Admittedly, I jumped into this equipped with only minimal TYPE-MOON knowledge, though that hasn't exactly stopped me as a casual fan from enjoying this epic adaptation of the light novel by ufotable. Despite being reassured from reading other reviews on how this is the best TYPE-MOON production to date, it wasn't much of an indication considering how Tsukihime is considered to be non-existent by certain quarters, and Fate/Stay Night being sub-par at best by those who played the game beforehand. After watching the first of the seven chapter movie, not only were my doubts quelled, I was left in awe towards the end, craving for more.
Unlike my summary cum review of Mukoh Hadan, which was too tl;dr for its own good, I'll just do a brief rundown on characters and the plot so you can just enjoy this at your own pace. Minor spoilers ahead.
A string of seemingly unrelated suicides at the same location piques the curiosity of Ryogi Shiki who suspects that there might be supernatural forces at work. Her investigation leads to a deadly encounter with several specters, all of which are the ghosts of the female victims. Eliminating these untouchable foes would require Ryogi to unleash her most deadly skill, as not only her life is placed on the line but that of her friend's.
The central character of the story, Ryogi's tomboyish and rough exterior undermines her feminine persona, though she is not the slightest bit concerned. Just like Shiki Tohno in Tsukihime, she too possesses the Mystic Eyes of Death Perception, a deadly ability that allows users to to completely obliterate the target, effectively erasing it from existence. This not only applies to objects with a physical form, but immaterial objects such as ghosts as well. Despite her portrayal as the ultimate assassin, Ryogi is still deep down a girl, a tsundere if I might add, with brilliant voice over work from Maaya Sakamoto.
If this name sounds familiar, that's because this person is the elder sister to Aozaki Aoko, whom fans might remember as Shiki Tohno's mentor. Serving as Ryogi's mentor in this story, Touko is a master at creating artificial prosthetics, which is almost indistinguishable from real thing itself. She too made one specifically for Ryogi's left arm, as well as a replacement after the previous one was damaged beyond repair during a battle.
At this point in time, Kokutou's role in the movie seems to be that of Ryogi's male friend and possible love interest. Despite his uncanny resemblance to Shiki Tohno, Kokutou does not appear to possess any special abilities and was put in a deep sleep throughout the entire show after being possessed by a specter. His boyish good looks somewhat contradicts his mature personality as he puts up with Ryogi's tsundere tendencies, occasionally rewarded with glimpses of her cute side.
Despite being bed-ridden, Kirie is this chapter's antagonist, being the mastermind that orchestrated the entire incident. Her intentions are not revealed even after her defeat in Ryogi's hands, though it is explained that she has two consciousness, one of which controls the specter that fought Ryogi.
Given the proper time and budget, it is amazing what these studios can churn out. Needless to say, everything regarding Kara no Kyoukai was avant garde, from its stunning visuals, engaging story and superb soundtrack, unmistakably Yuki Kajiura with the dark, haunting chants, befitting the theme of this movie. Considering the length of the first chapter, which clocks just about under an hour, not much about the plot is revealed, though questions such whether suicide is the right solution to solving life's problems are raised, serving as its central theme. For the average Joe, Kara no Kyoukai may seem confusing at first, so a little understanding of basic TYPE-MOON concepts helps in enjoying this to the fullest. Still, that does not overshadow its praise worthy aspects such as the impressive action sequences, particularly Ryogi's fight against the eight ghosts. The Chokushi no Magan is portrayed differently from what I had expected from playing Tsukihime, where the lines and dots were seen by Shiki Tohno in black and white, as opposed to Ryogi who saw them in different colored shapes. Even their fighting styles felt different, as the male Shiki in my mind was a ferocious and unstoppable killing machine, whereas Ryogi was cutting down her enemies in a single graceful motion that made it seem she was dancing in the battlefield. Combine the two aspects and you have a kaleidoscope of visual acrobatics.
In the end, there's much to like about this, as it apparently remains true to the source material, so veterans and casual fans like myself will find this enjoyable regardless of expectations. My only gripe would be the excruciating wait between each movie, though in hindsight it could would have been for the best, as turning it to 13 or 26 episode series might have ruined it instead. Also, I do believe Ryogi just dethroned Rin as my favorite TYPE-MOON female. Just look at her pouting face. So moe, my point of origin got erased.