[Anime] Kara No Kyoukai: Epilogue


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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!

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15 thoughts on “[Anime] Kara No Kyoukai: Epilogue

  1. I’ve watched KnK three times and every time I’ve noticed something new. Regarding the Epilogue, this quote came to my mind when I heard about Mikiya and saw all the snowflakes:

    “We have all heard that no two snowflakes are alike. Each snowflake takes the perfect form for the maximum efficiency and effectiveness for its journey. And while the universal force of gravity gives them a shared destination, the expansive space in the air gives each snowflake the opportunity to take their own path. They are on the same journey, but each takes a different path.
    Along this gravity-driven journey, some snowflakes collide and damage each other, some collide and join together, some are influenced by wind… there are so many transitions and changes that take place along the journey of the snowflake. But, no matter what the transition, the snowflake always finds itself perfectly shaped for its journey.
    I find parallels in nature to be a beautiful reflection of grand orchestration. One of these parallels is of snowflakes and us. We, too, are all headed in the same direction. We are being driven by a universal force to the same destination. We are all individuals taking different journeys and along our journey, we sometimes bump into each other, we cross paths, we become altered… we take different physical forms. But at all times we too are 100% perfectly imperfect. At every given moment we are absolutely perfect for what is required for our journey. I’m not perfect for your journey and you’re not perfect for my journey, but I’m perfect for my journey and you’re perfect for your journey. We’re heading to the same place, we’re taking different routes, but we’re both exactly perfect the way we are.” (Steve Maraboli)

    Have fun with Mirai Fukuin! I think there are some things worth a review in those two… I’m looking forward to your reaction.

    P.S. There are a couple of small Easter Eggs between KnK and Fate/Zero. I hope someone will point them out when the time comes. XD

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  2. I forgot to mention that Shiki’s third personality has a name (sort of). Quoting the wiki:

    “Shiki possesses an actual third personality. 「 」, or Void (空, kara) if there is to be a pronunciation, was originally the will of the body that manifested as a personality of its own. Having always existed in the gap between Shiki and SHIKI, she hid her existence from both personalities. As she puts it herself, the third personality is Akasha, “the origin of all things” itself. This personality is housed in the body rather than the other personalities housed in the mind. Usually, a life begins connected to the Origin until the connection is severed at birth, and even if somehow a life remained unsevered, the body’s personality itself should not become self-aware, but the Ryougi family’s special trait allowed it to survive and survive with intelligence. Because she has no interest in anything however, she usually remains dormant within Shiki.”

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  3. Man, I wish I could have participated in the comments more for this series of reviews, but I personally had a hard time understanding a lot of KnK myself so I was more or less learning more about it reading the other comments and reading your write ups. Even so, I still enjoyed the series a good amount.

    And awww yeah, i’ve been waiting for Fate/Zero! I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on it, whether postive or negative. I’m so excited since this gives me an excuse to rewatch it again 😀
    I assume that is going to be your first Gen Urobuchi show? If you don’t already know, he’s responsible for two other big anime: Psycho-Pass and Madoka Magica as well as a visual novel called Saya no Uta. He’s one of the more well known writers in the anime industry, so I think it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for him and his shows. You’ll also be seeing a lot of the types of things he’s known for in Fate/Zero.

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    • This is my first time hearing the name ‘Gen Urobuchi’, actually. So, Fate/Zero wasn’t written by Nasu? I’ve heard good things about Psycho-Pass, looking forward to checking that out sometime.

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      • The story outline, concepts, characters and the ending were created by Nasu (~90% of F/Z). The scene planning, context, dialogue and pretty much every gap that needed filling is by Urobuchi (~10% of F/Z).
        Admittedly, that 10% is unbelievably enjoyable as Gen Urobuchi is such a great writer.

        A nice interview about the making of Fate/Zero (very slight spoilers): http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/interview/2011-10-21/interview-fate-zero-screenwriter-gen-urobuchi

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        • Huh? Urobuchi did way more than “10%” of the work, I feel like he’s being way too humble considering the information we have about the development shows that he created a lot more than he gives himself credit for.

