Posted by psgels on 14 December 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews, Kara no Kyoukai



The seventh and final Kara no Kyoukai Movie is another long one, clocking in at two whole hours. This really gives more than enough time to properly give attention to the story that explains the rest of the mysteries that the previous six movies have left behind. And really, these past seven movies have been a real treat. They’re all different and don’t try to rip off each other, contrary to what you might expect. They’re a great recommendation for any mystery-fan, though do note that the seventh movie isn’t the best.

I’m pretty surprised with some of the flaws that actually managed to slip by in the second part of A Study In Murder. The focus this time is the shock-factor: there is a lot of gore, even more disturbing than in the previous movies, and it also touches upon a big taboo in anime: drugs. While I applaud this series for actually going there, I do think that they could have spent a bit more time making them work out right. Bluntly said: this is the most unrealistic of all the Kara no Kyoukai movies.

The gore really is gruesome, but there are times when it’s overdone a bit too much. Characters who are badly wounded (even those without any sort of supernatural powers) just walk away without even flinching (or bleeding, for that matter), and not to mention Shiki’s ingenious “handcuff-escape-trick”. hello? You have a mechanical arm! What was the point of giving her that anyway? The effects of drugs on people also didn’t seem too well portrayed. Especially for a movie of this caliber, I expected a lot more detail. This also was the only movie in which the CG didn’t blend in well with the other graphics. While most of the movie looks as gorgeous as ever, the CG saliva just looked way off, and some of the goreish flesh-wounds had this as well. Really, what happened?

But despite these, does it have enough to make up for it? Plenty. The interplay between Shiki and Mikiya in this movie adds a lot of depth to their characters and it provides a satisfying closure to the questions that were asked throughout this series of movies, mainly in the second one. It’s pretty unpredictable as well: before starting this movie, I had a completely different image of the true culprit.

The direction is also as solid as ever, and the double length really allows the story to play out like it should have. It’s just a shame of the above-mentioned flaws though. In the end, my favourite movie of the seven remains the fifth one, closely followed by the fourth. This one hovers somewhere in the middle: still very good, but hampered by strange flaws and a story that just isn’t as strong as some of the others.

Storytelling: 8/10
Characters: 8/10
Production-Values: 9/10
Setting: 8/10

14 Responses

  1. chaostangent says:

    I certainly don’t agree with your statement about the gore being more so than in the previous movies. Movie three (Remaining Sense of Pain) had some really graphic deaths by Fujino, and Movie two (Murder Speculation part one) was rife with decombobulated victims. Likewise for the “most unrealistic”, it seemed a lot more grounded than past ones, especially the last two hour epic that is movie five (Paradox Spiral) which went for crazy lava cats and invisible Mikiya.

    That said, couldn’t agree more re: Shiki and Mikiya, some wonderful moments with those two, especially just after the climax and before the credits roll. I also wondered about Shiki’s artificial arm, she must have some powerful teeth if she went through that as wasn’t it supposed to “survive an elephant walking on it” or similar according to Touko?

    Anyways, nice to see someone else covering movie seven, my thoughts in length: http://chaostangent.com/2009/12/kara-no-kyoukai-7/

  2. tzuge says:

    The thumb bit was pretty ridiculous. Even ignoring the prosthetic hand, isn’t dislocating the thumb sufficient? Also, did anyone else find the whole last bit too much drama for drama-sake? Considering the end results, pretty much everyone would’ve been better off if Shiki had killed in self-defense earlier.

  3. blakraven66 says:

    Speaking of the thumb bit…noticed the thumb came back after the fight…lol.

