That which is proves the existence of that which is not; yin shows the nature of yang. An object is defined not only by what it is, but by the quality of not being anything else. One must understand the self in order to understand the other. And yet, even as all things are different, so to are they all the same. The source materials for all matter can be broken down to the same origin. Thus, even within male, there is female; even within life, there is death. Existence proves the concept of nonexistence, yet as such, nonexistence has the quality of existing, and existence has the quality of containing nothingness. This is a spiraling paradox.
The first half of Mujun Rasen is shaped in the same way as the Ogawa building. It is split in two, with Mikiya’s story occupying one half, and Shiki’s story occupying the other. Shiki who is drawn by death, and Mikiya who is drawn by life. Shiki who is woman and Mikiya who is man. Just as the Ogawa building is built to take you to the wrong floors, turn you around, and trick you, the film itself is constantly twisting through time and location, presenting its story in fragments that only come together into a full picture when both halves of the spiral are compared. Even as Shiki and Mikiya only appear in their own halves, they exist in both.
A paradox spiral is what leads us to the origin of everything. Because it is a paradox, however, it is impossible to comprehend. Nothingness is inherently incomprehensible, as the quality of not being something makes nothing imperceptible–we can only see the somethingness inside of nothingness. Tomoe represents the life that exists within death. his origin is uselessness, yet he is more useful than anyone. What the paradox spiral really teaches us is that nothing has inherent meaning because everything has inherent significance. Nothing–no thing–can be created or destroyed.
Mujun Rasen is by far the most energetic, entertaining, and insane Kara no Kyoukai film. With its constant use of inventive scene transitions and shot compositions, and over the top moments of violence and plot mechanics, it has a zany, almost punk atmosphere that really feels at home with its contemporaries in the light novel horror genre. The characters have way more time to breathe and develop, and there’s even a strange sense of often dark humor underlying a lot of the film. It’s as if this were the film meant to bust the entire series wide open, or perhaps to reveal its innermost nature.
An existence’s fakeness can only be determined by how that existence fails to be what it is supposed to be. As soon as an existence is identical to what it is supposed to be, it is indistinguishable from the real thing. Exact recreation is impossible, but exact existence is also impossible, as the atom structure of any object is constantly changing. As such, on any level less broad than that of existence itself, any object that is identical to another can be considered the exact same thing on every relevant level, even if that object is a person. Touko’s doll is as real as Touko ever was, and Tomoe is as real as any human.
Whereas previous films in the series were more about atmosphere and hints of themes for the viewer to chew on, Mujun Rasen’s gratification is more immediate and easily understood. Its themes are about a broad as they could possibly be, but the intricacies and specifics of its story are more entertaining and memorable than those of past films. It lacks that personal impact that the others had, yet has the most of its own personality. If the other films are mirrors through which to view yourself, Mujun Rasen is more of a well-detailed picture. And as such, I may have the least to say about it–so I leave you only with this little spiral I’ve crafted.