*Stops rocking back and forth in a corner* It is here! *cough*
With the painstakingly long wait (at least for me) over, we can finally enjoy the fourth movie of this high quality production by ufotable. While overall it doesn’t offer as much action as many no doubt would like to see, it certainly doesn’t fail to deliver in the other aspects more than making up for that ‘loss’, as well as filling us in with the missing piece of timeline – what transpired after the events of movie 2. This one picks up where the second movie left off – Shiki just having suffered in a traffic accident after having chased Kokuto out on the road.
The exact details of the accident are uncertain, but whatever happened has put Shiki inside a paramedic vehicle rushing her towards hospital, while an obviously distraught Kokuto is accompanying them, having escaped the accident without any injuries himself. Her head being badly injured she has to undergo an immediate brain surgery, while Kokuto can do nothing but helplessly wait in the lobby, as the operation continues in the night. (Apparently this hospital doesn’t believe in leaving lights on in the reception area during the night).
The operation is successful and Shiki’s life has been saved. As much of a success as you can consider landing a patient in coma, but hey – at least she survived. As such time goes on; Kokuto keeps visiting her comatose body every day, while Shiki’s consciousness continues to drift in space filled with surreal imagery, disconnected from her body. As she stretches her hand for a light probably symbolizing exit, it instantly disappears, plunging her in deeper darkness.
As Shiki dreams, life continues to go on. Already graduated from school, Kokuto seeks out Touko’s office and applies for his job. As he comments the rather friendly Touko sounded different over the phone, she removes her glasses meeting him with a sharp tone and gaze, commenting how in this business it is often needed to switch between ‘personalities’ based on situation. As to the question whether she is making herself look more important or innocent, she would leave that up for Kokuto’s imagination. (She can be quite playful if she wants :))
As Shiki continues her floating in the endless space, she comes across what looks like another version of herself. As she tries to embrace the other half however, it evades her grasp and distances rapidly, fading in to the darkness, after which the comatose Shiki finally manages to open her eyes, having spent 2 years in coma.
It seems her almost inability to move after spending such a long time being comatose is not going to be of Shiki’s immediate concerns though – rather it would be her distorted vision, which perverts her perception of things, causing a number of mysterious lines appear across all that she sees.
As she reaches out to touch one of the flowers she sees distorted, she is struck by a strange sensation as soon as she does, rendering her unconscious. She is found moments later by a nurse doing her rounds, who immediately runs to inform the doctors of Shiki’s awakening. Meanwhile, the flowers she just touched besides her bed have withered, which should be a good hint what touching these ‘lines’ can accomplish.
Some time later Shiki is obviously struggling for her sanity, as she starts seeing objects – even people – breaking down right in front of her, sometimes in a rather unsightly notion. Confusion and struggle for her sanity due to her newfound vision leads to Shiki to almost gouging her own eyes out, which the doctors chalk up to her being confused. Incidentally this prevents Kokuto from being allowed to see her, as only family members are allowed in this ‘confused state’. (Incidentally, the nurses have started calling Kokuto ‘puppy-kun’, for how loyal he has stayed during these 2 years :))
Since Shiki actually hasn’t said a word since her awakening they are sending in a speech therapist, who turns out to be none other than Touko. (No doubt infiltrated using some shady ways). Shiki almost immediately picks up on the fact Touko is no therapist, as does Touko to the fact Shiki simply doesn’t want to talk to anyone else, as well as the fact that Shiki’s ‘other half’ (SHIKI) is now gone. Having shocked Shiki by that realization Touko comments she apparently came too soon and leaves.
Seems like no one intends to give Shiki some peaceful night’s sleep though, as she gets surrounded by a multitude of spirits at night. While is uncertain at this point what the spirits are after, immediate physical harm doesn’t seem to be the case.
The next day in her conversation with Touko they discuss SHIKI, and Touko comments she has never seen such a bizzare case of dual personalities, and calls it composite individual personalities. Instead of one personality ‘sleeping’ it seems both were always awake, in control … which is why now, after SHIKI’s disappearance, Shiki feels so estranged from her own body and persona – her memories feel the same, yet not at the same, because one half of her personality that was experiencing and ‘processing’ her past is gone. In a later conversation with Kokuto, Touko says that SHiki’s chest is like an open hole right now because of her confused state and being unsure about her own existence, which makes her an appealing target for all the stray thoughts and spirits wandering the hospital.
