Kara no Shoujo - The Second Episode (KNS 2) is a direct sequel to Kara no Shoujo (KNS) and the third visual novel of the mystery series by Innocent Grey. It was finally translated and released in English by MangaGamer on November 2015. Since this is a sequel, there will be spoilers from the previous two VNs in this review but I will avoid spoiling anything in KNs 2. The novel assumes that you have at least read KNS and the KNS 2 Trial (which is more of a prequel), but I do recommend reading Cartagra to gain more background knowledge of past events and a few returning characters.
Does KNS 2 live up to the expectations as a sequel? I certainly think so!
Read on for the full review.
Story and writing - 4.5/5
As described by Innocent Grey, KNS 2 takes place 2 years after the events of KNS 1. The novel primarily focuses on the investigation of the murders resembling Hinna-sama's curse but in the background, the framework for the true ending is slowly being constructed. Rest assured, there will be a satisfying ending conclusion to Toko's story.
As with KNS 1, KNS 2 is filled with symbolism. In the first novel, Dante's Inferno was the inspiration behind the murders. In KNS 2, the chapters are called Terraces, in reference to Dante's Purgatorio and the 7 deadly sins. I didn't actually pay attention to the significance behind the naming of the chapters during my playthrough, but it's something worth keeping in mind as you read.
The major fault or double edged sword of KNS 2's story is with its pacing at the beginning. The novel spends hours on exposition and introducing the main characters in Terrace 2. It's useful in establishing the link between the past and the present but I feel like the beginning could do with less slice of life. Despite the length, I feel like it's absolutely necessary to understanding the motives of some of the characters. Fortunately the story picks up quickly after Terrace 2, and Reiji soon learns just how the events of the past are related to the present.
One of the best aspects of KNS 2 is its cohesiveness throughout the whole novel. Everything makes sense if you read carefully and think hard about the cases. But even if you don't, everything is eventually explained. It's amazing how some seemingly irrelevant text near the beginning manages to turn into something meaningful by the end of the novel.
If I had to nitpick, I'd have to say that the murders in KNS 2 feel a lot less impactful than in KNS 1. They sort of just happen, and it's hard to feel anything for the victims since Reiji doesn't personally know them. There was no sense of dread when I watched the victims being killed and being strung up.
While the KNS series is supposed to be in a non-fantasy fictional setting, I feel like there are some parts that require some suspension of disbelief. Some of it is explained once you finish the normal ending and restart the VN, but it still feels a little far-fetched. The other part has to do with the heroine, Yukiko, and her endings. I can't say too much more without spoiling, but her psychological problem feels like the kind of magical realism that KEY tries to pull off.
Characters - 4.5/5
Tokisaka Reiji is once again the main protagonist and narrator of KNS 2. No need to really say anything about him. How could anyone possibly dislike him? Reiji is joined by Tomoyuki Masaki early on as an assistant and narrator. At first he seems pretty clueless about the whole detective business, but soon reveals his competency in the line of work. Over time I really grew to like Masaki, as he brings a different point of view to the story.
While Yukiko is the main "heroine" of KNS 2, she doesn't get as much development or attention as Toko did in KNS. She's a quiet and shy girl who is very reserved about everything, but opens up once she gets to become friends with Yukari and Kohane (a new classmate). Unfortunately her story is relegated to the background until near the end of the novel, as the main focus of the story is on Masaki and the ongoing murders. Even during her arc, she's still a bland heroine who doesn't amount to much without Yukari.
The character who has gotten the most development since KNS is actually Yukari. We know her as a caring young sister who's quite independent and fond of insects. She still fits that role but has grown considerably since the disappearance of her best friend, Toko. And while she was mostly passive in KNS, she plays a more active role in KNS 2 in order to support her friends and family.
The side characters are quite likable and contribute to the enjoyment of the story. Of the returning characters, Yaginuma and Toji (from Cartagra) actively participate in the ongoing investigations. Of course Yaginima makes Reiji do the dirty work, but he is willingly to do whatever's necessary to solve the cases he's involved in. Toji is no longer part of the Hand of Death, and instead works to expose crimes through journalism. It's quite interesting to see the differences between the way that a detective, journalist, and police superintendent work.