          You can find most of this information looking at the interviews and material released along Fate/Zero here: http://typemoon.wikia.com/wiki/Encyclopedia/FZM There are major spoilers on this page though. But in there and on other pages in the wikia and post face for the LN we get information like he’s the one who created Rider’s personality, or him creating Irisviel to get past the “Saber only talks to Kiritsugu 3 times” thing we hear in the Fate Route, him creating Caster by himself, and him writing the actual events and plotlines. Nasu was certainly responsible for the outline and a lot of Nasuish concepts, but the information we get through other sources seem to me like it was a majority Urobuchi thing, and I feel like it shows in the final product.

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          • I think you feel that way because Urobuchi’s part was mostly the presentation. He was always what’s in the front. Urobuchi was writing the events he had no control over their outcome and just delivering the story with his own style that’s distinct and different enough from Nasu to the point it almost makes you think it’s his. I think being able to wear F/SN perfectly while still being able to make it his own and producing a unique feel to the work is just a sign on how incredible Gen really is. I have no doubt in my mind that Nasu cannot write THAT F/Z.

            Still, actual substance wise, Nasu pretty much created F/Z in Hollow Ataraxia without writing it down as its own work. Most of the new stuff Urobuchi created, while great in their own right, are widely inconsequential in the big picture and were never carried over to F/SN. Gen filled the gaps spectacularly, but that’s really all he did. Just filling the gaps.

            I guess you can view those filled gaps as something that’s almost as important as the meat of the story, especially when they’re interesting, well written and really complement what was originally there, but, personally, while i really like them, i can’t view them as more than filled gaps probably because I’ve read F/SN first and i always draw the connections between the two works.

            The new stuff in F/Z, to me, are like a filler that’s as good as the source material.

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            • He did have an outcome on the way things played out though. He didn’t have a choice of course when it came to the ultimate conclusion of the Fourth Grail War, but he would have a choice when it comes to the 4 masters whose fates aren’t sealed as a result of being mentioned in Fate/Stay Night as having died/surviving. He also had a choice on how the events would play out, so long as it aligned with the statements made in Fate/Stay Night, like Saber using her holy sword at the river and destroying a boat as mentioned in Fate, or the rivalry and battle between Kiritsugu and Kirei as mentioned in both Fate and Heavens Feel.

              Hmm? What do you mean? Urobuchi hadn’t seen what was written in Fate/Hollow Ataraxia when he was writing Zero, and Zero was being written before and while Fate/Hollow Ataraxia was in production.
              Source:
              Fate/Zero Vol 1 Post Face http://i.imgur.com/l6DKAvs.png
              Fate/Zero Material Book 1: “Some additional information: during the time when Zero’s plot was being set, apparently the setup of Angra Mainyu in Hollow wasn’t well-known yet. How in the world the author came up with “that ending”, even for us, couldn’t be scarier.”

              So Nasu definitely didn’t write Fate/Zero by writing Holow Ataraxia, and that statement about “The Author” not knowing Angra Mainyu further reinforces my thought that Urobuchi was the main writer. Gen wasn’t just filling the gaps, he was writing the story itself as that quote would further evidence. He had a lot more involvement in the making of Fate/Zero then you’re giving him credit man. I don’t even know where you’re getting that idea that he was only just filling the gaps. A lot of the Fourth Holy Grail War was still left very vague, the only things that Nasu would have outlined is the stuff that has to happen because they were mentioned in F/SN or Fate Material. So basically stuff like in Kiritsugu’s page in the Fate/Stay Night Material book (Incoming vague Fate/Zero Spoilers by the way) :
              “During the Holy Grail War, he deceived an opposing Master, held his lover as hostage, and detonated a building. He was a villain not unlike the young Kotomine. … Really, Kotomine was also quite young at that time.Maybe it was the fate of gentle man, Kiritsugu naturally had wife and lover”.
              Stuff like that, and the ending of the Fourth Holy Grail War would be the extent of Nasu’s influence on Fate/Zero other than the ideas and concepts he gave Urobuchi, something like Kiritsugu’s origin would be a good example of his ideas in Zero.

