Kara no Kyoukai Movie 4: Garan no Dou

Alt title: The Garden of Sinners Movie 4: The Hollow Shrine (garan-no-dou.)

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mahius's avatar
Oct 14, 2015

Kara no Kyoukai – Garan no Dou (AKA Hollow Shrine) is the 4th movie in this seinen supernatural, mystery series based on the Type-Moon universe light novels written by Kinoko Nasu. After the intense action of the first 3 movies, this one takes a slight break and focuses on the characters, particularly Shiki and her coma which has barely been mentioned in the movies thus far (but has in the books at this point). I’m not sure what the point of this review is, since viewers will know if they want to watch the Kara no Kyoukai series or not from the first few movies. Nevertheless, I soldier on in case anyone wants a review of the 4th movie.

Animation

The stunning animation quality and interesting style continues here, therefore I don’t have much to say. Refer to my review of the first movie for further details.

I will note that there is use of the mannequin effect (naked body without detail, like doll or mannequin), which is intentional and has been done in Type-Moon anime before. I’ll also mention that the lines of death that appear in this movie look a bit different to the ones in Lunar Legend Tsukihime, they only seem to be on people and ‘living’ objects, when canonically, they are supposed to be on everything.

Sound

The music and sound is great as it has been the past 3 movies. As before, check out my review of the first movie for details, including voice actors. This movie did have something new though, Mikiya Kokuto sings in English, that is to say his voice actor Kenichi Suzumura sings. It half fails because it becomes clear that Kenichi doesn’t speak English very well, the pronunciation is with a heavy Japanese accent. This one fact made me question why this movie doesn’t have an English dub, when it still has French and German dubs, like the movies before it.

Characters

I won’t mention much on characters, since we only really have the 3 main characters here. Thus, I’ll recommend my review of the third movie (unknown info in movie 1 and Touko barely present in movie 2) for more info. Alternatively, check out my reviews of the first two movies for some other info. One small thing to note, Shiki’s hair has grown long since she hasn’t been able to cut her hair (she’s in a coma after all) and this makes her look more beautiful. But she doesn’t like having her hair long, as you might remember her short hair from previous movies. I forgot to mention in previous reviews that Touko also has a split personality, though not genuine since it’s through the use of magic, she seems nicer when she has her glasses on and this is discussed here. She also mnetions the loss of her magical familiar, I don't remember it from this part of the novels, but I know for sure it is mentioned later.

This does add one new character, but this character is irrelevant at this point in the story. The mysterious magus Soren Alaya has a post-credit scene where we see both Kirie Fujou and Fuijino Asagami make a small appearance.

Story

Following an as of yet undisclosed event, Shiki ended up hospitalised and in a coma. During the 2 years she is in this coma, Kokutou was the only one who continued to visit her on a regular basis and always brought her flowers. Of course, not shown here in this movie (and it wasn’t even in this book of the novels), this is how Kirie Fujou also happened to see him. 2 years after the accident, Shiki wakes up from the coma and is said to be empty, this is because her other personality is missing. SHIKI, the male yang personality (as opposed to Shiki the female yin personality) is gone. What’s more, she now see’s strange lines of death on everything and she can’t bear it. She’s also getting attacked by wraiths every night in her hospital bed, though they don’t seem to do much to her. In this movie, this is made a bit vague, the wraiths seem to enter her, when they actually strangle her (or at least that’s how it goes in the original material). Mikiya has since graduated from high school and gets himself a job with Touko Aozaki, the dollmaker and magus. Touko visits Shiki trying to find out about her. One thing that was too vague in the movie or either left out was that Mikiya is the one to tell Touko about Shiki, which triggers Touko’s interest and subsequent visits to Shiki.

