A teenage girl, who possesses the "Mystic Eyes of Death Perception," a supernatural ability that allows the user to see the "death" of everything in existence and kill the object by destroying its "origin." She recently recovered from a two-year coma caused by a traffic accident. Prior to the traffic accident, she originally had two personalities, a male personality named Shiki (織), and the original female personality Shiki (式). Children born into the Ryougi family are generally male and are raised with two personalities, so the male personality is customarily called the "yang" personality, while the female is called the "yin" personality. It is easy to tell which Shiki is speaking at a given time because they both have a distinct style of speaking, most notably that the female Shiki refers to herself with the pronoun watashi (私), while male Shiki refers to himself as ore (俺). After waking from her coma, Shiki discovers that she can no longer feel the male Shiki's presence and assumes that he died because of the accident. She also feels a detachment from her memories before the accident, and while she knows she is Shiki, she does not feel that she is. In the hopes of regaining herself and the "dead" Shiki, she puts on a cold facade that somewhat resembles the male Shiki's and tries to act as the female Shiki did. Touko understands the sense of detachment Shiki feels, but considers the current Shiki a third, new personality.
The series is regarded as being set in the same world as another TYPE-MOON series, Tsukihime, with Aoko Aozaki's sister Touko Aozaki being featured in this series and the protagonist of the series, Shiki Ryougi, possessing the same abilities as Tsukihime's protagonist, Shiki Tohno.
Del Rey Manga announced in 2009 that they would be releasing the Kara no Kyoukai novels in English. However, the publisher went defunct before this could happen. The series has been published in Polish by Kotori since in April 2017.
Have you ever been so elated about a decision that you made which brought you an indescribable elation and great fruition to you?
Well, I, for once felt that joy when I opted to read the novel of Kara no Kyoukai (KnK) rather than watching the movie series first. Right after I read the novel, I watched the films (obviously, the animation just blew me away) and then the thought came to me that if I had watched the films first, then I could not have understood almost the entire story behind each and every incident that occurred in that world.
Story & Storytelling (9/10):
Totally, there are 7 different incidents that take place in 7 different timelines. These incidents form the crux of their respective stories and the entire plot revolves around these incidents in some way or the other even if you get the feeling that you are being dragged away from the main part of the story. Before you can even realize, you will be thrown into the story and you'll never see it coming. That's how great the storytelling was when it comes to KnK. The 5th chapter here deserves a special mention for its brilliant story narration and plot even though there will be many terms related to magic persisting in that world that we may not be familiar about.
Note that, the entire series takes place in an anachronical manner; meaning, the timelines are all jumbled up but it is safe to say that reading as it is will help in better understanding of the entire plot rather than opting for a chronological order while reading for the 'first' time. The storytelling is really nice and you will get hooked to the story in no time. The monologues from different characters are one to look out for, there were some thought provoking quotes from the various characters, the interactions between the characters were natural and even when you feel that the story is traversing in a roundabout way rather than plunging straight into the climax, you will end up realizing that it was all a necessity and worth the read. The way in which the story was told more than made up for the lack of art since this is a novel and not a manga.
To sum it all up in one word, the characterization was just brilliant. All the characters lived up to their roles and fulfilled them thoroughly. The protagonist on the male side is Kokuto Mikiya while the one who helms the role as the female protagonist is the ever-graceful Ryougi Shiki. There cannot be a character in the virtual world that oozes more beauty, grace and serenity than Shiki Ryougi. She basically runs the show in many chapters and just so you know, she is strong. Real strong. Equal importance is given to the people who are behind the incidents, their circumstances being explained thoroughly so as to leave no stone unturned. Like I said before, the monologues and the interactions are to be watched for.
The story revolves around Shiki, Mikiya and Aozaki Touko; the Chief of the place named Garan no Dou where Mikiya works and where Shiki is a regular customer. Touko is mainly present to clarify the doubts put forth by both Mikiya and Shiki (same doubts that arise in our mind while we watch/read KnK) where there is heavy involvement of magus, origin, sorcery and otherworldly beings. But, even she is forced into action in the 5th chapter or the 5th movie. Mikiya, who is peace-loving and a man filled with a sense of justice, is there to protect Shiki even at the cost of his life and is even ready to bear the sins that Shiki has committed. Even though the story is set in a non-chronological order, there are visible traits of character development; especially when it comes to Shiki Ryougi. I am forced to not reveal more about the characters as it might end up spoiling the fun and excitement for you but, that said, an extra amount of attention to the dialogues spoken by those who cause the incidents could be paid so as to have a mental experience of what they are undergoing or have undergone. The movie series makes use of this in the best way possible since it becomes a little difficult to grasp the feelings of the characters while reading a novel. This was how it was for me, at the least.
I would be lying blatantly if I say I didn't enjoy this novel and it would also be an understatement to say that both the KnK novel and the movie series were only 'good'. At times, since it is next to impossible to make the brain function with full concentration, some dialogues were difficult to grasp while even if the concentration was high, you cannot just help but wonder what is happening. A huge amount of never before heard words come in play in the 5th chapter and it just won't be enough if you were to skim/glance through all the dialogues if you are in the plan of reading the novel only once (although, sooner or later you'll pick it up again just for the sake of it).
Kara no Kyoukai was more or less unknown to the masses until 2004 wherein Kodansha officially published it. From then on, it went on to become a runaway hit and subsequently got the anime adaptation that it duly deserved to have. All the credits go to Kinoko Nasu and his hard work which is evident in the novel. This was the first work that I read in the much famed Nasuverse and his collection of novels, games etc and it truly was a memorable one.
