Karakuri Circus (からくりサーカス Karakuri Sākasu?) is a manga by Kazuhiro Fujita, also the mangaka of Ushio and Tora. The manga was published in the Weekly Shōnen Sunday magazine (1997 No.32–2006 No.26). The manga is currently available as individually compiled and bound tankōbon.
Although this story is vastly different from Kazuhiro Fujita’s previous title, Ushio and Tora, but many themes inherits 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 intend. Drinker 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 original creator’s unfinished works.
The story centers around three main characters, Masaru Saiga (才賀 勝), Narumi Kato (加藤 鳴海), and Shirogane (Eleanor) (しろがね (エレオノール)?) and combines the settings of a circus, alchemy, and karakuri 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.
As each episode progresses, a 200 year old tragedy is uncovered and the mystery of the origin of the Shirogane, Automatons, and the Zonapha syndrome unfolds.
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 Saigao join the circus and attempt to live a normal life but their fate are still heavily linked to their pre-destined destiny.
The events triggered by either Narumi Kato or Eleanor side of the story were mentioned on each other's story, sometimes directly effect 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.
A young boy who has inherited 18 billion yen from his father, his mother was his father's mistress and thus he is a illlegitamate son. His father left him the money because he know his other children would try and kill him over the money by hiring puppet using assasins.
A young man who practices martial arts and suffers from Zonapha syndrome.
She was found by Masaru at a circus while he was being chased by puppets, she is his bodyguard/caretaker. She wields Harlequin one of the most powerful puppets in the story.
A circus of Automatons that travel while spreading Zonapha syndrome in hopes of one day fulfilling they 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 masters bride of soughts, but no matter what he did she wouldn't smile. He then created four powerful master automatons with the sole purpose of making her smile basing they designs off clowns and jesters. Since his passing she has assumed the role of leader and has created many other automatons in order to realize her masters desire to make her laugh. The solution she found is by spreading 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 use the aqua vitae to 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 lay in the manipulation of fire.
One of the four master automatons, he is the ball walker of the circus. He is quick to angry and is easily the most irresponsible of the four. His main form of attacking is using his arms which possess a very high level of strength even for an automaton making him the physical 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.