Even though I came out of the first Kara no Kyoukai film with something of a negative reaction, upon finishing the seventh and final film I can quite easily say that it’s been a fine ride. A bumpy ride, mind you, but I more or less enjoyed it. However, more so than the characterization or stories, where these films really impressed me was in their sheer technical excellence.
But before I lavish praise upon these movies, let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first–I hate Nasu Kinoko. Well, I don’t hate him personally, as I’ve never met him. I’m sure he’s a fine gentleman. In fact, I don’t really hate his work on its own, but the animal cries of fanboys have changed my indifference into hatred. And it’s not as if the stories he writes are bad–they’re not, really. They may be be boring or a touch simple, but they’re not bad. What I don’t like is how he layers on a bunch of mumbo-jumbo dialogue that makes no sense, and warps otherwise simple tales into something way more complex. This actually works for some of the episodes, like the 100% awesome fifth episode which felt like a total ’80s anime throw back, but at best his style is a slight annoyance one has to deal with while admiring some of the most beautiful animation ever produced, and at worst it’s annoying as hell. I probably wouldn’t be too annoyed about this if I didn’t know there were hundreds of fanboys stroking their cocks to this same shit. Anyway.
These movies are awesome in every other way! The animation is awesome! The direction is awesome! The music is awesome! Think about it–there hasn’t been much in the way of big-budget anime productions lately. Giant Robo was probably the last time the anime industry considered doing a huge OVA project like this, and we all know how that went down. (If you don’t know how it went down, it was awesome, but it took 10 years to make.) With that in mind, along with the fact that the world is in financial turmoil right now, it’s easy to understand why we don’t see the same volume of long-form, big budget OVA project that we saw in the 1990s. And that’s why these movies are a breath of fresh air technically.
The animation across all of these movies is downright sex. I’m no animation expert like all of the sakuga-nerds out there, but I know pretty moving pictures when I see them, and these pictures are fucking pretty. What Kara no Kyoukai does is create a world that’s super real–the backgrounds contain a fetishistic amount of detail, and character movements are vivid and lifelike. However, in the world of Kara no Kyoukai, the lights shine a little brighter, the darks are a little darker, and the movement is a little smoother. Hence the “super”. This beautiful super reality illustrates the super-real events of these movies perfectly, and it shines its brightest during action sequences.
The action across all of these movies is some of the best animated action I’ve ever seen. It’s expertly choreographed, clever, and ever so smooth. Never has cutting people up looked so beautiful, and almost gentle in a way. Sequences that involve moving the background around a lot are especially impressive, and very cinematic. Everything just comes together perfectly visually in these movies starting from the thin lines on the character lineart, the strong colour palette, the mystical glow of the lights, to the fluid-as-water animation. It’s damn near perfect, and actually is perfect a lot of the time.
All of these amazing cuts of animation are framed and directed wonderfully, as well. A lot of the movies struck me with their beautiful storyboarding which at times brought to mind the better episodes of Evangelion. I don’t remember much in the way of old-school, maniac Shinbo-style compositions, but a lot of the shots in Kara no Kyoukai are simply framed very well. The wonderfully haunting score complements all of these shots very well, and creates a tone that’s perfect for what’s going down on screen.
If it’s not clear enough from those 700 words, what I’m trying to say is that these movies are fucking awesome, except for the story and characters parts, which are just okay. Well, they’re not to my taste. Anyway, I highly recommend Kara no Kyoukai simply for the high level of technical execution alone, even if you don’t care for Nasu’s crap. But since I’m in the minority here, you probably do.
So watch them!
(And just to piss off the Nasu lapdogs some more, the only other exposure I’ve ever had to the man’s work was the Fate/Stay Night anime.)