Having gone through the melodramatic gravitas of Fate/Stay Night (both regular route and Unlimited Blade Works), it’s prequel Fate/Zero, and the adaptation of the visual novel that came out sooner – Tsukihime, if I was to describe the next Type-Moon anime to come out in a short phrase, it would be “And now for something completely different!”
Carnival Phantasm is an adaptation of a comedic manga series that put the characters from Fate/Stay Night and Tsukihime (and with it spinoff works like Melty Blood) in a variety of comedic scenarios. The scenarios generally don’t have any sort of coherent narrative to them, at least across works, and instead take the form of a variety of comedy sketches.
The sketches range to everything from a bit where three of the characters from Tsukihime and Melty Blood perform as a manzai group, to the Holy Grail war being re-done both as a Japanese game show and as a Wacky-Races style car-race in two different episodes. The jokes tend toward the absurdist with a side of the slapstick. Generally, this works, through there are a few bits where the show does jokes based around how absurdly melodramatic and dark some of the bits in the shows can be, and the jokes come across less as funny due to the absurdity, and more hateful and mean-spirited.
What helps the show the most is the fact that the because both visual novels have elements of harem series to them, when the show brings in more harem comedy elements as the basis for some of the sketches (like one where Saber takes a job at a cafe to buy Shirou a birthday present), it fits in perfectly.
The one issue I have with the show is a lot of jokes in the show are based on elements of the game that aren’t particularly accessible if you haven’t played all the games – major characters from the show include characters from Melty Blood (which only recently got a US release on Steam – and only with the final installment of the series) or from the expansion story from Fate/Stay Night – Fate/Hollow Ataraxia.
Unfortunately, as of yet Carnival Phantasm has yet to receive a US license. This is a bummer because it’s an absolutely hilarious show, which I think would really hit it off with fans, though the inclusion of characters from those two other games could be something of a barrier.