The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Beyond the Boundary

Title: Beyond the Boundary aka Kyoukai no Kanata
Genre: Action/Drama
Company: Kyoto Animation
Format: 12 episodes
Dates: 3 Oct 2013 – 19 Dec 2013

Synopsis: In a world where supernatural creatures called youmu inhabit the land, spirit warriors have arisen to destroy the dangerous beings and preserve peace in the world. One such warrior, a high school girl named Kuriyama Mirai has made one of her classmates, Kanbara Akihito, her target. An immortal half-youmu, Akihito tries to come to terms with Mirai and help her become a full youmu hunter so that she stops “practicing” on him.

The Highlights
Characters: Far too typical for Kyoto Animation.
Animation: Well animated with some nice fight scenes.
Story: Generic.

Kyoto Animation is a studio that is good at making anime about nothing. They manage to capture a very specific emotion through the choice of characters, atmosphere and presentation that makes shows about the mundane aspects of life seem far more pleasant and engrossing than they have any right to be. Through the years, however, the studio has basically strip mined that particular feeling about as thoroughly as Sunrise has the giant robot genre. Beyond the Boundary tries to punch up the old formula by actually adding a plot, clear antagonists and fight scenes with otherworldly creatures. Basically, they have taken a shounen action series and have tried to make it into an anime about nothing.

Whatever weird chemistry Kyoto Animation has found with the cast in K-ON! is completely absent in Beyond the Boundary. The show has a cast of characters who could all end up in a concentration camp in the middle of the show and still not garner any sympathy. They are so archetypical that they feel like concoctions of an algorithm running in the studio’s basement. While at times amusing, they are not personalities I would cheer on or cry for. They are people I would meet in a library, exchange few words, and then never meet again. This all boils down to the key critical failure of Beyond the Boundary: these are characters meant for a show where nothing happens, not something as involved as an action series.

Characters aside, the show might have been able to salvage itself through the plot alone, but there is no dice there either. The story is sufficiently competent but nothing special. There is no interesting turns, no unique elements and no moments that make you question the world around you. The world building elements about the supernatural youmu do have some gravity behind it, but they never build up to something that can carry the series. The various subplots are amusing–though uninspired–shounen fanfare, and the core story is unnecessarily convoluted for something so simple and predictable. Too much of the plot revolves around creating situations where the audience is supposed to empathize with the character’s circumstances, which has no emotional weight because the characters are not suited for this kind of intense drama.

Overall, the sole reason to even begin watching this series is its high production values. The art is consistent, the animation is fluid, the fights sparkle and explode with vivid colors; it’s basically on par with what Kyoto Animation normally puts out. The music is nice and the voice acting is candy to the ears of the followers of the cult of cuteness. Beyond the Boundary is basically an incredible pile of resources shoveled into a mediocre narrative about people fighting supernatural creatures run by a cast who inspire nothing but apathy.

The Rating: 5

Reviewed by: Shadowmage


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