The Garden of Sinners: Breaking Stones

Management: Management: While my opinion of the show is quite positive overall (broken records all around), this essay, by no means, is meant to serve as a comprehensive review, but rather, as an articulation and analysis of some of what I feel is this series’ most integral and interesting themes. This essay, in particular, is about Kara no Kyoukai: Mirai Fukuin, though it does reference other movies in the series, the most notable being Mirai Fukuin: Satsujin Kousatsu (Part 2).

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The Kara no Kyoukai, or Garden of Sinners, series has an official epilogue, a conversation between the heads of the two main characters that serve little else save to clarify character identities and relationships, plus the more convoluted plot points of the show. For me, it’s admittedly not the most fulfilling method the show could have used to wrap up the series, which is why, among other points, I was eager to see the curtains redrawn with the following “side story” to Kara no Kyoukai: Mirai Fukuin, or Future Gospel. It turned out that I preferred it. To me, it was the better, albeit unofficial, epilogue in two respects.

In the first respect, the show revisits the world of Kara no Kyoukai via Mirai Fukuin several years after Kara no Kyoukai: Satsujin Kousatsu (Part 2), or Murder Speculation (Part 2). However, as is somewhat characteristic of Kara no Kyoukai’s style of storytelling, the show begins somewhat chronologically misaligned. The “side story” takes place first in the past, some time before the events of Satsujin Kousatsu (Part 2) before transitioning to the future. If the past and the future were two different stories taking place in the same setting, that would seem to indicate the former as the “side story” and the latter as the “epilogue.” If they were unconnected.

In the second respect, Mirai Fukuin acts as the thematic capstone, the thematic epilogue, to the overarching themes of the Kara no Kyoukai series, as embodied in Shiki’s constant internal struggle with her actions and Mikiya’s tireless attempts to support her in her internal conflict.

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To make the show even more complex, Mirai Fukuin of the past, otherwise known as Möbius Ring, covers two related, but separate tales that happen simultaneously. One involves Mikiya’s encounter with a troubled but otherwise innocent teenager named Shizune Seo. The other is a lethal cat-and-mouse game between Shiki and Mitsuru Kamekura. Both are gifted and cursed with paranormal abilities that are collectively categorized as precognition, or “future-sight.” The word “future-sight” seems like a concise way of describing future determinism, and both Shizune and Mitsuru initially regard their future-sight abilities as such. Within the capacities of “future-sight” people may carry, there are two, possessed by Shizune and Mitsuru respectively: “Prediction” and “Calculation.”

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While seemingly having the ability to see into the future may be neat to utilize out when it’s convenient, “future-sight” can’t be turned off, and if not coped with well, over time, precognition, for Shizune and Mitsuru as an example, may become an existential issue. “Prediction” for Shizune mainly translates to seeing far enough into the future that her life’s become relatively unexciting. That dullness turns into fatalistic worry as her type of precognition begins to evolve to the point where she can intermittently see far-flung events taking place and people, loved ones and strangers, in particular dead or dying before her eyes. “Calculation” for Mitsuru translates into an almost downright sense of nihilism, as everything he sets his mind and eyes to ends up being achieved without question and complication so long as he follows the prescribed steps. To avoid a complete plunge into despair, he ties his future-sight with his life’s purpose by obsessively utilizing it in serial bombing work, work he associates as the most artistically and existentially self-fulfilling thing he can do.

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After inadvertently requisitioning Mikiya’s assistance in saving a stranger’s life after receiving a vision about said stranger being run over by a truck, Shizune confides the details she’s aware of in regards to her ability and the insecurities that are consequently wrought about the future she sees being immutably set into stone. After suspecting that Shiki was on to him after witnessing both a bombing and his person in the same general vicinity, he sets out in various attempts to have her murdered, fully believing her future death as he willed it was also set in stone.

The characters illustrate precognition as otherwise to these two people. Based on the facts known through empiricism, “future-sight” of any variety is not the equivalent to seeing a future reality that is absolute. Believing otherwise is a delusion:

– For Shizune, Mikiya demonstrates that her visions of “prediction” are just a possible and likely, rather than absolute, determinations of the future based on information her mind automatically receives and processes. The future she sees can be different altogether, if the context through which one originally receives them is alterered. If Shizune simply stood by while that stranger went his way, he would have been killed in the manner that her vision predicted. However, because she reached out to him, it changed the variables enough to prevent him from being run over.