              It doesn’t sound right to me and really sounds dismissive to refer to new stuff in Fate/Zero as “filler”. Fate/Zero is basically its own story, to call the new stuff that wasnt brought up in Fate/Stay Night “filler” is kind of an insult to Fate/Zero.

              I kind of feel like we shouldn’t continue this here… I don’t know, I don’t want to highjack this comments section when this is supposed to be for KnK.

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              • Yeah, i think that this discussion, as any Fate related discussion, would continue endlessly if we let it haha. Alright then, this will be my last reply on that point.

                Your first paragraph is essentially saying that Gen filled the gaps. We know what happened but we don’t know all the details which F/Z purpose was to deliver. The bit about Gen having complete control over the fates of the unmentioned characters is also not true since Nasu was supervising the whole thing with, as Gen himself said, 90% of it being his ideas. Not being in HA doesn’t mean Nasu wasn’t the one behind most of the narrative. I also wholeheartedly disagree with the point you made about how the fact that HA being in production somehow means that Gen came up with anything about Angra Mainyu.

                My criteria for determining if a thing is a filler or not is by judging how important it is for F/SN; the story that F/Z quite literally counts down towards. I know, and mentioned myself, that Urobuchi had original ideas put in F/Z, but, again, they’re inconsequential. F/Z isn’t a standalone and shouldn’t be treated as such, while F/SN certainly is. That’s why Kiritsugu’s origin (how he defeated his opponents) doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, while Saber being his servant and the fact that he betrayed the Einzberns do matter.

                By saying that they feel like filler is far from being disrespectful to the material. Rider’s backstory in HA is as important to F/SN as Kiritsugu’s origin. I loved learning about both of them, but i wouldn’t call either of them a vital piece of information.

                Thank you for the enjoyable discussion even if we ended up disagreeing 😀 And I’m sorry, ownersinc, for derailing the comment section that little bit.

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  4. Really enjoyed reading your reviews of KnK these past months as I’ve rewatched it alongside. you reminded me of my reactions to it when I first watched the series, real glad it was as good as I remembered it. Looking forward to reading your thoughts on Fate/Zero next! It is quite different to Fate/Stay Night in terms of direction and perspective but that is by no means a bad thing.

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  5. Wow i’m way late, but anyways;
    As is apparent to anyone, this episode is full-Nasu-isms, complete with strange mecahnics and curious philosophy.

    Her Third Personality has the name of 「 」 or Kara (void), and is actually sort of the titular character, being an incarnation of Akasha, but coloured with some flecks of Ryougi Shikis personality due to lacking its own.

    I do believe Mikiyas origin was mentioned somewhere-and unsurprisingly, its something along the lines of “normality”. (As an unrelated to KNK but interesting note, Shirous Origin is “sword” as well as his Element being “sword”, due to the effects of his previous life burning away from the Grail Fire and Avalon lying inside him for most of his life).

    I also thought that Mikya would’ve initially been drawn to Shiki by his fascination for dolls and the Thirds doll like demeanor, setting off all their meeting and the later events in the series.

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    • Is the Element different from the Origin? Shirou’s Origin being the sword isn’t surprising, but it is surprising that the Grail Fire could change something as fundamental as an Origin

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      • The element is what affinities the magus is good with-what spells they are good at, basically, earth, fire, that kind of thing. For instance, Alba has the element of fire and is good with fire, Rin with the five elements,
        An Origin is more definitive of a person than that, being what will drive everything about them, their whole lives.

        As the Grail has Angra Mainyu personified within it, it has relation the Verg Avestas-the concept of all of the records of mankind-as well as a connection to the real records, in Akasha, and the as a result the grail fire destroyed enough of him to leave him virtually dead and empty, so when Avalon, the ancient divine sword related artifact was left in his body, there was very little left of his previous self, which was overwritten-even more so by how he viewed himself, as a tool, or sword if you will, for righteousness and heroism and things like that.

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