To be perfectly honest, I had a lot of anticipation riding on this movie. I’ve been a fan of Type-Moon since Tsukihime came out, and the favorable progression from the anime version of Tsukihime to Fate/Stay Night (good to better, but still not great) gave me plenty to hope for in this. I’m also surprised by the format they chose for Kara no Kyoukai; each chapter will have its own little movie. The end result?
One of the most enjoyable (if not one of the shortest) movies I’ve seen in a long time. Even if you aren’t a Type-Moon fan, this movie has a lot of polish, and a lot to offer. I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of this animated.
For those of you not familiar with this, Kara no Kyoukai is considered to be the forerunner of Shingetsutan Tsukihime, one of the most popular visual novel games ever. KnK, Tsukihime, and Fate/Stay Night are all created by Type-Moon. The interesting part of Kara no Kyoukai is that it is neatly split into seven chapters, each of which are standalone but contribute to an over-arching story. With this in mind, it’s easy to see Chapter 1 as this confusing, awkwardly paced movie, but it does work well with the entire thing in mind.
As it is the precursor to Tsukihime, you can see a few character crossovers, or character designs that continued to Tsukihime.
- Kokutou Mikiya = Tohno Shiki – just change him into a school uniform, grab a switchblade, and viola! They even have very similar personalities.
- Aozaki Aoko <–sister–> Aozaki Touko – The puppet master of KnK is the sister of Aoko, who gave Shiki his magical glasses to control the Mystic Eyes.
- Ryogi Shiki =?= Tohno Shiki – ability wise. Both have Mystic Eyes of Death Perception, although they can cut difference things. Tohno-kun sees the ‘death’ of things, while Ryogi-san sees the ‘origin’ of them. It’s Nasu-speak, I really don’t know, they both wield short swords / daggers, so they’re about the same. Food for thought: how would you rank Nanaya, Tohno, and Ryogi in terms of power?
- Kokutou Azaka = Tohno Akiha – just like Akiha is Tohno Shiki’s sister, Azaka is Mikiya’s (i.e. Shiki’s) sister. Albeit much more outspoken, they both have similar skills in that they have some semblance of control over heat. At least, they do in the book. We have yet to see Azaka in the movies for more than 2 minutes.
Overall, Kara no Kyoukai is divided into three books, over which 7 stories are written. One through four have been released already in the movies, with 5-7 in the works, so things look good for a fully animated KnK series.
As we might expect, Chapter 1 is the animation of Book 1 of Kara no Kyoukai entitled ‘Overlooking View’ (Thanatos, as mentioned in the book, is part of the title). We gain a brief introduction, but not much backstory, to the main characters – Shiki, Mikiya, Touko, and Azaka. Early, we see Mikiya delivering some water and strawberry ice cream to Shiki, suggesting that Shiki’s image is like a strawberry – her red jacket, and how it is considered cute, and yet part of the rose family. The viewer is then transported to a girl in a white dress staring down from the top of a broken, run down building, smiling a typically evil smile. As the opening credits roll, one is assaulted with a whole bunch of butterflies in flight. At the end, the viewer is jolted back by seeing the body of a young girl who has committed suicide by jumping off of a building.
Returning to Shiki’s apartment, we find her dressed in a simple kimono (and before that, just a white shirt…yay for fanservice!). She also seems to have a liking for Volvic water. She goes to a rather cluttered looking office space, where Aozaki Touko and Mikiya are. It seems that Mikiya is not really ‘there’; his soul has left his body, so all that’s left is an empty shell. The news of the numerous suicides from the Fujou Building also attracts both of their attentions.
Shiki visits the said building to find yet ANOTHER body, and notices the floating forms of 8 ghosts from the top of the building. Touko recognizes how the buildings are out of place with the new society, and how they are ready to be demolished. She then goes into another Nasu-logue about how looking at the world from high places can make everything look beautiful, but creates a boundary between oneself and the world. As another one jumps off, Shiki shakes the ‘sleeping’ Mikiya, whose body collapses on the floor.
Shiki returns to the Fujou Building just in case Mikiya is possessed and forced to jump, but instead finds ANOTHER GIRL who jumped off. Drawing her sword, she enters the building, and is promptly dismissed by a ghost that somehow possessed her dummy arm, forcing Shiki to cut it off. While Touko makes another one, Shiki returns to her room to…eat strawberry ice cream.
After getting an updated version of her arm from Touko, Shiki returns to the Fujou Building, this time to put an end to all of the tragedies happening there. Amusingly enough, the elevator still works in the building, so Shiki gets to the roof in no time, and proceeds to use her Mystic Eyes to tear apart every single ghost. She even goes so far as to pull a Darth Vader-like move, gripping the final ghost by the neck with a phantom hand before ending her.
