The first episode of a show, the pilot episode, is the episode that is supposed to draw you in and make you want to see what becomes of the series as a whole. On TV in the US, if a show’s pilot does not do well then the show does not happen. Now I do not know a lot about the anime industry, but from what I have seen in Shirobako once a show is decided it goes on until its full run is over. Even if the first episode is slow and boring, the show will go on. Why am I talking about this? Well back in 2013 when the show I am reviewing today originally aired, I watched the first episode and was honestly not impressed. However, as the show went on I kept hearing nothing but positive reviews of this show. Looking into it while doing research for this review I learned that opinions of this review are either really positive, or kind of negative. There is no real in between. Which I find very interesting.
So here is my 24th Anime Review for a show that I had honestly no idea what to expect going in: Kyoukai no Kanata.
Kyoukai no Kanata, or Beyond the Boundary, was created by Kyoto Animation and first aired in October 2013. It ended in December 2013 with a total of twelve episodes. An original web animation, Beyond the Boundary Idiot Trial! began airing in November 2013 while the original series was still airing, and this side story series ended in July 2014 but only produced five episodes. A prequel OVA set a few years before the start of the series, Kyoukai no Kanata: Daybreak, aired in July of 2014. Additionally, a two-part movie was released in 2015. The first installment, Kyoukai no Kanata I’ll Be Here: Kako-hen, aired in March 2015 and retold the story from the anime. The second installment, Kyoukai no Kanata I’ll Be Here: Mirai-hen, aired on month later in April 2015. This entire series is based on a light novel series of the same name that started publication in June 2012 and is still ongoing.
Our story follows 2nd Year Akihito Kanbara who on the outside appears to be your average high school boy with a glasses fetish. However, Akihito is half-youmu (a kind of supernatural creature) and half-human. One day he spots 1st year Mirai Kuriyama who appears to be attempting suicide by jumping off of the school roof. He runs to stop her, but instead of a thank you Mirai staps him in the chest with a sword made out of her own blood. She reveals to him she is a Spirit World Warrior (a person who protects human from the evil youmus) and is the last member of the ostracized clan that can control their blood. Akihito has a surprise of his own as he reveals to her that his half-youmu status makes him immortal. He offers to help Mirai kill her first youmu, since she has never killed on before, since she has been stabbing him repeatedly for days as practice. Strange events follow them and their friends Hiromi and Mitsuki Nase as the story progresses.
Akihito Kanbara is our main character who is the offspring of a youmu and a human. His youmu side is normally dormant unless he suffers any serious injuries or his human side is greatly weakened. He is unable to control his youmu side which is very powerful and causes a lot of damage when unleashed. Despite this, Akihito is a very carefree guy who is a member of his high school’s Literature Club. He is often made fun of because of his love for girls who wear glasses. One thing that I like about Akihito is that although he seems like such a carefree guy, deep down he has a lot of personal issues because of what he is. Spirit World Warriors keep close taps on him at all times and he cannot exactly just go and live with the youmu either. He is fun and entertaining but he honestly confused me at times. It was just always hard for me to understand why he cannot control his youmu state when other youmu can. What makes his half status so special? Maybe I missed something. Anyway, he is not a bad main character by any means but sometimes I just wanted to punch him in the face, especially in the movie. Just saying.
Mirai Kuriyama is a character that I am really not sure about. She is adorable and can fight pretty well, but sometimes I just was not sure what she was doing. I do not like to spoil things, but it is brought up a few times that she has some ulterior motives but no one tries to bring it up or anything. It is just hinted at and then BOOM something happens and you are thrown for a loop. Mirai’s life has also been very difficult. Her entire family is gone, and is left as the only survivor of a clan that everyone else hates. There is a lot more that has happened to her but again I do not want to spoil too much. You cannot help but feel sorry for all that she has been through. She was an okay character as well, but was not too outstanding to me by any means.
