[Anime] Kara No Kyoukai: Boukyaku Rokuon (Oblivion Recording)


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After all the eventful action and mayhem in the previous Kara No Kyoukai movie, things quiet down in this sixth movie, Boukyaku Rokuon (Oblivion Recording). Well, quiet down is one way of putting it; ‘Oblivion Recording’ is still plenty energetic but after the breakneck action and the developments of the previous movie, ‘Oblivion Recording’ really feels much more like enjoyable filler than anything else. Compared to its immediate predecessor, ‘Oblivion Recording’ is much lighter in theme and tone – there is less graphic violence and while there are some mentions of heavier topics like suicide and drug abuse, on the whole, the movie feels more like a typical young adult adventure story (Nancy Drew comes to mind, oddly enough) than a Kara No Kyoukai story. The movie’s protagonist, Azaka Kokutou, is the main reason that the movie never takes itself too seriously – unlike Shiki, Azaka is considerably more cheerful and cutesy though she offers little beyond that. Her generally bubbly character is something of an extreme rarity in the Kara No Kyoukai world but offers a fairly refreshing change from the consistently troubled characters we have seen thus far. Yet, whatever novelty Azaka offers as a protagonist is ultimately offset by the fact that ‘Oblivion Recording’ simply does not have enough substance to sustain its audience beyond a certain point; it works very well as a respite from ‘Paradox Spiral’ but is a flimsy story on its own.

One of the biggest problems with the story is that everything about it feels, for the lack of a better word, inconsequential. We are placed in entirely new settings, with an entirely new cast of characters (with the exception of Shiki, of course) and a plot that we are not really given a reason to care about. The suicide of a student under less than normal circumstances isn’t a terrible plot per se, but it’s not nearly enough to grip the audience on its own. Normally, you would need some kind of emotional connection to this suicide in question – maybe the detective solving the case has a personal stake in it, or the investigating student lost a really good friend – but in ‘Oblivion Recording’ there isn’t anything like that and as a result it feels rather impersonal. To some extent this is symptomatic of Kara No Kyoukai in general; each movie features new villains and characters and we never really get to see a villain built up and then taken down. It makes it hard to care about the villains when you know that they are probably going to be dead by the movie’s end. It’s particularly grating in this case because ‘Paradox Spiral’ felt like the climax of Kara No Kyoukai and coming on its hells ‘Oblivion Recording’ feels a little like an afterthought that was put in just for the sake of making another movie – which is exactly what it would be if not for the fact that there is one last movie to go.

The movie is also not helped by the quality of its villains – after seeing Shiki pull of some intense inter-dimensional stunts in the last movie, it seemed like the outcome of her confrontation with the villain in this movie was a foregone conclusion. It wasn’t just Shiki, who we’ve all come to recognize as stupidly overpowered, but even Azaka, the real protagonist of this movie, barely broke a sweat against her own opponent. Whether or not Shiki actually beat her opponent is left open to interpretation – Kurogiri mutters something cryptic about Shiki’s memories but leaves before the battle can be properly resolved and is part of the reason that it feels like nothing really happened in this movie. In fact, the movie begins with the claim that Kaori committed suicide but ends with her regaining consciousness – regardless of whether or not that’s a plot hole, it makes the whole endeavour feel thoroughly unnecessary.

Given that this movie had perhaps four speaking characters – Mikiya and Touko don’t count, really – and that two of those four were Shiki and Azaka, there was never really any suspense about who was behind the ‘suicide’. Instead, what little tension there was, revolved around how and why Kaori killed herself and what she knew or saw that needed to be silenced. For most of the movie, I was expecting either Oji or Kurogiri to be the murderers or at least indirectly responsible for incident and while I wasn’t wrong, per se, it didn’t happen the way I expected it to. The whole plot twist with the memories and the real reason for the suicide was pretty good – until you start thinking about it. The more you think about it, the more absurd the whole thing seems; the plot of this entire movie was motivated by Kurogiri playing people for shits and giggles. There is no greater significance to the events of this movie beyond that; basically, Kurogiri was summoned by Araya, but then Araya died and then Kurogiri got bored so now he’s trolling schoolchildren. The story made sense and I can honestly say I didn’t see the twist coming but looking back, the whole affair seems rather lacklustre and trite. If there was one redeeming aspect to the movie, it was that the change in setting really seemed to work out for the better. We moved away from the urban settings of the previous movie to a new, intriguing setting in a mage school. It’s a little like Hogwarts, except darker and full of creepy malice.