Enjoying some peace and quiet that night due to the protective ward against spirits Touko placed on her room, Shiki has time to angst over the news she was told during the day – that she will be discharged from the hospital and allowed to take off the bandages covering her eyes, as those have apparently healed from her previous stunt. Anguished about the possibility of her seeing those ‘lines’ again, Shiki is about to put out her own eyes when Touko barges in and stops her, realizing what Shiki’s eyes can see – eyes of death perception.
All things have flaws in their ‘design’ from the start – due to her near death experience Shiki has acquired the ability to see those flaws, and she spent enough time balancing the line of life and death to understand what they mean, hence if she traces those lines she is capable of ‘killing’ anything. Touko says it would be a waste to lose those eyes and that she will teach Shiki how to use them, but Shiki retorts she has no will to live, which causes Touko to chastise her and then leave with a question “Did SHIKI truly die for nothing”.
Time to ponder that over Shiki does not have however, as what can basically be described as zombie barges in her room, somehow broken Touko’s protective charm, and proceeds to strangle Shiki while salivating like a rabid dog.
Realizing she does not wish to die after all Shiki is not about to give up, and jumps out the window together with the zombie, using it as a cushion to soften her landing and immobilizing it for a moment. Once down she meets Touko who comments it as her mistake; apparently the spirits possessing a body to get to Shiki was something she hadn’t predicted, as they are usually not that smart. She uses an incantation and sets the zombie on fire, but to little avail, as it doesn’t seem to mind; apparently non-living things are tough to kill, and Touko advises to retreat, but Shiki says she will kill it, living or not.
Having removed the bandage over her eyes Shiki dashes forward and engaging the zombie briefly and sending it tumbling. IN midst of battle Touko throws her a knife we all know, with which Shiki first proceeds to cut her own long hair as it was getting in the way. (A shame, really ….long hair SHiki was not bad at all).
After letting the zombie get up close and personal again Shiki proceeds to make quick work of it, using her death perception and reducing the zombie to a smoking pile of …something on the ground.
It isn’t over however, as the spirit concentration that was possessing the zombie shoots up and quickly envelops Shiki while the later is off-guard. She manages however to stab herself in the chest, actually targeting the spirit inside her, which puts an end to that phenomenon this time for sure. After that she takes on Touko’s offer on teaching her how to use the eyes properly and agreeing to help Touko with her work after confirming one her condition is being met.
Shiki: “Can i kill people?”
The next day Shiki wakes up she finds Kokuto right next to her, rather worriedly asking if she remembers who he is. After a few seconds of hesitation (i swear she is doing it on purpose to see him squirm!) she says his name, which almost sends him on the verge of crying from happiness. As she is lying there on the bed Shiki contently thinks how there is something that didn’t change after all – how he was the only one waiting for her, only one protecting her.
Overall i once again can offer little besides praise for the movie, much like the previous installations. Whatever small flaws there can be found (for the sake of argument) are so overshadowed by the exceptional production qualities they are easily forgotten and ignored. The movie once again crafts an immersing mood, which is contributed towards to nicely by both the exceptional cinematography and animation quality (that rain … my eyes were screaming orgasm) as well as some extremely fitting music by Yuki Kajiura. (If Shinkai is the god of ungodly animation, this guy must be the same for music).
Plot wise it moved rather slow as expected, but it was fitting for the mood and the development stage. We get the explanations on how the ‘wild card’ Shiki from second movie ended up working together with Touko, the loss of her ‘second personality’ SHIKI, which explains its absence in 1st and 3rd movies and how she obtained the eyes of death perception which seemed lacing in the 2nd. Overall a solid job of storytelling and character building, which once again leads me to rocking back and forth in my corner while awaiting the next installment. (Which, if the preview is any indicator, should feature more action and some quite interesting appearances.).
All in all, as expected of Kara no Kyoukai – one of the best recent experiences. (once again). This will be a long wait…