– For Mitsuru, Shiki demonstrates that his visions of “calculation” are the elimination by his mind of possibilities of the future. Shiki’s extraordinary reflexes and agility exceeded his expectations during his various attempts to have her riddled dead with shrapnel, and on his last try, her Mystic Eyes of Death Perception severed him from seeing and thus acting upon visions of “calculation” ever again.

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I talk on and on about the intricacies of how precognition in Kara no Kyoukai works, but how is all this “future-sight” business thematically relevant to the Kara no Kyoukai narrative? Shizune spots Shiki waiting for Mikiya and a flood of visions flash through her conscious detailing Shiki murdering Mikiya make her apprehensive enough, despite Mikiya’s earlier assurances in regards to her ability, to warn Mikiya of the dangers of continuing to associate with Shiki.

For the longest time in the story, Shiki’s been deemed as this latent serial murderer whose “origin” is one related to slaughter. Whether she wants  to or not, her mind constantly ruminates on homicidal urges she can’t help having, homicide towards what people, and homicide through what ways. A  thread continually resonates throughout the of the narrative that it was only a matter of time before she’d kill someone. Once she killed someone, the blood banks would open. She would lose all semblance of self-control over her actions. She’d give into her bloodlust. She’d create carnage left and right without pause.

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And yet, her love for Mikiya even after being forced to kill a person by Satsujin Kousatsu (Part 2) overrode her destructive impulses and allowed her to restrain herself, even when the first and quite possibly last living person she took a life from, who was cut from a similar destructive cloth, gave into his animalistic appetite for flesh. While she was ultimately unable to prevent herself from becoming a murderer, she managed not to immediately devolve, to respect Mikiya’s wish for death no more, even in spite of the fact that she believed, shortly before and after she committed the deed, that Mikiya himself was killed, and thus his mug wouldn’t be physically there to restrain her.

A person’s inherent “origin” in Kara no Kyoukai functions similarly to a person’s genetics in real life. Some people are more predisposed to aggression and violence. Correlation, however, does not mean causation. Predisposition does not mean inevitability. These factors do not determine that someone will become a serial murderer, let alone a murderer, because while people might be inherently inclined to act violently, violence, regardless of DNA or nature, is still a choice. Choice is a matter of the will, and Shiki’s will to resist becoming a serial murderer was steadfast enough to win out.

The same couldn’t be said for Mitsuru’s obsession to use his ability for serial bombing in order to feel alive. That is, until Shiki blinded his eye, and because of that, he was able to see the numerous possibilities, as opposed to just the one, to which he can lead his life down a fulfilling path towards.

The future is set in stone for these characters only so far as they believe it is set in stone. Murderous origins and “future-sight” in Kara no Kyoukai thus act as metaphor for a similar theme. As long as they do nothing and give in to fatalism, nihilism, and their baser instincts, the future will always appear bleakly certain for them. Stones can be dashed, however. They can crack, and they’re easier to rupture with help. But the onus of breaking these foundations of delusion rests with them.

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Fast-forward to Mirai Fukuin of the future, or Möbius Stone, and Mitsuru, the former serial bomber turned children stories author, is working a job he couldn’t possibly foresee earlier doing. In exchange for the forgiveness of a large debt he accrued from loan sharks, he now works tasks under Mikiya and Shiki because of a recommendation from Mana Ryougi. Mana Ryougi is Mikiya’s and Shiki’s daughter.

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Garden of Sinners is a narrative repudiation of the “appeal to nature” logical fallacy. The narrative goes that while that future might not be set in stone, it can end up being ironic. And with that epilogue, the redrawn curtain falls once more.

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One thought on “The Garden of Sinners: Breaking Stones

  1. As a huge fan of KnK, I thank you for adding to the far-too-small amount of thematic analysis on this work.
    This post showed me a way of thinking about the epilogue that I never would have thought about before.
    Thank you.

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