All in all, there isn’t much plot to this movie compared to the rest. Not a bad thing since it is fully representative of the corresponding chapter in the book. Though a few things are made to be vague and a few minor details are changed. This movie explains a bit of backstory concerning Shiki and how the three characters meet. And just as well, it is the calm before the storm. Each of the books in the series of novels is usually 3 stories, thus each book is usually 3 books worth. This is the first story in the second book and the following story (i.e. the next movie) is the complete opposite. It takes up the rest of the book and is overloaded with plot and narrative, some of it is very confusing. In fact I’m worried about how much the next movie will be faithful to the original material because of this. All the movies thus far have been single slot 50 minute movies. The next chapter is the length of two and if the movie doesn’t go double length too, that means things will be left out. I hope the next movie is indeed double length, though they could have split it up into 2 movies. Enough of the second movie.

Conclusion

This is just the next part of the Kara no Kyoukai series. Despite being shallow story-wise, ~I think it’s a nice break after the unpleasantness of the previous movie and before the intensity of the next movie. If you’ve watched the previous 3 movies, then of course you’d want to watch this one. By now you should know whether or not you like this series or not. If you don’t, you probably would have dropped it by now. Don’t be disheartened by how relatively easygoing this one was, look forward to some craziness in the next one. And of course some major plot is hinted at in the post credits scene. I feel like I’ve been a bit too harsh to this series so far, but I’ll keep with it.

Family-friendliness Rating: 4/5 Still retains unpleasant themes, eyes almost get gouged out (lower is better)

Overall Rating: 8.5/10 (higher is better)

7/10 story
10/10 animation
10/10 sound
10/10 characters
8.5/10 overall
Gzerble's avatar
Jan 26, 2015

As a movie, Kara no Kyoukai Movie 4: Garan no Dou fails. Of course, it is part of a series, just the "Movie" in the name is out there to trip you up. It is in essence an origin story, a sequel to the second installation and a prequel to the third (which is a prequel to the first). The lack of order is something that can either be a strength or a weakness, but in this case, it is a weakness.

I can't say that watching Kara no Kyoukai Movie 4: Garan no Dou is a bad experience. It is, unfortunately, ultimately forgetable. Unless of course in the next installations we will find out that this is an important bit. And that is a major weakness to whatever dares call itself a movie. Of course, some franchises use this, and in retrospect it makes something the highlight of the series (Star Wars, The Godfather, et cetera). I cannot be sure that this is the case here. So therefore this just seems on the upper range of mediocre, and a definite let-down after the last two "movies".

Still, it manages to be somewhat self-contained, but that does not allow it to soar beyond the ultimately pedestrian plot. While one can't say that Kara no Kyoukai Movie 4: Garan no Dou is terrible, it most definitely isn't great. Just somewhere between "meh" and "good".

Writing (Story and Characters):

The writing is rather decent, actually. It isn't actually terrible. But it isn't good either. There is very little that is memorable, or that cannot be better served by tightening things down and trimming out the fat. What this should be about is either the character interactions or the plot, but somehow, it manages to meander on both fronts.

The characters are good. Not great or anything. There is actually a focus on only one character here, and for under forty five minutes of actual content, even that isn't such a big deal. What is a big deal is that these precious few minutes have too many repetitions and could have been used better. The side characters gain nearly nothing from the story in Kara no Kyoukai Movie 4: Garan no Dou.

Don't get me wrong, as a part of an origin story, this is no doubt a solid entry. Had the word "movie" not been in the title, and there was a cronological reasoning in the movie order, then I could easily see this as part of the greater whole. That being said, that word does exist in Kara no Kyoukai Movie 4: Garan no Dou, just before the "4", which is another mistake since it should be "2", "2" should be "1", and "1" should be "4". If I were to re-order the movies that way and call it a series, I would be lauding it for being clever.

As such, the writing mixes up what a series and a movie are. Unfortunately, this ends up being a hybrid piece, with the weaknesses of both. The technical aspects which are solid make this better than average, but alas, I can't bring myself to truly enjoy this hybrid status.

Art (Animation and Sound):

The art is good. Film quality for the most part. There are still some minor quibbles, but overall, this manages to make up for a lot of unimaginative backgrounds and technical deficiencies by adding some artistic flair to compensate.

