Considering the dark urban setting and graphic violence that characterized Kara No Kyoukai, the series’ epilogue is oddly serene and almost tranquil. The episode – I would hesitate to even call it a movie – is essentially a long, increasingly abstract conversation between Shiki and Mikiya. Perhaps conversation is a little bit of a misnomer here; Mikiya reunites with the third and final personality that resides within Shiki, the same persona he met at the story’s very beginning but what follows feels more like an exposition laden monologue by this third persona, with the occasional interjection by Mikiya than a real conversation. In considering this episode, it’s important to understand what the episode itself is and isn’t; it is not a self-sufficient, complete story with a plot and climax or any other discernible narrative structure; it is however, a philosophical footnote to the series, as Shiki’s exposition reveals Nasu’s perspective on abstract matters like the body, mind and soul. The episode also provides some additional information regarding Shiki and Mikiya though, this late in the game it feels more like something that’s good to know than an absolutely critical revelation. Lastly, it seems clear that this final chapter to the series is not meant to offer closure – the final movie did that very well and any further attempts to close that which has already been closed would only serve to ruin that – but instead is really meant solely for exposition purposes.
The character of Ryougi Shiki has never been easy to understand and no information presented in this episode changes that, especially since the Shiki we’re dealing with throughout this episode isn’t really the Shiki we’ve known for the seven movies but rather a different character entirely. This Shiki is the very definition of emptiness – throughout she is neither happy nor sad; instead, she just seems perfectly in control, balanced and imperturbable; she is in some Zen mode. The episode goes into great detail about the natures of the physical body, the personality, the soul and mind and their various relationships with each other. The Shiki we see throughout this episode is the personality that inhabits Shiki’s body; a personality not only distinct from both the male and female Shiki/SHIKI personalities that reside within the brain but also unknown to them. Shiki has no knowledge of this third personality though this third personality created Shiki to deal with the world around them, the day-to-day grind of actual existence. The metaphor presented within the episode makes a lot of sense; Shiki is the software that keeps the body functioning in society by interacting and behaving and doing all the things that humans must do while the third personality (we’re going to need a name for it, aren’t we?) essentially looks inward, starting into the abyss, so to speak. This is where things get really interesting and where a lot of the fifth movie begins to make more retroactive sense; Shiki’s body with its awakened origin of emptiness, can perceive and even influence the Spiral of Origin and that itself makes it incredibly powerful, capable of wiping out existence itself. Yet it will never do any of those things – it’s origin is emptiness, hollowness, and as such, the personality itself never wants or desires things, it does not dream nor does love or hate. Being the very essence of emptiness, she feels a natural inclination to bring that void to all things around and as a result both Shiki’s murderous impulses and her ability to see the void within all things come from this third persona’s proximity to their shared Origin. The episode does not ask this question but I feel I must; is something like this even really alive? In many ways, this new Shiki persona feels like God – she has this perfect serenity and combined with her omniscience and incredible power, the similarities seem more than coincidental. It seems the series leans toward the answer that this personality is less of a character (a real, living breathing character) and more of a mere existence; this third Shiki essentially is content to continue staring at the void while Shiki (the character we know so well) goes on to live a more colourful life on their shared behalf.
For all that emptiness talk though, it seems that Shiki has indeed taken a liking to Kokutou. Twice she offers him a gift and twice Kokutou turns her down. This episode is obviously not as focused on Kokutou as it is on Shiki but that doesn’t mean he is ignored entirely either. His reasons for turning down Shiki’s offer twice is that he doesn’t want to risk receiving help from a personality best known for its love of destruction though I wonder his reluctance to reverse the damage from the wounds Lio inflicted has more to do with not wanting to reverse something that ultimately led to Shiki figuring things out and finding peace within herself. More than anything else though, I like the description of Mikiya’s character as someone so overwhelmingly plain and normal that no one even will ever give him a second thought in either a positive or negative way. Yet, it’s important to note that his plainness, weirdly, is what makes him special – unlike others who are plain because they try to be unique and fail, Mikiya never really tried to be anything apart from what he was all along. This realization is a little bittersweet though; because he appears so utterly plain, everyone thinks that they already understand him – after all, he is so simple, how could they not – and as a result no one takes not of him. They all think they already know all there is to know of him and so they never bother to get close to him to get to know him better and as a result he ends up more alone than Shiki. Finally, a note on Kokutou’s fascination with dolls – throughout the episode, the Shiki character is almost inert (in that she does not display any emotion or expression) and while she is able to speak, it doesn’t really seem like there is much of what we would call a personality (though within the context of the episode, she does have one). The affinity between her and Kokutou then might be explained on his side by his love for lifeless dolls and given that this Shiki was the first Shiki he ever met, it would explain just what it was that drew him in ever since that first encounter on a cold, snowy winter night.
With that, we’ve come to an end of Kara No Kyoukai. I have a bunch of residual thoughts on the series as a whole and I’ll put those together by next week along with some lingering questions that I hope more knowledgeable fans can help me with. It’s been a fun, if occasionally horrifying, ride but I can’t say that I don’t see some negatives alongside the series’ strengths. To anyone wondering if I’ll be covering Mirai Fukuin and Extra Chorus, the answer is probably not. I intend to check both movies out during the week and if either makes me feel like it deserves a write up of its own, I will do one (though I’ll most likely combine the two) but if not, I’ll include the more salient of my thoughts in the series’ wrap up next week. Big thanks as usual to everyone who stopped by to read this and especially to everyone who took the time and effort to explain the more complicated concepts in the story to me. I think this series deserves a rewatch for me to fully appreciate, especially since I only really got in tune with the characters fairly late but that’s for another time, I think. For now, it’s the series’ wrap up next week, and the much anticipated (by me at least) Fate/Zero the week after!