Aired: December 1, 2007
Duration: 50 minutes
I’ll be honest; so far I’ve found the summer anime season a bit of a drag. Apart from Shingeki, I haven’t really been sucked into any shows to the point where I can’t wait until the next episode comes out. As a result, I’ve been looking for other shows to fill the gap. I’m not entirely sure, but I think my cousin may have suggested I watch Kara no Kyoukai a long time ago, however I never ended up giving the series much thought at the time. Yesterday, I was scrolling through my Facebook feeds when I saw a post from TheIshter, a great pianist, about his anime backlog. On that list was Kara no Kyoukai, and upon reading the comment section a lot of people were saying really good things about the movies so I decided to check them out.
Kara no Kyoukai 1: Fukan Fuukei’s premise revolves around a string of mysterious school girl suicides at the Fujou bulding, a skyscraper soon to be demolished. The story follows a girl named Shiki as she discovers the mystery behind the suicides. That’s all I’ll say to avoid spoiling the mystery; something that MyAnimeList’s synopsis does extremely well. Luckily I almost never read the summaries on MAL so I lucked out.
The Kara no Kyoukai series is kind of odd in the fact that it is split into seven different movies; most of which are around 50 minutes long, except for movie 5 and 7 which are around 2 hours in length. Since the movies don’t follow chronological order, the way they’ve sectioned off certain chucks of time into each movie makes sense. For example, the first movie’s events take place in 1998, while the second movie takes place in 1995, and the third movie returns to 1998. The story flows so well that it would seem odd if each part was split into two episodes instead of 50 minute sections.
Although I really enjoyed watching the movie, something that the first Kara no Kyoukai movie does extremely well is confuse you. You’re basically dropped right into the thick of the story without any idea who the main characters are; all you know is that Shiki doesn’t like ice cream from some reason. It basically stays that way too, for the entire movie. Little information is given about the characters’ pasts and you see little to no character development; though I suppose you can’t really expect too much from what is basically a really long first episode in a series. Furthermore, although the mystery is revealed by the end, there is still a lot left unexplained concerning both Shiki and the assailant that leaves you rather confused.
What Kara no Kyoukai does exceedingly well in my opinion is create a dark, foreboding lonely atmosphere. In fact everything in the movie seems to be centered around creating a feeling of isolationism from the rest of the world: from the exceedingly small cast of characters, to the choice of having daytime events take place in the small, cramped office Touko works in, the exclusion of the hustle and bustle of regular life, and the dark and gritty cityscape around the Fujou buidling that seems like it’s been abandoned for years; yet, the viewer knows that this section of the city must be tread upon quite often if the suicide victims are discovered. Of course the choice to create this kind of atmosphere makes perfect sense since it reflects exactly what the plot focuses on; the suicides.
Most of the film is constituted by Touko and Shiki looking into the mystery of the suicides, with a small bit of action mixed in. I found the dialogue to be incredibly interesting so I wasn’t disappointed by the fact that the action scenes were limited and kept short. I felt that they were placed at exactly the right moments where the suspense reached its peak and they definitely didn’t disappoint. The action flowed seamlessly and it seems like the quality of the animation was raised during the last action sequence.
Overall I really enjoyed this movie and couldn’t wait to start the others after I finished watching. As a standalone film it feels incomplete since a lot is left unanswered, but one must consider that it is basically like a long first episode in a series. Not much is answered in first episodes; rather they are meant to lay a basis for the rest of the episodes to come.