In the winter of 1995, Mikiya Kokutou passes a young woman during a late night stroll in the snow. Clad in a striking white kimono and bearing an enigmatic gaze, Shiki Ryougi smiles at Mikiya who stares back with curiosity. As they become acquaintances through lunchtime conversations, Shiki begins opening up to him, with Mikiya learning about her unique upbringing.
Kara no Kyoukai: The Garden of Sinners – Murder Speculation (part 1) is a 1 hour long seinen supernatural mystery movie, with aspects of psychological and a tad of romance. The movies continue in the same order as the stories in the novels by Kinoko Nasu, this is effectively a prequel to the first movie and follows the second story in the novels. It’s about Mikiya and Shiki, how they met and is essentially an origin story. Don’t expect it to explain everything we know about those characters though, the Kara no Kyoukai books (and by extension, the movies) are written much like the Haruhi series, in a non-chronological order. There is also the story of some mysterious gruesome murders, which Mikiya is involved with the solving of, similar to the first movie. The supernatural aspect feature’s much less. Don’t be put off by the ‘part 1,’ it follows the book exactly in that regard as the books also split up murder speculation into two parts. Despite that, we still get a complete story… of course the type of story one would expect from this series of movies, drenched in ambiguity. It seems to be more straightforward than the first movie in some ways. Here is my review of the first movie, which I recommend you watch before this, even if it isn’t in chronological order. That said, the story doesn’t heavily rely on the first movie, but watching any of the other Kara no Kyoukai movies before the first one may spoil it as they assume viewers are watching in the same order the stories are written in the book. Animation The beautiful animation continues. The snow falling looked a bit weird at the start, but it was because the snow was falling slowly that the framerate seemed lower. There’s some stuning swordplay and action sequences, there’s even one bit where quite a bit of action happens in a single shot of the camera, no cuts to another angle of the action. It remains sensible too, the gore and blood is minimised somewhat and the most gruesome stuff is only described by a character, just as it was in the book. The next point I feel is unnecessary, but I’ll point out that Shiki’s appearance is explained by a bandaged chest, which is done by Japanese women to reduce/hide/be more respectable. Otherwise, it’s the same stunning animation as the first movie, for full details, check here. Sound Oh that piano, same old beautiful music and the voice actors reprise their roles of course. See here for the details. Of course with new characters, they come with their own voice actors. Of the two significant secondary characters, I could only find Daisuke Akimi, who was voiced by Hiroki Touchi, he voiced Chaa in Angel Beats, Kokopelli in Bokurano and Seishirou in Tsubasa Chronicle. Characters While the same characters feature, the different setting and more screentime of Mikiya means there’s quite a bit to say about them. Make sure you’ve had a look at my review of the first movie for anything I miss here. I’d say in this movie, Mikiya Kokutou is the main character. In 1995 he is starting high-school and meets Shiki for the first time. His personality remains the same as the first movie, even if he is younger. He is the same person after all. But since he features a lot more we can see that he is a very kind hearted, too trustworthy person. He isn’t weird, he seems to be well acquainted with various characters we are not really introduced to, so it seems like he has friends. He seems to always have a can of coffee and some bread for lunch, which looks to be melon bread. He always tends to eat his lunch on the roof with Shiki and enjoys being in her company, whether she likes it or not. He isn’t exactly pushy, but Shiki can’t deny him either (more on that in a bit). He describes himself as a bit too optimistic and believes in and trusts others too much, particularly in Shiki. He seems to be attracted towards her, but he can’t figure out why. Perhaps it might be love? He mentions it barely, but the wording used makes me think this isn’t the sort of love we’d describe as romantic. Or I’m just unfamiliar with the Japanese he uses there. He does tend to worry about Shiki and because of this he starts camping outside her home to make sure she’s okay. Despite all this, he is a normal person and while he doesn’t show any fear for Shiki, he still has his fears and can’t stomach gruesome scenes. Despite this, his cousin Daisuke discusses the murders with him and he even mentions it to Shiki at the start. So spoilers for the first movie, Shiki Ryougi is indeed a girl, her chest seems flat because she bandages it up instead of wearing a bra. She is form the high-standing and noble Ryougi family, where her older brother is next in line for head of the family, even though she is more suitable for the role, she rejected the offer. This is the one small thing from the novels that was left out of this movie, the Ryougi family have a history of individuals with split personality, who were usually insane but were revered as far as the family was concerned. Shiki