Tag Archives: kara no kyoukai

Kara no Kyoukai Mirai Fukuin

This feels like the end of an era. So far, every film festival week I’ve done has featured the Kara no Kyoukai franchise. But this is the last of the films, not including the 3D remake of the first film. I’m not going to review that one because 3D is a cheap gimmick and the first film was awful. So, unless they fixed all of the plot problems it’s really not worth bothering with it. That being said, let’s look at the eighth and final film in the franchise to see how it holds up. 

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Story:

We open with Shiki stalking through a parking garage, chasing a bomber. It quickly cuts to a young lady who can see the future. She just so happens to encounter Mikiya and enlists his help in stopping a man from getting into an accident that will kill him. The story from there basically follows two main narrative paths, both about people with precognitive abilities.

The biggest flaw with the film is simply when it’s set. The bulk of it clearly takes place before the seventh film, which really weakens the tension since we know how things are going to basically play out. Aside from that, Mikiya’s scenes aren’t that interesting. He just spends the bulk of his time talking with the young lady. 

That being said, Shiki’s part of the story still manages to be compelling, in spite of you knowing how it’s going to end. The way they establish the different types of precognition is also quite interesting, albeit the execution could have been better. The action is quite strongly done as well. 

Characters:

The cast varies a bit. The established characters, Shiki, Mikiya & Touko have a strong sense of personality. The main antagonist, Mitsuru, is kind of interesting, but could have been developed better. Shizune isn’t very interesting. They also add in young Mana. She’s the same type of character as Chibi-Usa from Sailor Moon except with not as much going for her. KnK1.png

Art: 

I have to give Ufotable full credit here. The artwork and animation are both strongly done with detailed backgrounds and some tense action sequences. Mirai Fukuin is easily on par with the best of the films in that department. 

Sound:

This is another aspect where I have to give them credit. There are a lot of really good actors in this. Suzumura Kenichi, Sakamoto Maaya & Honda Takako make their triumphant returns. Ishida Akira makes his appearance as the antagonist and he’s quite brilliant at it. That being said, the people who are playing less interesting characters don’t give their best performances. To be fair, both Kanemoto Hisako & Iguchi Yuka are good actresses. This is just a case where the characters they’re playing don’t demand much from them. The music is nicely done. I can’t fault Kajiura Yuki’s work on that. 

Ho-yay:

There really isn’t any in this film. 

Final Thoughts:

Kara no Kyoukai: Mirai Fukuin has some aspects that do weaken it. That being said, it’s a really solid film overall and there’s plenty in it that works really nicely. It isn’t the best in the franchise, but it’s worth watching. My final rating is going to be a solid 7/10. If you like the franchise just fine, consider checking it out. Tomorrow I’ll continue this year’s film festival week with Advent Children

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Kara no Kyoukai 7: Satsujin Kousatsu (Kou): The Saga Continues

When I reviewed the first Kara no Kyoukai film, I thought that would be the end of it. I had no intention of continuing through the other six, but I changed my mind because the fan base was surprisingly cool and reasonable. I’m glad I did because the next five films ranged from decent to really superb. This week let’s look at the seventh film in the series, Kara no Kyoukai 7: Satsujin Kousatsu (Kou).

Story:

Japan’s been experiencing a series of grisly murders with scattered body parts being left mutilated and strewn about. For Kokutou Mikiya, the incidents remind him of the series of murders four years ago. The ones that Shiki’s now dead second personality seems to have been responsible for. To make matters worse, Shiki is acting strange and disappears from her apartment without leaving any way to contact her. Mikiya heads for the area where the crimes have been occurring to investigate the incident. He’ll find more than he bargains for as he seeks answers.

Let’s start with my issues with the film. The first, and more minor gripe, is that this film uses a lot of flashbacks. While it’s obvious that they’re being used to connect this film and the second more intimately, they also go overboard with it, spending more time with the flashbacks than they need to. My big gripe with the film, however, is with the philosophising. The film makes an effort to comment on the nature of killing. The problem is that its commentary is overly simplistic and really not well thought out. Basically, the answer we get is that murder is done when someone’s emotions for another person overflow and need an outlet and that slaughter happens when a being that no longer qualifies as human kills a bunch of people. Really? Because I’d love to see where people who kill in self defence land. Soldiers, for that matter. Someone who kills a relative, not because of any feelings they harbour towards that relative, but because they stand to inherit money, where do they fall? How about Asagami Fujino from the third film? You may remember her as the one who completely justifiably killed a bunch of guys. She wasn’t inhuman, nor did the film’s narrative treat her as such. If anything the rapist bastards she killed were inhuman. This philosophy is bollocks and yet the film treats it as though it’s profound and significant.

