Kara no Kyoukai – The Garden of Sinners Original Soundtrack – Review

Album Title: the Garden of sinners -Movie “Kara no Kyoukai”
Music Collection-
Anime Title: Kara no Kyoukai
Artist: Yuki Kajiura, Kalafina
Catalog Number: SVWC-7749~50
Release Type: Soundtrack
Release Date: March 02, 2011
Purchase at: CDJapan, Play-Asia

Review: It isn’t often that I can name a series in which the anime’s content and its soundtrack are joined together so seamlessly that both entities are rendered inseparable, but Kara no Kyoukai is one of the few that qualifies. As I watched the movies, the animation and atmosphere bring out a dark and mysterious world filled with danger and despair, qualities heightened further by Yuki Kajiura’s evocative compositions. In just the very first track, “in the garden of sinners,” Kajiura’s music impresses. The piece starts out filled with dull-grays through the soloist’s muffled, distant delivery, but once the rest of Kalafina joins in, the sheer beauty carried through their voices provides a splash of radiant coloration onto the canvas. Yet, the tone is overwhelmingly lonely and tragic. These emotions mirror the atmosphere that blankets much of the setting and the characters and lay the groundwork for what’s to come.

So with that, the journey begins. “Thanatos,” which covers the first Kara no Kyoukai movie, Overlooking View, starts off with a heavy, dissonant atmosphere, but quickly discards that chaotic air in favor of a melancholy one. Echoes of the loneliness that pervade the first track are present here, brought out compellingly through the flute melody that is as beautiful as it is sorrowful. The general mood is further augmented by Kalafina’s harmonizations which, like elsewhere in the album, yield a pensive, ethereal quality, along with a hint of mystery and a knowing nod towards the tragic threads interwoven in Kara no Kyoukai’s narrative fabric.

As you approach “Thanatos’s” halfway point, flashes of redemption are heard through the strings, but just when you think that the piece is setting itself to wind down on a comforting note, the synth makes a return, and with it, the ominous aura borne by a dissonant tone that sits in the background. The suspense is heightened, and I like how its accented through the solitary xylophone which conjures up in my mind a disconcerting feeling in the way it tiptoes around almost deliberately, as though some supernatural power is toying around with the protagonist like a cat playing around with its prey. A heavy rhythm goes in to reinforce this mood, setting up a strong foundation for the action-filled moment where the furious guitar shredding summons a hauntingly beautiful, graceful action theme. Before the piece closes out completely, the flute comes in and later, a cello, which, together, bestow a sense of finality. Through death, the pain and suffering are over.

“Thanatos” serves as an excellent example of the myriad of emotions that arise from the lengthy tracks on this album. And I do mean lengthy. Though the pieces tend to be long, the people who put this soundtrack collection together did their best to take the more prominent themes from each of the Kara no Kyoukai movies and join them in such a way that each track tells a complete story. There are moments, like one in “something and nothing” and “kara-no-kyoukai” where the transition from one musical segment to the next is either noticeably clumsy or the themes lack coherence, but for the most part, the melodies are stitched together seamlessly into an enjoyable package that’s high on the nostalgia factor for those who’ve seen the movies.

In short, unless I really missed out on something, all of the standout melodic segments and main themes are there. For example, one of the pieces that I had been looking forward to was the waltzing theme from A Study in Murder (Part 1). As I watched the movie, I found myself captivated by its melody; not only was it catchy, it encompassed a wide emotional spectrum. Materializing in “something and nothing” and “quiet romance,” between the two, I like the latter a bit more because of the variety of instruments that contribute to the heartrending feelings. The piano is more sobering, setting the melancholy tone which the flute draws upon to elicit those yearning emotions, while the strings carry a more dignified aura that has the feel of an emotional odyssey as it expresses the determination to find and unite with loved ones once again.

As you move further along, there’s a lot of variety to enjoy, from the ominous aura of “paradox” to “magician’s” grotesque dance. The heavier atmosphere dominates much of this soundtrack, but there are lighter moments too. Of those, I’m most fond of Azaka Kokutou’s appropriately spunky theme, which can be heard in the beginning of “when the fairy tale ends.” The piano’s light steps bring a smile to my face with its bright and cheery tones, a feeling further enhanced through the ensemble’s pomp and splendor. But that’s not all it has to offer because “when a fairy tale ends” continues to engross, particularly when Kajiura calls in the introduction to Kalafina’s “Fairytale,” which soothes me with its tranquil delivery, and when the oft-played action theme comes in to keep me engaged through its twists and turns that help propel the action along and make the battle more exciting.

But all things must come to an end, and in Kara no Kyoukai’s soundtrack, that end is in “snow is falling.” The track initially features Kalafina’s soothing, hopeful vocals which shine in their own right, but what I really like is how this piece functions as the bookend as it reprises the main theme from “in the garden of sinners,” except this time, it’s played by a full string ensemble. The calming aura that issues forth through the combination of the strings and chorus provides closure as the horrors of the past become naught but a distant memory. Life can go on as normal, and the optimistic mood offers the assurance that all is at peace and shall remain so.

