*Beyond the Boundary consists of the 12 episode show, two movies, a prequel bundled with the Blu-ray (Beyond the Boundary Daybreak), and an idol themed spinoff. Both movies are called Beyond the Boundary Movie -I’LL BE HERE-. The first movie is a summary of the show and the second depicts time after the show. I was unable to find Beyond the Boundary: Daybreak and I had no wish to watch the idol spinoff show. This review consists of Beyond the Boundary and the second movie.*
Akhito is the son of a human mother and a spirit called a “Youmu”. His life touches both the Youmu world and the world of the Spirit Warriors, humans with supernatural powers that kill Youmu when they threaten humans. Akihito meets Mirai, who immediately stabs him through the heart. Little does she know that because of his blood, he is immortal. Together, Akihito and Mirai explore his lonely past and her cursed bloodline.
Akihito Kanbara is obsessed with glasses and not in a good way. I already explained the half spirit deal, but besides that, there is not much to his character. It seems odd that the show positions itself around Akihito when the role he plays is typical of the relegated love interest. I mean this in the sense that he has to rely on others for protection, is rarely involved in fights, and tends to handle the emotional elements of the show. He gets his chance to fight, but the majority of his time is spent on the sidelines. My issue with him is that he doesn’t necessarily do a great job of creating any emotional connections to fill the role he was given. I was not a fan of how big of a role the glasses fetish played into his character and it felt like that was used as a substitute for any kind of witty dialog, interesting character traits, or that emotional support that I mentioned earlier. The movie really scraped up any empathy I had for Akihito and packaged it for this review, but it was too little too late. His performance in the movie was the performance that I wanted throughout the entire franchise, but had to wait five hours for.
Mirai Kuriyama was the center of the show that we saw through Akihito’s eyes. Although clumsy and lacking confidence in the beginning of the show, she really grows into herself by the final episode. Mirai comes from a cursed lineage that allows her to manipulate her blood as a weapon. Despite being so powerful, she comes across as a little clueless. Clueless on how to fight. Clueless where she fits in the world. Clueless to how she really feels. Throughout the show she slowly finds the answers to all of the things she was missing, only to have them taken away from her at the beginning of the movie. It really was a simple setup and I expected the “plot twist” as soon as I saw the final episode of the show, but they really didn’t need to do our girl like that. On the flipside, I am glad they did. The movie felt like they took all the hurt that Mirai was carrying during the show and said, “You know what, we could have done that better. Let’s take another shot at it.” Apparently they needed the practice shot.
Mitsuki Nase is a character who is either useless or has value that went over my head. Mitsuki is a weird fetish trap for all the weird guys who are into their younger sister. No, it is not a preference, it is just weird. Not only is she clear fan service, but she feeds her brother’s sister complex. Beyond how she interacted with the guys, I can’t point to a single conversation or fight that she was a part of that needed to happen. I think that she largely could have been edited out of the show with no repercussions other than a little bit less lowbrow humor.
Hiroomi Nase is the guy with a thing for his sister. I wish he had another defining characteristic, but sadly he does not. Hiroomi was not very important in the show, in fact, he was not all that present in the first half of the show. He does, however, become significantly more important in the movie when his older sister, Izumi, disappears and he becomes the head of the Nase household. The most interesting part about him is that Hiroomi, and the entire Nase household, uses barrier magic. While they use it creatively, often pairing up for strength, their impact feels low for a family in charge of an entire sector of Japan. The Nase’s lacked a lot of impact until the movie. Izumi was my favorite of the three but I want to save her a special treat for those who want to watch the franchise. She drives the most development, is the clearest image of the ideas the show is trying to convey, and is the strongest of the three siblings.
Dissatisfied and unfulfilled. These are things my ex girlfriends have said they felt while dating me. Today is the day that I finally understand them. The twelve episodes of Beyond the Boundary left me feeling like I dated myself. I know what the writers were trying to do. I know I was supposed to get into the romance between Akihito and Mirai and feel empathy for them being alone in the world. The issue comes where we don’t really get to see enough of their backstory to connect with them. I am just supposed to take the word of the writers that they had a bad life and leave it at that. The movie was crucial for actually showing us more of Mirai and Akihito’s backstory. Once I got more of the story, I felt for them. I could understand why they were the way that they were and the importance of it all, but I had to watch the movie after all the events of the show. At that point, I was already ready to break up with the franchise and the last ditch effort to woo me just didn’t quite hit the mark.