Moving on to the positives, the film is really well paced and it excels at building tension. The first third is dedicated to Mikiya’s investigation and then it proceeds very naturally from there. The story, overall, is really well done with mystery and suspense elements that work really effectively. The climax is really good working on multiple levels. There are also some skilfully done creepy moments, particularly towards the end. The film also brings several plot threads from the prior six films to their own resolutions and does that really well. The romantic tension between Mikiya and Shiki being the one that gets the most focus.

Characters:

One thing this film is really good about is building off of the characterisation from the prior films. One of the positive aspects of the flashbacks is that we get to see where the characters were when this whole affair began and how they’ve developed since. There are some really strong character moments for both Shiki and Mikiya. There’s not as much with Touko and Azaka but the stuff that Touko does get is really good. If anything, the weakness here is Azaka since she shows up for all of one scene and only slightly contributes to Touko’s character arc. Aside from that she does bugger all.

Art:

The artwork and animation are as stunning as ever. Ufotable does a stellar job at using the artwork to build the atmosphere in this. When they want to show something disturbing, it looks really disturbing. When they want to show an amazing & intense action sequence, they deliver an amazing and intense action sequence. When they just want to draw a background, they give you a really detailed and impressive background.

Sound:

There’s a strong cast in this. Suzumura Kenichi, Sakamoto Maaya, Honda Takako and Hoshi Soichiro all give strong performances. The music is really good and atmospheric as well.

Ho-yay:

Really isn’t any in this.

Final Thoughts:

Kara no Kyoukai 7: Satsujin Kousatsu (Kou) is actually a really good film. There are certainly issues with it and there are some things that could have been better, but the story and characters are still really well done and accompanied by some really strong vocal performances and artwork. My final rating on this one is going to be an 8/10. Next week I’m looking at a series that was requested quite a while ago, Kyattou Ninden Teyandee. So, join me in looking at a series intended for children.

Kara no Kyoukai 6: Best fan-service is including a cute dog

Welcome to 2015’s Film Festival Week. We’re kicking things off with yet another look at UFOtable’s Kara no Kyoukai film franchise, based on the light novels by Nasu Kinoko. I’ve talked about the first five already, but let’s reiterate a bit. Previously, in the Kara no Kyoukai movies Mikiya collapses on a couch because he likes dolls and gets left to rot in the first and there is much stupidity. The second goes back in time to Mikiya and Shiki’s first meeting and the subtle mystery surrounding it and it’s surprisingly good given the first one. In the third, a group of rapists are being justifiably murdered by one of their victims and our “heroes” decide to step in and put a stop to it. It had some faults but was pretty decent. In the fourth film we focus on Shiki’s psychology and an existential crisis and it was epic. The fifth film gave us a mystery involving an apartment complex and magic and it was a great film. I’m a bit surprised that I’ve gotten to like the franchise so much given what a poor first impression it had, but there you go. Let’s jump in to look at Kara no Kyoukai 6: Boukyaku Rokuon.

Story:

Our tale opens at a boarding school where Mikiya’s sister, Azaka, is thinking about the taboo way she feels about her brother. Ewww. Fortunately, the story doesn’t focus on that aspect all that much. We get an exposition dump about how Azaka has been studying magic under Touko and has been sent to the school to find out the truth behind a strange incident where magic faeries seem to be stealing people’s memories and may have been behind the death of a student. Shiki is sent to help her since her mystic eyes give her the power to see things that Azaka can’t. What kinds of dangers will they face and how will they overcome them? Matters are made worse with the animosity Azaka has towards Shiki, whom she considers her rival in love because her brother loves Shiki in a way that he doesn’t love her.

