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The Garden of Sinners - Chapter 5: Paradox Paradigm

Kara no Kyoukai/Garden of Sinners: Paradox Spiral (Sub) Status: COMPLETE

If movies 1-3 were the climb to the top of the rollercoaster and 4 was the drop, then Kara no Kyoukai's Paradox Spiral is the aptly named loopdeeloop.

Seemingly taking place last chronologically and over twice the length of every previous entry, Paradox Spiral has plenty of time to tell a complete story, but instead it opts to play the Memento card and chooses to tell a fragmented story through flashback, flashforward, and a profuse amount of smash cuts. In fact, the title of this movie could very well have been Kara no Kyoukai: Smash Cut since it most accurately encapsulates my biggest problems with it.

Opening with a scattered mess of flashforwards to various shots throughout the movie, we eventually come to grips with the idea that a murder was reported to the police and publicized in the news. The movie will later contradict this information, but don't think about that.

We settle on Enjou, a red-headed kid who we eventually come to learn is homeless and living off the street and trying to avoid the cops after he apparently killed his family. Shiki appears, totally whups the asses of two other kids picking on him in a pretty cool way (I'd love to be able to induce vomiting in people just by touching their secret vomit button), and agrees to let him stay at her place in a peculiar twist of character.

What follows is a great time lapse of the characters coming and going out of her apartment with little interaction besides Shiki bringing home a single cup of Haagen Daz ice cream for him to eat with a frightening reference to Overlooking View and a doubly frightening implication of Enjou's health.

We end shortly before a revelation in which Enjou expresses concern over Shiki's safety and when pressed as to why ("we're both murderers, why do you care?") he admits he's in love with her. NO WAIT! It's not as bad as it sounds actually, because Shiki laughs it off as ridiculous and Enjou is later revealed to be a puppet that was programmed to seek her out anyway. Soooo... still totally needed to be a scene.

I mean it.

Anyway, Enjou's prodded to explain his situation and he describes that he's been having nightmares (and hallucinations?) about his mother killing him, so he reasons, logically of course, to kill his mother before she kills him. OBVIOUSLY.

But Shiki's genre-savvy and knows when something's up so she takes him to his apartment and discovers that the entire building is stuck in The Twilight Zone and that the elevator rotates INASPIRALGETITITSINTHETITLE and that it opens up onto two identical floors, one of which contains him and his family apparently living out his nightmare on repeat without him, and the other opens up to his family dead after he's killed them.

A villain who we're just supposed to know about already shows up, claims credit for the building, says it will help him learn about the spiral of death.

Guy's obviously a bad guy so Shiki fights him in what is the second cool fight of the movie and then


We start playing ghost camera to Kokutou and Touko talking a LOT about things and things and more things and strangely even when Shiki's in the scene and exchanging dialog, she's simply cropped out or the view is from her perspective. This is NEVER explained throughout the whole movie. It just happens.

We get told about Touko attending some Magi Academy or something, they banter on about whether Shiki's a man or a woman because of how she talks. Touko suggests she does it intentionally to remind Kokutou of the Animus personality she carved out (BUT IS STILL TOTALLY THERE BECAUSE SHE NEVER SHOWS HER OLD HAPPY-GO-LUCKY SIDE AND SHE SAYS SHE'S COMPELLED TO KILL PEOPLE MEANINGLESSLY) and then we get an extraordinarily awkward dialog exchange in which Kokutou is asked by some useless character whether Kokutou would care if Shiki were male or female.

In a refreshing show of taste, Kokutou says no and gets called gross.


We're putting him down for not being sexist?

Or bisexual?

Screw off.

Touko repeats the same question and Kokutou says it doesn't matter to him, but he would prefer that she be a girl which elicits GREAT RELIEF from Touko.

Crisis averted, people! He's NOT gay!

The only thing actually useful to come out of this whole third of the movie is this one line, blink and you'll miss it, about the "Akashic Record", the true name of the spiral of death the villain is after and the apparent source of all supernatural phenomenon.