Against this backdrop, we have our protagonist, Tohsaka Rin Kokutou Azaka. Azaka is a strange character – in a universe that is unfailingly bleak, violent and depressive, Azaka is this bright burst of light-hearted humour and cheeriness. At different points in the movie and to varying degrees, it is either refreshing or jarring; seeing her comically light hearted rivalry with Shiki is the former but her incestuous attraction to her brother is very much the latter. This isn’t just because of my personal (extreme) dislike of the sibling incest trope in anime but also because thus far, I feel like Kara No Kyoukai has done a fairly good job of avoiding the more egregious anime clichés but Azaka is the one anime archetype walking in a field full of subversions, like a Smurf in a HP Lovecraft story. It seems like her entire purpose in this story is to serve as a cute, bubble-gum sweet alternative to Shiki; where our series’ knife wielding heroine is quiet, dry and closed-off, Azaka is exaggerated, open and just full of life. It’s hard to dislike her but at the same time, it does feel like the character doesn’t have depth beyond the attributes I just mentioned. A part of it is that she has just not received nearly enough screen time but it’s also that, in a world where everyone seems to bear some kind of twisted past or psychological burden, Azaka’s carefree cheerfulness just doesn’t seem right. Even Azaka’s issue, her incestuous love for Mikiya, isn’t really treated like a real issue and instead is just a source of humour as Mikiya clearly has eyes only for Shiki. On a related note though, the relationship between Shiki and Azaka is an interesting one. Azaka’s (light-hearted) hostility towards Shiki is just laughed off, but you have to wonder what Shiki makes of Mikiya’s sister. She probably knows that if it came down to it, she could take Azaka down fairly easily but she probably also knows that Mikiya wouldn’t like that one bit. Mikiya’s comment about Shiki thinking of Azaka as a little sister gives us a good idea of what their relationship really is; after all, Shiki gave Azaka a shot at taking Mikiya out on a date by going back to the city ahead of her and more importantly, by not ratting out Azaka’s crush to Mikiya (apparently, everyone knows about it except him).

There really isn’t much more to say about this movie. There really isn’t anything to sink your teeth into beyond the surface level but despite that it was a rather fun to watch. The previous Kara No Kyoukai movies were all absorbing in their own ways but they were also extremely intense, requiring a good amount of focus if you didn’t want to get thoroughly lost (‘Paradox Spiral’ being the pinnacle of this). The relative lack of engagement from the story gave me a chance to really appreciate what a good job Ufotable has done with the production and the soundtrack. The soundtrack has been amazing from the get-go but the fight sequences (especially Azaka versus Oji) are just a treat to watch. Next week (yes, next week, not two weeks from now), we’ll tackle the last Kara No Kyoukai movie (not sure if anyone would really recommend the two ‘other’ movies, but I think I’ll decide next week). As some of you might have noticed, my posting frequency has been dropped to the point where I almost never post anymore. That’s a temporary thing – it’s been exam season and I’ve been trying my best to manage everything but decided that I’d rather just wait till the exams are done before picking everything back up. Sorry for the inconvenience!

 

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19 thoughts on “[Anime] Kara No Kyoukai: Boukyaku Rokuon (Oblivion Recording)

  1. I really suggest you to watch the other movies in this order:

    1) “Kara no Kyoukai Remix: Gate of Seventh Heaven” (a nice recap of the story so far with a couple of bonus scenes and amazing soundtrack)
    2) “Kara no Kyoukai 7: Satsujin Kousatsu (Kou)”
    3) “Kara no Kyoukai: Shuushou (Epilogue)”
    4) “Kara no Kyoukai: Mirai Fukuin – Extra Chorus”
    5) And finally “Kara no Kyoukai: Mirai Fukuin”

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    • Ok cool, thanks for the info. Since KnK remix is just to combination of the earlier movies, I think I’ll watch it offline (i. e. I don’t think I’ll write anything on it) so I can still do the seventh movie next weekend

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  2. Just a note on Azaka, the whole incest thing I’m not sure was the same thing in the late 90s when this was written. I get the hate for the anime cliche but here it’s more just incest because her origin happened to be unfortunate and not really pandering.

