Posted on 8 February 2011 with categories: Kara no Kyoukai, OVA Impressions



Oooh! It’s really been a long while ago since we’ve seen such an episode, I was afraid that anime creators had given up on them and were too afraid to put them in. This was certainly a pleasant surprise here, because simply labelling this as an “epilogue” doesn’t do justice to what it actually is.

So basically, this episode was nothing but Shiki and Mikiya talking, nothing more. It was entirely set in one place: a lone road with in the background the people of Ufo Table having a contest to see how many snowflakes they could put on one single screen at the same time. Now imagine that for half an hour.

It’s here where you can really see Kinoko Nasu’s unique writing style. Many of you probably know that I love these kinds of “lots of talking” stories, and the excellent writing of this one, plus the extremely calm atmosphere make this epilogue definitely worth watching if you’re into that stuff. If you watched Kara no Kyoukai for the actions and graphics though, then you can give it a pass.

I really liked how this gave a complete new insight into Shiki, and this OVA is pretty much entirely dedicated to this. Because the creators let Shiki (or whatever you’d like to call the entity that was there) talk so uninterruptedly, it gave a lot of depth to her character and that made this episode so much more than just someone reading a boring essay.

Overall, at first I wasn’t too fond of Kara no Kyoukai when it first started. Looking back now though, I really love what it did. Not only did it create a full story, nicely closed off with this epilogue. That’s of course great, but what’s also great to see is the influence it had: it came with a really bold idea: to create a series of movies of which pretty much nobody knew whether it would work well or not. It worked really well, and the result? It opened up a whole new market for for example the Mardock Scramble, Votoms and Berserk movies. Kara no Kyoukai has some excellent writing, but even without that: if this series was never made, those three also probably would not have gotten green-lighted.
OVA Episode Rating: 8,5/10

Posted 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
Posted on 23 August 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews, Kara no Kyoukai



The sixth Kara no Kyoukai movie is called “Oblivion Recorder”. Unlike the fifth movie, it only takes up an hour of airtime, and tells about another supernatural mystery case in which Shiki becomes involved. While it doesn’t match the standard that was set by the movies 3, 4 and 5, it nevertheless is a nice little movie.

In this movie, we learn that Mikiya has a younger sister. This movie shows her, as she tries to solve a murder mystery that took place in her school, helped by Shiki. The storyline this time is simple but effective, and there’s a nice layered mystery behind a seemingly straight-forward murder. The build-up is pretty well done, and overall this makes for an enjoyable movie.

Where this movie fails to live up to in comparison to its predecessors is that its scenario and execution lack polish. Mikiya’s sister turns out to be yet another girl with a brother complex. I dunno, I think that the creators tried to appeal to taboos, but that doesn’t really work when this trope is already used by tons of other anime. And overall, as much as I appreciate that we got to know more about Mikiya this way, as a main character for a KnK movie, she fails to stand out and is among the least interesting ones.

On top of that, the dialogue also feels rushed and uninspired for a movie. There are a number of conversations that clearly lack a bit of polish here and there, and there are quite a few plot-holes left open at the end of it, most of which I don’t think are going to be answered by the seventh movie. This movie simply doesn’t have the deep characters nor the addictive storytelling of the third, fourth and fifth movie.

What it does have, however, is the best CG during an action scene out of the six movies so far. Mikiya’s sister’s magic is very flashy and the creators make really good use of it during the action scenes. As a standalone movie Oblivion Recorder would have been fine, but the standards of the Kara no Kyoukai movies so far have become higher than average after all.

Storytelling: 7/10
Characters: 7/10
Production-Values: 9/10
Setting: 8/10
Posted 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
Posted on 16 January 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews, Kara no Kyoukai



Apologies for the delay on this one. The fourth Kara no Kyoukai movie is very much different from the three previous movies. While these all had the formula of “something mysterious is killing lots of people”, this one centres around something completely different: it takes place right after Shiki got involved in the car accident, and entirely focuses on Shiki getting back to her senses. It lacks the brutal action sequences of the previous movies, and probably required the least amount of budget to produce out of the first four installments, yet it’s been the most enjoyable of the bunch for me so far.