Let’s start with the film’s story issues. The biggest one is probably obvious, Azaka’s incestuous feelings towards her brother. I’ll give Kara no Kyoukai some credit over a lot of other things I’ve seen with incestuous overtones, it does treat the situation like it’s creepy and screwed up and I’ll give it some credit for not focusing too much on it. However, there is a pretty substantial amount of time spent on flashbacks that serve the sole purpose of helping establish why Azaka has a creepy brother complex and it’s just annoying. Exacerbating matters is the fact that the incest sub-plot ultimately does nothing. It doesn’t need to be an element at all for the film to work. The only function it has is to give a reason for the animosity between Azaka and Shiki, but that animosity itself does basically nothing. There’s a brief stretch where they’re arguing but it never really affects their ability to function as a team. All of which just begs the question, why in Sir Ian’s name does this need to be here at all? They could have removed it completely and used the extra time to develop their scenario better. Maybe they could’ve used the time to show some of Azaka’s training under Touko and avoided the annoying exposition dump.

On the positive side, the investigation itself is quite interesting. Initially, it looks like the solution is going to be kind of obvious, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. No, that doesn’t mean that something turns into a giant robot. They just keep introducing more complexity as it gets further in until they finally reveal the whole truth of the situation. Flashbacks aside, the narrative also flows really well.

Characters:

The main character focus in this one is on Azaka and Shiki. Shiki remains a good character and you get a good sense of her personality in this. The problem is Azaka. Her personality is pretty much defined by her brother complex and her being generally commandeering. Maybe the final film develops her more, but as she is now she’s just an insipid, unpleasant character and having her as such a big part of the movie does hurt it. At least we get a super cute border collie. UFOTable probably thought that it would make up for having to deal with Azaka, at least somewhat because cute puppies are the best way to make up for gross things. Of course, they could have just not had gross things and just had a cute dog as a bonus. That would have worked. The antagonists are kind of interesting and fleshed out in this. They could have been given more depth, but given the length of the film they’re pretty decent.

Art:

The artwork and animation are spectacular. The backgrounds look really nice. The battle sequences are intense and somewhat surreal. Like several other movies in this franchise, there are some intense and disturbing images. And, like the rest of the franchise, the characters are well drawn but their designs are pretty standard.

Sound:

The performances are really well done. Sakamoto Maaya gives a strong performance as Shiki. Fujimura Ayumi., in spite of voicing a completely uncompelling character, does give a good performance as well. Really, there are no weaknesses in the cast. The music in this one is strong as well. Kajiura Yuki did a really good job.

Ho-yay:

One of the antagonists has a motivation that does read as a bit homoerotic, but there’s not enough of it to say for certain whether they were going for that or something else. Aside from that, there is no ho-yay.

Final Thoughts:

Kara no Kyoukai 6 takes a strong story idea with some compelling elements and weakens it with an unnecessary incest subplot and over-used flashbacks. The film itself is still pretty decent given how much it does well, but it’s not one of the strongest films in the series by any means. My final rating is going to be a 6/10. Tomorrow we’ll continue film festival week with a look at Hetalia: Paint it White.

Reviews of yesteryear: Kara no Kyoukai 3: Tsuukaku Zanryuu

Welcome to the end of film festival week. As promised, we’re going to look at Kara No Kyoukai 3: Tsuukaku Zanryuu. Which is also the third film chronologically. Hey, they got one out of four in the right spot. I just hope it’s more like the second film (first chronologically) than it is the first (fourth chronologically.) Let’s take a look at KnK 3 and find out.

We open the story with a scene of a woman being raped… Isn’t that a bit too heavy of a scene to open with? This is the type of content you want to give your audience time to brace for, not just put it in from the get go. We need time to brace ourselves, Movie. You know, build up and narrative context. We then switch ahead a bit and find out that most of the rapists have been killed off screen. A fate that should be suffered by all sexual predators. Preferably with a lot of pain involved. Touko’s agency is hired to find the killer who, it turns out, is their victim, Fujino. And no, that’s not a spoiler. It’s revealed almost right away. Someone give that girl extensive therapy to deal with the shit she’s been through, a medal and a puppy. Meanwhile, Keita is approached to find the last surviving rapist who doesn’t deserve an actual name so I’ll just call him Scum but Fujino is looking for him as well. They should just hand him over to her, but they decide to protect him in spite of his confessed crimes because… murder is bad even when it’s well deserved and entirely justified. Yeah, I’m not buying it, especially when we’ve seen our “heroes” kill people already. But there’s more to this scenario than a justified revenge killing spree and it could mean disaster.

