When planning my trip over here to Glorious Nippon, I had initially scheduled something very foolish. That is, I thought that I’d be able to go catch Kara no Kyoukai on the night of the 28th at the 10pm showing, despite having to be up the next day at 6 for comiket. I’m not entirely sure why I thought that this would be remotely possible, but I didn’t give up on this plan until about 2 hours before the movie that night as I was laying down onto my futon, about to sleep for a good 10 hours. Thankfully, the film gods had blessed me, as one of Tokyo’s thriving second-run theaters picked the movie up for another 3 weeks or so. (I don’t exactly know why they’re only showing this in one theater at a time, maybe they only made one film print to distribute?? This is probably projected anyway, so whatever.)
Long story short, I got to go see Kara no Kyoukai first thing in the morning (9:40) yesterday in Ikebukuro. I was very impressed by it.
I’m sure going into the movie with fairly low expectations helped this, since I’m a male on the internet, and therefore a contrarian prick. I mean, the director of Girls Bravo and not much else with animation by ufotable, creators of… Coyote Ragtime Show and Manabi Straight? (note that I haven’t seen either of these shows, please don’t kill me omo) Also, Type-Moon properties haven’t really had the best track record when it comes to anime adaptations. Of course, I now notice that the animation director for Death Note and the art director for a whole bunch of good anime were on-board, but that’s enough looking at ANN for one review. (wait, before we leave — you did notice Mad Bull on that last link, right? Good, just making sure.)
I went into the film not having read the novel/the translation of the novel, so I was really going into this blind. Since it’s customary, a short plot summary (spoilers may follow): A string of teenagers committing suicide by jumping off of the same building is taking place in late-90s Japan. Our heroine, Shiki, tries to find out exactly what’s going on, mostly because the object of her tsundere affections, Mikiya, has fallen into some sort of coma and for some reason they just know that this is linked. Maybe if I was more familiar with the Nasuverse then I’d know why this is obvious, but I’m assuming it’s just because all of the main characters in Type-Moon works are super-powerful badasses. Anyway, I’ll spare you from any more plot summary and potential spoilers here, the novel link is 4 lines up.
Speaking of super-powerful badasses, Shiki. This isn’t whiny eroge lead who can cut anything male Shiki, but tomboy amnesic tsundere who can cut anything female Shiki. I will make this clear right now: my favorite female leads are the ones who can unapologetically kick ass (note that this does not say “punch to the moon”), which T-M tends to do well. In other words, I am so fucking moe for Shiki.
Shiki actually gets a good portion of the 50 minutes that this thing runs, including a nice 90 second stint where she eats ice cream with one arm. (MOEEE.) Of course, this thing has a very limited cast, so that’s not much of a surprise. We get a few stretches of pseudo-philosophical talk, some interesting on a base, romantic level, some rehashed GitS-style “WHAT IS A MAN” stuff. Thankfully, there are some really beautiful backgrounds and generally well-framed shots that can keep your attention through that business. The high visual quality is a constant throughout the film, especially in the huge action payoff a little more than halfway through the thing, which I might pay the thousand yen just to see again. It might not be Paprika-level “jesus christ everything is so colorful and moving and oh god my eyes” stuff, but it was exceedingly fun.
In fact, you know what? Had I not decided to spend a month’s tuition in order to buy and watch Honneamise (worth every penny), this would be the best anime movie I’ve seen in 2007, in terms of overall satisfaction. Seriously, erect dorsal hairs everywhere like you would not believe. Don’t get me wrong, this movie definitely has its flaws. The story is essentially a standard Japanese ghost story in the Type-Moon world, and as I said earlier, some of the dialogue may make the more cynical of us roll our eyes a fair amount. Of course, this is just one movie of seven, and it does work fairly well as a general introduction to the characters/prologue. I think it might be worthwhile to note that I did go back and read the novel translation to make sure that I didn’t miss anything, and I thought that this adaptation was way better. It could have just been the translation. Who knows. Maybe I’ll go and read the novel in Japanese when I turn 30 and get my JLPT1, if they still offer JLPTs in the nuclear wasteland of 201x.
If you couldn’t gather it from the rest of the review, or if you just skipped down to the bottom to see my overall reaction (hypothetically–I know no one actually reads this): I’d say that anyone who is not terribly averse to the whole post-Eva Guy Animes About Girls stuff should check this one out. I know you’re going to download it anyway, so you’ll be out a measly fifty minutes of your life in the worst case. I’ll just be hoping for a HD release to buy to make up for your pirating ass.