herself has a split personality here, the other part of her is more impulsive and less formal with words and is known as SHIKI as it is a different Kanji to her normal name. This split personality has affected Shiki since her birth and SHIKI claims that Shiki has never been alone because of having her other personality. Shiki seems to want to protect her other personality and prevent it from coming out and carrying out her impulsive desires. As before (or later in the timeline) she carries her knife and is skilled with blades, she spars with her father using live steel. Akitaka is her personal attendant, but Shiki doesn’t like being attended to. She seems to be an outcast socially, people see her as too scary, the way she always wears a Kimono (they attend a school where there is no school uniform). The only person she seems to have any links with is Mikiya and she doesn’t like how he is trying to get into her life, she wants him to leave her be. However, Shiki has trouble denying, SHIKI is much better at this and even then, she’s a bit cryptic. Maybe the strangest thing, Shiki is often found at the site of the murders after they’ve occurred, letting her Kimono soak in blood, she seems to have some sort of strange obsession with the blood. As it should be obvious, Shiki’s character is delved into much deeper. The only other secondary character of any significance is Mikiya’s cousin, Daisuke Akiimi works within the police force as a homicide detective. He often spends time around Mikya’s place, to both talk to Mikiya and also for his aunt’s cooking. Both he and Mikiya tend to eat a lot of tangerines and line the peels up afterwards. He is determined to solve this case and by discussing it with Mikiya, he hopes to gain more leads, though he does divulge info about the case to Mikiya, certain clues which might mean something to him, even if he doesn’t mention it to Daisuke. Very minor characters are Mikiya’s parents, particularly his mother and Akitaka, Shiki’s attendant/servant. There’s also Gakuto, one of Mikiya’s school friends in the judo club who initially thinks Mikiya and Shiki are some sort of couple before Mikiya explains the truth of the limited relationship. Then there’s the mysterious boy at the school who seems to know what Shiki is up to. Story So the plot here is similar to before, a series of murders this time. But more importantly there is the character development. The narrative doesn’t take a traditional route, since it is part 1 of a 2 part story and certain things are left a mystery. Most likely, these would be explained in part 2. I don’t know how to feel about this, I usually dislike it when an anime does this, but then this isn’t any old anime and is following the plot in the novels to a T. The dialogue is also very similar or almost the same, depending on my memory. Just like the books split up the two sections, the movie remains faithful. I guess this is a good thing. Though a criticism of both the book and this movie that follows it, the way they solve the climax is a dick move and reminds me a lot of the end of Code Geass’s first season. I will also point out that this movie also shows how Shiki gets her red jacket, however exciting that might not sound. There isn’t as much to read into here, but the character development and interaction is key. Why does Mikiya do the things he does? The movie seems to delve a bit into the character psychology of both Mikiya and Shiki with her two personalities. Mikiya’s magnetic attraction to Shiki may seem like love and I honestly can’t tell if it is, love makes people do stupid things and while it may seem Mikiya is being a bit silly, when it comes down to it he still has sense and his honesty. Like the previous movie, it has a post-credit sequence, hinting to part 2 of Murder Speculation, teasing a few characters including one that may seem familiar to veterans of Type-Moons works. And of course, the preview of the next movie, where Mikiya says the one thing that was in my mind when I was reading that part of the novels. Man, Mikiya is a very good character. Conclusion I’d recommend this for folks who read the books, I forgot to mention that for the first movie. It’s pretty damn faithful bar a single thing I can remember (the Ryougi family history) and I guess my recommendation from last time still holds. This movie was just as exciting as the first, heck it was a tad better due to the character development. While it does leave a few questions to be answered and does that horrible thing that annoys me as a connoisseur of story, it manages to be very enjoyable to watch for me. Once again not for everyone and I think things are about to get a whole lot more uncomfortable (it was for me) and crazy in the next movie, if the next part of the novel is anything to go by. Family-friendliness Rating: 4/5 Disturbing themes and complex story (lower is better) Overall Rating: 8.5/10 (higher is better)
