[Guest post] Anime review: Kara no Kyoukai – The Garden of Sinners

This month’s guest post is about the anime Kara no Kyoukai – The Garden of Sinners and it’s written (again) by our collaborator TuxEGP. TuxEGP writes:


And I’m back again, thanks for the feedback about my last article, really, it was even rebloged. I couldn’t believe, it gave me the motivation to write once again. So, here we go!

Before talking about the anime itself, I want to say some things about the Studio and the writer behind it.

First, Kara no Kyoukai was produced by UFOtable, the best animation studio of Japan. Seriously, look at every work of them, be it an old or new one, all have the best animations of its year. One of their animes have doubled the budget of the average anime budget, and it was amazing (I’ll get to it later, in a future post)! Every work is a piece of art, so Kara no Kyoukai is no exception. I don’t really need to say anything about the animation or the design, they speak for themselves.

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Now, talking about the man behind it, well, I guess most of you have heard (or are watching) this anime that was finished last season, Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works (also produced by UFOtable and it has the best animation I’ve seen on an anime, and this isn’t a onverstatement. Fate/Stay Night UBW was part of a visual novel released in 2004, but I’ll get to it when talking about the Fate franchise. It was written by Kinoko Nasu, he wrote a great number of works, all of them happen in the same universe (called by the fans Nasuverse). So, they share the same “laws” and sometimes they even cross paths with each other, the thing is the work that started it all, all of the mythology and laws (and those two are really, really extensive) was Kara no Kyoukai, a series of light novels released digitally in a blog in 1998. It was the first work of Nasu (but not the first prototype), it reached a certain amount of popularity, but only in the year of 2007 an anime was announced. It would be divided in 7 movies and would follow the original story the way it was (the chapters in the light novel are out of chronological order), and here we are with this masterpiece.

The protagonist, Ryougi Shiki

The protagonist, Ryougi Shiki

Kara no Kyoukai takes place between 1995 and 1999, telling the story of Ryougi Shiki. After waking up from a coma she discovers she has the ability to see the “Lines of Death” of the things. When she touch these lines, she kills the thing. In posession of this power, she decides to help Aozaki Touko, a paranormal investigator doing a series of jobs along with her childhood friend Kokutou, a guy that knows Shiki since they were classmates. However, due to an accident Shiki doesn’t remember what happened in that time and Kokutou decides to hide the truth from her.

There is one more thing, Shiki has another special characteristic in her that makes her so special as a character, emotionally speaking, but that’s a huge spoiler.

Again, as it was with Ergo Proxy (read more), pretty much everything past this point is spoiler, but what I can say is: the first movie is about one of those “jobs” in the city, there’s a case of a great number of girls committing suicide by jumping off of a building, passing by it at night. Shiki sees some spirits floating around and is attacked by the one behind the suicides, the antagonist then puts Kokutou in comatose and Shiki needs to save him and stop the suicides.

The chronological order of the movies is: 2, 4, 3, 1, 5, 6, 7. But the “correct” way to watch them is the order of release, it was meant to be that way, maintaining the suspense until the last second. Also, some of them contain spoilers about the others, so watching in the chronological order will give you spoilers (be warned).

It has a great character developement, specially in the second movie, because it shows how everything begun and the fifth one. Seriously, it’s my favorite!

Besides the great plot and animation, Kara no Kyoukai has a heavenly good soundtrack. Some of you might know the musical trio Kalafina, that produces music for a great number of animes (like the opening of Aldnoah Zero, the ending of both Fate/Zero and Fate/Stay Night UBW and the ending of Puella Magi Madoka Magica). The group was created (hell yeah!) for the OST of the Kara no Kyoukai movies, every movie features musics from the trio and every one of them is fantastic. They fit perfectly well in the movies, both the action/drama scenes and the openings/endings.

The movies have an average duration of 50 min, some of them have more and some have less, so you can perfectly watch more than one in a row (I watched 4 of them in an evening).

At last but no least, Kara no Kyoukai is a great anime for fans of suspense, supernatural, thrillers, good character developement and a good Seinen, taking its plot seriously (well, there’s a character in the sixth movie… But that’d be spoiler too) and great moments, helped by a perfect animation and a great OST. I’m sure you’ll not regret seeing it.

Here’s a video to show how great the animation combined with the soundtrack is (relax, it’s spoiler free):

[Guest Post] Anime review: Ergo Proxy

This week’s Guest Post was written by our contributor TuxEGP and it’s about an anime called Ergo Proxy. I hope you enjoy! 🙂


By TuxEGP

There is a great variety of anime out there. Some of them just pass by, leaving no message nor legacy at all. Some are made just for the purpose of entertaining (and they are very good at it) and there is a third kind – the ones that make you rethink about the world and your own beliefs while maintaining a great plot. Ergo Proxy enters in that third category.

