Kara no Kyoukai Chapter 4: The Hollow Shrine

[空の境界/第四章 伽藍の洞]

Rule 1 of KnK: Don't piss off Shiki.  Ever.

Four ‘episodes’ in, and we finally see Shiki as she figures out how to use her Mystic Eyes for the first time.  Screenshots won’t do this movie any justice, as some of the CG work was simply amazing.  Anyway, here is a movie that almost begins in Evangelion territory (by that, I mean that it was almost beyond cryptic in its imagery and discussion), but ends with quite the bang.  I’m still of the crowd that, with its gripping and though-provoking story and combined with some ridiculous graphics, Kara no Kyoukai movies will live on as one of the best animated movies of the decade.

Nooo don't die Shiki!Lots of pretty lights...Whew!  She survived.  (aka: 'duh she lives')

Touko is unaccustomed to having visitors or employees...she also has a very, very odd occupation.Oop, someone's awake!

(Short?) Summary:

Shiki is rushed to the hospital in critical condition, but thanks to the doctors is able to pull through her ordeal alive.  However, her previous accident has left her in a comatose state, and for the coming weeks / months, only Kokutou Mikiya would visit Shiki.  Meanwhile, inside, Shiki comes to grips with what she sees – the endless void that is death itself.

Time moves forward, and with Shiki still in a coma, Mikiya graduates without her.  Unwilling to go to college, Mikiya finds work with one Aozaki Touko, a mage whose expertise lies in dollmaking.  Shiki, still in her coma, finds herself parting with her other half, SHIKI, who dies in Shiki’s stead.  Soon enough, Shiki revives from her coma, with a particularly odd quirk to her eyes.  As she gazes on the roses Mikiya left for her, lines appear, and her tracing those lines kills the entire bouquet.  The doctors are ecstatic that she has regained consciousness, but Shiki, fearful of what she is seeing, tries to put out her own eyes.

Hey, what'd they do to my eyes?Which one is out of place?Oh hai, Dr. Aozaki.

Souls EVERYWHERE OMGRider v0.1aTouko, master of changing personalities on a dime.

The hospital continues to care for a seemingly unresponsive Shiki, who has protective bandages over her eyes and her now long hair.  Unsure of whether the accident has caused aphasia or not, the hospital brings in an outside consultant, one…Aozaki Touko.  Touko sees through Shiki’s “laziness”, and Shiki immediately counters that she has no use for a magician.  However, the two of them become conversation partners, and even Shiki realizes that she has become reliant on her conversations with the seemingly energetic Touko, who is bemused by Shiki’s relationship with SHIKI.

Back at her workshop, Touko warns Mikiya not to visit Shiki just yet.  However, it is clear that Mikiya will be a big part of Shiki’s life if she wants to recover a part of who she once was.  (Interestingly enough, Shiki cannot seem to remember Mikiya’s name.)  Shiki is a hollow shell of her former self, but Touko is confident that she will recover at some point in time.  In the hospital, though, spirits wander the hallways and hover around Shiki’s body and consciousness, waiting for her to falter.

Soul dancer!Ryogi family misses their daughter.Full on Mystic Eyes of Death Perception

Mikiya needs a screenshot, I guess.That was probably pretty important.DEAD RISING

After seeing visions and the spirits floating around her, Shiki once again tries to put her eyes out, but is stopped by a much more critical Touko.  Touko identifies the condition as ‘Mystic Eyes of Death Perception’, which is a direct result of Shiki being on the line between life and death for such a long period of time.  Touko offers to teach Shiki how to use them, but Shiki remains silent, undecided, and Touko leaves annoyed, asking her patient if SHIKI’s sacrifice was in vain or not.

The spirits possess a corpse and break through the protective rune barrier in an attempt to strangle Shiki.  In the fight, however, Shiki finds herself unwilling to die, unwilling to feel such a worthless thing again.  Despite her physical condition, she counterattacks and positions herself by the window.  Both the corpse and Shiki sail out of the window towards the ground below, with the undead landing in some containers and Shiki safely in the grass field beyond.

