Kara no Kyoukai 4

And we’re back to Kara no Kyoukai this week. For those of you who missed or don’t remember my reviews for the first three films, here’s a quick recap. The first one was terrible. The story didn’t make any sense, the characters were wooden, the horror elements were laughably bad and it was chock full of idiotic moments, such as the infamous “leave the comatose guy on the couch without bothering with any type of medical assistance because his body doesn’t need to take in nutrients or anything” plot point. I normally wouldn’t have delved into the series further, but it turns out that KnK has quite possibly the most articulate and courteous fanbase that’s ever contacted me en masse. So I watched the second film which was actually pretty good. It still had a few issues, but it had an interesting plot, the main characters got some nice development atmosphere was built up pretty strongly. The third wasn’t quite as strong, but it was still okay. It had all of the positives of the second with the only downside being that it had some deeply disturbing elements that were not handled as well as they could have been, although they weren’t handled badly. The final scores for the three were 2, 7 and 6. Let’s take a look at Kara no Kyoukai 4 and see how it compares to the others.

The story takes place shortly after the second film, but before the first or third because the first four are out of order for no apparent reason. It opens with Shiki being taken to hospital, hopefully they don’t forget about that protocol at some future point and leave someone lying on a couch in a comatose state for several days because that would be stupid, unconscious and bleeding. She spends two years in a coma before waking up, but something has changed within her and she can never go back to the way she was. The main narrative focuses on Shiki’s own existential crisis. It uses both imagery and dialogue to make the struggle as poignant as they can. And it is incredibly effective. The build up is strong, the conflict is powerful, in spite of the first and third films giving away how it’s going to ultimately turn out, and the climax is really strong. I will also give the film credit for having excellent, albeit short, build up for future films.

This film is really carried by its characters, particularly Shiki since she’s the one going through an identity crisis. The film does an excellent job of showing you all of her inner turmoil, much of which it illustrates without dialogue, and just putting the viewer in a position where they can understand her on a pretty deep level. This is also the first film that really develops Touko’s character and she is freaking awesome. She’s both funny and badass. The interactions between her and Shiki are amazingly written and very effective at both developing their characters and keeping the audience engrossed. Kokutou takes a minor role in this one but his personality still manages to shine through in his scenes.

The art is excellent. This is especially true for the scenes that delve into Shiki’s mind and the supernatural elements, but it also holds true for the regular scenes. The scenery looks good, the backgrounds and characters look good. The film just looks very pretty in general.

The voice acting is strong. Honda Takako gives a very powerful performance Sakamoto Maaya is also at her best in this. The only weakness is Suzumura Kenichi’s musical number. Basically there’s a scene where he sings “singing in the rain” and it’s not the least bit good. Not because his English isn’t great, but because he constantly emphasises the wrong syllables and the song just sounds disjointed and stilted. Even giving the film the benefit of the doubt and assuming that Kokutou is supposed to be tone-deaf, it sounds like he’s trying to sing a song he’s never heard before from a sheet with the lyrics written down. Aside from that, he does a good job and the music is excellent.

The ho-yay factor is a 3/10. Touko does flirt with Shiki a little bit.

That was Kara no Kyoukai 4. How does it compare to the rest? Really bloody well, actually. The story is interesting and really well executed, the characters are great, the art is amazing and the sound, aside from that one scene, is top-notch. This is definitely the best film in the series thus far. My final rating is a 9.5/10. That’s going to be the last February review. The request queue going into March is: Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu, Shinsekai Yori, One Outs, Doki Doki Precure, Sword Art online, Shingeki no Kyojin, & Zettai Bouei Leviathan. Next week I’ll take a look at the only one short enough to finish in a week, Zettai Bouei Leviathan. 

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