So, it’s been a bit since my last update. Because of that, the next few posts may be a little cluttered together.
But for right now, a new anime review – this time of a fairly well-known series of movies!
Anime Review: The Garden of Sinners
I want to start this review by saying that I had no clue what the hell Kara no Kyoukai was when I found it. The first movie I saw was the latest in the collection, and then I went back and got the rest of the movies. Among my favorite fansub groups, there is a large amount of anime I subconsciously avoid, and for the longest time, Kara no Kyoukai: Future Blessing was on that list. But after realizing that the majority of UTW’s anime choices were amazing, I decided to give it a chance.
Kara no Kyoukai started out as a 1998 light novel by Kinoku Nasu, which apparently gained a cult following, with eight novels and more than seven animated films o date, with one novel unreleased, and a possible final film being released soon. It follows the story of a small group of people in late 1990 Japan, and tackles many mature subjects such as incest, rape, suicide, murder, and parricide, adding a paranormal twist to it. The main character, Shiki Ryougi, is a form of paranormal sleuth, dealing out her own form of vigilante justice through her knife, and her mysterious powers.
Throughout the movies, it is obvious that she and a second character (Mikiya) have some sort of unspoken relationship. Not only that, but as the prequels and sequels come in, we also learn about Shiki herself, and the mysteries surrounding her, such as her prosthetic arm, her entanglement with the paranormal, and in the latest movie, her connection to these people who target her.
To be honest, I wanted to watch all of the movies in one go. However, there were problems with my player, and the middle movies aren’t playing correctly. The movies I did see, however, were definitely interesting – each movie is directed by a new director (with some exceptions)- and the story and animation show that- but still, the story seems to flow well from chapter to chapter. Also, despite the fact that the movies skip along the timeline weirdly, they seem to do so in a way that answers the questions from the previous movie, and makes new questions that can be found through careful study.
I have not seen many other reviews on this series (Demolition D+ is the only one I’ve actually seen), but despite that, after seeing the first movie, I realized that it is in fact a classic. It inspired such series as Fate/Stay Night and Tsukihime, and the characters and plot points seem to be reminiscent in those series.
There’s not much more that I can say about this series, but I must say: watching Shiki break someone’s pupil with magic was awesome.
And now, without further ado, the scoring of Kara no Kyoukai.
Looking at my past posts, I realize this is actually the first Anime review I’ve published. So here’s a breakdown of the scoring system for anime:
-Plot / Story: how well-thought out the plot was, or how well the story arcs build into the main idea of the series. Out of 10.
-CD: short for Character Development. How characters develop, and how their relationships or interactions with other characters change them. Out of 5.
Art / Acting: based around character design, clothing and environment design, and above all, acting. Poor acting means a poor grade. Out of 10.
Rewatch Value: how tempted I would be to re-watch the series. Things like To Aru have a high rewatch value for me, while things like Helsing don’t. Out of 10.
Overall Rating: kind of self-explanatory. Based on the above factors (and my other personal feelings about the franchise or series) I will give the series a rating and an S through F grade, with high and low markers. Out of 50.
So, here is my score for Kara no Kyoukai: The Garden of Sinners (TVMA):
Plot: 7.5 out of 10
while I did like the story (and in the series’ defense, I watched the last movie first), there were times in the movies that I just couldn’t follow. Whether it is because of poor subbing, or if the language just didn’t translate well, it caused me to deviate, albeit a little, from paying attention to the plot. However, the parts that I could follow were definitely amazing – seeing the evolution of Shiki between the first and latest movies was definitely surprising, and it correlated well when watching the other movies in the series.
CD: 4 out of 5
Possibly the only slow character development that I can stand, TYPE-MOON uses each chapter to tell a different story that connects with the main characters, and almost always features a new character that helps flesh out the major characters. There still seems to be some characters that could use this (such as Bomberman Mitsuru in Future Blessing), but that could just be because I haven’t seen him in the other movies yet. Shiki especially changes throughout the series, going from a murderous introvert who hates socializing, to a young woman who can express some form of feeling.
Art / Acting: 10 out of 10
I may be generous in most of my reviews, but it is still rare for me to award a full score in any category. The art of each chapter evolved as the series grew older, and each director had a distinct but powerful difference in their interpretation of the series. Each actor seems to be carefully chosen for the role they portrayed, and each character seemed believable, from the simple Mikiya to the complex Shiki – even some of the less-major characters (Seo, Bomberman) seemed to have their own backstories in their voices. The clothing choice is interesting, and always complements the character it is chosen for; as for the environments, the distinct lack of high-tech devices in the 1990’s gives the series a nostalgic feel, like when we used to all have that huge cellphone from Nokia.
Rewatch Value: 8 out of 10
As I said before, while I couldn’t watch the middle chapters, the episodes I did see have stuck with me. Not to say, they were perfect, but Future Blessing and Overlooking View seem to have many hidden themes, which gives me the feeling that I missed something. In fact, I have watched Future Blessing four times, and each time, I notice something new. Although this is the case for many movies and series, I feel like this movie does it well, and in such a way that makes a watcher come back again and again (although, once again, it could be the different directors).
Overall Rating: 48 out of 50
I have to admit, I absolutely loved the series. From the symbolism to the scenes, the characters to the antagonists, Kara no Kyoukai peaked my interest, and kept my attention all through the movie. Usually when watching a movie (subbed or dubbed) I have the need to multitask – for the chapters that I have had the pleasure to watch, I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the screen. Many of the themes, characters, and basic ideas in the game were different – innovative, interesting, and above all, mysterious. I can’t honestly say that I have seen a better anime series, excluding Ghibli films, and even my favorite series can’t match up to this. Kara no Kyoukai is definitely a must watch, but only for the older audiences, as there are many violent, mature, and just plain disturbing scenes throughout each episode.
I’m not sure if there are DVDs available in North America or Europe, but the series is subtitled only, and there are a large number of Torrenters who you can get the series from. If you can find an official release for your country, however, I definitely recommend buying it.