Kyoukai no Kanata (Beyond the Boundary) Anime Review


While at work with my co-worker whom I normally watch anime with, we were in desperate need of a new series to occupy the hole that Shingeki no Kyojin left, and on Crunchyroll we found a series that seemed  pretty all right named "Beyond the Boundary".  From first glance, the artwork seemed really cool (It is VERY hard for me to get into an anime series if the artwork is not at least somewhat enjoyable) and it had a pretty cool  name, so why not try it, what is the worst that could happen?

This review is going to tell you the result of that little impulse decision in that break room on that fateful night, whether-or-not it was a smart choice to choose the book simply by its beautifully draw cover, and if it happened to deliver on what looked to be a good series to watch.


[ What is Kyoukai no Kanata about? ]


Spirit World Warriors are people gifted with special powers to see and fight Youmu, creatures that are born into existence from the hatred of humankind.  Spirit World Warriors hunt these Youmu and defeat them to collect the stones they drop upon their defeat, trading it in at a local shop for currency to be spent howsoever they please.

Kuriyama Mirai is the sole descendant of a Spirit World Warrior Clan shunned for their power of manipulated their own cursed blood.  Kanbara Akihito is known as the "Immortal Half Youmu", the child born between the very rare pairing between a human and youmu.  He is said to be gifted with the ability to never die.

Kyoukai no Kanata is the unlikely pairing of Akihito and Kuriyama as they embark on a journey to discover the truth beyond the mysterious Youmu known as "Beyond the Boundary", and exactly what it has to do with both of them and the world itself.



[ Story Impressions ]

First meeting between Kanbara Akihito and Kuriyama Mirai.

This series is a combination of action, comedy with both shonen and shoujo elements; however it is ultimately, at its base, a love story (And is derived from a light novel with the same name), and actually starts off pretty well. The very first episode introduces both protagonists, Kanbara Akihito and Kuriyami Mirai, in an outlandish fashion that immediately grabs your interest; in fact, it makes you wonder what type of insanity you are about to see in the rest of the episode merely from the opening minutes.  They later go on to describe who the characters are and what abilities they all possess, including the world they live in and the rules and stipulations that apply to Spirit World Warriors and the Society of Spirit World Warriors.

It is funny how this story comes to reveal itself, as the more episodes you watch, the more you learn of what happened before the first episode even started; and why certain things occurred as they did throughout the series (Mainly by revealing something that happened either before, during, or after an event that resulted in a character acting different; however, at the time the viewer will believe it was another action or incident that sparked that response instead, great plot devices).  Flashbacks are something seen quite often, however, it does not feel forced or wasted, but an intricate part of the storytelling that seemed fine tuned to be a critical part of the anime; compared to some anime which seem to use flashbacks merely as fillers with little to no actual significance on the main story and could be easily omitted without much concern for a lack of information.  A few examples of this is why Mirai responded to Akihito in such harsh manners sometimes earlier on into the story, and even when explaining the back story of characters like Sakura.

However, something I did not like at all about the story is that some things remained inconclusive at the very end of the show, mainly because certain things were not revealed during the course of the show which I really wanted to know; not having these things revealed at the end is a major let down and destroys the feeling of "Completeness" the end of a show should bring.  Not only this, I did not enjoy the demise of the main antagonist during the very end of the show; what should have been a beyond epic climatic battle turned into a few lousy hits.  This is especially disappointing because the battles in Kyoukai no Kanata are awesome overall, especially the fighting style that they give to the main heroine, Kuriyama Mirai.  Not having an over-the-top final battle with someone who should get their just desserts screams failure.

Overall I will have to give this story line a pass because the ending, despite the battle, was actually pretty fulfilling.  The ending actually reminds me much of Toradora!'s ending, just as heart-warming and affectionate, this alone is enough to make you all filled with butterflies because there is nothing like a delicious vanilla ending.


[ Character Impressions  ]

(From Left-to-Right) Hiroomi Nase, Mitsuki Nase, Ai Shindou, Mirai Kuriyama, and Akihito Kanbara.

With the exception of the main antagonist, the cast of Kyoukai no Kanata is actually pretty solid as far as their development and defining moments go.  Normally I feel a type of bland, one-dimensional personality for anyone who is not a main character, as they are either good, bad, or they simply have an ulterior motive and turn out to be something else entirely because of that motive (You can often tell that they are not loyal to either side though).  I feel as though they tried to make each character as "human" as possible, allow me to explain.

As the story progresses we begin to see the developing relationships and how each character perceives the others, they do so through a range of actions, from humorous to deathly serious.  I feel this story element was done exceptionally well, as most people (Except the main antagonist), seems to be blurred inside of a grey area, this gives them the uncanny ability to seemingly have tiered-personalities, just like actual people.  I find that we all are neither fully good nor fully bad, and sometimes we blur the line in-between them...this series makes you, at times, question those who would appear to be allies and even if the main enemy is actually a bad guy or someone who is trying to save the world, that is very hard to pull off.

