Welcome, My Friends to film festival week. For those of you who don’t remember, I did this in February of last year looking at Kara no Kyoukai 2 & 3, Ghost in the Shell, Animal Crossing, Blood the last Vampire, Night on the Galactic Railroad & End of Evangelion. This year I’m going to start out the same way I did last year, with another look at Kara no Kyoukai. To give a brief recap of how the series has scored so far, the first film was slow and incredibly stupid. The second film was suspenseful and good. The third film was okay but could have handled its darker content better. The fourth film was excellent with only a few problems. The scores were 2, 7, 6 and 9. So, let’s take a look at the fifth installment and see how it fares.
Our tale begins with a burglar breaking into an apartment only to find a corpse. Understandably, he freaks out and gets the police who arrive at the scene only to find the apartment’s owner alive and well much to the burglar’s surprise. Cut to a young man being chased by a group of his peers who seem intent on causing him grievous bodily harm. Enter our heroine, Shiki. She beats the thugs with ease and returns the young man’s dropped keys. He tells her that his name is Enjou Tomoe and he can’t return home as he just murdered his own mother. Being Shiki, she allows him to stay at her apartment. Time passes in an excessively long sequence that recycles the same animation throughout. It finally ends when Tomoe sees his mother, alive and well. He and Shiki go to the apartment complex to investigate.
So, where does the story fall short? The most obvious failing are the long repeated scenes. The idea behind them is to convey the passage of time, but it just kills the pacing. They could cut these scenes short and get the same effect since they have scenes of Tomoe watching the news and the date gets mentioned during these segments. The only other real problem is that they don’t do a good job of establishing the elements used in the climax until they’re actually used. As such, it feels like they’re being pulled out of nowhere. The one involving Touko in particular.
That being said, there are a lot of good aspects to the film too. Tomoe’s story arc is really well handled. In spite of certain elements not being established or foreshadowed, the climax is really good too.
I also do like the way they show that plot points are occurring simultaneously and the non-linear structure they use works very well with what they’re doing and does lead to some interesting moments.
The characters work really well. This probably has the strongest secondary cast of any of these films with the antagonists having developed motivations and Tomoe being a really interesting, sympathetic character. Surprisingly so given how he’s introduced to you. Shiki and Touko remain strong characters. Although Mikiya is a bit weaker in this than he’s been in some of the films. He’s barely important to the narrative, having only a couple scenes that require him to be there. At least he doesn’t spend this film unconscious on a couch with no medical attention to keep his body hydrated and healthy. No, I’m not letting that “how does medicine work?” moment from the first film go.
The art remains excellent. The backgrounds are really detailed. The action sequences are stellar. I will warn you that there is some really disturbing and detailed violent content, including detailed scenes of corpses. The artwork in there looks really good, but it’s still a detailed drawing of something disturbing. The character designs remain the weakest aspect. They are well drawn but they’re pretty standard.
The performances in this are great. Honda Takako, Suzumura Kenichi and Sakamoto Maaya voice the series three leads. They’re joined in this film by Nakata Jouji (Fate/Zero‘s Kirei) and Yusa Kouji (Shadow the Hedgehog) as our antagonists. Both of whom do excellent work. Tomoe is voiced by Kakihara Tetsuya, who was also the voice of Simon in Gurren Lagann, and this is probably the strongest performance I’ve heard from him. The music is nice and atmospheric, contributing to both the chaotic and disturbing moments.
The closest thing you get to ho-yay in this is Mikiya saying he wouldn’t mind if Shiki was a guy. So, thee ho-yay factor is going to be a 1.5.
This film is not as good as the previous one. It is, however, a great film. It has some problems, but nothing that detracts from it too much. It’s a little slow and there are some things that feel a bit like they were pulled out of nowhere. The narrative is still strong overall with good action and great characters. My final rating is going to be an 8/10. Tomorrow, film festival week continues with a look at a film based on a well known RPG franchise. No, it’s probably not the one you’re thinking of.