Posted by psgels on 12 February 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews, Kara no Kyoukai

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.

Storytelling: 9/10
Characters: 7/10
Production-Values: 9/10
Setting: 9/10

10 Responses

  1. Howling-kun says:

    Some characters were highlighted, some were shadowed in this movie.

    The villains didn’t have much development, but Tomoe was pretty well developed IMO.

    I think watching the previous movies was essential this time for understanding the main characters, since Shiki had almost no development at all and Mikiya hardly showed up.

    Touko, however, was the one who amazed me the most, we now know more of her past and a bit of her “darker side”. She finally can stand up from being a character in the background to one of the protagonists.

    Production-Values: 9/10
    Have you ever given out a 10? :D
    The “messy style” was awesome.

  2. Kokutou says:

    I agree with you that the characters don’t have much development (especially the antagonists), yet to argue along those lines seems a little like rash criticism. I think the whole idea of leaving these characters relatively unknown, with respect to their background and motives, is to give them a mysterious outlook. I don’t know if the flaw in this movie is so much in the character development, as it wasn’t completely necessary, but rather because it was so random in it’s creation. The story comes from nothing and solely gives us some more information about Aozaki. Unlike the other four which were more tied to a unified storyline, this one kind of jumps out as a major discrepancy, with the sole purpose of outlining the strength and ultimate ends of a magus, within the story of course.
    I can’t blame the director, considering that the story is based on a book, but there was something else that made me wonder.

    The other thing that I questioned was the loose ends that weren’t completely tied in this movie. First, how was Shiki able to get out of that “cage” that arya made? Was it the sword?
    Second, it was far too cheesy for Aozaki to just appear a second time. I mean had she died, I think it might have ended up better, assuming Kokutou was able to live (considering how massively important he is), which could have been difficult to do.

    Regardless I thought it was a great creative job and I really liked how the whole flashback/forshadowing was all intertwined. Yes, it was confusing and yes, some people might not like it, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better job.

    And remember, it’s an OVA and not an anime where they have 13 or 26 minimum episodes to flesh characters out. Regardless, the way it all came together, the plot twists, the depth of the story, and the ability to make the characters so likable despite much development really made it shine,for me at least.

    P.S. I love the blogs on Casshern. They are right on and the show is INCREDIBLE!!! Too bad I can’t watch the raw versions of all those other animes you say are so good. If only I could understand Japanese. Also, I really appreciate your blogs as there are things that I did miss and didn’t know (the hair). Thanks

  3. The_Observer says:

    “Shiki had almost no development at all and Mikiya hardly showed up”

    I guess they couldn’t fit all that they could from the novel into tht 1hr 50 mins of play.

    There were some interesting things we found out abt both Shiki and Mikiya (and some Azaka) from reading the translated novel.

    Eg. Shiki’s cooking skills, or lack thereof…or is it really “lack thereof”?

    You can find out more by reading it up yourself.

    And I don’t mean the doujin 4-koma where Shiki “kills” the stench from a fish…

  4. Veldril says:

    “Shiki had almost no development…”

    Actually, Shiki has one very important development in the movie. But it is very well hidden that if you don’t pay very close attention, you won’t notice. (This development will be revealed at the end of the serie.)

  5. clara's buddy says:

    “Shiki had almost no development…”
    “how was Shiki able to get out of that “cage” that arya made?”

    the interesting thing about shiki’s character is that revealing her “self” is the true mystery of the plot. these will all be answered in the last movie…the loose ends were left on purpose ;)

    “it was far too cheesy for Aozaki to just appear a second time”
    they were hinting in the earlier movies what her true ability is. also, the Touko that returned isn’t the same “Touko” we saw in the last 4 movies…her memory was just sent to her replacement.

  6. lol says:

    holy crap, this episode and the parts of movie 4 after the credits give me fate/stay night char vibes. purple girl = sakura. big guy = kire (the girls name as well). And of course there is emiya ‘dead things die’ shirou

  7. riddle says:

    dude this movie was awesome

  8. Pata says:

    “how was Shiki able to get out of that “cage” that arya made?”

    …she cut it open using her Mystic Eyes.

  9. Etrangere says:

    I thought this movie was pretty damn amazing. Loved the animation style much more, and the structural mindfuck was brilliant. I actually thought the characterisation was interesting as well, Shiki and Koukuyo were less on the foreground, but Touko and Tomoe was a very well realised character.
    I was very much wowed.

  10. Yuna says:

    I can’t take seriously a review that brings a comparison with a Mamoru Oshii movie out of nowhere. What was your point? To highlight Mamoru Oshii or to show the viewers that KnK5 isn’t as complex as some people may think? I can’t understand why people nowadays don’t know to analyze anything without bringing other series in the review.

Leave a Reply


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  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:45 AM)
    It takes a true magnificence to propose such a grand question as: What dot life?!
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:42 AM)
    @Kaiser: the show does vary in quality, but for the first season they generally crank up the insanity with every episode until a very remarkable season finale where Xavier faces his worst enemy.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:40 AM)
    @Bam: Oh in symphogears case, I certainly laughed but I wasn’t supposed to.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:39 AM)
    @Bam: While it didn’t always work, that first episode of renegade angel was amusing, I particularly liked the part where he went on about Aids being invented.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:22 AM)
    and don’t be fooled by the simple graphics, the crudeness is completely intentional.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:21 AM)
    @Kaiser: as far as Xavier goes I implore you to download and watch the first episode to get the gist of it. That show is the pinnacle of absurdist and meta humor. It’s strangely adored within the animation circles, getting very high praise from the industry, but it’s very dense and bizarre so people either love or hate it. If you’re anything like me it might become one of your most beloved shows.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:17 AM)
    @kaiser: If Symphogear gets as bad as Valvrave then we’re talkin. Few companies make entertaining trash like Sunrise does.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 04:54 AM)
    *At first I thought it would be like nanoha
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 04:49 AM)
    I read a comment stating that season 3 of symphogear got so bad that it came off as along the lines of “worse than a Mari Okada melodrama”.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 04:36 AM)
    @Bam: That renegade angel thing looks off the wall, haven’t seen an episode but my thoughts from looking up the show is “I’m not quite sure if this is a good/bad thing lol”

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