Kara no Kyoukai review Part 2The problem with movies is that all too often they're lacking in one or two fundamental areas, and unfortunately these are normally the plot or the characters. The first installment of this series suffered from the latter, and while it was still enjoyable even with that flaw, there was always the nagging feeling that something wasn't quite right.Thankfully this episode begins to address that issue.The second installment in the Kara no Kyoukai ~The Garden of Sinners~ franchise, Satsujin Kosatsu (Murder Speculation), is actually part one of a two part story arc (viewers will have to wait for the seventh movie to see the conclusion of this episode), yet while this small irony is amusing, the are some flaws with this episode which one can only hope will be rectified with the final movie.This time around the story takes place over two years prior to the events in the first movie, and thankfully the main theme is the developing relationship between Ryougi Shiki and Kokuto Mikiya during their time together as high school students. Kokuto finds himself strangely attracted to the seemingly aloof Shiki, and proceeds to befriend her until a bizarre series of murders takes place.Now the nice thing about Satsujin Kousatsu Part 1 is that the plot takes a far more measured approach than Fukan Fuukei does, and while the pace picks up towards the end, there's something here that was somewhat missing from the previous installment - a sense of purpose.While the first episode was entertaining, there was a certain aimless quality about it due to the underdeveloped characters that permeated the quieter moments. This movie begins to shed some light on the actions of both Shiki and Kokuto during that time, especially on certain aspects of her behaviour and personality.The story is generally much quieter in tone than before, which may not sit too well with those who liked the frenetic action of Fukan Fuukei. This is a necessity as the anime of Satsujin Kousatsu Part 1 is to offer the viewer some perspective on every other movie in the franchise, and the clarity it provides may force viewers to reassess their opinion of the first installment.Once again Ufotable produce the goods with regards to artwork and animation. The character movements are excellent, and the incorporation of CG is almost seamless in respect of the backgrounds and backdrops. There are fewer action sequences this time around, but they are just as good here as they are in the first movie, especially when it comes to choreography and use of environment. As for the the character designs, they're a little different in that both Kokuto and Shiki have a certain youthful quality about them, which is reflective of the fact that this story takes place two years before the first movie.Sound is, again, extremely good overall, and the movie uses the various effects well, however there are some issues as there are occasions where the various noises clash to create a veritable cacophony. This doesn't really detract from the movie though and, surprisingly, actually improves certain sequences.The music throughout the movie is generally utilised to good effect, often enhancing the atmosphere in a particular scene. The voice actors are also very good, and are able to show some real talent with regards to their respective characters, however given that this is the second movie in a series of seven, this should come as no surprise. What is surprising though, is that the lead seiyuu are able to instill their respective characters with a degree of naivety and innocence, something which improves the overall effect of the movie no end.Unfortunately that's not enough to raise the characters from their stupor.While there is very clearly some development occurring over the course of the movie, one of the issues that seems destined to repeat throughout the franchise is that the plot doesn't give them enough time for this growth to set as part of their persona, and that leads once more to an imbalance in the storyline. The revelation about Shiki's personality goes some way to explaining why she is the way she is, but Kokuto is the real problem. As a character he is simply bland, and at no point does the movie go into any detail about his goals, thoughts, ideals, etc. Everything in the movie actually revolves around Shiki, including Kokuto, and all of his actions stem from that one driving principle. Unfortunately this feels like a missed opportunity to add some real meat to both the leads, but it may be that all of these concerns will be addressed by the time the series ends.The other problem was the lack of Aozaki Touko. It would have been a nice addition to have more information on her from that time period as she is one of the mysteries of Kara no Kyoukai, and in all honesty this could have been done simply and easily. Sadly, the fact that she has not been included in this movie means that it has a slightly disjointed feel compared to the first, but again this may be rectified with the second half of this story arc.We shall see...Even with those flaws this is still an enjoyable movie, and it's nice to finally see how the two leads met and got to know each other. It would have been nice if the plot wasn't focused so much on Shiki as this would have allowed for some introspection of the part of Kokuto. On the plus side, the slower pacing of this speisode actually adds to the tension this time around, but like the first movie the plot continues to retain a degree of predictability.Fans of Fukan Fuukei will be pleased at this second offering as it is very much in keeping with the spirit of the series, however I would advise against making snap judgements about the whole franchise simply on the basis of this or the first movie.As before, I look forward to the next episode.