Really, not much to complain about here. That doesn't mean I won't try, so here goes. Some of the character designs are a bit on the dull side here, and this is truly a shame since earlier installations had this up to a higher level. The hospital theme just doesn't lend itself to interesting visuals, and while well done, it is still annoying at times. The sound effects have a few misses (not as in bad timing, but in that they don't actually fit quite as cleanly as they should). There are, like most pieces of animation, some glaring problems with movement in the background... which wouldn't really be a problem if they weren't going for the realistic/detailed approach.

Of course, that last paragraph may have made it seem like there were plenty of things detracting from perfection here, and there were indeed. But, and this is a big one, there are artistic moments of brilliance that make up for it very nicely. I don't want to spoil too much, but other than clever cinematography, there are some very smart uses of effects and surreal sequences. There are imperfections, but there is an attempt at reaching a higher level.

In the end, the balance between faults and brilliance means that the artwork here is quite good, and perhaps even great. It is well above the average, that much is certain.

Overall:

If you look at the scores I've given, you see that the overall is lower than the average here. As I mentioned at the start of the review, Kara no Kyoukai Movie 4: Garan no Dou has some flaws in the writing, due to a clash between series structure and movie aspirations. Take away the reasons, and you are left with one fact: the sum is not greater than the pieces which build it. I can only recommend this for people who are determined to see the series from here on out.

That being said, people say that the highlights are the fifth and the seventh in the series, so perhaps this is being unfair.

6.5/10 story
8.5/10 animation
8.5/10 sound
7/10 characters
7.2/10 overall
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LibertyX's avatar
Oct 11, 2014

In the chronological of kara no kyoukai this should be the second episode to watch..continued from kara no kyoukai 2:Satsujin Kōsatsu from this episode it will answered most of the question that involved to other episode,its answered why Shiki got the eyes and what the eyes ability was and also introduction or why Touko want to involved to Shiki and this movies also how Shiki want to work or to used his ability by working under Touko and the last credit its show who was the person that responsibility for all the case that Touka involved to..
As for the char and the background there's nothing particular change the art is still excellent as usual how ever the fight scene were less than the previous movies maybe this movies only focus to Shiki character building only...but the action scene still good neither that bad also..
For BGM nothing change alot still the same...
Overall for me this movies was kinda disappointment abit maybe of focus on the character building only that make it less action but still its was a enjoyed to watch,coz most question part was answered for this movies...

8/10 story
8/10 animation
7/10 sound
8/10 characters
8/10 overall
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Archaeon's avatar
Mar 16, 2011

Kara no Kyoukai review Part 4

One of the hallmarks of a good story is the ease with which it can suspend the disbelief of the reader or viewer, and in that respect the Kara no Kyoukai franchise has been good, but not truly great. That said, the fourth installment, Garan no Dou (The Hollow Shrine), is a tad more introspective than previous outings, and it may signify a shift into a higher gear for the series.

The story begins directly after the end of the second movie, with the unconscious Ryougi Shiki being transported to hospital in an ambulance accompanied by Kokutou Mikiya. When she finally awakens from her coma, Shiki discovers that she has somehow gained the ability to “see” strangely distorted patterns on everything and everyone, and also that she has been asleep for two years. During that time Kokutou has graduated from highschool and is now working for Aozaki Touko.

Unlike the first three movies Garan no Dou is surprisingly straightforward in that the focus is solely on Shiki, and while there are some plot twists, these are pretty easy to follow. The story flows at a pace that allows the viewer to absorb the relevant information with a degree of ease, and this makes a nice change of pace from previous episodes. Unfortunately, the simplistic nature of the plot means that the show is a tad predictable, and viewers may find themselves wishing for a little of the slightly demented nature of previous outings.

That said, the main goal of Garan no Dou is to offer viewers an insight into one of the franchise’s most enigmatic characters, and in that respect one might fairly say that this movie is a job well done. The simpler approach to storytelling offers the ability to develop specific characters or scenarios in a way that more complex plots simply aren’t capable of as they lack the “free time” that is required. The movie does dip into some complex themes though, but rather than use them as a means to drive the story forward these dalliances with conceptualisation serve to offer insight into the mind and heart of Shiki, something which has been missing for quite a while.

