Kara no Kyoukai Film 4 – The Hollow – A Film About Nothing(ness)

Kara no Kyoukai 4 / Garden of Sinners - The Hollow / Garan no Dou animeKara no Kyoukai, also known as Garden of Sinners, a series of 7 films with a psychological / supernatural focus. The fourth film is called “Garan no Dou” or “The Hollow”, and is 45 minutes long, and seems to occur after the second film, and between the third film.

An important note – these write-ups are written after watching each movie, not the whole series of movies. Spoilers of movies beyond the one numbered in each entry will not be tolerated.

(This is a Things I Like post, it’s not a review, but more a discussion of the show and of ideas that have risen in my mind as I’ve watched it. This time it’s slightly farther from a review, but I do note character personalities quite heavily. There will be a fair amount of spoilers.)

I took notes for this movie as well, about half of what I did for the previous entry. I took relatively few images this time, here is the album.

First, let me begin with an amusing anecdote from a philosophy class I’ve taken, which was about “winning arguments”. One side claims that “Nothing(ness) can’t be the subject of a sentence,” so the other side writes down that sentence on a piece of paper and shows him that it is indeed the subject of a sentence, and wins the argument.

This is a film about nothing, so to speak. On one hand, as you can see by its name, it really is about the nothingness within Shiki, and how she must find something with which to fill her self, to give her a drive to keep going forward. I’ll return to that in a short while, but first I want to discuss the other sense in which this film is about nothing – in terms of plot development, of new material covered, nothing actually happens, nothing new is taught to us.

At this stage, we know how Kokuto and Shiki met, and we know (sort of) of their current relationship, and how they work with Touko. This film doesn’t really tell us anything new, there isn’t really anything we can say “Hm, I didn’t know this before, but I know it now!” The situation is actually more serious than that, even had the films been watched thus far in chronological order (1-4 only, mind), with this being the second film, I still feel we wouldn’t have actually learnt much of Shiki from this film.

Kara no Kyoukai 4 / Garden of Sinners - The Hollow / Garan no Dou anime - Magic can't fix everything

An emptiness can be a terrible thing, but it’s also a pause, and one without which we cannot breathe

Now, before you think I’m complaining, I’m not, and I don’t think this is surprising. This series of films is very much full of moments where we dwell in the moment, where we exist, and “nothing happens”. I’ve noted it in my previous write-ups, and this whole film is sort of like that. This is merely the show continuing as it’s always been. Such an episode wouldn’t have been at all out of place in a TV series, about people picking up the pieces, and in general the series of films and the way it’s handled resemble a western TV show more than discrete films.

But it’s not just that, look at the word I used to describe this episode’s lack of new content – it doesn’t tell us anything we hadn’t known before, but it’s showing us. We still see Kokuto’s dedication once more, we see how Touko and Shiki had met, we see Shiki’s emptiness and the doll that had reminded Kokuto of her, as well as how she finds her resolve anew.

When we look at the content of the film itself, as much as there is, especially as so little is actually given to us, you can see that a recurring theme within this episode is one of birth and death. Shiki floats in a womb-like place, she has to say goodbye to her other self, and thus one could say the motif is about separation and re-integration of one’s soul from one’s body. Continuing the game of seeing how many souls per body we have, in this film we have 2 souls (Shiki and SHIKI) without bodies, and a body without a soul, without a heart (Shiki’s body).

Kara no Kyoukai 4 / Garden of Sinners - The Hollow / Garan no Dou anime - Ryougi Shiki in her spiritual womb

Death and rebirth, a spiritual womb.

There are no vacancies in nature. When there’s an empty spot, something will come to fill it. So it is on the metaphysical plane; Shiki’s yawning hole in her heart had attracted spirits, for she had surrendered her desire to live, so they thought they’d take over her body, her soul, or just cuddle up within the warm body. But Shiki and her eyes aren’t merely an embodiment, an avatar of death, for death must accompany life. In her final hours, Shiki was filled with the simplest of desires, the desire to live on. Why? That’s exactly the point, she doesn’t have anything more to yearn for, but the quest for life itself continues. For the spirits, and for Shiki. The spirits are without life but with drive for life, and have no body. Shiki is likewise, but thankfully her body was still there for her, so she could reclaim it.

