From the very start, you can see how Kara no Kyoukai Movie 5: Mujun Rasen is going to be better than one through four in the series. The opening has intelligent backgrounds, original cinematography, hints of extreme violence and the supernatural, and most of all, a sense of intrigue. What's more, the movie continues to build upon that. But the big thing is that this is the first one of the series to actually have movie length, quality, pacing, and production.
The artwork, while still has some minor flaws (people in crowds are too still), has an artistic purpose to it. The soundtrack is well thought out and doesn't force itself to be too orchestral. The artistic themes are wonderful and intelligent. The use of metaphors is magnificent rather than tired (people walking superimposed over a mechanical clock, the spiral structure, metamorphosis of water to steam, et cetera). In general, there is a coherent structure that bring everything together in a fantastic way.
I have some (very large) qualms with the earlier installations of the series. Luckily, they are not a big deal here. The backgrounds used usually don't involve plenty of dynamic things, so the stillness of trees and other small details isn't much of an issue. The skips in time are intelligently done, and add plenty. Following the timeline is not too challenging, but adds plenty of depth.
My one major qualm is the ending fight sequence. I am not a fan of the overly artistic pretentiousness with having just a musical theme and overly stylized cinematography - it just loses the coherency and drama it should have. Fortunately, it is short enough to not make too much of an impact on the rest of it.
Writing (Story and Characters):
The plot is a good mix of supernatural and mystery, and the characters are actually quite interesting. The plot is quite solid, some twists are obvious, others are not. In general, it is a nice mix between character driven and mystery driven writing. It manages to both feel comfortable yet keeps you on edge. Ultimately, this is up there with the best writing-wise.
Don't expect anything truly groundbreaking, but what you can expect is a compelling story told through the perspectives of characters who are fleshed out just enough. There are moments of brilliance (apathetic cute girl is actually a super-efficient killing machine, has her own arc), and what is really excellent is the balancing act between the protagonists' perspectives. A one-sided love, a magical battle, a search for the right kill, and just trying to make everyone better - while on the other hand we have a competent antagonist who is good at what he does and actively does it. What can I say, it just works.
Kara no Kyoukai Movie 5: Mujun Rasen has by far the best writing in the series compared to everything that came earlier. There is no competition here. You don't have to view any of the prior movies to enjoy it, because it is powerful enough to stand on its own, and is pleasantly self contained (while still developing the characters). The characters are interesting (well, four out of six are, and the other two are just standard/solid), the plot is well thought out, and most of all, the execution is spot on.
You might call the time skipping and shifts in perspective gimmicky. And they are. But you know what? It's just done so well that it doesn't matter at all. It does exactly what it is intended to do: added character depth in a condensed amount of time. While there are problems with the story (it is not free of cliches, it does things that are ultimately not mind-blowing, et cetera), and not all of the characters are interesting (the insane villain is so standard and quite incompetent, the "standard good guy" is rather dull), the writing overcomes those flaws and excels.
Art (Animation and Sound):
The animation is gorgeous. There is clever use of backgrounds that doesn't allow the standard faults of animation (static trees, city lights that never change, a majority of unmoving people in crowds, et cetera) to become too big a deal. The beautiful use of thematic juxtapositions (steam/smoke -> metamorphosis and transience, mechanical clock -> artificial movement and lack of freedom, and so on) and metaphors on the visual side is a magnificent fit for the story. The voice acting (as opposed to the earlier movies) really comes together with the actions of the characters. The use of audio positioning is clever and a rare thing to behold in anime and a cinematic delight.
There is clever use of both Japanese and Western ideas in the art, specifically in the artistic execution of the animation. The soundtrack does tend a bit too much towards the orchestral, and you can hear that it is a very Eastern style of composition though it tries to go for universality - but overall is a good fit for this film. And yes, I will say that Kara no Kyoukai Movie 5: Mujun Rasen is a proper movie in the artistic department, something that I have not yet said about any of the other parts of this series.
One of the things that make art truly exceptional is the ability to awe the audience. Well, finally, for the first time in the series, we get that. While in many ways not unique, and some of the "tricks" have been used before, there is a lot of artistic merit as opposed to just stamping out a product. The soundtrack cleverly matches up with the animation in parts where it would seem too out of the box otherwise.
