- Genre : Supernatural, drama, psychological, romance
- Length: 33 minutes
- Studio: ufotable
At some point, most people have asked themselves who they are. What exactly defines us as us. Is the unique individual person stating back from the mirror real or is it just some construct. A stranger we took ourselves into thinking we know well. Is it pure hubris to think we are more than a slowly decaying bag of bones? And what’s the point anyway. In a world that is so terribly predictable, that will go one completely unaltered in the grand scheme of things, whether we are there or not, why bother doing anything at all? Yes, these are questions that we all ask ourselves, usually in high school. And that’s fitting since we found out that Shiki still is in high school.
When I started watching the Garden of Sinners movies, I mentioned that there are 10. And technically there are. However, some of my readers pointed out that the story proper plays out in the first 7 movies and the other 3 are side stories and an epilogue. That certainly is the case of The Garden of Sinners: Final Chapter. It plays out like an extended after credits tag. But is that a bad thing?
Let me be real with you, nothing happens in The Garden of Sinners: Final Chapter. This isn’t hyperbole, even for a half hour movie, it’s really light on action. Some slow walking and talking between two people is the extent of the animation. And it’s gorgeous! I mean it!
Not only that but I mean gorgeous animation not simply beautiful art. The art is pretty but both design and style are in keeping with both ufotable’s general aesthetic and what we’ve seen from the Garden of Sinners so far. If anything, the models are a little crisper, with cleaner lines and no useless clutter of ornamentation. There’s a certain bleak yet hopeful message being conveyed, a fresh start. And that message is brought out in the simple and sleek character designs.
Wait, let me flip the script. I’ll tell you about the narrative right now because the important part is how everything else feeds into it. It has to, or else there would be nothing there. Let me tell you about it:
After the events of the last movie, a scarred Mikya makes his way to the same deserted road overlooking the city to talk with Shiki, in a reprise of the opening scene from the second movie. It turns out this isn’t quite Shiki but yet another *personality* that lives within her. They have a slightly pretentious conversation on the nature of “self” while falling snow piles up around them and, as these types of conversations usually go, eventually it just reaches an end without any clear conclusion. That’s all.
I should not like this. It is fairly pretentious and the monologue (conversation is misleading. For the most part *Shiki* talks at Mikya and by extension the audience then Mikya does the same for a little bit) is rather naive. I would have loved this in high school! But I still admire the guts to put out a half hour movie that’s just one talk. It shows a lot of faith in your audience, both their loyalty and attention span. Shiki even has the b*lls to go on about how boring everything is. These tongue in cheek moments of self-awareness really elevate the piece. I think I might even have enjoyed it as a stand alone. I would have been very confused and considered it more like a piece of modern performative art than a movie but despite the pop philosophy, there something there. Basically, I didn’t love it like my high school self would have, but I did like it and that’s saying quite a bit.
As part of a larger franchise, the Final Chapter does drop a lot of clues about Shiki and her past if you’re paying attention. It also ends the main story on a quiet yet cautiously optimistic note that fits the overall tone much better than the Disney like ending of chapter 7. I’m the worst type of person for this type of “movie”. I’m very impatient, unemotional and shallow. A pragmatist above all else. Yet I’m very happy I watched The Garden of Sinners: Final Chapter, I believe it added something undeniably to Shiki’s story as a whole. Just don’t ask me what!
So bearing this in mind, why am I so taken with the production of what should be the least technically impressive movie in the series? I’ve already mentioned how the designs have a starkness that fits the conversation. Mikya is dressed in non-descript uniformly black clothes that match his hair and umbrella so that only his face stands out. Otherwise, he is an indistinct mass of black showing up in high contrast against the white snow. Shiki for her part is wearing a delicate pink kimono with a large luxurious obi. This is the most feminine and elegant we’ve ever seen her. Not an outfit suited for action and fighting but there’s something imposing about it. A sense of authority. Unlike Mikya she occasionally fades into the background, a much more ethereal creature than her companion to go along with her sense of emptiness.
Despite what it may seem like, the scene does contain a lot of movement. First, there is a constant wind that dies down and picks up again, rustling clothes and making hair fly all over the place. Maybe it’s because I come from a place of snow, but I couldn’t help but notice that the fall of the snowflakes didn’t always match up to the wind. But besides that little nitpick it was really beautifully animated and I could almost feel the chill even though I was watching this in June.
The idea of movement was also created by ever-changing camera angles. Although the two characters were more or less stationary, the image still jumped all over the place conveying the tension of the conversation that would normally have been shown through body language. This made Mikya and Shiki very definitive figures. Steady and unyielding, both finally sure of themselves, after all, they’ve been through. However the world around them remains shifty and insecure, no one can tell what the future holds! At least, that’s what I got from it…
Finally, the ambient colour scheme is a complete departure from previous the Garden of Sinners movies. Through the falling snow, everything is bathed in yellow light. It’s oddly warm and peaceful. Not the menacing shadows and sharp cold tones we’ve gotten used to. These colours are calm, almost inviting. A nice rest after a long and gruelling ordeal.
As you can see, once again the strong non-verbal storytelling that has been the true glory of this series shines through. It’s a simple half hour set piece. I have a feeling that it would bore quite a few fans. But it remains very true to the core of the Garden of Sinners saga and as such, if you enjoyed all the previous movies, I would encourage you to give this one a try. It’s a worthy conclusion and a good way to cap everything off.
Now I m really wondering what’s in those other two movies.
Favourite character: the snow?
What this anime taught me: the art of Anime goes well beyond what meets the eye. Who am I kidding, I already knew that!
A bottle of wine contains more philosophy that all the books in the world
Suggested drink: Snowfall (this seems delicious)
- As long as it’s snowing – feel free to slowly sip at your leisure (don’t chug this one, it would be a waste!)
- Every time anyone says “Shiki” – take a deep breath
- Every time someone speculates on the nature of “self” – stroke your chin knowingly
- Every time we see footsteps in the snow – stretch your legs
- Every time a soft wind blows – fan yourself
- Every time someone says “personality” – listen
- Every time the camera angle changes – take note
It’s difficult to really grasp just how great the visuals are without seeing the Final Chapter, ut the screencaps are at the very least striking!