Once she had the body, she had to declare a goal, a reason for living, beyond life itself. She had seemingly chosen the opportunity to kill people, for which I see two potential reasons – The first, she is taking up SHIKI’s role, his mantle, and will kill as he once did. The other, which is tied to my interpretation of the two Shikis – SHIKI’s emotion was “murder”, but as he had told us, children merely reflect the emotions they feel, and thus SHIKI’s sense of others directing the desire to murder him had come from Shiki. Did Shiki worry about Kokutou standing guard outside her house because she feared SHIKI will kill him, or simply because he stood between her and the desire to kill others?

Kara no Kyoukai 4 / Garden of Sinners - The Hollow / Garan no Dou anime - Ryougi Shiki will kill anything

When you’re Shiki, killing is always the answer.

Shiki’s goal is to live. Shiki feels alive, when she crosses the boundary, when she is on the boundary, when she is a goddess of death. As Touko had said, her heart being always empty means she can always live in the present, can always fill it with new experiences, but if she doesn’t look at Kokuto and other such experiences, she can always resort to filling it with death, with victims, ever new victims.

And that is the question, how and why will Shiki fill her emptiness, before the nothingness consumes her?

I give this film a 6.7/10. It sort of acted as a pause, as a breather. I could’ve skipped it without feeling much was missed, but it wasn’t really bad, and achieved its goals. But though it can be given a 7.5/10, I can’t really do it with a good conscience, due to how superfluous it had felt.

7 comments on “Kara no Kyoukai Film 4 – The Hollow – A Film About Nothing(ness)

  1. Joe says:

    I agree that this episode was very much a “breather”, but it was a welcome one in my opinion. While it’s lacking on the plot development, the simpler approach allows it to be full of character development, which paid off for me.

    I’m interested in reading your opinions of 5 (and 7).

    • Guy says:

      I’m curious, what character development did it have? It re-affirmed things we’ve seen, but it didn’t actually present new material, character-wise, I’d say. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter, though.

      • KNK Guy says:

        I feel really sad that noone ever answered your question, here. In short, I think you mostly already stated what this movie actually does in terms of character developent, but just didn’t give it enough credit for how important this episode is. There is a huge gap in both time and character development between movies 1,3 and movie 2. One is left guessing as to how shiki went from someone torn within herself, who outright rejects kokutou and who is a relatively normal person, physically, to someone who seems to have found a self of identity and purpose, and who openly accepts and even fights for (and hence, cares for) kokutou, and has acquired supernatural abilities, to boot. Movie 4 is exactly this missing puzzle piece. We learned that one reason there is such a huge time gap is that she was in a comma and the hospital for a long period of time. We learn that her other personality died and that she was forced to reconstruct her sense of identity and purpose, during this time. We learn that it is during this time that Shiki finally sees just how dedicated Kokutou is, and begins to appreciate him as someone who believed in her even when she didn’t believe in herself. We see the exact circumstances of how and why Shiki came to meet and be employed by Touko, which was a complete mystery that other shows might not have even explained, and does so without going too far off from Shiki herself. And we also see how Shiki acquired her mystic eyes of death perception, which was a direct result of the coma and separation from SHIKI. But most importantly, we learn more about Shiki herself than anywhere else before movie 4, or again until movie 7. Although Shiki talks and provides brief explanations for her actions in the first 3 movies, we were essentially given an outsider’s view of who Shiki is. Movie 4 gives us an explicit look at her internal thought process, and shows us that she is not just a two dimensional badass heroine, as one might think from movies 1 or 3, or a (potential) bloodthirsty killer with no recourse as in 2, but is someone who, again, struggles with identity, purpose, and a sense of weakness/helplessness, as do all humans. In this way, she it’s my opinion that she is humanized, and goes from being a two dimensional to a three dimensional character. So at the end of the day, I personally love this movie because it manages to balance solid character development with just enough philosophical pondering to keep things spicy. And let’s be honest, as far as the philosophy goes, we all know it can go much deeper than what the show deals with. But, this was intended to be entertainment, first and foremost, and I think it must also be admitted that there really are few movies, anime or not, that even attempt to talk about these things, so I applaud it for that right off the bat.

  2. I wonder if you noticed Kirie Fujyou’s appearance in this film.

    • Guy says:

      Yup, just didn’t see anything to comment on it, even in my notes.

      And someone elsewhere also pointed out that this is how she met Kokuto, who came every day to give flowers.

  3. So…
    You’ve dropped the series?

    • Guy says:

      No, just been busy with school and becoming a moderator on /r/anime and such.

      This is definitely something I’m going to do. My internal deadline is my week long Passover break in April or May (need to look at my calendar), but I hope to do so earlier.

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