Okay, let’s look at the positives and negatives. I’ll start with the negatives because, in this case, there are fewer of them. One issue with the film is the pacing. Although, unlike the first two, this one doesn’t have a bunch of slow stretches. It’s just overly hectic. They introduce a lot of story elements which they either rush through or leave unfinished. They just try to cram too much in. That leads to my biggest issue. Scum never has to go through any sort of punishment, at least none that you see. Which really ticks me off. They aren’t going to vivisect him? Disembowel him? Quarter him? We don’t even get to see him maimed a little. They could’ve at least sent him to prison where he would hopefully get shanked and die of tetanus. Now we move on to the positives. This has quite a bit of disturbing content but, in spite of the impression I may have given, it is handled pretty well. Yeah, the opening sets a very dark tone and it could’ve easily led to some huge problems if they’d tried to, say, inject humour into later scenes, but they avoid that. The moral questions they bring up are pretty poignant. Even if some of us already have a strong opinion on them. I also like the way that Touko, Shiki, and Mikiya are inclined to sympathise with Fujino, albeit in different ways and that the event that leads to her climactic clash with Fujino is somewhat separate from the original case.

One thing that’s a little odd about KnK 3 is that the “antagonist,” Fujino, comes off as the most sympathetic character around. If you don’t feel sorry for her there’s something wrong with you. This isn’t to say that our three major protagonists aren’t well handled. They all have a good sense of personality in this. Mikiya especially comes off really well. Like the other films, the side characters in this are pretty shallow, but the main characters do carry things effectively so it’s not a major issue. This is also the first film that’s given you a sense of Touko’s personality which does have some interesting elements to it.

The art remains incredibly well done. With really detailed backgrounds and objects. The character art is still the weak link being well done, but kind of standard.

This film, like the last one, has really good voice acting. Noto Mamiko, Suzumura Kenichi and Honda Takako in particular give strong performances. Although there really isn’t a weak link. The music is used to add to the atmosphere and works quite well.

The yuri factor is a 1/10. There’s no yuri in this.

KnK 3 is a dark and disturbing film. It is certainly not for everyone and you should probably skip it if you’re a sensitive sort. However, it is a pretty well done film and, if you can handle the content, it is an interesting work with some layers to it. That being said, it does have some pretty serious faults and I didn’t like it as much as the second film, overall. I give it a 6/10.

Reviews of yesteryear: Kara no Kyoukai 2

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.

Reviews of yesteryear: Kara no Kyoukai 1

Last week I looked at an anime that was adapted from a Type-Moon work by Ufotable. That was Fatezero and it was glorious. Why do I bring this up? Because this week I’ll be looking at an adaptation of a Type-Moon work handled by Ufotable. This is Kara no Kyoukai 1: Fukan Fuukei which is far too long of a title so I’ll just refer to it as KnK for the rest of this review. One of the odd things about KnK is that it’s actually a series of eight films and an OVA looking at different parts of the light novel series and two of the films tell a single story. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to do an actual anime series or was there some reason they couldn’t? Since I like to make up my own explanations for this type of thing I’m just going to say that the Predacons and Maximals were arguing over whether it should be a series or a long OVA and the film series was a compromise. Let’s take a look at the franchise’s first film (I love alliteration.)

There’s an abandoned building where girls have been committing suicide. Our protagonist, Shiki, looks at the building and sees people floating above it. So, she responds by doing absolutely nothing… No examination out of curiosity? Okay, anyway Shiki goes to a place that may or may not be a business of some kind, it’s not exactly explained, to talk to her friends Touko and Mikiya. Mikiya collapses because he went to the suicide building and… likes dolls. And that’s the point of the film where I lost any hopes I had for it being good. It doesn’t help that they leave the dude comatose on the couch instead of taking him to, you know, a hospital. Where they treat people who are suffering from medical issues like being comatose. Just leave him on the couch to dehydrate, it’ll be fine. That’s when Shiki goes to the building to properly investigate. I won’t go any further into details.

