The danger with a seven movie project such as Kara no Kyoukai is that certain entries will be little more than stop-gaps meant to prime for forthcoming releases. This could be no more worrying than with a title suffixed "Part One", thoughts of incomplete plots and abrupt conclusions abound. The series has somewhat mitigated this by chronologically shuffling the releases; whereas the first movie was keen to eschew understanding for suspense and action, the second favours a sedate but no less gripping narrative that starts at the very beginning of Shiki and Mikiya's relationship.
the characters all occupy a space in the penumbra of supernatural fantasy and routine reality
Meeting by chance on a snowy evening, Mikiya - bespectacled and easy going teenager - strikes up an uneasy friendship with Shiki - a kimono-wearing misanthrope - which gradually leads to an infatuation with her. Grisly murders meanwhile are happening around town with bodies gruesomely disfigured or dissected and as the number increases, evidence points to Shiki who frequently roams the solemn town in the night time hours. Mikiya's cousin Daisuke is investigating the murders which indirectly leads to Mikiya becoming mixed up in them. Events escalate and a confrontation between Shiki and Mikiya takes a deadly turn that has long term consequences.
Evangelion occupies a very special place in my heart: I watched the series on VHS in 1997 when I was fourteen and - without hyperbole - it was a life changing experience. A series that was smart and brutally obtuse and flitted from Jungian psychology to religious dogma was revelatory for me at the time and it questioned a lot of what I had not yet fully formed questions about; so as well as being gob-smackingly awesome, it changed who I was and consequently who I am. For those reasons I am utterly fanatical about the franchise and concept. Like a delusional lover I put up with a lot of the nonsense that GAINAX throws: I own the original series on twelve VHS tapes which I upgraded to DVD when they were first released, then upgraded them to the Platinum DVDs; I did manage to stay away from the deluge of tat that has been continuously released but it's fair to say my own lot of Evangelion merchandise is not insignificant. In what is a truly savvy move, just as patience for the constant re-releases was beginning to wane news came of the Rebuild project.
If 1.0 was meant to prime the fans for what was to come, 2.0 detonates with magnum force.
Not just a fresh coat of paint but a fresh take - that was the promise at least. It was hard to get excited, especially when there was also word of a live action Hollywood adaptation bolstered by some mightily uninspiring concept art - the only promise being that WETA are on the case. Regardless, the news came out over a year before the first Rebuild release so there was plenty of time to build up my scepticism. The first movie, "Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone" released in 2007, deserves a post of its own and the number of pages I've devoted to notes and thoughts and theories bordering on absurd. The second movie, "Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance" released just this summer is easy to write about because I have not yet had a chance to analyse and unpick it as I am wont to do. For want of a better description, this is a review rather than an unravelling.