Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Beyond the Boundary (Kyōkai no Kanata)

There's nothing I love more than rubbing a quick one out. Anime, that is. Perhaps I should have chosen my words better in my opening statement in order to prevent any unwanted visual images from popping up. Oh, well, too late for that. 

Since I've been dedicating a large portion of my life to two animes over the last three months I decided to change things up a bit. While I love sailing with Luffy and kicking Akatsuki ass with Naruto, I've been needing some more diversity. 

Beyond the Boundary has been on my list of anime to watch although I couldn't tell you exactly why. I probably just added it on a whim like pretty much everything else. I'm not surprised I enjoyed it, either. My whims generally turn out well. 

However, I almost stopped watching this show after the first episode because I found myself being momentarily confused. The confusion was solely mine and not anything related to the plot or pace of the show, though. I simply confused this show for another show called Outbreak Company. I guess I really need to read those plot summaries closer (or at all), but this was one of those whim kind of things and it's not really a whim if I do a lot of research. I had initially been wanting to watch Outbreak Company since it had a plot about a huge anime fan doing nerdy stuff (or something like that), but I had a moment of temporary insanity and started watching Beyond the Boundary instead. 

You know that, "This isn't anything close to what I was expecting" line of thought you get when you watch a movie based on what you saw in a really bad and misleading trailer? Yeah, it was sort of that kind of thing for me. Since I thought I was watching one show but was actually watching another. 

It all worked out well, though. 

First things first. The animation is fantastic. Every episode is well drawn and all of the fight scenes are well choreographed. Hell, so are the dance moves (more on that in a moment)... and this provides me a perfect segue to my next praise. 

The only thing better than good animation is when good music goes with the animation. Not just good music either, but music that fits the tone of the show and the animation style. The OP and ED theme songs are great and they fit the credit animations perfectly. 

Although this show is about two hundred minutes longer than most movies I certainly felt like I was watching a professionally made modern anime movie. So the animators and music composers did a great job. Fantastic, really. 

Now onto the story. Anime featuring students of some sort and a school setting aren't new at all, but I do like the genre enough. I guess there's just something eternal about the awkwardness of school years that speaks to me. And once you add superpowers into that mix you have even more of a winner as far as I'm concerned, anyway. Unless you are the Great Saiyaman, that is. 

Our main protagonist is a school student named Kanbara Akihito and he is an immortal. The reason he is an immortal is because he is half-youmu/half-human. One day he meets a girl named Kuriyama Mirai that he mistakenly believes is about to jump off the roof of the school building. Well, one thing leads to another and Mirai ends up stabbing him with a sword made of her own blood. A lot and not all at once, either. 

Don't you just love the birth of young love?

Since Akihito is immortal he never gets killed by the shy would-be youmu assailant, but the wounds still sting him. After a while he manages to talk her out of trying to kill him for the moment, but Mirai still wants to kill a youmu to prove her worth as a Spirit World Warrior and Akihito finds himself wanting to help her.

There's more to her than meets the eye, though. A lot more. 

Since normal humans can't see the youmu around them we don't really spend a lot of time with any of them. Basically, all of the characters have a superpower of some sort and are capable of kicking some serious ass. There's not a lot of that, though. There are fights later, but there's a lot of comedy and drama, too. You'll see the main characters sitting around a table in their school club room goofing around just as often as you will see them kicking some supernatural ass.

It's all about the characters, though. Akihito has a thing for glasses and he is always gushing about girls who wear glasses. The way that Mirai says, "that's unpleasant" is just adorable. Plus she wears glasses and the way that affects Akihito is often amusing. Nase Hiroomi has a little sister complex and typically gets a nosebleed when ever his little sister calls him "onii-chan". A lot of hardcore otaku in anime are like that with fetishes and stuff. I'm sure there are a few folks out there like that in real life, too. In real life it's creepy as hell, but in anime it's kinda cute and funny. 

Akihito's mom is great, too. Crazier than a shithouse rat, but definitely a great character. 

I don't know, it's little things that really endeared this anime to me. It's not my favorite ever and I'm not even sure it is in the top fifteen, but it is good. If anything, the story as a whole feels unfinished. Perhaps that is because the light novel series that this anime is based on is still going or perhaps not. I don't really know. I haven't read the light novels and I'm not sure if they have been translated.

The ending is certainly satisfactory and I'd be fine with the story ending there, but there are a few questions I'd love to have answered. 

Still, that last episode had me going for a moment. I honestly didn't know whether it was going to be a happy ending or a "fuck, might as well kill myself now" ending until the last second. I'm still not quite sure what really happened at the end, but I'm sure it'll come to me once I think on it some more. 

I think my favorite thing about this show was how it didn't settle for being one type of genre. It could be downright funny, depressingly sad, or a kickass adrenaline fest all within the span of five minutes. You could take that to mean the show is uneven, but I think there was just the right balance to keep things interesting without becoming overwhelming. 

This is pretty much the end of my review, but I figure I might as well mention one more thing...

Episode six. It's filler. Episode six has nothing to do with the rest of the story. At all. You certainly don't have to watch it. 

But I'll be damned if that episode isn't the single best filler episode I've ever seen. I like to think that the quality of a show's writers can always be measured by the quality of its filler since filler isn't based on any other source material. The writers did good here. That filler episode is by far my favorite episode of the series. Well, almost. It's all thanks to the dance routine at the end, too. That was funny. It's just one of those things that would be a crime to skip. 

I recommend this show. 

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