Kaushik here, with a review just in time for Christmas! This time it’s a recently-finished anime, titled Kyoukai no Kanata. It’s KyoAni’s latest light novel adaptation, and I must say I enjoyed it quite a bit more than Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai. The anime aired from October to December of 2013, and shows a gradual shift in KyoAni’s works to more action-oriented material. While this isn’t a battle heavy show, it is considerably more action-oriented than many of Kyoto Animation’s past titles, which is fine by me! But we’ll get more to that later, for now let’s begin the review from the top~
Like pretty much every light novel out there, Kyoukai no Kanata is your normal boy-meets-girl story. And of course, like every light novel out there, there’s some sort of twist. The boy, Kanbara Akihito. The girl, Kuriyama Mirai. The twist? Akihito is an immortal half-shade, and Mirai is a spirit hunter, the last remnant of a cursed clan. As is per usual, their first meeting ended in quite a bit of bloodshed. Even with this most generic of openings, KyoAni manages to push Kyoukai no Kanata into something great.
I’ll be the first to admit the plot overall was kind of lackluster. It’s not very engaging, and some of the leaps the plot takes are at times incomprehensible and at other times uninteresting. While some of the character relationships defining the plot are definitely interesting, the actual steps the plot takes to create forms of conflict and resolution are awful. The villain seem to offer no reasoning for their actions except “Haha I’m evil! Watch me do evil stuff!” The way things wrap up nicely at the end is just a cute “Here’s your happy ending”, and it nullifies nearly every consequence of character actions leading up to that point; it’s quite disappointing in that regard.
Yet, I still love it. Why is that? Well, the characters for one. The characters in Kyoukai no Kanata are wonderful. Kanbara Akihito is something of a cynical guy, yet still prone to delusions of his own. In particular? He has something of a glasses fetish (a man after my own heart). That may explain something of his situation with Mirai, just a little bit. Like Mirai, he comes from a bit of a tortured past, and the two of them do wallow in their misery at some points during the show. Still, at the end of the day Akihito is an nice and driven young man who attempts to do what is right, and between all his idiosyncrasies is a fun and interesting character.
Kuriyama Mirai is the other main character, and she is, in a word, adorable. Cute cardigan, cute glasses, cute everything! But that’s obviously not everything to her, and her personality isn’t what I’d describe as cute. She’s a tortured young woman, and she definitely shows it more than Akihito. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as if she’s constantly in some sort of angst phase. KyoAni does a good job in interspersing a lot of humor with their serious moments, to lighten the mood just a little bit. In fact, this may be one of her faults.
At least in the beginning of the series, she’s somewhat self-absorbed, concerned primarily about her own issues. She also has a hard time considering the feelings of others. Still, over the course of the series she does change and her focus slowly shifts from being concerned with herself and her own past, to being concerned with Akihito’s future. Almost disconcertingly so, in fact. Still, in the eyes of the show it’s just a cute expression of love, so I’m not here to judge.
The music was incredibly enjoyable. I was a particular fan of the ending theme, “Daisy” by Stereo Dive Foundation. I’ve never heard of them, but the song is damn good and the accompanying visuals are cute, if kind of artsy. The opening theme is a bit more lackluster, though I think it has begun to grow to me as I continued to watch the show. It’s “Kyoukai no Kanata” by Chihara Minori. I know her more for her voice acting work, but like many voice actors she also sings, which is no surprise. She voices Nase Mitsuki in the show, one of the main characters. The BGM for this show is really stellar a few times, but for the most part it’s barely noticeable. Overall nice musics in this show!
Now to one of my favorite parts of KyoAni shows. You have the incredibly pretty KyoAni art, with stellar character design (mostly courtesy of the light novel of course). The backdrops and settings are gorgeous, as always, and the cute characters are as cute as can be (the cool ones are a slight bit less than as cool as can be). It’s really everything you could ask for, and I enjoyed it quite thoroughly.
Similarly, the animation is top-notch. Kyoto Animation doesn’t do many battle-based shows, and Kyoukai no Kanata is still not quite there, but it’s the closest they’ve come yet. And the great animation shows (though part of me thinks most of the animation budget was spent on the idol dancing episode…) all over the place. The battles are fluid and crisp, and everything is so pretty and smooth. I cannot stop gushing over how incredible the animation for some of the parts of this show ended up, and based on that alone I’d give it a recommendation. Definitely one of my top anime this year.
— Cool characters
— Good music, especially the ending theme
— Gorgeous art
— Great animation
— Plot isn’t that amazing
— The ending in particular is kind of out of nowhere
Studio: Kyoto Animation
Director: Taichi Ishidate
Character design: Miku Kadowaki
Music: Hikaru Nanase
Original run: October 2, 2013 – December 18, 2013
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