Let me preface by saying I’m not a Kyoto Animation fan in the slightest and I was hoping that this would change my mind, so did it?
With several of their shows under my belt now, I can say no, no this did not do much to change my mind. It has KyoAni’s trademark gorgeous visuals but the problems I have with the studio are heavily evident here such as poor character and plot development, an attempt at comedy that only stems from poorly implemented fan-service and bad consistency in tone – it jumps around from being serious and humourous without taking the time to blend into each other or respect tones, making for a jarred experience overall.
Beyond the Boundary follows Akihito Kanbara, a half-human, half-youmu boy who can’t be killed due to his quick regeneration abilities and has a notable glasses fetish (someone also has a sister fetish so Akihito could be worse off!) Mirai Kuriyama is using him as training to defeat full youmu who come across as monsters and even though she’s a member of the spirit world, she’s alone as she can manipulate blood which is frowned upon by others. Episode one begins with Mirai seemingly going to commit suicide and Akihito claiming she can’t because she looks so good in glasses and well, that sets up the tone of the show which is very different to what the show is actually about, and sadly this tone keeps up and hampers how good the show could’ve really been. I can’t say the characters are likeable for the most part either, with a chunk of the cast being perverted and obtuse.
Beyond the Boundary is twelve episodes long and there’s a subsequent movie (which I won’t be opting to watch anytime soon), so the pain is relatively short but if you don’t like the first couple of episodes then the subsequent episodes won’t change your mind. I fully expected this to be different from KyoAni’s usual output which consists of a whole lot of ‘moe’ and, although they couldn’t force more ‘moe’ on Mirai if they tried, it’s very much a comedy with plenty of ‘moe’ masquerading as something different. The synopsis is a dirty lie, you guys.
Kyoto Animation show that they can animate fantastically with Beyond the Boundary, as they have with all of their shows, and if it wasn’t so beautiful to watch then I’d struggle to have anything positive to say. KyoAni aren’t known for action and whilst this show doesn’t focus on it, it’s definitely something they animate well and something I wouldn’t mind seeing more of without the immersion-shattering dumb jokes and fan-service which I assume someone at KyoAni has to put in unless their OCD threatens to destroys them mentally. Their style of animation oozes talent and comes across as fluid and colourful with plenty of flair and special effects, and it’s a shame that I know I’ve said it before and people dislike it, but it’s entirely wasted with whoever is in charge of scriptwriting and art – stop making awful choices KyoAni, you’re doing your gorgeous art a huge disservice.
It would be wrong to say the audio is poor either with both the English and Japanese voice-overs having their own strengths, and I feel that the English Dub is well casted – Kuriyama is certainly as clumsy sounding as she is! One problem I do have here is that I feel the show is poorly mixed as the voices often sound a bit too quiet when compared to the music and other noise, and I’ve had to turn my TV up loud enough to comfortably listen to it – this problem insisted to be present with headphones too, and it’s not a problem I’ve had in recent memory with any other anime. The OST is decent along with a catchy OP and ED, although I vastly prefer the ED and would happily listen to it in my free time although my enjoyment is dampened as it’ll remind me of this show.
At this point it’s hard to be disappointed because I’ve accepted that this is just Kyoto Animation, and that I can’t say I’ve enjoyed a single show of theirs made in the past decade – I’d struggle to call them good from an objective point of view either. Hopefully they can go back to when their output, in my opinion, was far more enjoyable with the likes of Full Metal Panic! especially since they’re creating a new season for it. I’ve given them so many chances and whilst their art is undeniably fantastic, I absolutely cannot get along with their pacing and inconsistency in tones, a majority of characters (Dekamori in Chunibyou, Love and Other Delusions was their creation, and she’s one of the worst characters I’ve had to see on-screen), and just the general storylines.
I’m not sure what people see in Kyoto Animation and with several of their shows now under my belt, I think I’ve given up with the company. I’m sure I’ll end up giving one of their shows another go when FMP! comes around, but otherwise count me out – I’d rather watch any other anime from any other company. Animatsu and Manga UK have incredible licenses and whilst they have some of my all-time favourite shows released and upcoming, this is one release I cannot recommend or get behind at all. Kyoto Animation are, without a doubt, the sum of everything I dislike in anime turned up to max, and then made worse by the fact that such stellar animation is wasted on their output.
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