A new season normally means a new offering from Kyoto Animation, and this season proved no different with Kyoto offering us a fantasy action series in the form of Beyond the Boundary. It’s the type of series that we haven’t really seen from Kyoto before; the closest we’ve gotten is the action scenes from Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions. So, with that in mind just how does Beyond the Boundary shape up?
Our story starts off by introducing us to the immortal half-youmu, Akihito Kanbara. Akihito is a second-year high school student going through his everyday life up until he sees a young student about to jump from the top of the school building. The student in question is Mirai Kuriyamam, a first year student with the ability to control her own blood as a spirit world warrior, a strange ability for a spirit world warrior. As Akihito runs to the top of the building to stop her jumping Mirai suddenly stabs him with her sword of blood, and thus the two’s fates are seemingly sealed. Akihito and Mirai are certainly interesting characters. Neither of them is quite human (Akihito because of his youmu side and Mirai because of her clans cursed blood) and neither feel as though they belong in the world. Maybe it’s because of this feeling of not being able to belong that the two eventually form strong bonds.
The show has two other main characters in the form of brother and sister, Hiroomi Nase and Mitsuki Nase who are both childhood friends of Akihito. Both are interesting characters in their own right, but don’t really get developed much as the story progresses.
A lot of the first few episodes of the series are used to showcase Mirai and how, despite being a Spirit World Warrior, she’s in-fact scared of youmu and unconfident in her own abilities for reasons which are explained later on. Akihito helps Mirai overcome this fear, once she’s convinced the girl to stop stabbing her, of course. We also get to explore Akihito’s youmu side and learn just what claims his body as its own, and the events that unfold push Akihito and Mirai even closer. We slowly learn Mirai’s secrets and just how dangerous Akihito really is if he loses control to his youmu side.
In truth though, Beyond the Boundary doesn’t handle its story telling all that well. While the episodes are always a lot of fun and the pacing are decent, the series doesn’t explain a lot of key factors for quite some time, opting to finally explain and make sense of everything by the eighth or ninth episode. Holding out so long to explain certain things is definitely a drawback, especially for people who aren’t as invested in the characters as I was. Everything slots into place perfectly once the series explains itself, but before that a lot of things seem silly and quite pointless to the actual plot.
Beyond the Boundary also builds up for a very strong ending and then ruins it all in one move just because it wanted to end things off happily. The problem with ending things off properly is that the series ended feeling like it needed one more episode, or at least should have explained itself somewhat. What we end up being left with is a series that is quite satisfying in terms of characters, but throws everything else away right at the very end. It’s a real shame it did so considering the series had quickly become somewhat of a favourite of mine this season.
Moving away from the story, Beyond the Boundary is very pretty visually. Kyoto as ever did a brilliant job animating the series, giving us very everyday scenes when needed, but also giving us really pretty scenes for the more important moments. Character designs are also all very pretty and different enough from what Kyoto have done in the past to be satisfying, except perhaps Mitsuki who feels like another Mio from K-ON!. Considering this is the studios first proper action series it was very nice to see how well they handled fight scenes overall, and I can’t help but hope to see more anime like this from Kyoto in the future.
Where the soundtrack comes into things it actually has some very pretty scores, although it reminded me a lot of the Hyouka soundtrack where it doesn’t include a lot of tracks but instead choses to reuse them. It’s not a bad choice here either, we’ve got a wide enough range of tracks to be pleasing, yet they all fit so well that we don’t need an overly large selection of music either.
In closing: Beyond the Boundary starts off well and slowly builds itself and its characters nicely, but regardless of any of that it throws everything away for a happy ending that doesn’t make sense. At 12 episodes it’s a one to watch if you’re a fan of Kyoto’s work, but it’s far from their best work and likely won’t be remembered in a year’s time.
- Overall: 5/10
- Animation: 8
- Story: 4
- Soundtrack: 5
- Characters: 6