The voice acting in KNS 2 is absolutely fabulous! Perhaps the best of any VN that I've read thus far. Readers will be pleasantly surprised to find out that Reiji is fully voiced in KNS 2, and the voice actor does a great job in conveying Reiji's sarcasm, frustrations, and wittiness. Some of you guys may recognize the voice actor as Archer from the Fate series. There's such a wide range of characters and personalities but there's no weak link anywhere. Even the minor side characters are voiced appropriately.
Art - 5/5
While one of KNS's greatest strengths is its artwork, KNS 2 manages to surpass its predecessor. Backgrounds and sprites are rendered beautifully and CGs are a real work of art. And while artwork is subjective, I personally think that KNS 2 is without a doubt one of the best in that area. Gore has been toned down in KNS 2, which will probably please those who are uneasy about it. There are some pretty creepy CGs in this VN though, I'd have to say.
Music - 4.5/5
Like KNS, the soundtrack consists mostly of nice jazzy themes and softer piano ones. However, the music this time is more versatile than in the previous novels, as it covers the countryside setting of Hitogata with some folk styled themes. And while the sound track consists mostly of new tracks, there are arrangements of a few tracks from the original. You'll be hearing Days II a lot, so it's a good thing that it's a very well done arrangement.
UI & Misc. - 5/5
The interface largely remains similar to the original, with a simple but effective UI. Innocent Gray did a great job with the journal feature in KNS 2, compiling evidence and characters from both the past and present. It allows the reader to refer back to things that they might have forgotten about. A new addition in KNS is the glossary, which shows terms that might be unfamiliar to western audiences, as well as terms that are specific to the KNS world. With such a vast time span within the story and cast, the improved journal is as nice addition to the VN.
While it may be difficult to navigate through the VN with so many choices, it is quite toned down from KNS 1. There are less possible endings, and it is impossible for you miss any evidence or clues during investigations. Reiji will let you know if he thinks that there's more evidence to be found.
The amount of H scenes has been toned down from KNS as well. It no longer feels like there are H scenes for the sake of having H scenes. That's a pretty big improvement for the flow of the novel.
One thing that bothered me though was this weird bug that would cause the whole interface to be flipped upside down, EXCEPT for the chat box. It would happen sometimes when I full screen or change to windows mode using alt+enter. Whenever it happened, I would have to reset my game. The work-around is to just stay in full screen and tab out when needed. Im not sure if this is limited to just my computer, so I won't take any points off for that.
While KNS 2 could have done better in regards to pacing, it was necessary for setting up the complex story and for character development. And even though Yukiko is a weaker heroine than Toko, she gets points for developing the other major characters. In this case, it does help that her story is kept in the background for the most part. The other issues are somewhat minor compared to those two.
Kara no Shoujo 2 is a top notch experience for VN lovers all around. Everything including the artwork, music, interface, and narrative has been improved from KNS. I have to commend MangaGamer for doing such a fantastic job in translating this epic VN. The ending was beautifully done and ties up the overall theme of "obsessions" while setting up a sequel. I really couldn't have asked for a better sequel from Innocent Gray.
Now, the waiting begins for Kara no Shoujo 3.
Overall: 9.5 (+0/-1) - Excellent
Story & Writing - 4.5/5
Characters - 4.5/5
Art - 5/5
Music - 4.5/5
UI & Misc. 5/5
+Grand, well written story linking the previous two novels
+Two likeable protagonists who are both voiced
+Side characters that shine
+Excellent voice acting all around
+Top tier art quality
+Simple but effective UI
+Fitting music selection and compositions
+No more H for the sake of H
+Excellent translation job
~Extremely large cast of characters
~Gore is toned down from the first two vns
~Possibly difficult to navigate through choices without a guide
~Some suspension of disbelief is required at certain parts
-Slow pacing in the beginning
-Less impactful deaths compared to KNS
-Having to wait years for Kara no Shoujo 3
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is a full time otaku & audiophile who enjoys listening to Touhou music, playing doujin games, and reading visual novels. For more information, visit the About page.