For those who were expecting much of the same for the fifth Kara no Kyoukai movie, you’re going to be pretty surprised, because it’s really nothing like any of the previous movies so far. The length has doubled, the animation style has changed, the story is no longer simple, and the dialogue is a lot more complex than it already was. Ever since the second movie, every consecutive movie has been better than its predecessor, and Paradox Spiral is continuing this tradition. Do note though, that it’s going to be a movie that you’ll either love or hate.
At this point, the installments have become chronological again: the story of the fifth movie takes place after all previous four movies, unlike the previous ones which were in a random order. Still, the progression of events throughout the movie is pretty much the exact opposite of linear: the first three quarters of the airtime are filled with flashbacks, foreshadowing, shots of future scenes, and all pretty appear without any prior warning or explanation what the heck is going on. This movie aims to confuse, and does a really well job at it.
Along with that comes a very smart sense of dialogue, probably the best of the five movies so far. You’re going to need to pay attention for this one, otherwise you might miss something important. As the movie goes on, the story starts to take shape, and at the end of the two hours, most of the important questions asked are answered. The best thing about this story was definitely the huge amount of layers that it’s built up from. It doesn’t assume its viewers to be idiots, and neither does it for its characters.
Where this movie falls short, especially when compared to the fourth movie, is that it all feels a bit impersonal. This movie is definitely about its story, so the characters don’t get as much development as they should have gotten, but that’s indeed a choice you have to make with such a movie: the airtime is limited, so you have to focus on something, and this movie decided to focus on its complex storyline, in order to get the best out of that, and at least Shiki, Touko and Mikiya were already fleshed out a bit in the previous movies.
The animation style is also pretty interesting, as instead of the solid production-values of the previous movies, the animation team for this one decided to go for a much more messy style. Ufo Table’s trademark computer-shaded hair is gone as well, but in exchange for that we get to see some of the best animated fight scenes of the series yet.
Overall, while not as complex as your average Mamoru Oshii-movie, Spiral Paradox still is a very good recommendation for those who want a movie to make them think about the plot. It’s perfect for any mystery-fan who doesn’t like his meal to be handed to him on a silver platter. Overall, I’m pretty impressed by the Kara no Kyoukai franchise so far. It leaves a bit to be desired on its characters, but the mystery so far has been excellent and varied.