Ufotable have once again done an excellent job with the artwork and animation, however there are some small areas where the quality drops a little. The hospital environs have an appropriately clinical feel to them which are surprisingly adaptive as when the story takes a darker turn, these surroundings and backdrops adopt a far more ominous feel. Then again, they’re really nothing more than spartan rooms and corridors (which in anime terms is just above a blank canvas), so one has to wonder how much effort went into the environmental design.

The characters are depicted at quite a unique stage given that Garan no Dou covers the two year period between the second and third movies, and the audience is given the rather rare and welcome opportunity of seeing them physically age over the course of one episode (admittedly there is an accelerated sense of time but that’s by-the-by). The slight changes in the design of Kokutou and Shiki (especially facially), are subtle, but they are noticeable (something which Ufotable should be applauded for).

As for the animation, the action sequences are well executed and Garan no Dou features some very fluid natural and unnatural motions (you’ll understand what I mean when you watch the movie). In addition to this the visual effects are suitably ephemeral when necessary, and the incorporated CG fits in to the whole rather nicely. That said, some viewers may find the more physical aspects of the various supernatural phenomenon to be a tad mundane, but it should be pointed out that the main reason for this is simply because of the limitations imposed by “reality”.

To put it simply, there’s only so much that can be done with the “real” world and human beings in a movie like this as taking the more fantastic elements too far would only destroy the storyline.

In addition to some excellent visuals, Garan no Dou also features some highly atmospheric background music, with the tracks on offer ranging from hauntingly melancholy to chorally dramatic. The audio effects are sharp and clean, and it’s nice to see that efforts have been made to rectify the  the overwhelming nature of the various sounds that sometimes marred the previous episodes.

One of the strengths of the franchise since the very first movie has been the quality of the acting, and in that respect this film has several things to offer. After much waiting and several fairly mundane appearances in the series so far, Honda Takako is finally able to add some character to the role of Aozaki Touko, and she does it very well. Additionally, viewers are able to see a new and different side to Shiki, and Sakamoto Maaya really manages to capture the feelings of fear and confusion in an otherwise stoic (and psychotic), lead character.

Now many people believe that the second movie, Satsujin Kousatsu Part 1, features the best development thus far in the series, and while the characters do receive a good degree of definition in that episode, Garan no Dou is at least equal, but from a completely different angle. This installment offers viewers the chance to see a far more complex side of Shiki than any of the previous outings, and allows some of her true potential as a character to shine through. That said, Kokutou is relegated to bit parts, but this is counterbalanced by the fact that much needed characterisation is given to Touko.

Which brings up an interesting thought. There’s an argument that the Kara no Kyoukai franchise would have been better off being released as a standard anime series of 26 episodes as this would allow all of the important characters the chance to get some much needed airtime. The current format seems limited in that respect as each episode can only focus on specific characters, with the rest appearing in minor supporting roles no matter how important they are in the overall storyline.

On the other hand, there is something to be said for the current approach as it has the benefit of really focusing attention on the important characters and events in that episode, and the fact that the series jumps around in time means that there is less for viewers to make educated guesses about, and this helps to keep future episodes fresh.

Whatever one thinks of the Kara no Kyoukai franchise, one of the nice things about the series is that it takes the the main theme of Lunar Legend Tsukihime, tears it apart, and rebuilds it as something new, and Garan no Dou signifies the difference between the two shows far more than any other episode thus far. Granted there are overarching plot points that still need explanation, themes that could have been explored in a bit more detail (the whole concept of The Void is just one example of this), and a degree of predictability to the story, but these can be forgiven in the face of some solid character definition and development. One should also remember that this is simply the midway point in the series, so questions will undoubtedly remain about certain aspects of the story, and it remains to be seen if they will be answered in future installments.

The fifth episode awaits….

8/10 story
9/10 animation
9/10 sound
8/10 characters
8/10 overall
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