- Genre : Supernatural, drama, thriller, horror, psychological, romance
- Length: 2h 1 minute
- Studio: ufotable
This is the story of a girl with a dream that was unbearably beautiful. A dream so bright that it blinded her and so pretty that it hurt. A dream that made her so happy that she was frightened and tried to kill it. And when she found that she couldn’t, she was lost. This is also the story of two boys with the same impossible dreams. One boy is calm and strong. He holds his impossible dream close to his heart, refusing to give up, and walks a world bathed in light with quiet dignity. He knows the sacrifices he will have to make for his dream. One boy is tense and feeble. He sees no other option but to lash out at a dream beyond his reach and crumbles under the weight of disappointment. He walks in shadows letting his fragility destroy everything in his path. He’s too scared of sacrifice so he turns to slaughter. This is a story of how dreams can be ruthless and tender at the same time.
You know what, for contrast, let’s see how MAL describes this movie: In February 1999, a string of murders has Shiki Ryougi and Mikiya Kokutou on edge. These crimes share a disturbing resemblance to a similar set of homicides from 1995, when Shiki and Mikiya first met, and awaken a dark, murderous desire that has laid dormant within Shiki’s soul ever since then.
With Shiki under suspicion due to her involvement in the past killings and supposed resemblance to the killer, she and Mikiya set out to find the true perpetrator. In the midst of their separate investigations, Mikiya grows increasingly concerned with Shiki’s well-being and hurries to find the one responsible in order to protect Shiki from her own impulses. With the lead he receives from his cousin, police investigator Daisuke Akimi, Mikiya is led into the underbelly of Mifune City, as the salvation of Shiki’s soul lies in his determination to prove her innocence once and for all. My Anime List
I’m going to say, MAL’s description is better. Certainly, more helpful. Call me crazy though, but I think mine is more accurate. Let me explain:
I was certainly looking forward to this movie. Of the 7 the Garden of Sinners movies I have seen so far, Chapter 2 (the first half of the present story), and the two movies leading up to this one, have been my favourites. The bar was set fairly high.
If you’ve read my previous reviews, you know that I am enamoured with the production of these movies. Not so much the technical mastery, although the studio is quite proficient, but the way that the production elements are weaved into the narrative to enhance and even add to the story in nontraditional ways.
Even though the story itself is often a stark and brutal story filled with pain and angst, it is delivered to us in creative and even playful ways that remain interesting even when they don’t work out quite as planned. What’s more, every movie innovates on this and tries out new things. This aspect of the production has earned my respect for the studio and I will be on the lookout for their future projects. (Yes, I am watching Demon Slayer).
In the Garden of Sinners Chapter 7 ……not nothing heart. (Murder Speculation Part B) (this title is gonna pad out, my word count!) the director started playing with camera angles, rather than framing or colours to set the mood, especially on Mikiya. As a fairly impassive and calm character, his emotions can’t be properly conveyed through dialogue alone so the camera pans out above making him seem small and showing us how scared or helpless he may feel in a situation or shifts slightly below to emphasize his resolve. It goes left and right visually communicating his uncertainty. The effect is subtler than in past movies but works well on a visceral level.
To go with the figurative themes of light and darkness that play out through the story, there is also very literal use of shadows. Not only is the movie just plain dark for a lot of the runtime, but character movement is also frequently shown through their shadows or throw the shadows that pass over them.
I also realized for the first time that Shiki may be colour coded. Throughout the movies, Shiki wears a blue kimono which she very occasionally accessorizes with a red moto jacket, except for events that happen before the murders of 1995. We know that when she was younger, she used to wear both her traditional blue kimono as well as a striking red one. She even had a yellow one which she wore on a single particular occasion. I could be wrong, but I think Shiki wears a blue kimono while SHIKI wears the red one. The jacket is a way for Shiki to remember her “lost brother” and she wears it on occasions when she needs to channel that part of herself. As for the yellow, it’s in the one scene when SHIKI and Mikiya connect on a friendly basis with Shiki in the background.
This last paragraph got really confusing, didn’t it? That’s ok, it’s on par with the rest of the movie.
If you were to strip all the artifice away from the movie and simply explain it as a string of events, you would realize that it’s a little shallow. Technically, it’s more or less a crime thriller with a drug subplot that simply not developed enough to be interesting. The motivations of the antagonist are flimsy, and the mystery is not set up well enough to be intriguing and solved too easily to be satisfying. On a text level, it’s kind of subpar. And this is more or less true for a lot of the Garden of Sinners movies.
That’s because the real story is all in subtext. The big topics that go through the franchise were always identity, r the search and acceptance for one’s true nature and how you can reconcile with yourself in order to live with others. And this is essentially the culmination of Shiki’s great existential quest. In Rio, she’s finally forced to face herself (in more ways than one, this is not what I meant when I said the best enemy for Shiki is herself…) and decide who she wants to be. I have to admit, this movie didn’t quite live up to my expectations. Not that I really knew what those expectations were but somehow I wanted it to be something else.
For one, it was too long. When my mind starts to seriously wander during the bloody climax, that’s just not a good sign. All and all, a good half hour could have been trimmed off this movie. Second, this may just be my personal bias, but the strong romantic b plot was fairly uninteresting. Although both characters are pleasant and it’s easy to root for their relationship, it was presented in such a repetitive way that I got over it by the midpoint. In a way, it felt like the sprawling tale of deep existential angst that took seven movies to unfold, was trying so hard to become a gritty modern epic that it lost track of itself a bit and simply couldn’t find a way to properly wrap up.
SPOILERS – SPOILERS BIG SPOILERS AHEAD
I’m not sure if this was as intended (it felt like a reshoot to me), but the Garden of Sinners Chapter 7 ……not nothing heart. (Murder Speculation Part B) couldn’t stick the bummer ending. Instead, we got a borderline Deus ex machina everyone we like is ok ending with an abrupt tonal shift towards Disney level happily ever after and the end of the credits. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but somehow failed to properly med with the lead-up and ended up feeling like a bit of a cop-out to me.
END OF THE SPOILERS _ EVERYTHING IS OK NOW
This said there was still a lot to enjoy but it was by no means my favourite movie and had I seen it first, I may not have watched the rest. There were a couple of fantastic lines of dialogue though. At one point Touko has a speech about the Dignity of Murder as opposed to the Debasement of Slaughter which I enjoyed a lot. Also, Mikiya says this to Shiki over the phone: (I’m roughly paraphrasing here) “People like different things, you just happen to like murder…” Great conversation starter!
Favorite character: Still Touko. We see her young in a picture again. Rrrrawwwrrr
What this anime taught me: Shiki is still in school???!!!??? How????
It takes only one drink to get me drunk. The trouble is, I can’t remember if it’s the thirteenth or the fourteenth.
Suggested drink: Happy Ending
- Every time we see a newscast – take a sip
- Every time anything is falling from the sky – take a sip
- Every time we see an answering machine… wait, you guys probably don’t know what that is. OK, so before voicemail there were these machines with tapes….ok so tapes were….
- Every time a megane is not wearing their glasses – take a sip
- Every time we see drugs – get some munchies
- Every time we see a blood splatter – get some water
- Every time anyone gets stabby staby – take a sip
I’m doing an informal survey, I’m going to ask in a few posts, do you enjoy a large number of screencaps? If so, do you prefer them on the post or on another site and is Pinterest better than Imgur? This time I’m going to do as usual an put a few here and the rest on the other two sites.