The next character is Misuki Nase who is the daughter of the clan of Sprit World Warriors that oversees the area that our story occurs in. She is also the President of the Literature Club and has known Akihito for a few years. Because of the way that she was raised, Mitsuki missed out on a lot of things in her life, and even when her siblings would go off to fight youmu Mitsuki would be left at home. She is still working to improve her power and not be constantly relying on her brother and sister for help. One thing I liked about Mitsuki is how much she constantly was making fun of Akihito because of his glasses fetish, and torturning her older brother in general. It definitely helped to lighten the move sometimes or keep me entertained if nothing exciting happens. She was a pretty good character as well.
The final character I am going to discuss in length is Hiromi Nase, Mitsuki’s older brother and probably my favorite character in the show. Now let me say that a weird guy who is obsessed with his little sister and walks around naked sometimes is usually not my first choice as a favorite character. However, there was just something about Hiromi that made me like his character. He often makes fun of Akihito and puts his hands in his armpits to “keep them warm”. He is a very talented Spirit World Warrior who takes fighting youmu very seriously. His power to create “cages” that protect a certain area from youmu or attacks causes him to be very sensitive to the cold. He almost always wears a scarf which doubles as a weapon which I think could be pretty handy. Hiromi is also seriously scarred on his back from a few years ago. He fought Akihito’s youmu side which caused Hiromi some life threatening injuries. I really do not know the reason I liked Hiromi so much. I think a part of it is that he can go from acting really dumb to being super serious in a second. It could also be that he has the same seiyuu as Makoto Tachibana from Free!. Nah, that is probably not it.
The character cast in general was actually not that bad. It was not a huge cast, but was not a small one either. We had some humanoid youmu and some other spirit world warriors. The characters that we had definitely had their own personality and I am happy that the cast was not too big. Some of the characters. like the spirt warrior who is also a teacher at Akihito’s high school, probably could have been developed a little better, but the cast was okay in general. The main villain of the story also could have been developed a little better. I think the main thing that a lot of the characters lacked was motivation to do what they were doing. Most of them were just kind of doing what they wanted without ever telling us what their reasoning for it was.
The soundtrack in general was not half bad. The opening was alright in my opinion, but the ending son was probably my favorite part of the entire soundtrack. When I get around to it I will be putting it on my iPod. Now for the animation. It was done by Kyoto Animation so, naturally, it is pretty well done. Kyoukai no Kanata was definitely not lacking in the animation department. This show is one of the first, if not THE first, series that Kyoto Animation did that had real action in it, and those scenes were actually pretty good. I was not expecting it to be bad, but sometimes when an animation studio does something it has not done before you get a little worried if it will go well. The action in this show was very well done, and I think Kyoto Animation should try doing more shows that feature a lot of action. The backgrounds were amazing and I loved the characters designs, which is on part with what Kyoto Animation does on a regular basis.
So one thing I wanted to mention was the two part movie. First of all, I am going to go off on a rant. The first part just retold the story of the anime. Now there are quite a few shows who have done this and honestly do not understand why it is a thing. For someone who has just binged the entire anime, as I did, why would I sit through another 60+ minutes of a movie that just retells the twelve episode I just watched. Maybe if you did not just binge it and had not seen the show in a while it would be a good refresher, but to me it just seems kind of weird. Now the second part, a sequel to the main story, was not half bad. It did wrap up some story lines that were that the anime failed to finish, but it also brought up new issues that I had thought previously was answered. It just brought up some new issues and then solved them by the end of the movie. It was not bad by any means, but some parts I just did not understand.
In the end I award Kyoukai no Kanatai with a C. I honestly really had to debate a lot with myself about what rating to give this anime. If I used a number system and that is how I calculated the letters it would probably be close to a B, but still had to get a C. There was just more that I did not like about it than I did like about it. I liked the premise of the story and the animation, as well as a few characters, but I felt like I was left empty headed a lot of the time. There were a few cases when a character would realize something and act on it but not tell us what they figured out or how they got to that conclusion. Suddenly they would just know something we did not. It is not a terrible anime but this rating is the conclusion I came to after really thinking about it. The main villain just seemed to be thrown in to me, and overall when watching this anime I was just really frustrated with nothing really being explained to me.
So that is all that I have for today guys!! What do you guys think? Have you seen this anime? What was your opinion of it? Is there a character who’s type you normally would not like but in a certain show you did? Or do you have anything else to share? Let me know down in the comments below!!
See you next time!!