The only part that actually fails in that regard is the big fight scene near the end. It tries so hard to scream "climax" that it shoots its load prematurely and then goes on for a few more futile moments where it is basically a mess. Some people might like that, but I prefer my peak at the end of the fun, after gradual intensification into a pleasurable conclusion. But really, the foreplay to it is well over an hour long and really does make up for it. And the epilogue that comes after that actually has someone smoking a cigarette, which I found apt.
That one problem is the thing that dropped about 0.3 points from both animation and sound; because otherwise this is what an anime movie that has exceptional artwork that enhances the plot and characters in all the right ways.
Screw movies 1-4. This is the real deal. If there is any reason to get into Kara no Kyoukai as a series, this is it. This is about as solid as non-Miyazaki anime films get. If only that one scene was done better, I would go on to say that it is the absolute best non-Miyazaki anime film. Too bad that scene was supposed to be the point of the movie.
Still, I cannot help but recommend this. You should watch it. You really, really, REALLY should.
The fifth installment of the Kara no Kyoukai of the movies but in chronological its a continues of the first movies kara no kyoukai 1:fukan fukei......at his movies,viewer will facing a really confusing while watching it,some scene will suddenly appeared that not follow the route of the whole story,that really make the viewer think ''what happens''.''how that happens'' and ''when that happens'',the unique about this movies is that 2 story but with different scene being combine to 1 story that really answered whole the story of it....at this movies,viewer will be introduce with the mastermind whose responsibility for wholel the tragedy and and why he doing thats...and some fighting action between magic/supernatural and the puppet master....
The art,background and the environment was awesome,improved alot for this movies all the fighting scene and the character movement also the face reactions was awesome....
For the sound,there's nothing much change still same as the previous movies...
The Enjoyment for watching it was something that incredible and its was really satisfied...
Garden of Sinners Movie 5: Paradox Spiral
This movie deserves 10's across the board. The animation is beautiful, the story is brilliant (it will mind fuck you at first), the characters are deep and mysterious, and the overall presentation is the definition of perfection. Without a doubt the best movie in the series (rivaled only by the 7th one.) If you're a fan of Type-Moon works, this is a must see. Mujun Rasen earns its place at the top of the rankings list through quality of the content, and not on gimmicks and mindless fanservice that so many other shows rely on. It really is a shame that this series goes, for the most part, so unappreciated through the masses of anime fans.
In a nutshell: Masterpiece/10
Final Verdict: 10/10
Watch it ASAP
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A "perfect" score is a very difficult thing to give, especially in this day and age where standards, expectations, and preferences are changing more rapidly than ever before. However I can give Mujun Rasen, the fifth installment of the Kara no Kyoukai film series, a perfect score without regret or doubt.
The film opens in a manner quite different from the style of the earlier movies. Where several of them start with mundane, almost tedious seeming activities and then later build up tension through shocking and/or disturbing turns of events, Mujun Rasen's beginning is heavy on both counts. Fortunately, the steam built up in the opening scenes builds up throughout the film. Although at several point the plot dips to either explain the events that are taking place or for simple character development, much of the nearly two hour production is mystery-solving and adrenaline-packed battles. The movie is even divided (arguably) into 3 acts; All of which are brilliantly connected and have interesting transitions between. Upon reaching the film's finalé, viewers (or at least I) will be on the edge of their seat. Not only does the ending bring great closure, but also a much desired sense of understanding. Which brings us to the next point.
If anything negative can be said about Kara no Kyoukai 5, it is that it is very complex. This is not entirely negative though. Although many viewers will be disoriented by the concepts discussed or even left clueless by the twists, turns, and sucker punches the film takes, it is an inherit trait that makes the film that much more enjoyable. The motives of the antagonists, the explanation of the events given towards the end, and even the conclusion itself are somewhat difficult to piece together, yet this demanding aspect is what makes it a great movie: it manages to make sweat in fear and anticipation, cry, and get the gears in your head turning at a breakneck pace.
As for animation and sound, they don't even deserve mention. This is not because they were poor, but largely because they were so well done I have no way to criticize or analyze them. Ufotable really outdid itself here, and I can say that the Kara no Kyoukai films prior to this one didn't draw near it in production quality.
On a final note: There is no good reason to NOT see Kara no Kyoukai. It is a fantastic franchise and this film in particular is absolutely brilliant. So if you are reading this review after seeing this film at the top of the list for highest ranked anime here, know this: It is ranked as it is with good reason.