Kara no Kyoukai Movie 2: Satsujin Kousatsu (Part 1) is a good hour of anime. It is not the best, but it is definitely good. At times, it is even great. There are a few problems with it, but it is ultimately an enjoyable and intriguing experience. The premise is a fascinating combination of slice of life, psychological thriller, romance, and serial murder going on. If only for that, this is a worthwhile view. Everything about this is above average. The story is interesting and open ended, the characterization of the protagonists and their relationship is rather strong. The animation is gorgeous even if it tends towards the static a bit too much (not a single light in a single house turns on or off during all of the views of the city). The soundtrack is a good fit and while not particularly imaginative it holds everything together nicely. All in all, things work together nicely. Now for the inevitable criticism: while everything is solid and well above average, nothing is truly great in Kara no Kyoukai Movie 2: Satsujin Kousatsu (Part 1). A movie needs to be self-contained, but in the end we are left with the terrible question of "is that it?", and the answer is "well, this is a movie, so yes". While I am a fan of leaving things at least a bit open to interpretation, this movie feels more like an introduction. I suppose "Part 2" is supposed to fill the gap. But you can't rate a movie on intended sequels. Writing (Story and Characters): The dialogue, while not being particularly sharp or witty, failing a bit on the "show, don't tell" front, is definitely well thought out and captivating. The story in itself is distinctly character driven, and the characters do hold up to scrutiny. While there is the cliche of angsty young people and alienation from the world, it is not as over the top as is too common in other works. Everyone likes gruesome murder. Even the people who hate it secretly love it, if only for the sense of moral superiority they gain. What is beautiful about this is the way a character can revel in brutality, but still remain relatable. That is perhaps Kara no Kyoukai Movie 2: Satsujin Kousatsu (Part 1) best feature. It is not strictly about the story or the character, but rather in the combination between them that this fact can shine. Of course, the fact that this movie ends with just adding more questions instead of actually resolving anything is a huge hindrance. This is obviously not a self-contained piece. This is where it fails, and while the story and characters are still strong, ultimately, this causes an unsatisfying feeling for the viewer. Still, everything about the writing except that is well above average, but the fact of the matter is that people are left with the taste of the ending removes any possibility that this could be treated as exceptional on its own. Art (Animation and Sound): The backgrounds are detailed, gorgeous and well thought out. The character designs are clever. The soundtrack fits nicely, and at times does a wonderful job of filling in the emotional blanks for the viewer. Overall, there is very little I can complain about. Of course, that doesn't mean that the complaints aren't real nor significant. Part of the artwork is adding motion to the backgrounds. This is wonderful in depictions of (for instance) rain, but when there is a lot of rain and not a single branch on a single tree moves, then the focus is drawn towards the details but is missing the big picture. This is a consistent fault of the animation throughout Kara no Kyoukai Movie 2: Satsujin Kousatsu (Part 1). This is what sets it apart from the works of true brilliance - while the slight of hand of making us focus on the details works, it is still not the real thing. The soundtrack is an important part of the movie. It is well chosen and fits well, but unfortunately is not truly imaginative nor does it do something particularly unique. As easy to appreciate the use of the piano and orchestral themes in films is (as it adds a classy feel to them whether we like it or not), this is one case where the use of something a bit more off-kilter could have added another dimension to the viewing experience. As great a fit as the sound is to both the writing and the visual aspects, it is just that little bit short of being truly fantastic. Overall: Kara no Kyoukai Movie 2: Satsujin Kousatsu (Part 1) is a good watch. It is well above average in every aspect, has moments of brilliance and very little in the way of weaknesses. Sure, the ending is not quite satisfactory and that is what stops this film from being a classic, but it is well worth your time if you like a character driven piece with some gory violence in the background.
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