When she's blind, she fights like Rider, too.Insert appropriate Fate/Stay Night reference here.Now that's one helluva case of lazy eye.

NOW she's pissed off.Wallpaper pic right here.Not bad for someone who hasn't been through rehab yet.

Touko, who had been watching the situation carefully, attempts to burn the corpse, but since it is already dead, her magic has little effect.  Shiki, however, removes her loosened bandages and attacks the lines on her opponent’s body.  With just her fingers tracing the lines, the corpse is thrown back.  Touko provides Shiki with a short knife, and after removing the annoyance that is long hair, Shiki attacks and destroys the corpse.  The spirits launch their final attack, attempting to possess Shiki herself.  However, they are easily dispatched by Shiki’s use of the Mystic Eyes.  Before she passes out, she agrees to work for Touko in exchange for lessons on how to use her powers.

The next day, Shiki is set to be released from the hospital, and a familiar figure is waiting for her.  Her memories return, and she greets Kokutou Mikiya once more, in the same manner she did when she first met him.

Whoa major pwnt.Too bad she can't show off her skills until the 5th chaper.No, it's not suicide.  Really.

The sun also rises.Oh look Mikiya gets another screenie."A rose is born a rose"

Impressions:

  • Favorite Quote 1: “A rose is born as a rose.”
  • Favorite Quote 2: “To be hollow means you can be filled without limit, right?  Where else can you find a better future?”
  • FYI, this comes after chapter 2: murderer study.
  • You could write a book on Shiki’s psyche, and chances are it’d be pretty thick.  But now the viewer sees the more complicated relationship between Shiki and SHIKI.  It wasn’t just split personalities – each had their own abilities and complemented the other.  Yin-yang, for lack of a better symbol.
  • Lots of CG work here to demonstrate abstract ideas like death.  Evangelion, take note, this is how you present without confusing the crap out of your viewership.
  • Since this came after the anime version of Fate/Stay Night, I can’t help but notice that Shiki has very similar movements to Rider, right down to the bandaged eyes.  Isn’t that something?  Hey, I thought it was pretty cool, especially that shot of her and Touko on the grass field.  But how the heck did she get so much strength?  Hasn’t she been bedridden for months?  It’s Mystic Eyes of Death Perception, not Mystic Eyes of Whoopass.  Bit of a disconnect, but…well, it’s anime.  Use grains of salt where needed, I guess.
  • For a series as dark as it is, this chapter is quite uplifting.  Shiki may be portrayed as cold and heartless, but she ends up one of the more hopeful characters (despite her “can I kill people?” attitude).  This is a girl who was in a horrendous accident but came out of a coma and STILL had someone waiting for her.  If that isn’t something to build on, I don’t know what is.  Shiki even had Touko envious!
  • Mikiya – loyal to a fault.  I mean, seriously, he’s waiting for a girl who has yet to acknowledge that they’re going out.  And she’s a murderer / nutcase.  Idealistic idiot…but hey, you’re making Tohno Shiki look GOOD.
  • Touko – after watching the movies, I can’t even think of her with short blue hair anymore.  Apparently, they changed her entire design for the movies, and I really like where it went (especially since, well, Aoko has red hair…).  So now playing through Battle Moon Wars is really odd.  It’s like ‘Hey!  Who’s that behind Shiki?  I don’t know who that is!  WTF FIRE?!’
  • I have never, ever liked hospitals, and now I REALLY don’t like them.  Hooray for undead spirits wandering the halls!  Hooray for reanimated zombies!  Why do so many horror movies pick the hospital as the main spot…
  • I prefer Shiki with longer hair, but I guess that’ll never happen.  😦

Fujou Kirie...Asagami Fujino...Were all screwed up by this dude.

Shiki caught him fapping O_OAraya Soren, magus extraordinaire!Shiki's smiling.  That can't be good for whoever's against her.

Preview:

Ridiculous amounts of confusion mixed in with loads of action!  Up next in chapter 5 – Paradox Spiral!

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