Because this chapter finally gives us insight in the three lead characters of this franchise. Finally we learn what they are, and especially in Shiki’s case, most of the pieces of the puzzle fall in place and finally get we get a god idea of who she is. Her process of recovery from the injury is long, but now we know exactly why she acted the way she did in the first and third movie.

This episode showed how both she and Mikiya came to work for Touko, where her strange eyes came from and more. It’s a very down to earth movie, and the action only happens for a reason, but that’s probably why I liked this one so much, because it can fly put its time into the development of Shiki and the ones around her.

There’s only one part where Mikiya starts singing “I’m singing in the rain” in really bad Engrish, so that may not have been the best idea of the creators. The fourth movie isn’t the most exciting of the bunch, but it is the most complete, and it does have the best characters so far. It’s interesting how on average, each successive movie has become better than the previous one, and it would be interesting if this pattern could continue.

Storytelling: 8/10
Characters: 9/10
Production-Values: 9/10
Setting: 8/10
Posted on 25 July 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews, Kara no Kyoukai


The third movie of The Garden of Sinners takes place between the first and the second. It continues the tradition of the second movie by shedding light on the unanswered questions that the first movie left behind, as it shows another stage in Shiki and Mikiya’s life. The story is about yet another string of mysterious gruesome murders, but despite this, it was the best movie of Kara no Kyoukai yet in my opinion.

The antagonist for this movie is the biggest reason for this. This movie really looks into the question: “what could someone drive to commit these gruesome murders?” And it comes up with a fascinating character study with a bit of supernatural elements here and there. Shiki and Mikiya also benefit from the second movie, which fleshed out their characters a bit, so they too make this a highly enjoyable movie.

There are a couple of bugs in the storyline, though. I’m not sure whether it was a good idea to have the major antagonist turn out to be a friend of Mikiya, of all people. It makes no sense, could have easily be omitted without affecting the rest of the movie and the movie can’t seem to decide what kind of relationship the two exactly have. It feels like some sort of cheap plot-device, especially for such a short 50-minute movie. The ending is also a bit of a downer-ending, with its Deus ex Machina-ish plot twist.

The plot feels a bit weird, but nevertheless the characters keep improving with every movie. It’ll be interesting to see this trend continue for the rest of the seven movies of the Garden of Sinners. Remaining Sense of Pain isn’t the most visually stunning instalment of Kara no Kyoukai, and the mystery isn’t as impressive as in chapter 1, but it makes up for this with great and solid characters.

Storytelling: 7/10
Characters: 9/10
Production-Values: 9/10
Setting: 8/10
Posted on 24 July 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews, Kara no Kyoukai


Apologies for the delay of this review of the second movie, I totally forgot about it until the third one suddenly popped up. The second chapter of the Garden of Sinners tells how everything started, and how Shiki and Mikiya first met with each other. It’s obviously a chapter that’s more about building up and establishing its characters than about its stories. Overall, I liked the first chapter more, but at least A Study in Murder Part 1 is a lot more solid.

The whole setting is a lot more down-to-earth, as the entire story is just about two rather strange high-school kids. The graphics look as good as ever, but that’s to be expected with a movie-budget, and the strange emphasises on different foods are still there. The best thing about this movie is the cast of characters. They’re well fleshed out throughout the hour of airtime and even though they won’t hit any heights, they remain enjoyable to watch, and add depth to their versions that we saw in the first movie.

The story is a bit hard to believe, though. It’s impossible to accurately describe this without going into spoilers, but let’s just say that this movie tells about a series of gruesome murders, and the motives of the eventual killer will feel rather strange, and especially the way that Mikiya reacts to this gives Elfen Lied-flashbacks. The message of this episode was a rather weird one: “it’s okay to murder, you won’t get put in jail for it, everyone will love you anyway.” Now that’s going to stop the children from stabbing their parents.

Nevertheless, the movie served its purpose: the characters are fleshed out now and they have a background, which makes them more than just a bunch of cardboard boxes. Now all that’s left to see is how the rest of the movies will use this.