I certainly hope that none of my readers have actually played Russian Roulette, but this show felt like what I imagine the game feels like. You pulled the trigger a couple times and the gun, loaded with the ideas, never went off. Once you got to the movie, you pulled it again and BANG. There was the idea. The analogy also applies in that there was only one major idea: being there. Not just being in a location but actually being in an emotional place that someone else needs you to be in. It is impossible for us to truly know what someone is going through at a given time, but people need emotional support to deal with their struggles. At the end of the show I had a vague sense that this was what they were trying to fire into the heads of viewers, but there were so many blank shots that the show felt lacking of a central idea. I was glad when the movie reinforced, and pretty heavily mind you, this idea and really took it upon itself to make it clear. For sake of keeping the review spoiler free, I can’t really explain why the movie nailed the ideas better than the show, but trust me, they did. Despite nailing it the second time, a single idea after hours of content is not the way to earn a high score.
I have many issues with how this show unfolded. If we were to channel our inner high school english teacher and break out our red pens, we would quickly find ourselves scribbling out the first half of the show, almost in its entirety. There were too many episodes that did not relate to the overarching plot. There was a midseason evil that was defeated that meant very little in the grand scheme of things. We got a random episode where they all became Idols and defeated a Youmu by dancing and singing. A lot of it felt very unnecessary and that was kind of the theme of the show. The movie offered a better sense of pacing, but after watching the movie, I wondered why the first half of the show wasn’t trimmed heavily, the second half moved up, and the movie placed in the spot where the second half of the show was. Overall, the show lacked impact on it’s own and I was left pretty confused as to what the show was concluding towards for a long time.
There are some studios that just make amazing anime. All other elements of the show aside, Kyoto animation is top tier and they rarely disappoint. When I was originally surfing TikTok looking for shows to add to my watchlist, there were a couple scenes from Beyond the Boundary floating around that caught my eye. I added it to the schedule on animation quality alone and it took all of one episode to show why it deserved a spot on the docket. Right off the bat we get to see Mirai show off the animation by backflipping over a fence and stabbing Akihito. It wasn’t the action that was impressive, it was the camera shifting with Mirai as she jumped that just stuns you. It is the fight scenes where she slashes so quickly that all you see is glances as she lights the frame blood red. There was something so entrancing about that scene and I was sad when it ended so quickly. Did I mention that both of these scenes are in the first three episodes?
Randy, from the Lotad Gang, put it really well when we checked in on our progress in the show. He said, “I really don’t care about the characters but I want to know more about this world.” From the tension filled dynamic of the Youmus and the Spirit Warriors to the family bloodlines and turf wars, the show has an incredible world. The thing that kills me about the show is that it KNOWS that it’s world is good. It loved to hit at lore, allude to past conflict, and tease the viewer with all of this! Characters’ true power were often hidden for big reveals and the most surprising plot twist, found in the movie, completely reframed the entire franchise. Beyond the Boundary liked it’s mystery and that was a major perk. They explained what they needed to and let the viewer wonder about the rest.
In my self reflection, I have realized that I am a bit of a music snob. Not in a way that I can say, “Oh my, how could they play a G-flat minor chord.” But more like, “Please stop playing the outro during the closing seconds of the episodes because it makes the emotion all monotone.” While the score itself is good, it was choices like the repetitive ending that just drive me nuts. Music is supposed to guide the emotion of the scene. There is no reason that each episode should have the same music because you should be trying to guide the viewer to different emotions. I can appreciate reusing a song once or twice because you are using it highly intentionally but reusing a single song so much just gets annoying and signals the end of the episode more than any emotion they were trying to get out of the viewer.
|Category||Points Given||Points Possible|
|I am interested in the characters in the story||2||6|
|I liked the emotion the story made me feel||3||6|
|The story brings up interesting ideas||2||6|
|I felt the pacing of the show was appropriate||2||4|
|The animation in the show is beautiful||4||4|
|I am interested in the world that the story takes place in||3||3|
|I felt that the music added to the story in a meaningful way||2||3|
Beyond the Boundary is an anime with an incredible amount of potential. I enjoyed the world farm more than most other shows but was sorely disappointed by the characters and the poor pacing. My recommendation, don’t take the show too seriously and have a fun time during the movie. This is a show you could afford to miss, but I really enjoyed the animation and Mirai grows well as a character.