Karakuri Circus is completely rooted in human emotion. From the very first episode, when we meet Narumi and the Zonapha Virus, the question that the plot gives us is: What makes people laugh? Later on, when we meet Shirogane and the Midnight Circus, the question extends to all human emotions. As the Automata attempt to make Doll Francine laugh, we, the audience, end up witnessing many scenes that can horrify us, make us cry, and yes, also make us laugh. But, which are the most emotional scenes of the series?
Because we will talk about very important plot points there will be spoilers, so if you haven't finished watching the story, proceed with caution.
5. Narumi’s Apparent Death
After finally beating all of the Kidnapper’s guild who had captured Masaru; Narumi, Shirogane, and Ashihana are surrounded by flames, but Ashihana manages to figure out a way to escape with Shirogane. As the building burst into flames, Narumi protects Masaru from the falling burning ceiling and promises Masaru that everything will be all right. The camera closes up on Narumi’s left arm hugging Masaru, who thinks that Narumi will protect him forever, and then opens up to show that Masaru survived, but all that’s left of Narumi is his left arm, cut clean by the fire. While we find out later that Narumi survived, that moment is still shocking on a second viewing.
4. Lucille’s Death
The battle between the Shirogane and the Automata is filled with emotional moments: from the moment when Ming Xia realizes she can’t fight without losing some of her humanity, to the very end when the recently revived Narumi faces off against the fake Francine. However, amid all the deaths and tense moments, nothing beats Lucille’s final stand against the Four Pioneers, where she manages to beat Dottore with her words. She convinces him to say that Francine is nothing to him, and while it costs her life, it also destroys the Automata who killed her husband so she dies with a smile.
3. The truth behind the ZOPHONA Virus’s Research Center
At first sight, the Zophona Virus's Research Center looks like any other hospital for children. It’s understaffed, as three doctors and a nurse are the only people Narumi, Lucille, and Guy meet, but there aren't that many patients either. It's just about 20 children that quickly become Narumi's friends. But when Narumi learns that the staff drug themselves, he also has to find the truth.
The children he met are just the ones who are in the first stage of the disease: once the virus advances far enough, they’re moved to either the second stage wing—where they usually die—or to the third stage wing where they lay, unmoving, undying, on the cold floor. It's that sight what makes Narumi understand why the doctors have to drug themselves to keep smiling for the stage one patients.
2. Sadayoshi Saiga’s True Plan
Sadayoshi Saiga is a horrible person. We know that from the moment he decided to use his illegitimate child as bait to destroy a Village that had been helping his family for generations, but the true extent of his evilness is still hidden for most of the series. It’s only when we find out that he is alive—and the latest body of Bin Jin, the creator of the Midnight Circus—, that he kidnapped and abused the original Francine, tried to kill Doll Francine when she wasn’t up to his standards, killed Angelina because she loved a different man, pretended to be said man’s loving adopted son, then groomed Eleanor so she’d act like a puppet and only care about Masaru, and planned to download his consciousness into Masaru’s body so that Eleanor would love him. The moment when everyone discovers this is shocking for characters and viewers alike.
1. Doll Francine’s First Smile
Doll Francine is first introduced as the great villain to be defeated: She’s the leader of the Midnight Circus, the one behind the ZONOPHA Virus and the one the Shirogane want to destroy to cure said virus. But when we finally meet her, she’s a tired creature who wants to be dismantled as she has found no real reason to stay functional.
Angelina and Shouji Saiga, however, accept her in their household after Shouji makes sure she can’t hurt them. When they’re attacked after Eleanor is born, Francine runs with the baby, following Angelina’s orders, and falls into a well. The water turns into Aqua Vitae, which can dissolve her, but Doll Francine doesn’t care. She just wants to keep baby Eleanor safe, and starts singing a lullaby, smiling as the baby smiles at her. If you can keep yourself from crying after watching this scene, you’re stronger than us.
Karakuri Circus, the anime, is a very summarized version of the manga, which means we don't get to know some of the characters as well as the manga readers did. And yet, we still love them and feel for them when the full horror of their existence comes to light. But please, let us know, which ones were your favorite emotional scenes in Karakuri Circus? We can’t wait to read your answers.