I’m going to use the English name here, because I’m that kind of person. The garden of sinners is a movie series that I’ve been waiting for years to watch. Partially because there wasn’t a legal way to watch it anywhere for a long time and partially because I’m too much of cheap skate to buy the expensive aniplex dvd set or import it from Japan. Nope, that wasn’t going to happen. Even with the incredible hype around the series from people who watched it, this movie series was never THAT high on my priority list to watch. It was nice that it appeared somewhere legally. Garden of Sinners was an added bonus that KIND of made having anime strike worth it. So in the end, was the hype and the years of waiting before watching this movie series worth it? Well, yes and no.
For those of you not in the know, Garden of Sinners is a super natural, mystery movie series of seven based on a light novel . The movies are told in an out of order kind of way for some reason. I shouldn’t say some reason, it starts to make sense to the audience as you watch more of it. There are certain continuity aspects that show up in one portion of a movie and then a back story of why that object is around or why something happened to a person occurred in either the next movie or a movie after. I know that I am being incredibly vague here, but each movie has their own plot. There is no way to sum up Garden of Sinners as a whole on a story telling level, because this is a series more about its characters than anything else.
Garden of Sinners is based around the relationship between Mikiya Kagutou and Shiki Ryougi. Mikiya is the lay man or normal person for this…couple? He’s not physically strong at all, but has incredible mental capabilities. He is intelligent and is able to put clues together in short amount of time and is strong when it comes to his convictions. He’s a goody goody, but no matter what situations he is thrown in or how much he is hurt, he never wavers. Name one person who can do that in real life? Then there is Shiki, who is the complete opposite. The Garden of Sinners movie series is about her emotional growth. She is mentally weak, but she can physically kick everyone’s ass. Her fighting skills are top notch and has the mystic eyes of death perception. From a time line perspective, she starts out as a psycho because she has two separate personalities. After an accident, one of her personalities goes missing and is left emotionally weak. Also, did I mention that she murders people? Yeah, she’s a killer. Her emotional journey starts at the psycho killer level and eventually leads to someone who will never kill anyone again and wants to live a normal life level. It’s all because of Mikiya, which is an upside and a downside to me.
The biggest hang up that I have with this movie series and a lot of the Fate/Nasu universe is the fact that it that the elements of an otaku fantasy or fetish series are strong. How can I prove this, because Shiki go through a lot of character archetypes throughout the films. In the beginning of the time line, Mikiya immediately falls in love with Shiki despite her two personalities and the fact that she is a killer. So there is that yandere thing. After her accident, Shiki fit the dandere stage and the eventual tsundere stage as she gets more development and growth. Should I also mention that Mikiya has a sister who is a Rin Tohsaka clone and is in love with him? This is based around a light novel after all. Of course there are some tropes that fit into it. I do admit that Garden of Sinners has a decently written narrative behind all this that links it all together, but that doesn’t change the fact that all of this still exists wrapped in with super natural and mystery things.
Garden of Sinners strongest attributes are its graphics and music. All of these things are widely known. If you didn’t know about this fact, now you do. This movie series seems to be the thing that put Ufotable on the map and set itself apart from any other production studio. Since this is a Type Moon property, all the character designs are still type moon character designs of course. It only makes sense. All the movies are well shot, well directed, and have incredibly detailed backgrounds that make you feel like you are living and breathing in the world presented in the films. Then there is the animation. The fight scenes themselves are all top notch and well-choreographed, but even things like simple walking animations are incredibly fluid as well. Finally, the soundtrack. The OST is from when Yuki Kajiura was at her best and way before her work became repetitive. I’ve listened to a lot of her soundtracks, but there is something special that sticks out to me in this series. I’m not sure that is yet, but it just has an it or wow factor that not many of her works after this series ever fit. Something for me to think about for a while, I suppose.
As everyone who has watched this movie series has said, the best part of Garden of Sinners is movie five. I’m sure my reasons are far different from everyone else’s, but it is just a solid movie. It stays away from a lot of the things that I mentioned in the previous paragraph and focuses on a character that we’ve never seen before and gives more insight on Touko’s past. Shiki and Mikiya play a more backseat roll. The story telling is very out of older, but it fulfills the themes of the yin and yang that is talked about in the film quite a bit. That’s something that you won’t understand, unless you watch the film yourself. I know that not many people would consider this a stand-alone film, but the fifth movie is its own self-contained story. Maybe some backstory from previous movies will help fill in some character’s backstories, but that’s not a huge deal or a major focus in this movie.
IN the end, I don’t think The Garden of Sinners was for me. I’m not a big fan of a lot of light novel adaptations and while this is better written then a lot of other stories, but it still falls into a lot of the traps that most light novel adaptations fall in. No, before you say anything, there isn’t a trap in the series. Knowing that this is an alternate fate/nasu universe thing. That makes this a little bit of a required watch for me, but I still think that Fate/Zero is my favorite part of this franchise. The Garden of Sinners falls in second, if I had to rank parts of this franchise. I think you should watch it if you are interested in the fate universe, but it’s not required viewing at all. I mean, it’s a hard thing to binge watch because the movies go from forty five minutes all the way up to two hours. Sitting down and watching it all can be difficult. There is some active scheduling that needs to be done to watch it all.
And with this, I call my older series watching for summer 2017 to be over. What did you think of this movie series? Do you like it or dislike it? Why?
The series has affected me quite a lot. To be frank, enough to become my favorite, probably because of the variety of themes explored and philosophical insights. I think that your problems with the series are completely justifiable, but it’s not really fair because Nasu wrote the novels way back in 90s e.g. before it was cool to speak about yanderes and stuff. For the same reason Azaka doesn’t deserve to be called a clone of Rin but rather a prototype. Sure, it doesn’t make the series more attractive now, and Nasu himself had said that he’s not overly happy about some aspects of the novels but I think Garden of Sinners is still worth experiencing, at least for the animation and the sound.
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I’m not denying that it’s not a great experience to watch and has some good philosophical themes going that I like, I guess it’s just the general light novel culture of today. Even if it’s from the 90’s, it has so many of those tropes that are used today. I know it’s just my problem, but they are still there. *sigh*
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Well, it’s definitely not your problem, it’s just a problem of contemporary industry – anything that starts to look interesting gets repeated over and over again and inevitably some of the later works manage to improve one aspect or another so that the early creations don’t look that innovative anymore. I guess pretty much the same can be said about Azumanga Daioh – it had a huge impact on the slice of life comedy genre but today it’s not that remembered apart from being influential in the past. Ultimately it’s as with every show – personal interests and experiences of each viewer make an anime more or less relatable and therefore liked or not.
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I just need to sit down and finish this. I agree with movie five being the best though as that’s where I last left off. Enjoyed your thoughts and was unaware of the Fate connection.
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The Fate connection, I like that!
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just wondering…what LN tropes were you referring to? it’s been a while since i last saw the movies (should probably watch again because i quite liked them)
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I was referring to all the bad things that light novel adaptions are known for these days. It just stopped me from enjoying the movie series as much as I could. I didn’t say that it was bad because I enjoyed a lot of it, but will…you know….