    Still, definitely not the best movie of the bunch.

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      • It’s supposed to be taboo but really that just feels like an excuse in story for incest. Did they get to Mikiya’s origin yet? I missed that part in your posts if they did so.

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        • I don’t think they have, that should be in the epilogue, though maybe there’s some before that I don’t remember.

          And I don’t agree it’s just an excuse for incest because there was no real reason to put incest just for the sake of it, I’m pretty sure that trope in anime is more recent than KnK. Which was my point originally.

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          • I don’t know enough about anime in general to really comment, but it does feel like the way incest is treated within the story is in line with the way it’s treated in some modern anime – it’s seen as this fan-servicey, comedic thing instead of an actual issue. Do you have any opinions on Azaka herself as a character though? (Including the incest part)

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            • I like her and always felt she was really underused.

              She solved the mystery with the antagonist(purpule haired girl, not glasses guy) in the movie just by analyzing her relationship with the dead girl and her personality and figured out that she was fooling herself into believing she was at fault, and did so because she was looking for an excuse to kill people and carry on with her revenge, so she used the death of one she didn’t kill and believed herself to have gone too far. Azaka noticed and helped stop her, not content with just overpowering her opponent like Shiki would have.

              She’s the sort of high EQ character that I really like in fiction, the one that more strongly reacts to Shiki, sure it’s that she sees her as a rival but obviously she cares for Mikiya and is very sensitive to Shiki’s negative side.

              She could be a great character if she had more screen time. She’s still not half bad. I do like this move btw, not my favorite but I like some others way too much so this doesn’t stand out as much.

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      • With regards to Azaka, it’s less of a lighthearted tone in relation to her brother issues in the LN and is something which actually causes some conflict in her. She’s more fleshed out as a character, more, well, I guess alive (though not in the sense of lively, since she’s just as lively in the movie).

        Though as far as characters go, it was probably Ouji and Kurogiri who suffered most, especially the latter, who went from being one of the more interesting villains to just a straight out confusing one. (though not the best, I’d say my favourite would be the villain of the 7th film followed by Araya, perhaps)

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        • Having seen the seventh movie, I agree – in terms of antagonists, Lio>Araya>Kurogiri. I did go and look up what I missed in the 6th movie and I do see why you say those characters suffered. I’m a little puzzled why it was left out, it seems quite important to the story of the sixth movie even if it’s not a game changer overall.

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  3. KNK 6 is a movie that underwent heavy censoring, the novel chapter was probably just as dark as any other chapter
    To compare the difference between the movie and the chapter;
    One of the plot points in the original novel includes “Enjo kōsai”; in the form of abusive student teacher sexual relationships, which was fairly toned down here. Said

    relationship also lead into a story that involved teenage pregnancy, drug abuse and suicide, with all three aspects being much more heavily focused upon than they were

    here, so suffice to say it wasn’t particularly light.

    It’s not completely without reason-some of the plot points were controversial issues in Japan then and still are now, so in that sense I suppose it’s understandable

    Ufotable didn’t want to adapt that. Not that i’m for sweeping issues under the rug or anything, but it’s a passable excause. But on the other hand, the alternative

    they decided on was, well, a bit of a mess.

    In any case, onto the characters, the movies all have a problem of sometimes not really explaining their villains, though in Kurogiris case he suffers considerably

    more than, say, Araya, who is an apparent threat compared to Kurogiris more subtle one. He’s a bit difficult to explain, too.

    http://pastebin.com/1uTTXPdC

    (note, Ouji views Kurogiri as a brother in terms of “love”, not in the romantic sense or the Azaka-Mikiya sisterly love sense)

    For his character, since it’s a bit too weird and complicated to express in a paragraph or so.

    For what exactly he does and what his purpose is, this is also something that was unclear here-Araya wanted to use him to awaken Shikis past memories, some of which

    were subconsciously locked away from her when her other half died, in the hopes of reopening a gateway to the origin via there if the original plan failed, IIRC. Of

    course, I don’t think he expected to be dead at the time, but Kurogiri carried it out anyway.

    His ability is related to the nickname they mention occasionally-“Gods Word”. Basically this is a Abrahamic religious concept, that in the time after the Genesis

    flood, humanity was closer and united and spoke a single language, and so it was in the days of old in Nasus works. Being a single, pure, ancient language, speakers of

    it can use it to issue orders that cannot be denied to any non speaker. Kurogiri used it to awaken Shikis memories but she ended his ability to speak it in turn, and

    afterwards he was killed by Ouji once she found out the whole truth of everything he had done.

