Kara no Kyoukai 6: Boukyaku Rokuon

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Kara no Kyoukai review Part 6

The sixth movie in the Kara no Kyoukai series is, once again, a departure from what one has come to expect. Unfortunately Boukyaku Rokuon (or Oblivion Recording), is a somewhat lacklustre effort compared to the rest of the franchise, and is only carried through by some great visuals and excellent sound.

The story takes place in January 1999 and focuses on Kokuto Azaka, Mikiya’s younger sister who was “adopted” by their uncle. She is enrolled at Reien, a school for girls, and is also apprenticed to Aozaki Touko in order to become a Magus.

The movie begins in a fairly ambivalent manner, with Azaka remembering a scene from her childhood. Her current task is to investigate investigate a string of events at Reien which seem to involve “fairies”, and to aid her investigation Touko sends Ryougi Shiki to work undercover at the school (posing as a student), something which Azaka is not too pleased about.

Now the plot itself is pretty straightforward, however this is also the biggest problem with this movie. Story-wise this is by far the weakest episode in the series, and even though simplicity may not be a bad thing in a show, in this case it comes at a price. The plot is extremely feeble when it comes to the characters and their development, and whilst the concept may be a good one, the movie is never given a chance to realise it’s potential.

One of the reasons for this is that a great deal of effort has gone into fleshing out the two main characters (Kokuto and Shiki), who, along with Touko, form the backbone of the franchise. Azaka’s inclusion however, seems more of an afterthought, and there is little in this movie to fully justify her presence in the series. Granted she adds a different dimension to the relationship between Kokuto and Shiki, but the impact is almost negligible, and viewers may find themselves wondering how she fits in to the grand scheme of things.

The art and animation are of a very high standard, but there is once again a drop in the overall quality of some scenes (the young version of Azaka being cross-eyed at times is an example of this). The action sequences are extremely well choreographed and executed, whilst the character animation is often fluidly smooth. Unfortunately though, there are again times when the movements do not match the actions, and while these occasions are not too common in the movie, they are noticeable because of the quality of the rest of the animation.

Sound is, once again, excellent. The music is extremely well suited to the movie, with the more cheerful scenes feeling cheerful, and so on and so forth. The pieces are varied, with some being more reminiscent of Maria-sama Ga Miteru, while others are very much what one would expect of the Kara no Kyoukai franchise. The effects are very well crafted and choreographed, and while there is some slight cacophony to be heard at times, this should not really impede on one’s enjoyment of the movie.

The acting is pretty much what one would expect from the franchise, with each of the characters being portrayed very well overall. One does have to wonder what Sakamoto Maaya (Shiki) was trying to achieve this time though, as there are occasions where she sounds like she has blocked sinuses.

From the start of the movie it’s clear that this outing will be all about Azaka, and whilst this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it could have been done far better if the story was tighter, more interesting, and a little darker (which is what one would have expected from the series). There is an effort to give Azaka a degree of depth which comes off as laughable at times, mainly because her “love” for her older brother is given as the reason for her adoption, her choice of school, etc. Her apprenticeship as a Magus is purely based on the fact that she considers Shiki a rival for her brother’s affections, and while I have no problems with personal reasons being the basis for such actions, it just seems a little too neat an excuse in Boukyaku Rokuon. Having an unhealthy interest in one’s siblings may cause some aberrent behaviour in people, but there is an expectation that the viewer will simply accept Azaka’s actions and reasons without questioning them – not a good move on the part of the writers.

The other characters don’t really get much screen time so there isn’t any really much one can say about them. That said, there are some pretty obvious hints given about Shiki which feel more like preludes of things to come than any real attempt at development.

Given the flaws in the story and its characters, I was surprised to find that I actually enjoyed Boukyaku Rokuon as a whole. The movie represents a big departure for the franchise, and has a far more lighthearted feel to it at times than any of the previous outings. The action is well done, and there is enough going on to keep the viewer interested till the end. It’s unfortunate then that the main feeling one gets from this episode is that it is nothing more than a prelude to the final movie, a factor which upsets the balance of the narrative and can leave the viewer frustrated that many obvious questions remain unasked or unanswered by the end of the movie.

Boukyaku Rokuon isn’t the best installment in the series by far, but it’s not a bad effort on the whole. While there are a number of improvements that could have been made (in particular the rather haphazard plot), there is still an entertaining addition to the franchise here, and one that has a different feel to it than the other movies.

One can only hope that the final chapter will represent a return to form for the franchise.

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