For those who might be interested in reading/watching KnK in the correct, chronological order, 2 -> 4 -> 3 -> 1 -> 5 -> 6 -> 7 is the correct order based on the timelines.
An extra novel which is a sequel to the KnK series is Kara no Kyoukai - Mirai Fukuin. This too was a nice read and one to watch out for. My personal recommendation would be that, in order to have a good understanding of the story, the novel could be read first and then the films could be watched next. It can be done the other way around also so as to check if the films missed out on anything from the novels. Also, definitely do not miss out on watching the films because, everything about the films oozes with top quality. Be it the animation, the background score or the voice acting, everything has been crafted in such a way that it becomes difficult to detest this franchise.
One of the man trademark Aozaki Touko quotes:
It's a mistake to choose your path based upon the sins that you carry. We don't choose our path based on the sins that we carry, but we must bear our sins on the path we choose.
A couple of months ago, I reviewed the first Kara No Kyoukai movie. It’s the first time I started to feel comfortable with my reviews, as I am not the most proud of my earlier works. While I do feel I could’ve done a better job, I am otherwise mostly satisfied with it and all reviews that come after it. But now, it is time to bring this all full circle, as there is one more piece of Kara No Kyoukai media I need to cover. That of course, being the original Light Novel that started it all: Kara No Kyoukai: The Garden Of Sinners.
this is my first Light Novel review, I’m gonna set some ground rules. Firstly, all sections are gonna be completely ignored, all of it will be talked about at once. I’ll also be here to answer the question on whether or not it is worth reading even if you have already watched the animated adaptation, with the answer either being a yes or a maybe. So, let’s get to this.
Kara No Kyoukai is many things. On the one hand, it is a supernatural thriller. Every chapter features the cast in some way coming in conflict with the supernatural, some in more notable way than others. Often the cast have to figure out what is going on and who is behind it before most of the revelations unfold. The general tone is bleak, with the stuff seen here not being that far off what you would see in your average Seinen Manga like Berserk or Parts 7 and 8 of Jojo.
On the other hand, it also features multiple action scenes, which brings forward one things novels have over all visual media: The ability to make the simplest of things absolutely awesome. Seriously, they can make a guy simple slashing off another guy’s arm the most amazing thing ever due to the way it is described. This is why I am in favor of things being changed in adaptations, as some things do not translate well from one medium to another.
There are also multiple antagonists, as one would expect, all of them being at least somewhat sympathetic (Well, except Alba, he was just an asshole). Each of them get their own little arc all to themselves, with them often being the main focus of it. The story is also not told in chronological order… sorta. The first four arcs jump around all over the place in terms of the timeline, but the last four are all in chronological order. It’s all done well, with this clearly one big puzzle that’s waiting to be solved.
I won’t be covering the individual arcs as I’ve already reviewed their movie adaptations and my thoughts about those remain the same for this novel version. The exception, however, is the sixth arc: Oblivion Recording, which was widely changed in the movie version. The Light Novel version is darker, with most of the focus being on Shiki and her lost memories and the new, enigmatic villain, Kurogiri Satsuki. It’s still probably my least favorite arc, but I do like it more here.
That said, it is also about the journey of our main protagonist, Ryougi Shiki, and her coming to terms with her past and her present. She is an extraordinarily broken girl, bordering on sociopathic at points, and most of it revolves around the death of her other self. That self was the only companion she ever had, the only one she ever needed, and now she has nothing. Yet as the story goes on, she comes to realize that no, she is not alone, if only because her new companion is certainly more stubborn than the last.
There comes the series male lead and Shiki’s love interest, Kokutou Mikiya. He’s basically Shiki’s complete opposite, a normal, nice guy willing to help out even the scum of the Earth even if he is disgusted by them. He also continues the trend of Nasuverse male leads being extremely stubborn in the pursuit of their goals, as he will just go to hell and back to help Shiki out, even when she explicitely tells him to stay away. It’s admitadly part of what ultimately makes him likable, as he and Shiki do make good foils out of each other.
Yet in the end, Kara No Kyoukai is, ironically, a love story. An incredibly dark and twisted one for sure, but a love story nonetheless. Shiki and Mikiya’s relationship gets a lot of focus, with us seeing them grow from teens to young adults over the course of the three volumes. Part of the reason their relationship works so well is, ironically, because they are so different. Generally, when it comes to romances, my favorites are the kinds that are between two people who are extremely similar when you get down to it or between people who are total opposites, and these two firmly fall into the latter.
Yet ironically, in spite of all the darkness in it, Kara No Kyoukai is a surprisingly idealistic story, in the original sense of the word. The world isn’t a nice place, and life will be painful. But you know what? There’s also a lot of good in the world, and with enough hard work and dedication, people can truly achieve their goals and get the happy ending they deserve. And indeed, the story does ultimately end in unambiguously happy and beautiful note.
Now, is this worth reading if you’ve watched the Anime Adaptation by Studio Ufotable? Well… maybe. While the improved version of Oblivion Recording is a treat, the Anime is otherwise a borderline word for word adaptation of the Light Novel with very few divergences. Combined with the fact that this has yet to be imported, you’ll have to resort to unofficial sources in order to read it.
Either way though, Kara No Kyoukai is nonetheless worth it. While there are some missteps along the way, they are minor and frankly didn’t bother me too much. This may have been Nasu’s first work, but in my eyes, it remains his absolute best. I cannot express into words how much I recommend it.
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