  4. Reverse says:

    blakraven66 @ lol

    The moral of the show about kill is wrong, totally ruin the show being anything but good. for god sake just kill that guy. why you want make everything so complicated

    I have nothing again moral in anime, but went it start to hold back progression of the show itself, it just terrible in my book

  5. Morgoth says:

    *Spoilers – so who still has to watch the movie shouldn’t read on*
    I liked the movie, I have to admit but the end wasn’t really what I had expected. It seemed just so… “wrong”. How is that happy end related to any themes presented previously in this movie? It doesn’t add up: All that talking about evil, killing, drugs and so on – in the end it just came down to “Shiki kills evil guy – day is saved”. And Mikiya survives somehow against all odds which wouldn’t have disturbed me that much, if only he wouldn’t be drugged with such a great dosis that no normal human could survive (that at least the antagonist says to Mikiya).
    Beside that the movie was great: animation, characters and so on.

  6. PL says:

    SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS

    The drugs bit was really poorly researched…PCP definitely would have worked better for the sort of effects she was wanting, but apparently in Japan the drug use rate is very low compared to many other places in the world, and even amongst drug users it is very seldom talked about openly, so I think she can be forgiven for getting the details wrong. Also, remember, what was really making people go crazy was the “bloodchip” acid that had Whackjob’s supernatural blood in it. So, I imagine that for a Japanese audience made up of everyday otaku’s, somewhat removed from drug culture, this would have achieved the level of belief neccessary for the story’s sake. So, while it didn’t work for me, because I know better, I just pretended like I didn’t, and in that case it works well…for Americans, imagine if all you knew about those drugs was what you heard in the DARE program at school? It would be pretty believable. I think that’s the level of knowledge about drug use for your typical Japanese.

    Second, Mikiya’s always been supernaturally tough when it comes to Shiki, we see that from the second movie on. So, of course he survives. I mean the guy went weeks without sleep just to prove Shiki’s innocence, and keep her from going out and getting involved in the violence during the second movie, because he knew she was drawn to it like a moth to a flame. He survives massive head trauma in the fifth movie, when he becomes the decoy so Tomoe can try to rescue her. And we see in the very first movie he has some unique qualities because he is apparently able to leave his body in his dreams, which is how that girl steals his soul. So, it’s not really any surprise that he survives that stuff…because, it’s tied closely to the most important theme in the whole series, which I’ll get to in a bit.

    Third, Shiki bit her thumb off because she has that mechanical arm, which she couldn’t detach because she didnt have a free hand, and couldn’t bite through because its been built to be extremely tough with both magic and technology. And that she was able to do it is again tied to the theme.

    I thought the gore really served to underscore the reality of gruesome violence. There were scenes that literally turned my stomach, like when Whackjob bit Shiki’s neck. And for once in an anime, violence isn’t glorified, ennobled, or applauded, and we see how horrible and monstrous it truly is. It was purposefully made to look as ugly as possible. The slober was a bit much though, and even though I didn’t notice any problem with the CG, it was difficult to watch and over done.