Let’s look at the problems with the movie. The first is that we learn virtually nothing about any of our characters or how they gathered together. It’s not like there isn’t time to examine it in part, but they prefer to spend the time showing off the artwork or having Shiki eat for several minutes. Seems like she could’ve investigated the condemned building earlier and nothing of value would’ve been lost. The biggest issue with the story is that roughly thirty minutes of the fifty minute run-time accomplish nothing. And one of the big problems that emerges from not having any back-story is that when Shiki uses her abilities during the climax a lot of what she does comes out of nowhere and you have to wonder where her abilities came from and why she’s able to do what she’s doing. Seriously, these are not elements you introduce for the first time in the climax without explanation. This stuff actually is explained in later films that take place chronologically earlier, but if you’re watching the first film without seeing those you’re going to be lost. Which just isn’t a cricket way to start a film series. Another issue is that the only action sequence before the climax is unintentionally hilarious. What it’s supposed to be doing is building tension and setting up the threat but the sequence is so over the top that it comes off as funny instead. They also try to establish atmosphere with over-used horror cliches like having laughter play in a secluded and rundown place. I hate to break it to you, Guys, but that stopped being scary when they started using it in the Halloween episodes of children’s cartoons. Another issue that’s quite prevalent in the final third of the film are the overly preachy, faux philosophical speeches. They get so ridiculous and they’re so generally pointless that I’m tempted to call this a PSA film, except that the opening two-thirds are only tangentially related to the subject.

Then we have the characters. You can probably guess already, but they’re not interesting. They don’t get any development nor do they have much in the way of personality. Yes, I realise that it’s difficult to develop characters in a fifty minute film, but KnK never even gives us any reasons to care about these people. When Mikiya collapses you don’t want to see him get better, apparently neither do Shiki or Touko since they just leave him where he fell. You barely know anything about him. You know that he likes dolls and he buys people things they don’t like, which is just kind of dickish behaviour,  and that’s pretty much it. How would a good movie have handled something like this? Let’s look at Mononoke Hime for the answer. In Mononoke Hime Ashitaka is cursed almost immediately. Why do we want to see him get better? Because we already know that he’s a courageous and kind individual. Yeah, we know bugger all else at that point, but it’s enough to get us invested in his plight since he’s already a sympathetic character. And back to KnK. To discuss our other major characters, Shiki and Touko. Shiki is kind of a blank slate and Touko is a doll maker/scientist. The scientist thing isn’t actually mentioned but the plot doesn’t make sense if she’s just a doll maker. Neither one has a whole lot of personality. Which is another issue with this first film. It should be our introduction to the characters and instead you have three characters with virtually no personality interacting in order to get the plot moving while revealing almost nothing about their motivations or personalities. It’s boring. If the characters had interesting personalities then the film could be dialogue heavy and interesting, but the characters don’t so it’s just dialogue heavy.

The artwork is the best part of the movie. The character designs are a bit typical, but they still look good. The backgrounds, textures and various objects are all excellent. The only real problem I have with the art is that they do the “blood splattering everywhere in a way that blood doesn’t actually do” thing.

The voice acting… It isn’t exactly bad but it’s not good either. A big part of it is that the performances are really unemotional and detached. Which I’m certain is the result of the direction since I know that Sakamoto Maaya, Suzumura Kenichi, Tanaka Rie and pretty much everyone else in this can act. The music can be good when they’re trying to set an atmosphere, but they usually ruin it by adding faint laughter or by using overly dramatic music when the scene is just Shiki walking home.

The yuri factor is a 1/10. This has no yuri. Granted that could be because the character interactions are so emotionless and Shiki might be supposed to have a thing for Touko. I only bring that up because the film is given romance as a sub-genre and I can’t really tell whether it’s going for Shiki and Touko or Shiki and Mikiya. Either way the interactions don’t really support the idea of romance. I guess Touko and Shiki would make more sense since she doesn’t even care about Mikiya enough to take him to hospital when he’s comatose. Yes, I did have to bring that up a third time. It’s just too stupid not to.

The final rating for Kara no Kyoukai 1 is a 2/10. Granted, the visuals are very impressive but the story is a lot of nothing and the characters couldn’t have less personality without being inanimate, or in a Kingdom Hearts game. Seeing it doesn’t interest me in the rest of the series. It just makes me want a nap.  I’ve reviewed several films more, but that’s mainly because I was asked to. I never would have touched this franchise again otherwise. Which would have been a pity because the other films thus far have been pretty solid. The first one is just awful.. 

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.