During this whole period of nothing happening Kokutou is regularly trying to visit Shiki who's apparently just started to lock her door at night (there's a pretty pointless theme involving house keys in this movie), until at one point he actually manages to get in and then he runs in Enjou just as he's about to


At this point the movie just overdoses on it's medication and **** gets REALLY ****ed up. We have another cool action sequence between Touko and the villain in which Touko dies HORRIBLY by having her heart punched out, held in front of her as she flawlessly monologues for several minutes, and then has it crushed in front of her eyes before her head gets twisted off. All that with blood and lots of squishy sound effects.

HOLY HELL, this makes the rape scene in Remaining Sense of Pain look tame by comparison.

Course, she's not really dead, that was just a PUPPET! Which is just one of several bizarre twists in this third act. Enjou turns out to be a puppet, which, you know, why? I mean seriously, how was this whole plan supposed to work?

We spend a HUMONGOUS amount of time on Haagen Daz, Shiki's gender, Kokutou's driving lessons (yeah, that happens), Touko's past (we never get a firm grasp of anything strong enough to establish this Cornelius guy who's a friend or not a friend to the villain), and not only don't we have a firm grasp of what these new characters' have against the main cast, but also how this villain's plan was supposed to work?

1.) He collected families who were going to kill each other.

2.) He placed them in a building which somehow compelled them to kill each other.

3.) They killed each other.

4.) He made puppets with their brains to recreate the day in which they kill each other over and over.

5.) Enjou on one of his Groundhog Days got off the elevator at the wrong point and walked in on his puppet family? But he's a puppet?

6.) So he kills his family which we show didn't bleed to prove that they're not puppets? Even though puppets bleed?

5.) Or did he, as a puppet, walk in on his real family and kill them? But he's already there. Did he kill himself? I thought his mom killed him. NONE OF THIS MAKES ANY


We pull the whole bit where the movie rewinds to the beginning and plays everything out chronologically revealing dialog snippets between characters we only saw talking in silence during montages and we learn...

...nothing. Like the whole point of this kind of flashback is to clue the viewer into some undisclosed information where all the pieces come together and we can figure something out, but no. It's not even simply that they say something that doesn't make sense, all the dialog that's exchanged during this sequence seems purely mundane, like it was edited out of our first viewing of these scenes because they literally contribute nothing to the story.

Hell, I don't know. Shiki reappears because she disappeared, but she could come back because a sword which was with her, isn't with her, but the elevator goes crazy and then suddenly TADA! EPIC FINAL ENCOUNTER, SHE WAS DOWN BUT NOT OUT AND I don't really care anymore by this point.

Paradox Spiral has flashes of brilliance with some well done sequences and a concept that seems like it could be really interesting. At it's best it felt like a really good Twilight Zone episode, but at it's worst it felt like the worst parts of Overlooking View on acid. There are pretty long lucid sequences of total clarity in which everything begins to click into place and then it SMASH CUTs into something unfamiliar, confusing, and pointless.

There are way too many scenes of useless dialog: I don't care about Kokutou learning to drive, I don't care about Tokou's backstory, I don't care about ANYTHING having to with Cornelius for all of what little his purposes, motivations, or backstory were explored and what few things there WAS to talk about were either overlooked entirely, like whatever the hell the villain's thing about "the counterforce" was, or overexplained, like the technical details of the building and how it's designed to confuse. When it comes right down to it, they simply admit, "it's different here". You know what? That's enough. Let's move on.

This movie's way too long and the choppy way the story is presented makes what might otherwise be a straightforward, yet thought-provoking psychological thriller feel like the writer tripped and fell over Memento, spilling all his pages over The Twilight Zone and then rearranged them while he was distracted by Into The Void.

If several scenes were cut out and the movie were rearranged in chronological order, it'd be a fine watch. As it is, it's easy to get lost and recede into boredom.

Final Verdict:
[Friggen' Awesome][Pretty Good][Meh...][Just... Bad][Irredeemably Awful]