    Finally, those complaining about Shiki’s struggle with killing that guy missed the whole point of the whole series. Shiki has always struggled with and been torn between her “destiny” as a natural-born killer, and her feelings for Mikiya. She realizes something fundamental would change if she just meaninglessly kills someone on purpose. Mikiya on the other hand, has always loved Shiki unconditionally. And even though he is against killing for ethical reasons, his real concern is the psychological damage Shiki would do to herself if she killed, and especially once he discovers how sick Whackjob has really become. That’s all made really clear as he struggles up the stairs. Shiki is under the mistaken notion that if she kills even in self-defense, Mikiya will reject her. But back to that theme I mentioned earlier. Kara no kyoukai took the most overdone, cliche theme in all of anime and made it work and be truly moving: the power of love. It works here and only here, because for once, this movie explores the real “power” of love. It isn’t some magical force working in the universe, or the ultimate spell to defeat the bad guy, or some special feature of human existence that can break through all psychological barriers. For once, the power of love is represented as that will to believe in someone and push on, no matter what stands against you, and the genuine way in which true love alters you as a human being. So, Mikiya is able to endure great physical trauma and keep pushing on because of his love for Shiki. Sometimes in an almost supernatural way, but mostly just with the sheer grit and mental toughness we humans are capable of when we really truly love someone. Similarly, Shiki finally realizes she never had this painful choice to make at all because she’s always loved Mikiya and that love has fundamentally altered who she is. Because of her feelings for Mikiya, she simply is not the kind of predator she’s always imagined herself to be. Up to the very end, however, she’s under the mistaken notion that she’ll lose Mikiya if she kills Whackjob, but her final reaction isn’t that of a predatory homicidal maniac, instead, it’s the simple human reaction of a person whose had their loved one murdered. Does it make what she did right? No, but it is certainly human and not the same as if she’d killed him earlier when she was purposefully hunting him down. And, Mikiya doesn’t react in anger because it has never been about the principle, it’s always been about Shiki herself, and the hurt he thinks she might feel if she allows herself to give in to those murderous impulses. So, they get to have a happy ending, because, in the end, love does win, in a very human, not over the top, kind of way. Shiki had chosen Mikiya all along, and finally she could see that herself, and lay down this idea that she’s a cold-blooded killer, and Mikiya could forgive Shiki for killing Whackjob because there was never anything to forgive, he just didn’t want her to suffer. So, they could finally move forward with their relationship, which had been on-hold for four years. That’s why Shiki said at the end, she never really wanted a knife in her hand, just Mikiya’s hand to hold. And, we have seen this theme at work throughout the entire series, foreshadowed by Tomoe’s love for Shiki, Azaka’s love for Mikiya, and Touko’s love for all three of her employees. I think the best symbol of this theme in the movie is the sword going up the elevator, and when Araya Soren is trying to figure out how Shiki woke up, the realistic nature of the theme gets put into words well. He says something like, “Tomoe woke you.” Shiki says, “Nobody woke me. He didn’t have to come. But he, and only he, brought your death to this building,” Then she draws the sword. In other words, Tomoe didn’t have some magical power that transcended all Araya’s bad-ass magic to wake her, but damned if he didn’t bring the special kick-ass sword, and manage to get it to her against all odds, and even after her death. LOVE is the counter-force.

    The only question I’m left with is, why did the Ryougi family work so hard to hone and draw out this ability and impulse in Shiki when it sounds like her grandfather very much was against violence and wanted Shiki to have a normal life? The purpose behind it all was never really explained. I mean, it made sense for Shiki’s character when she was hunting monsters and mages for Touko, but what was the ultimate purpose? Was it the same or a similar thing?

  7. andrea says:

    Now that I finished the last movie, I can safely say that I watched the whole thing only for the visuals and the gore :D I mean the characters where totally unoriginal, when the evil guy said “I seek absolute knowledge!1!11!!!” I lold hard. But the sister of the good guy being in love with him was the best, they did a whole movie only of her going around killing fairies! Overall I prefer to consider the kara no kyoukai movies as a series made of longer episodes, cause I can’t even think of comparing them with the anime shorts done by Yuasa, Kon or Miyazaki. Sure, the production values were good, but what about the personal style? They basically took the Fate Stay Night style (which is pretty average imo) and pumped it up with a lot of money.

  8. Ting says:

    This is not really the last. Take a look at this.
    http://myanimelist.net/forum/?topicid=104913

    epilogue will be shown “recalled out summer – Gospel in the Future ” : 未来福音・序

  9. tom says:

    I really really hate Mikiya character, what the hell is wrong in killing a murderer just in self-defense or just killing him to prevent him from taking more innocent lives. His whole killing is a wrong idea, I wanna punch him in the face so bad and drag his ass to face the family members of those murder victim. Have him look into the eyes of little kids who got left behind because their parent is dead and have him tell them

    ” I know who kill your parents but I think killing is wrong so I won’t kill him” I want him to go tell that to the victims family. He is so retarded, so in his mind he think is wrong to kill a murder but ok to let him go loose and murder more innocent lives. I was so hoping he was really dead near the end cause ppl like him don’t deserve to live, his stupidity is a disease. I would punch ppl like him if I ever see one.