Shiki’s actions awakens Fujou Kirie, who has been stuck in a hospital for the past decade (see comment below for clarification. Thanks Cere!). After discussing with Touko what could have possibly happened, Touko leaves Kirie with two choices of escape- to float without purpose, or fly with purpose. Kirie decides to fly with purpose, and takes herself to the Fujou Building, where she heads to the roof and becomes the eighth and final victim to suicide from the building.
When all is said and done, Mikiya returns to consciousness and walks home with Shiki. Shiki asks him to stay with her for the evening, telling him to eat his share of the ice cream he bought. Although Mikiya accepts, he still teases Shiki for her crude language, and how unbecoming it is for a girl to use such language.
The final part plays with Touko and Azaka out at the scene of Kirie’s suicide. Touko comments on how the other suicides seem unrelated, but inside she knows they aren’t. She finally concludes that there isn’t a reason to commit, it’s just that she couldn’t fly that day.
I have to admit, I am very happy that the animators at ufotable decided to stay true to the source material – that is, they kept almost exactly to the script laid out in the books. The result is a compact and well executed movie that mirrors the kind of tension I had when I was reading the books. I really enjoyed this movie; I think a lot of things came together very well, and it’s a huge shame that it’s only playing in Shinjuku during late night showings, so no more than 300 or so people will see it per day. I guess since it’s TM material, and usually they’re stuff has ero-content, it’s to be expected. Now then, where do I start with this?
I’m a bit spoiled when it comes to Type-MOON. I already know what’s going on in the next couple of books, so I’m fairly familiar with the characters. Also, since everything is so neatly wrapped, it’s nice to see a coherent story for the first movie. There’s a definite conclusion to the entire thing, and yet the feeling of something unfinished.
With that being said, to someone who has no idea what is going on, this movie is probably very daunting. Who is Shiki? What the heck is wrong with her eyes? WHAT’S GOING ON!? The entire Nasu-niverse can be daunting indeed, but I think that if the movies continue the way Chapter 1 has, everything will be clear when Kara no Kyoukai is brought together as a finished product.
In a way, I’m glad they didn’t go the typical movie route of saying ‘Hey, let’s add a quick introduction for some of these guys’. It actually built more suspense, and I think that’s a good thing to take into the future chapters. Overall, I think the storyline is strong and well-paced; 50 minutes is just right for it.
The animation is what really blew me away at first glance. Looking at the animation, it’s nearly as good as Appleseed was on Blu-Ray. Well, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but still, the animation is something amazing. The fluidity of Shiki’s movements in combat, the detailed aspects of the surrounding environment, even the water rippling was done in the most detail I’ve ever seen in an anime. ufotable doesn’t have a good track record, but they really pulled out some stops for this one. If you want to see some nicely done animation, this is now one of the first things I’d recommend.
By now I’ve become so jaded to ambient cicadas that I really don’t notice them. Seriously, every anime I’ve watched use them; I know they’re common, but can’t we have a LITTLE variety? Sheesh.
With that being said, the other sounds are very well done. Water splashes, the sound of knife on metal, the pattering of footsteps are all done in remarkable detail. Furthermore, the soundtrack is composed by one Yuki Kajiura, the composer of series like MADLAX, Noir, and .hack. There’s some excellent music in this. I was especially pulled in by the OP, which is a wordless chant to accompany some equally cryptic imagery. The last time I was sucked in that much by a chanting OP was…guess what it is?…yes, Shingetsutan Tsukihime. Kajiura’s work maintains a high level of production quality and innovation, and she continues to shine in Kara no Kyoukai.
Ah, one of the greatest things about Type-MOON – their ability to develop some memorable characters. Shiki is no exception. A tsundere wihout the dere side, she really is unique in that she has her cute moments, but can totally kick your ass if she wanted to. Now THAT’S cool.
I loved seeing all of the attention focused on Shiki in Chapter 1, as it gives a good impression of the most important character of the entire series. At the same time, I expect to see better character development between Mikiya and Shiki in Chapter 2. I’m assuming there is going to be a drop in action in favor of more development (if not…3-7 is going to be REALLY weird). But there is some definite depth to the characters. Touko is a puppet master, but she also has quite a philosophical side. There are some definite questions of morality and judgment raised by Kara no Kyoukai, and the interpretations given are as unique as the characters themselves.
What can I say? I hoped it would be great, and thankfully my expectations were met. I’m really looking forward to the continuation of the storyline. Until they all come out, though, I will reserve my judgment. There are still a lot of holes that need filling (but could not be addressed in Chapter 1). I suppose the value of such high quality animation will wear itself out by Chapter 4, but still, I’m happy to see the production quality is so high for something like this. Seriously, if you don’t know Type-MOON, pick this up. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Oh, and have a nice wallpaper while you’re here.