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“EP” is a science-fiction, with cyber-punk and psychological elements story, produced by Manglobe studio and written by Dei Sato.

It is highly praised by its visuals and animations (one of the best of 2006), characterized by its darker tone and an amazing soundtrack, both of ambient noises and thriller/action musics composed by Yoshihiro Ike.

It’s heavily influenced by philosophical themes, such as Descartes’ Dream Argument (which states that we cannot know if this world is but a dream before waking up of it) and its Cogito, Ergo Sum (“I think, therefore I exist.”) phrase. The whole story could be summed up by saying it is a search for truth, truth about who you are, about the world you’re living, about the people around you and about the importance of your past. And those questions are answered… well, kind of.

The plot is set in the future, after an ecological disaster that made almost all humans in the world die and making the Earth itself unable to sustain life, becoming a toxic place falling apart with only a few signs of having already sustained life as we know it. The few reminiscent humans built domed cities, with high technology and sustainability, in order to survive until the planet recovers.

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To help them, they create android-like machines called AutoReivs, the AutoReivs serve for many purposes, from domestic(those are called “Companion”) usage to military combat (know as “Entourages”), they are able to live peacefully and the world seems to have found peace again, and so life continues for a few thousands of years.

The story begins with Re-L (pronounced “Real”) Mayer, an inspector of the Citizen Intelligence Bureau of Romdeau City, charged to investigate along with her AutoReiv partner, Iggy. A series of murders committed apparently by AutoReivs infected with the Cogito virus (a virus that makes AutoReivs self-aware, thus becoming crazy and here comes part of Decartes’ philosophy. During the anime there are some infected AutoReivs and all of them act in a different manner, embracing or hating the curse of self-awareness).

During her investigations, she encounters with an unknown creature, that appears to affect AutoReivs around it. After finishing her work and going home, in the bathroom she finds out a message in the mirror and then she’s suddenly attacked by another monster that makes her faint.

While those events occur, a man called Vincent Law (who’s an immigrant from Mosk dome working for Romdeau’s AutoReiv Control Division), set up to hunt the infected AutoReivs appears to suffer from some kind of amnesia about everything he has done before coming to Romdeau. Later is also found he is related to the Proxies and the attack at Re-L’s house.

Everything past this point would be too much spoiler, but what I can add is: Re-L, Vincent and another character called Pino, (probably one of the most human characters you will ever see), go out on a journey. And although they may start in the same path, they also have different answers and outcomes. As the story goes, the plot becomes more entwined untill reaching its climax, where everything is revealed.

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The reason why I like it so much is because the story is so unique, the characters are very contrasting and it takes itself seriously (different from a lot of recent animes with so much comic reliefs, Ergo Proxy is surely one hell of a serious story, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its moments of fun) and it has a slow pace, so you can absorb everything properly.

It also has a lot of moments where the characters need to confront with their real selves and go through the process of accepting the fact that reality may be hurtful, but the truth is more important than any plastic-fake world. It’s cool because makes you think about your own world and who you think you are, making it stuck in your head even after finishing it.

Despite its lack of action, it has a high amount of suspense, filled with moments where your jaw will fall (for the good and the bad).

It also is full of references (like the name of some of the characters being names of real philosophers such as Kristeva, Derrida and Berkeley) or its ending music, Paranoid Android by Radiohead (a really cool band if I can say so). Its lyrics talk about what is like for a robot to gain self-awareness (like the ones in Ergo Proxy with the Cogito virus) and the fact that they disrespect the so called Laws of Robotics (created by Isaac Asimov), which states (among other things) that robots cannot attack humans. The opening music, Kiri by Monoral is pretty much about Vincent’s character as a whole, and is also very good.

One point I think should be considered is that it’s one of the few animes that have a REALLY good english dub. Seriously, the voices may sound to you even better than the originals (given the fact no character in Ergo Proxy has any trace of being Japanese or Chinese).

At least, the anime is heavily influenced by western culture, so much that it doesn’t hold almost anything of Japanese culture, making it a good shot to show to a friend that isn’t much into the weird (but cool) Japanese culture, a point I’d also like to show is that Re-L design was based upon Amy Lee, the vocalist of Evanescence in the cover of the album Fallen.

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Re-L and Amy Lee from Evanescence’s Fallen album cover

Ergo Proxy, unfortunately, isn’t made for everyone. The plot requires a lot of attention and some may find its slow pace and lack of action boring, but it’s one of those shows where the result is always bigger than the sum of the pieces.

If you’re looking for an epic, something to make you think or simply a very complex story with great plot-twists, Ergo Proxy is the right one.