Feb 3, 2009
Archaeon (All reviews)
Kara no Kyoukai review Part 3

Sometimes you have to take a step back in order to make any progress, and in a sense that's exactly what happens with the third installment of Kara no Kyoukai ~The Garden of Sinners~. After Satsujin Kosatsu Part 1 viewers may have been under the impression that the franchise would progress in a way that would allow for a degree of linearity with the development of the characters, but it seems like TYPE-MOON have their own agenda, and they're sticking to it.

Set a mere two months after the events in the first movie, Tsuukaku Zanryuu (Remaining Sense of Pain), focuses on a young girl named Asagami Fujino, and begins with quite a brutal scene in an abandoned underground bar. Through seemingly random chance Fujino meets Kokutou Mikiya, who finds her huddled in an alleyway and takes care of her for a night, only to find her gone the next morning. Meanwhile, there is a report of a gruesome murder, and Aozaki Touko asks Ryougi Shiki to capture the suspected perpetrator. Shiki sets out to find the culprit, but doesn't check any background information as she believes they will try to kill each other when they meet.

The strange thing about Tsuukaku Zanryuu is that even though there is a degree of predictability to certain events, the plot only really makes sense in hindsight. The events in this episode may initially seem disjointed and without reason, but this is actually a pretty interesting method of storytelling as it requires a degree of intuivity from the viewer. That said, there is a slightly aimless quality to the storyline at certain points which can slow proceedings down to almost a crawl, but the plot is quick to pick up the pace and the latter half of the movie moves along at a fair clip.

The art and animation in this installment are actually a step up for Ufotable. Given the quality they've shown in the previous two outings it's difficult to believe that they could actually outdo themselves, but they've managed it with their efforts here. The animation is top-notch throughout, and the various action sequences are superbly detailed without suffering any major loss in quality. The CG is rendered and integrated very well, and is almost indistinguishable from the traditional animation in many sequences.

The character designs haven't really changed much from the first movie where two of the leads and Touko are concerned, the only difference being an increase in the variety of expressions for both Shiki and Kokutou. Unfortunately it seems as though there has been a step backwards when it comes to the design of Fujino, and while she may appear to be a fairly well realised character, there is an impassive quality to her features which is sometimes at odds with her speech or actions.

The voice actors are, once again, extremely good. Suzumura Kenichi (Kokutou Mikiya), hasn't had much of a chance to shine thus far in the series, but several scenes in this episode allows him to show some of his quality. Sakamoto Maaya once again brings out the best in Shiki, and it's surprising how much she has settled into the role of the "psychogirl". There's also a very good performance from Noto Mamiko in the role of Fujino, which is ironic as it's her ability to act that highlights the issues with the character design.

The effects are pretty good throughout the movie, but like Satsujin Kousatsu Part 1 there are occasions where the noises and music clash, and this can be a little harder on the eardrums than before due to the action based nature of this episode. That said, the overall quality and choreography is a step up from the previous two installments, and some efforts have been made to resolve the niggling issues with timing that have pestered the series thus far. This also applies to the background music which, like before, follows the usual themes of sombre and dramatic, and it seems as though the tracks are more suited to their purpose in Tsukakuu Zanryuu, but that may be due to the new pieces on offer rather than any inherent improvement.

It should come as no surprise though, that the one area where the movie falls down is with the characters. Fujino is fairly well realised on the whole, and possesses a surprising amount of depth thanks to some great acting and very good scripting. The problem is that while Shiki and Kokutou receive some new development, it's not nearly enough to satisfy viewers and fans. There continues to be little to no justification for their actions throughout the narrative, and while there is an effort to garner audience participation in order to make the story work, this does not automatically mean that viewers are willing to fill in the blanks where the characters are concerned. In addition to this there is a distinct lack of Touko in this episode, and her presence in this movie is relegated to bit parts, which seems a little odd as she is an integral part of both the lead character's stories, so one would assume that the series would allow more screentime so that the audience would get a better perspective on her.

Even with that flaw though, this is still a highly enjoyable addition to the series. The action sequences are enough to satisfy any junkie of the genre, and fans of Kara no Kyoukai will be pleased to see some different sides to Shiki and Kokutou.

Now, bring on the trumpets and the fourth installment.