Just judging from the name, you may have guessed this will be a confusing movie. That said, most people seem to be able to grasp all the important parts on the first watch through. Being the fifth movie in the Kara no Kyoukai series, it is preferred that you have seen the first four in order to truly enjoy what is going on in this one. The first four films clock in at about 50 minutes each, but this one is the first to be a full length film at almost 2 hours. There's a summary under construction on the movie's page, but basically this movie is almost a turn-based rpg of ass kicking... Shiki kicks some ass, another guy kicks some ass, Touko kicks some ass, another guy kicks some ass, etc. The movie's segments are intentionally out of order, in continuing the "spiral paradox" theme, and as confusing it can get at times, it still comes together quite well in the end and serves to add a very nice twist to the storytelling. This aspect is obvious even from the first five minutes when suddenly you see a scene that won't know where it fits for another 40 minutes:
Average viewer: "Wait, what the heck's going on?"
Plus it gives the movie excellent replay value since you'll notice something new almost every time you watch it.Animation Production Values
Cutting the small talk, this movie looks beautiful. Backgrounds are extremely detailed on the same level as a Makoto Shinkai film, but with a completely unique style. Characters are beautifully drawn, with subtle gradient effects adding a nice high-dynamic range lighting effect to them as well. Movements are fluid and graceful, even going so far as to have different rendering styles between fight scenes.
(I'll keep details sparse so as not to spoil anything) In the first fight scene, Shiki is fighting a crowd of basically the undead, and for some slight sacrifice in detail they dramatically step up the effects and movement choreography. For example at one part a "zombie" throws a fire extinguisher at Shiki, and after nicking the valve with her knife, smoke sprays in a beautiful arcing pattern behind her only to have Shiki slice another zombie's head in a slight hopping motion, whirl around, and then flicks the maemigoro
of her kimono back into place.
In the last fight scene though, they take everything to a new extremely impressive level that I'll be unexaggeratingly 100% honest, I don't think I've ever seen a movie with such amazing detail before. Textures are fully rendered while making character movements even more fluid, all while shifting camera perspectives to various angles to give an amazing feel for the tension of their battle. And just to top it off, it finishes off with perhaps one of the most insanely awesome stunts I've seen since I first saw Heero Yuy jumping off the 24th floor of that hospital without deploying his parachute...
Other notable points in the animation; the lighting effects are taken to the max, using a bright bloom effect whenever characters are in the moonlight or light from windows, weather effects and reflections are noticeable if you look for them during driving scenes, and many scenes (especially the random dolls in the museum) come across as very artsy with some post-impressionistic inspiration.Sound/Music Design
Yuki Kajiura once again does an excellent job with the background music, serving to enhance the mood immensely in many scenes. Kalafina's song "Sprinter" is the theme for this movie, and the lyrics fit with the story quite well too in addition to sounding nice. The soundtrack came with the special edition DVD in Japan, and the instrument arrangements used come across as unorthodox, yet very pleasing to the ear. For example, in a number of the songs there's an instrument that although you can tell it's an electric guitar, it has such a strange tone it sounds like some weird African wind instrument. Kajiura has done music for other series such as Madlax
, the Xenosaga III game, and Gundam Seed
, and as much as many of you know I hate GSD, I will happily admit to loving it's impressive soundtracks. She can make even a garbage show at least worth listening
The voice work is also pretty good. Nothing to the point of blowing you out of the water, but Maaya Sakamoto
once again delivers a great performance as Shiki, and the other actors perform their rolls with good enthusiasm too.Final Analysis
This movie is flat out impressive. If you enjoyed the other movies till now, needless to say this will be a real treat, but if you thought the first few were overhyped, you owe it to yourself to watch this one. I guarantee you won't be disappointed.
- Story: Perfectly faithful to the novels to the point that Nasu Kinoko himself said it's probably better to watch the movies than read his original novels, and considering his novels sold over 1,000,000 copies in Japan as of 2004, that says something. If you've been keeping pace with the rest of the movies thus far, you will find this one to be a real treat.
- Animation: Top Tier. Same level as a Makoto Shinkai film, probably higher.
- Soundtrack: Excellent composition. Very nice to listen to even on it's own. I like to play FPS to it.
- Japanese dub: Above average performances all around. Not super amazing, but still very good
- Recommended Sub Group: gg-Takajun. Takajun is the same guy who translated the Tsukihime, Fate/Stay Night, and original Kara no Kyoukai novels for mirrormoon, so he definitely knows whats going on.
Overall Rating: 5/5 stars.
(Star Scale Description:)
(1 - Only super hardcore fans of this type will enjoy, maybe not even them --pretty bad in some way)
(2 - Fans of similar works may enjoy it, but not recommended for people outside the genre --bad but shows a fair amount of competence or effort)
(3 - People outside the show's genre may like it and consider it good, but it probably won't sell well outside it's usual fanbase --basically an average show)
(4 - Recommend to friends to try, even if they aren't fans of that genre normally. Pretty enjoyable and fun for almost everyone, but there's just something missing keeping it from being a 5.... --excells at a number of things and may go beyond established lines)
(5 - Recommend it to everyone. Hell, show it to your parents if it's not too extreme to let them know you watch this sorta thing. Has something for everyone and is just well made. --excellent production values and just plain awesome)