Feb 4, 2009
Touka (All reviews)
Kara no Kyoukai 2 exceeds the first movie in almost every aspect. There is depth to Shiki that was absent before, new settings are introduced to a much more comprehensible degree, the supporting cast are more prominent and the writers - instead of being cryptic - present a largely compelling and well developed story, solidifying the series' true roots.

The first installment threw audiences into a mystery unfortunately dulled by the lack of depth to the characters, but the second installment lays down the groundwork, exploring the origins of Shiki and Mikiya. The story is well executed and - unlike in the first film - has a real sense of purpose, progression and development. It's a compelling origins story, where Shiki and Mikiya's relationship is genuinely captivating to watch unravel (especially given the eerie undertones); much more befitting as an introduction to the septenary.

The film chiefly explores Shiki and Mikiya alone, with little room for anyone else in the run-time, but the film still feels a lot more 'alive' than the first installment. The supporting cast are more pronounced, with the locations well explored; there's a better sense of the setting than before. Of the two main characters, Shiki is particularly well developed, we see her many sides and for the first time get a real understanding of who she is. Mikiya, on the other hand, comes across as rather dull and more a vessel to further explore Shiki than an important presence himself.

As in the first installment, the animation and art style remain consistently strong, though with more dialogue-heavy sequences this time around, it is perhaps not as dynamic. Nevertheless, the art is crisp and detailed - Shiki's eyes are ever-beautiful, as are the locations - with the staff exquisitely animating a number of terrific dramatic scenes. The visuals are impressive, though the cinematography could have been more absorbing, with certain shots becoming a little banal.

There's no stunning insert song this time around (though Mikiya hums Singin' in the Rain which is a nice little nod to a classic), but the background music is ever prominent. There are a number of immersive tracks that blend well with the visuals - ultimately creating some very coherent, well put together and atmospheric sequences - with the more uptempo tracks complementing the action sequences well.

Kara no Kyoukai 2 isn't a masterpiece, but it's a huge improvement over the first installment. It's a well constructed origins story with a lot of depth and promise, offering the series its groundwork. Here's hoping the septenary continues to climb.