Hello everyone and welcome to my first film review week. I’ve done it one other time since and will probably do another sometime this year, whenever I should be in the mood for it. Why am I doing this? Because I’ve got five different anime films I’ve agreed to review so I figured it would be more efficient to find two more and take care of them all in a week than it would be to just stretch them out over the course of five. Many of you probably remember that a couple weeks ago I reviewed the first Kara no Kyoukai movie and it was not a well written movie at all. It had some good production values, but nothing of substance. So, why am I watching another one after that? Well, when I posted the review on MAL I got several responses from fans of the franchise. Surprisingly, they were polite, grammatically correct and respectful. No one said that my opinion was wrong (because opinions totally work on a right or wrong basis), accused me of not getting it or referred to me as any type of slur for daring to disagree with them. The basic gist of the messages was something like this “I understand why you didn’t like the first movie, but I think you should give the series more of a chance. I think you’ll find that it gets a lot better.” After getting those messages I thought that if they were indicative of the quality of the fan base as a whole I wanted to give the franchise more of a chance. So I ended up agreeing to watch two more movies. If I don’t like them I’ll respectfully disagree with the fans and politely pass on the rest. If I do like them, I’ll watch the other four. Although I haven’t decided whether I’ll give them full reviews or not yet. Fair enough? Good. Now that that’s out of the way let’s take a look at Kara no Kyoukai 2 Satsujin Kosatsu (zen) which I will simply refer to as KnK 2 from this point on.
KnK 2 has a pretty simple plot. In this one Mikiya and Shiki are students just starting to develop a friendly relationship. Meanwhile, there’s a serial killer on the loose and Shiki is hiding a secret. The story starts by slowly introducing all of these elements, giving subtle clues and eventually brings them all together. Unlike the first KnK, which was just painfully slow, the atmosphere in this one is built very effectively. It’s still a bit slow, but it isn’t nearly the issue it was in the first film. The ending is left a little open, but it works pretty well. The only real story issue is that they have a clearly flawed understanding of psychology which comes up when Mikiya learns Shiki’s secret. I’m not sure whether to just let it go and call it a supernatural element or point out that the disorder they’re supposedly using doesn’t work the way they think it does.
The main reason that KnK 2 manages to be effective in spite of the slow pace is the characters. In this one they actually develop Mikiya and Shiki as characters. The film spends a lot of time with both of them individually and with scenes where they play off of each other. The focus on character really works to its advantage. In the first film I didn’t have much reason to care about them because they came off as kind of dull and listless with most of the dialogue being used to establish parts of the painfully slow plot and not actually developing them. In this one, they give you ample reasons to care. You get a real sense of personality from both Mikiya and Shiki. My only real issue with the characters in this is that the supporting characters are largely pointless and really only exist to give Shiki and Mikiya people to talk to besides each other. This is their story, so it kind of makes sense but it still comes off as stilted and unnatural.
The art is still really strong for textures, backgrounds and atmosphere. The character models are still decent enough, but kind of standard. The blood physics are much more natural in this one. Although there is one scene where they’re obviously off and it kind of screws up the tension a bit.
The voice acting is much better in this one. Both Sakamoto Maaya and Suzumura Kenichi get to demonstrate their talents. The music also works much better at building atmosphere than it did in the previous film. Probably because it doesn’t succumb to really obvious horror cliches.
The yuri factor is a 1/10. There’s no yuri here. The female characters don’t even interact since, though Touko shows up in one scene, she doesn’t interact with Shiki but Mikiya.
So, how does this compare to the first movie? Well, it’s much stronger in virtually every respect, which you may have been able to surmise by my having ample positive things to say where I didn’t previously. The major characters get proper introductions, the atmosphere is excellent and the story is pretty well paced. This should’ve been the first film. A quick note on chronology: this actually is the first film. The first four KnK movies were released out of order, for some reason. Normally I would just say that it was to give a non-linear story, but each film so far has had a self-contained story and been only loosely connected. So that can’t be it. I’m just going to make up my own explanation. The Ufotable team got drunk to celebrate the project and they mixed up the first four scripts. Is the first film better in retrospect? No. No it isn’t. It’s still a painfully slow mess with some really dumb plot points. The characters still come off as dull and listless, especially when you compare them to the versions in this one, and the last fifteen minutes still have a bunch of stilted “suicide is bad, mmmkay” speeches which culminate in one of the worst dialogues I’ve ever seen. This one, however, I did quite like. It still has issues, but nothing too bad. I’m going to give KnK 2 a 7/10. You’ll probably like it if you can get into character studies. If you’re expecting a really in-depth crime story, however, it might not be to your liking. I’ll get back to KnK at the end of the week. In the meantime, I have some other films to examine. Starting with Ghost in the Shell.