Kara no Kyoukai – 5: watching a lesser Faulkner dancing

The fifth film is clearly delineated into three arcs. It takes a while to get used to with the anachronism and the montage of images, but a rewatch resolves a lot. The fact that backgrounds blend with one another pertain to the swiftness of time that Tomoe experiences in the first arc: at one point, he is at the cul-de-sac where he fights the bullies with Shiki; just a second later the image segues into Shiki’s apartment. In his arc, time melds into itself, although what is especially made obvious is the passage of time (one should always look at the clocks). Quite important during this arc is Tomoe’s statement that a house without a lock is not a home, one that will gain meaning later on. Time passes quickly, but without much happening.

Yin and yang

Yin and yang

It is also during this arc that one infers a murderous intent springing from the possession of the Mystic Eyes of Death Perception, and also the philosophy behind Shiki’s actions. Murder, to her, must possess meaning. Shiki’s feelings for Mikiya also become especially fleshed out: despite her apparent aloofness, she cares deeply for him and has tantrums because of him.

Tomoe eventually confesses to Shiki, but she receives this jokingly. She realizes the perception people have toward her, in addition to being unopen. He accedes to her even when her desire was for him to die: at least, it would be dying for someone. The presence of blood in Tomoe’s face signifies a reality that will be clarified later on. Aren’t dreams another reality of ours? This was what was tackled by James Joyce in Finnegans Wake: there is an entire existence of reality within our subconscious minds, a reality that familiarizes us with all of the world’s major languages and a reality that is nearly incomprehensible. Tomoe had already lost his future, and his actions with the bullies were his own death wish.

Everything only adds to our confusion when there have been no deaths reported after a week, in addition to Tomoe’s mom reappearing. Eventually, the gimmickry is revealed that they were mere puppets in the last day of their lives. The fact that there was no blood was Shiki’s method of seeing through the gimmickry. They have all died, and this was eventually seen with the visit to Tomoe’s real apartment, apartment 410.

His real death

His real death

A lot of the pieces will have been revealed with the end of the first arc: the purpose of Araya Souren’s creation of the hellish apartment, which is to test whether the spiral of daily life can be transcended by a mere human being; his desire for Shiki’s body, to attain the spiral of origin (I’m still not too sure whether all he wants are the Shiki’s eyes, which contain in them the origin of death itself, or her body).

I will probably fail if I attempted to summarize the film. It’s just something that has to be seen to be appreciated, and seen at least twice to be moderately understood. I’ll just note things that I wasn’t able to see during my first viewing that will hopefully bolster one’s understanding with regard to the movie.

Cornelius Alba’s power is the ability to put human brains into puppet bodies. Alongside Araya Souren, they both devised the magical experiment that Tomoe was part of as well. From what I understand, what’s so majestic about the Mystic Eyes of Death Perception is that these are able to see the origin of death; it can be argued that somehow, death is the source of every phenomenon, whether a chemical, organic, mystical, or magical death. It can be treated as a significant part of the origin.

Ryougi is the small spot of white or black in a sea of its opposite color. In Buddhism, it is recognized as the sea of rivalry, and is explained by Touko as the femininity of men, or the masculinity of some women.

I somewhat understood the movie more, and all I could note to finish this smorgasbord is that the reason of Araya’s defeat was the love of Tomoe for his family. It was what led to his escape from the spiral of daily life that Araya made, and led to Shiki finally clashing with Araya.

There’s a lot of depth in the film (arguably the best in the series), and I can only attempt to answer some of the questions in it. But it was most impressive: the anachronism and the puzzle-like storytelling resembling a spiral cohered well at its end. This series is slowly becoming one of my all-time favorites.

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One Response to “Kara no Kyoukai – 5: watching a lesser Faulkner dancing”

  1. Lehq Says:

    I like to draw parallel to the Dark Knight movie: base on basic plotline, you would probably expect the focus to be on the actions and fighting. As it turned out, no, what set shows like it apart from its genre is because of its focus. Dark Knight was enjoyable for me because of the dialogue, the conversations, the bits where a lot of people complain as being boring. In fact, the actual actions weren’t really important. Similarly, what set Kara no Kyoukai apart from the other Fantasy/Magic show is how the story is being executed. Especially, movie 5, which I really think has clinched the deal for being a true cinematic release. It was intriguing not just because of the concept’s development (the nature of Shiki’s eyes), but also because of the directing of the camera angles, like the little subtleties and the shift in perspectives before Shiki’s epic elevator exit. After all, when one mentions shows about Magic, you’ll almost always expect a bunch of people casting spells and causing plenty of explosions with colourful smoke, but not this anime. It’s not as myopic as that.

    I might add that the charm of Kara no Kyoukai comes from its unconventional storytelling: the anachronistic factor as you’ve mentioned, plus the somewhat theatrical, poetic style of speech; this movie is deep, but not overtly surreal or abstract. I actually preferred Kara no Kyoukai to say, Evengelion because it strikes a balance between symbolism and plot (and also not as depressing). The result is a movie that is both stylishly dark and with a Romantic tint but not quite Gothic, sophisticated and yet not quite so: really a paradox in its own rights.

    And oh, the yin/yang symbol is from Taoism rather than Buddhism (just a small nitpicking if you don’t mind). Cool article btw! 😀

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