapped up in the defense organization's mysterious affairs.A fantasy manga series by Mikanagi Touya, which originally started serialization in the manga magazine Monthly Comic Zero Sum and was published by Ichijinsha in early 2008. There are currently 10 volumes out, with several drama CDs released in Japan. An anime adaptation by Manglobe started airing on April 4th, 2013.
Karneval provides examples of:
Accidental Kiss: An innocent variant happens between Nai and one of the sheep in this omake from volume 2.
Art Evolution: Rather subtle, considering how distinctive the manga-ka's art style already is, but it's particularly noticeable with Nai throughout the chapters, where in contrast to the first, his face looks much younger and more "innocent." Gareki and Yogi's character designs are also refined as well.
Art-Style Dissonance: The manga can get quite dark and violent, but you'd never know it just from looking at the covers.
Attempted Rape: Disturbingly enough this happens to Nai in the very first chapter, at the hands of the much older Valga woman, Mine.
Yogi toward all his younger companions. Gareki will deny it, but he also shows signs of this toward Nai. Karoku towards Nai.
Big Brother Mentor: Yogi (and even Hirato) can later be seen acting as this to Nai, Gareki and others. Gareki's more than likely to deny this (or any attachment to the crew of the Second Ship, really).
Bio-Augmentation: Kafka's trade—and they have no qualms about testing their research on humans. In many cases, the victims aren't even aware that they were made to be a part of ugly experimentation.
When they're mistaken for kidnappers, Yogi and Gareki are confronted by Yanari's bodyguards as well as Hirato, who hasn't bothered to clear up the misunderstanding. He allows Yogi to escape with Yanari but captures Gareki and ties him up as part of the "show," much to the latter's intense annoyance.
Broken Tears: In chapter 18, after Yogi's allergy patch that holds back his split personality falls off,tears start streaming down his face for no reason other than this. Given his usually sunny disposition, it's quite disconcerting.
Butt Monkey: Yogi gets a lot of abuse from pretty much everyone except Nai, probably because of his status as the resident Keet.
Cane Fu: Hirato's weapon of choice, with the special attack "Vakuum."
Clothing Damage: Goes along with Bandage Babe on the manga tankoubon covers — though onlymen have thus far being shown in this fashion. Tsukumo was featured on the volume 6 cover while in rather revealing (but undamaged) clothes.
Cool Big Sis: Eva seems to be one to some extent, although the guys are pretty scared of her.
Distress Ball: Tsukumo. She's usually competent, but when the plot calls for someone to be rescued, well...
Destination Defenestration: In chapter 33, during the siege at Smoky Mansion, Eva knocks Uro through the window. That he doesn't die suggests something sinister about his biology...
Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: Averted. When a woman attempts to force herself on Nai in the first chapter, it's not played for comedy, she's characterized as a horrible person, and she soon winds up killed off. It's not that much different than how a male in her role would have been treated.
Eye Scream: One chapter had a Varuga that went around collecting people's eyes (i.e. ripping them out of people's heads). He tries to do the same to Nai, but the latter is saved by a sheep.
Fanservice: Of both male (see above) and female variety, though Eva wears particularly revealing clothes.
Fashionable Asymmetry: One of Gareki's skin tight black shirts is an obvious offender underneath the red jacket, as can be viewed in chapter 12.
I Want Them Alive: When Circus storms Smoky Mansion to rescue Karoku, Eva and Tsukumo take on Uro and defeat him without killing him, which he mocks them for until Eva reveals that they were ordered to capture him alive.
Invocation: Each Circus member has to come up with a personal dramatic line which they'll use in combat. Yogi made the mistake of leaving it up to Hirato...
Jerk Ass: Gareki can be one, Akari can also, and Hirato can especially be one, but...
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Gareki obviously has a weak spot for Nai's innocence (though it won't spare the poor kid getting bonked in the head), Hirato seems to effectively hide how much he cares for his crew and how often he makes certain of Nai (and Gareki)'s safety, and Akari is harshly vocal about Hirato's apparent callousness toward his crew and the people essentially under his care.
Morality Pet: Nai acts as one for Gareki who, while not entirely an Antihero, does tend to come off as a bit of a selfish Jerkass, particularly at the beginning of the series.
Mr. Fanservice: Although most of the male cast could qualify to the point of having a Cast Full of Pretty Boys, Gareki is especially seen in cut up or revealing outfits that should not look as hot as they do when he's wearing them.
My Name Is Inigo Montoya: All the Karneval members have special introductions they say as they draw their weapons. Yogi likes to also use his to announce himself as Nyanperona.
Parental Substitute: Tsubaki for Gareki, and her younger siblings Yotaka and Tsubame. Most likely Karoku for Nai as well, before he became an apparent Aloof Big Brother and worse by the start of the story.
Power Trio: Trios are important in Karneval — the main trio has Nai as Id, Yogi as Ego, and Gareki as Superego. In Circus, the Second Ship has Yogi as Id, Tsukumo as Ego, and Hirato as Superego, while in the First Ship, Kiichi is Id, Tsukitachi is Ego, and Jiki is Superego (although the latter two cases can switch), and the adults in charge are Tsukitachi as Id, Hirato as Ego and Akari as Superego.
Psycho Serum: Taken by people who become Valga, sometimes unwittingly and other times not.
Traitor Shot: Several, some discreet—Valga are sometimes hard to distinguish from normal civilians, especially in the process of turning, and there are plenty of agents secretly working for the black market or are involved in conspiracies…
You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Kiichi and Karoku have blue hair (hers dark, his light), Tsukitachi has bright red hair, and Eva's is jade green. And in the anime Eva's hair leans toward aqua in color while Kiichi's hair has more of a purple shade to it.