When I first saw the tracklist, I was a bit torn in the way they decided to condense Kajiura’s score for all of the Kara no Kyoukai movies into such lengthy tracks, but looking back, this was the right decision that, more importantly, benefited from stellar execution. As I listen to this album, my memories of the movies are rekindled. Yuki Kajiura once again shows her deft handling of the action and atmosphere, and through her music, I once again find myself immersed in the world sculpted by Kinoko Nasu, with its dark, mysterious overtones scarred by tragedy and sadness but buoyed by the promise of hope and salvation.

Rating: Excellent


Anime Instrumentality's Founder and Editor-in-Chief. As you can probably guess, I'm a big anime music junkie with a special love for composers who've put out some beautiful melodies to accompany some of my favorite anime series. I tend to gravitate towards music in the classical style with Joe Hisaishi and Yoko Kanno being a few of my favorite composers, but I've come to appreciate jazz and rock as anime music has widened my tastes.

11 thoughts on “Kara no Kyoukai – The Garden of Sinners Original Soundtrack – Review

  • May 9, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    you know this reminds me of something… transformers, oh god how i hated the first movie, but if they did anything right it would probably be pulling some cool song from lincoln park to make the credits exaggerate the awesomeness of the movie, which wasn’t really awesome. Same thing here except everything’s not only original, but each song that played with the credits actually matches with the feeling of the movie, giving off a purely magnificent feeling, not some illusion. even with all the talkative moments, kajira’s music added definition to the scene, from the lonely and somber into to the powerful shift of suspense of ryougi’s action scene.

    gawd i love kajira’s music, sry for the ranting, but for once, when i first heard this, i truly felt like i was in a fantasy, and not only simply created by princes, knights and dragons lol.

  • May 10, 2011 at 1:43 am

    Haha finally you reviewed Kara no Kyoukai OST! I’ve started wathcing the series a week ago actually 😀 And my opinion is, the movie (chapter 1) and the ost are PERFECTLY matched, from scene to scene, until the credits.

    Man, at first, I knew Yuki Kajuira from See-Saw in Gundam Seed OST, after i looked deeper about See-Saw then I found out that she is also a composer. And when I watched kara no kyoukai, the movie and the ost are wonderful combinations.

    I mean, there are many other good osts that suits the movie and good to be listened, but this one, it took the viewer deeper to the movie, and also, it’s not oversynthesized or something, the music simple but awesome, combined with choirs by kalafina(?).

    I think everyone who have watched the movie will also give positive comments to this ost. 🙂

    Anyway, what is the KnK ost that you buy? Is it from certain episodes or is it some “best collection/ compilation?”

    Too bad I couldn’t afford to buy one coz in my country, the tax for imported products sometimes it twice than the product itself! T T

    • May 10, 2011 at 2:22 pm

      @some loser
      Kajiura’s main strengths are definitely on display here and her music just immerses you into the scenes really well, especially in capturing the melancholy emotions that the characters have. Easily, the highlight, for anyone who watches the movie and listens to the soundtrack is just being able to recall those scenes with a huge amount of clarity. Definitely give this soundtrack a listen then because it is that good!

      Kajiura has done a lot of work over the years and I’m glad to hear that you’re enjoying the movies so far. One of the scenes that struck me the most was when Shiki was battling those phantasms and the music that played was oh-so-gorgeous! To this day, I can’t help but play it over and over, and thankfully, that theme gets a lot of love here.

      As far as your questions go, Kalafina do most of the harmonizations and I did end up buying the best collection compilation. It’s just too bad that it’s expensive (as a few people have pointed out), but I luckily had some money to spare. Can’t say I regret it either since I’ve found it very enjoyable.

  • May 11, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    Yuki Kajiura is often called a “one trick pony” amongst people I know, where all she does is compose melancholic dark themes. While I do partially agree with that notion (she does have her hopeful, happy songs out there as well), I don’t really see it as much of an negative issue.

    Kajiura’s work with Kara no Kyoukai would be the perfect example here; the soundtracks she made for the movies are definitely distinctly Kajiuran in style, but they also fit the atmosphere and setting almost perfectly. Some tracks in particular really shine in how evocative they are.

    That being said, I didn’t realize that they mixed up songs in this KNK ost release. I’ll have to check it out sometime, because it sounds quite interesting.

    • May 13, 2011 at 1:32 am

      Correct on all points. The goal of the soundtrack is mostly to mesh with the anime’s atmosphere, something that Kajiura does extremely well. More importantly, she excels at bringing out the nostalgia through a standalone listen to where almost every scene is clearly remembered. And even if you haven’t seen the anime, it still sounds kickass in the end.

  • October 24, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    i own 7 dvds of kara kyoukai series and its soundtrack
    the animation and storytelling of the dvds are just stunning
    but the music is something else.

    it reminds me of kimi go nonzomu eien music
    beautiful and gorgous even without watching either anime
    the music just brings you to a very diffrent place to the anime.
    it would be great to fall asleep to and dream.

    i love this music just as much
    as the 1995 ghost in the shell movie soundtrack
    its very diffrent but very listenable in certain moods

    great to reading manga to

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  • January 26, 2016 at 10:33 am

    What kind of a pretentious faggot does it take to write such bullshit?

    • June 8, 2016 at 12:00 pm

      Huh, didn’t know “pretentious faggot” was even a valid insult these days. Have fun in the stone age, Rance!

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