    In regards to Shiki and Azakas relationship, there was actually a comment in the story about how either one or both actually likes the others personalities, but Azakas

    sense of rivalry keeps them from becoming particularly close friends.

    Like

  4. KNK 6 is a movie that underwent heavy censoring, the novel chapter was probably just as dark as any other chapter
    To compare the difference between the movie and the chapter;
    One of the plot points in the original novel includes “Enjo kōsai”; in the form of abusive student teacher sexual relationships, which was fairly toned down here. Said relationship also lead into a story that involved teenage pregnancy, drug abuse and suicide, with all three aspects being much more heavily focused upon than they were here, so suffice to say it wasn’t particularly light.

    It’s not completely without reason-some of the plot points were controversial issues in Japan then and still are now, so in that sense I suppose it’s understandable

    Ufotable didn’t want to adapt that. Not that i’m for sweeping issues under the rug or anything, but it’s a passable excause. But on the other hand, the alternative they decided on was, well, a bit of a mess.

    In any case, onto the characters, the movies all have a problem of sometimes not really explaining their villains, though in Kurogiris case he suffers considerablymore than, say, Araya, who is an apparent threat compared to Kurogiris more subtle one. He’s a bit difficult to explain, too.

    For his character, since it’s a bit too weird and complicated to express in a paragraph or so;
    http://pastebin.com/1uTTXPdC
    (note, Ouji views Kurogiri as a brother in terms of “love”, not in the romantic sense or the Azaka-Mikiya sisterly love sense)

    For what exactly he does and what his purpose is, this is also something that was unclear here-Araya wanted to use him to awaken Shikis past memories, some of which were subconsciously locked away from her when her other half died, in the hopes of reopening a gateway to the origin via there if the original plan failed, IIRC. Of course, I don’t think he expected to be dead at the time, but Kurogiri carried it out anyway. His ability is related to the nickname they mention occasionally-“Gods Word”. Basically this is a Abrahamic religious concept, that in the time after the Genesis flood, humanity was closer and united and spoke a single language (tower of Babel and all that, before God scattered humanity), and so it was in the days of old in Nasus works. Being a single, pure, ancient language, speakers of it can use it to issue orders that cannot be denied to any non speaker. Kurogiri used it to awaken Shikis memories but she ended his ability to speak it in turn, and afterwards he was killed by Ouji once she found out the whole truth of everything he had done.

    In regards to Shiki and Azakas relationship, there was actually a comment in the story about how either one or both actually likes the others personalities, but Azakas sense of rivalry keeps them from becoming particularly close friends.

    Like

    • Hey, sorry for the super late reply and thanks for the comment.

      It’s funny – I left (literally a minute ago) left a comment wondering why the cut stuff was cut in the first place and then I read the first part of your comment. I can see where Ufotable is coming from, certainly, though I feel their portrayal of domestic violence and sexual abuse in the third and fifth movies was fairly graphic too. Still, like you said, I can’t exactly fault them for wanting to avoid the controversy.

      Having seen the excerpt you pasted, it’s crazy how much detail went missing though. Luckily, Kurogiri isn’t a big enough character for it to really matter that much but still sucks to miss that much of the story.

      Anyway, I’ll ask you a question since you seem to know a lot about the Nasu-verse: do you ever find that the explanations are really difficult to understand? I feel like a lot of the times when there is exposition in the movie/episode, I will (at best) sort of see where the character explaining is coming from, but I won’t really know for sure if my version of what they explained matches what they meant

      Like

      • Early on, when I was reading or watching most of Nasus (or, other Type-Moon writers) works, it was a little difficult to follow yeah and it could turn out that something was actually different from what I thought it meant. I think it becomes easier to follow over time, though some of them are still not instantly understandable.

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        • I find myself more often understanding the emotion than the words themselves. That’s fine when I’m just watching a series but when I have to express it in words, it becomes so much harder to do it justice.

          Like

  5. Do you plan to read the Light Novels in the future? KnK 6 suffered greatly because it cut a bunch of content and was directed as a breather movie when it had about as much heavy stuff as Paradox Spiral.

    Like

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