  10. PL says:

    Tom, that isn’t Mikiya’s point…no, he doesn’t think murder is justified, even in those situations, but he also wouldn’t blame anyone for killing in those circumstances either. His point is the psychological impact he realizes commiting murder will have on Shiki. Shiki didn’t have to go hunt that guy down if it was just to stop him or punish him, she could have given the authorities the information…instead, she WANTS to kill him, and Mikiya knows she won’t be the same if she crosses that line. Mikiya is an awesome character.

  11. Deus says:

    Pretty much. The point is not that killing is *absolutely wrong*, but that Shiki has unique circumstances that when triggered (i.e. actually killing someone) might actually send her off the brink into stab-happy homicidal mania.

    Hence the entire point of the badguy wanting her to kill, and Mikiya preventing her.

    That Shiki actually didn’t devolve to follow her own origin (Death) after actually going through with killing someone had to do with her growth as a person and attachment to Mikiya. By all accounts, she should have.

  12. mindtrix says:

    lmao he said he gave him a dose of 10x potent marijuana?

    the fact is you can’t overdose from marijuana no matter how high the strain.
    the homicidal maniac was obviously high as fuck o.O
    he should be glad he didn’t take the LSD LOL Then he might have died although the maniac did a very poor job of finishing him off.

    • ronri says:

      @mintrix
      You ought to remember that his marijuana wasn’t ordinary as it was some effed up version Araya had. It’s obviously meant that the drug was 10 times more dangerous than anything like marijuana, as opposed to being literally “Marijuana Dosage x10″.

      • vykromod says:

        The whole drugs bit was probably the most poorly handled part of the adaptation in this movie. The original novel is certainly not perfect in this respect, either, but it’s much clearer exactly what is going on there. It’s even mentioned at one point that Lio is growing a low THC content industrial hemp strain called tochigishiro, but it’s been modified in some manner, like how his LSD blotters have his blood added to them as an attempt to awaken the user’s origin.

        Actually having drugs as a plot point of any kind in anime is so incredibly rare that I can’t really complain, though. At least they didn’t completely censor it. Kind of funny as well, that the whole teen prostitution/pregnancy thing from part 6 was retooled to just be (generic) “drug abuse” too.

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  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:48 AM)
    Ashura was an excellent example of how to through anime illicit and emotional response in an honest, non-melodramatic way.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:46 AM)
    @Bam: I’d be more than happy to take a look at some of those shorts anytime.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:44 AM)
    @Emma: there’s a lot of European animators that got active in the last 10 years or so that are really reinvigorating their animation scene, and every now and then I get introduced to some fabulous shorts.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:40 AM)
    @Emma: no I don’t really mind gory ‘for the fuck of it’ violence, I even like it in some grindhouse type of works, but I just don’t think it’s always effective as a shock factor. Live-action is the most sympathetic for obvious reasons, but there are animated works that do elicit a deep response. Probably because of circumstances but also the details of the in-between animation, which can induce certain feelings of disgust.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:39 AM)
    *here and there
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:35 AM)
    @Bam: I really wish there was more arthouse anime now to give some kind of a balance to everything thats out these days.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:33 AM)
    Now I like my exploitation every so often, but yes Bam I really do wish that adult and mature storytelling could be better associated with truly, more pure mature themes.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:25 AM)
    I get choked up over Bergmans cries and whisper and Autumn sonata, I look back on a work by Key and Jun Maeda and wonder, think of how silly it looks to me now.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:24 AM)
    I also find it easier to get an emotional response from a honest drama, live action film, largely due to the real people doing the acting. Sometimes you get an actor whose just that good too…
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:22 AM)
    I’ve gotten my odd emotional reaction here from anime and manga but a lot of the time it feels like the jump scare in a generic horror movie, I got shocked but I felt minipulated afterwards it wasn’t genuine, the same goes for some anime/manga drama when it takes a melodramatic turn instead of a bleak, honest one.

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