The Garden of Sinners Movie 4: Garan-no-Dou. (The Hollow Shrine)

Alt title: Kara no Kyoukai Movie 4: Garan no Dou

Movie (1 ep x 46 min)
4.072 out of 5 from 6,864 votes
Rank #689

June 1998: After spending two years in a coma caused by a traffic accident, Shiki Ryougi awakens with amnesia. She is visited by Touko Aozaki, a wizard and proprietor of a studio called Garan no Dou. Shiki has lost not only the memory of her accident, but also any real sense that she's even alive. Strangely, enigmatic beings begin to attack her...

Source: Crunchyroll

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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)


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.

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