Kara no Kyoukai 1: Fukan Fuukei Review: Spirits in the Sky
So about two weeks ago, a couple of friends came over to my house and we decided to just watch a bunch of random anime episodes (well, the friend who watched anime and I at least, my other friend didn’t really care all too much). Most of it was just a bunch of random first episode stuff: my friend showed me the first episodes of Yuru Yuri and Watamote, while I insisted on watching the first episode of Chihayafuru because another friend has told me a great deal about how amazing the series is. I still have a lot I’m planning to see, so I probably won’t finish up on those for some time, but I do intend to return to them in due time. That said, there are two things that I made pretty decent progress on, the first of which would be Kara no Kyoukai 1: Fukan Fuukei. Well, to be honest, this was a first episode too, but considering this is a set of seven movies I figured it doesn’t count in quite the same way. It’s something I’ve been meaning to get to for a while and the movie has its own entry on MyAnimeList, so why not? Anyway, having finished the first movie…..I wasn’t really too sure what to think. It’s complicated, and probably supposed to be that way, but it’s still pretty strange.
So the story basically focuses on the events surrounding the suicides of a number of high school girls, all of whom jump off the Fujou Building. Of course, as it happens, there are some supernatural issues involved with what’s going on, so our resident protagonist Shiki Ryougi ends up looking into it. Shiki finds the ghosts of the girls floating above the building, along with the figure of another girl as well. The situation gets more complicated when her friend Mikiya Kokutou ends up comatose after going to the Fujou Building himself, and Shiki becomes much more fixated on figuring out what’s going on. As such, Shiki goes to eliminate the ghosts, stopping the mysterious suicides and rescuing Kokutou above all else.
Sound strange? Well, to be honest, it was very confusing for me, and pretty hard for me to follow. The story is a bit unusual because the movie basically just jumps into the action without a whole lot of exposition. You get a vague idea of Shiki and Kokutou being friends, Kokutou working with Touko Aozaki (another character present for most of the movie, though she doesn’t do a whole lot in this one), and a few other plot points that take place, but a lot of it felt really difficult for me to follow because things just happened without a whole lot of development. I can’t even say that complexity is the right word for it all (what happens itself is pretty straightforward, just that a lot seems to go really fast and suddenly), rather than much just being unexplained. That said, however, I’ve heard that the movies are actually told out of chronological order, and as such I shouldn’t expect to understand everything right away. With this in mind, I feel it’s too early to criticize the story and am thus going to wait for some of the other movies before I decide just what I think.
The characters didn’t get to develop much at all in this movie, and understandably so seeing as how there are still 6 more movies ahead, but I was a bit disappointed not really feeling connected with the cast. Shiki comes off as one of those cold, strong female characters, and obviously there’s probably a lot more to expect from her as the story continues but she doesn’t exhibit much else beyond that. Kokutou, on the other hand, seems to be the ordinary, caring kind of guy and it’s clear that he and Shiki are close. That said, the background between the two is not explained, and as I’m aware this is actually covered in the next movie (which takes place years prior) so I’m curious about the deal with these two. It seems that Touko is also supposed to be important as well, though aside from a bit of philosophical discussion in the movie there isn’t a lot of her to see. Seeing as how the first movie really is only a preview to it all, I don’t feel it would be fair to be too harsh on the overall lack of character development, especially considering the short length of the movie and unconventional storytelling of the series. The characters do express some potential, though I can’t be sure what will become of it.
Truth be told, my knowledge of the Kara no Kyoukai series was (and remains) fairly limited. All I really know about it is that it’s a Type-Moon work, ufotable animated the movies, and it’s supposed to be similar to Tsukihime. The first two bits of info are the main reason this series caught my eye, and the third one doesn’t do me any good since I still have yet to try Tsukihime out. If there’s anything I can say about Fukan Fuukei, it’s that it radiates potential. Even though I wasn’t captivated by the story or characters in this movie, it did a great job of establishing the atmosphere for the critical scenes and the tension is very convincing when it needs to be. It also helps that the movie has fantastic production values, especially when I stop to consider the fact that this movie was actually released in 2007. I knew to expect great visuals after having seen how amazing Fate/Zero looked, but I really am impressed by Fukan Fuukei’s presentation and I imagine it will stay this way in the later installments.
To put it simply, Fukan Fuukei was a weird experience for me, and I’m honestly not sure what to make of it. If this were a standalone work I’d probably mark it down a lot more, but considering the fact that this is but a small portion of the series ahead, as well as the potential it does seem to exhibit, I can’t be too harsh on it. To make a quick comparison, I remember being utterly confused by the first episode of Baccano and had no idea what was going on, but by the end everything made sense and I could truly appreciate its storytelling method in retrospect. Perhaps this shall be the same as well? In any case, I settled with giving Fukan Fuukei a 7/10. The first movie was a very strange watch, but strange might not be such a bad thing. In any event, it’s way too early for me to decide how I feel about Kara no Kyoukai, and I expect it won’t be until at least movie 4 that I really have an idea of my opinion on it all. Then there’s the fact that I’ve been told that movies 5 and 7 are the best ones, so it looks like I have quite a bit to watch before I really find out what makes this series so special to its fandom. Lots for me to see, but I can’t wait to watch through more and find out about all those hidden details that I just can’t grasp with the first movie alone.