In one episode everyone had to defeat a Youmu who would let out a very bad smelling liquid, coating everything it sees with it and forcing our heroes to repeatedly take showers to get off the foul stench.  They showed determination that was burning with vengeance...all while dancing to the beat with a choreographed performance, lip-syncing and all.  When Akihito lost control of himself and turned into his dreaded Youmu form, those who were his closest friends were prepared to eradicate him if it meant saving the world, and even Kuriyama changed her stance about judging Akihito for saying they were more alike than she thought.  These things show you multiple sides to the characters, both making you question them and their moralities, as well as realize they are only doing the best they can in what seems like an impossible and pressing situation.  You get the feeling of them choosing between duty and friendship, love and obligation.

Also, they make sure to give little quirks to each character in order to make them appear more realistic, be it a hobby or strange interest.  Kuriyama Mirai was shown taking care of bonsai trees with her spare money, which is probably why she hardly had any most of the time.  Akihito Kanbara is a lover of glasses and wants nothing more than to see the women of the world wearing them.  Even Hiroomi Nase has a stereotypical little sister fetish, where he absolutely adores Mitsuki and cannot help but fawn over here, she is even the wallpaper on the background of his phone and her picture was laminated to be used as a bookmark!  Their dialogue also shows some of their quirks, such as Kuriyama saying, "unpleasant" repeatedly and Mitsuki constantly telling Akihito that his dream is to confess to her by the end of the school year (That and remarks that continue to make you think she wants him to "attack" her).

Also, there is loads of mystery shrouded in exactly who some of the characters are and what their true motives will be, and one of my pet peeves, but a dire point of brilliance, is that you never found out some of them.  One such question is exactly who is Akihito's mother?  Things like this will drive you crazy wanting to find out and unknowingly draw you more into their world.  

In all, I feel like the characters are what make the series, everyone is unique in their own respect and you cannot help but laugh and relate to each and every one of them (Except the main antagonist...I know I keep saying that but I hate how one-dimensional they made him with the whole "I have a evil plot to destroy the world!....and no reason to do so beyond just being a spiteful person).


[ Other Mentions ]

Akihito's dreaded Youmu form.  This normally occurs when he is in a near death state.

One major thing that stands out about this series is the artwork.  I think it should be said that the quality given in both stills as well as the action scenes deserves quite a bit of applause.  You can see it from the details of how they draw the hair, even down to the very slight lighter tone they use when coloring fingernails in comparison to the skin color.  Also, they tend to use solids but the contrast is very good between light and shadow, combined with the animation makes for a very smooth experience.  I normally cannot watch an anime if I totally dislike the art style, in fact, despite what the story is I will usually avoid it if I find it to be completely repulsive to my taste (I normally like really dark anime that has high contrasts in tones, like Hellsing Ultimate, but the subtle light-hearted drawings captured my interest), so having something this wonderful to view in motion was a treat.

Something else I want to touch on is the actual fight scenes.  They are nothing short of brilliant and wonderfully represent what a "Spirit World Warrior" could be capable of.  The animation is smooth, and the fights are well thought out.  However, I do not believe they had enough and some people felt limited (Like Mitsuki who relied on her pet her Akihito who did not really fight at all until the end), but what they did show was good enough, you never really get tired of seeing Mirai in action.

Another thing that deserves mention is the effects, such as fire, sparks, and other such things.  They do not appear too congested and you can still clearly see everything that is going on, so they prove to only enhance what happens as opposed to taking away from it or slowing down the action with long periods of special effects(So far, Strike the Blood does not have many great effects in my opinion, so Kyoukai no Kanata is a welcome change of pace).


[ The Verdict ]


   YES! WATCH THIS ANIME!   


 STRENGTHS  - Beautifully drawn artwork, lovable and rememberable characters, terrific story line advancement, heart-warming ending.

 WEAKNESSES  - Some information remains a mystery, anti-climatic showdown with the main antagonist, the ending feels a bit rushed despite its heart-warming nature.



Simply one of the best anime to come out for this season, I would suggest that everyone at least give the first couple of episodes a try to see if it is your tastes or not, I guarantee that you will more than likely be telling your friends about just how wonderful this anime is.  

I find that heroine is entirely too cute and that all the  characters are well thought out and unique, not just the protagonists.  I feel that each one of them have special properties that makes them stand out from one another, and that eventually their perceptions of each other become out in the open with shocking results.

The action scenes are energetic and packed full of goodness to make you want to come back for more with a plot that thickens with every episode, ultimately leading to an ending that just warms your heart.  You cannot ask for a better anime to watch during winter for that very reason.


Thank you for reading my anime review for Kyoukai no Kanata, Beyond the Boundary!



Comments

  1. I watched the first two or three episodes of this when it first came out, and I didn't like it particularly. In fact, I hated the moe clutz tendencies of the heroine that I dropped the show entirely because of it.

    I think its greatest strength is the quality of the animation and the art though. This is Kyoto Animation after all. I really didn't like the story that much so even the high quality animation and art didn't sustain my interest in the series.

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    1. I do not see why man. Honestly, it is one of the best series out there in terms of animation quality and it gives you a feel good sense all over. I was left a bit empty by things not being completely revealed by the end of the series, but that should not hinder you from checking it out all the way.

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