Storytelling: 7/10
Characters: 8/10
Production-Values: 9/10
Setting: 7/10
Posted on 2 June 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews, Kara no Kyoukai


Ah, I finally got the chance to watch this one. If I recall correctly, The Garden of Sinners 01 is the first part of a series of seven movies, based on short stories by the creators of Fate/Stay Night and Tsukihime, produced by the Ufotable that did Manabi Straight and Tales of Symphonia. After watching the 45-minute long first part, I’m eager for the next ones, because It had quite a few good points.

It’s rare to see a mystery-movie nowadays, since most of them focus on either action or drama. The Garden of Sinners deals with the topic of suicide and adds a supernatural touch to it, and the result works quite well. A lot of effort has gone into the dialogue, and it ends up meaningful and thought-provoking, but the real highlight of this movie is without a doubt the gorgeous graphics. Ufotable received a big budget to work with, and they knew exactly how to use it. Yuki Kajiura’s soundtrack may not be among the best of her work, but it still manages to make The Garden of Sinners into a feast for the senses.

The storytelling is a bit sloppy, though. We hardly learn anything about the main characters: where did Shiki’s l33t-powers come from? How did the boy lose his consciousness? How did Shiki lose her arm? What kind of job does she do anyway? Why is she the only one who goes after the string of suicides? All questions that remain unanswered, and I hope that the next movies will at least answer the most basic ones, and give some much-needed background to the characters. At this point, I found it hard to sympathize with them, because I knew hardly anything about them.

And there is of course the matter of Haagen Dasz. The pizza hut references in Code Geass and Darker than Black is one thing, but these commercials always knew how to stay in the background. In the Garden of Sinners, a bunch of pointless scenes are wasted, simply because they only focus on a bunch of packs of Haagen Dasz.

Still, overall this movie made good use of its limited time to deliver a solid enough mystery-story. Now let’s see what the other movies will have in store.

Shoutbox

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  • Krista
    (Monday, Jul 25. 2016 07:51 AM)
    Whoever recommended Kabaneri was so on point!
  • K-Off
    (Monday, Jul 25. 2016 07:10 AM)
    You know, Debbie Schultz stepping down from the DNC only to be granted a position in Hillary’s campaign doesn’t surprise me, but it’s the fact that it doesn’t, that shows just how much of a joke the Left has turned into over the last ten years.
  • Rusty
    (Monday, Jul 25. 2016 05:24 AM)
    @Kevin That joke is so old it hasnt been funny since 2008. You are a troll
  • WolfeTCG
    (Monday, Jul 25. 2016 02:05 AM)
    @AidanAk47 Im looking forward to it!
    @K-Off Root Double! Zero Time Dilemma isnt a real vn
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Monday, Jul 25. 2016 01:22 AM)
    The artwork in fata morganna takes my interest and it looks like a gothic horror thing…and well generally I’m usually up for a horror story.
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, Jul 25. 2016 12:43 AM)
    To those wondering I should have the rest of the episode reviews I am behind on up tomorrow. Hopefully I won’t fall behind like this again but well no promises on that.
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, Jul 25. 2016 12:41 AM)
    @K-Off, be warned that Zero Time Dilemma seems to require knowledge of it’s two predecessors, 999 and Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward. I have a particular hate for the writer as well.
    Though I did support the root double kickstarter and have a copy.
  • K-Off
    (Monday, Jul 25. 2016 12:10 AM)
    @Wolfe I’m eyeing the page and Root Double seems pretty interesting, and Zero Time Dilemma is still on my radar.
  • AidanAK47
    (Sunday, Jul 24. 2016 11:09 PM)
    @Wolfe, that is actually one I was curious about. Alright then, after I finish up MGS V I will give that a read through and a review. But it may take me a while. After all I am behind on my episode reviews thanks to me being lazy on my week off work.
  • WolfeTCG
    (Sunday, Jul 24. 2016 10:25 PM)
    House in fata morgana! Theres more on that page I’d lile to see but thats number one.

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