ANIME FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Kyoukai no Kanata 1-3
EDIT 10/21/2013: Due to lack of time (curse you, work), I am forced to cut down the number of first impressions and episodic blogs to five. It sucks, but hey, that means better quality posts! Well, I hope so =)
Fall Anime 2013 is well underway, and with so many shows to choose from, which ones would you wanna watch? Well, I’ll be here to help you guys out! Using the “three-episode rule,” I will write my initial impressions on eight of this season’s anime that piqued my interest, so that maybe it will do the same to yours.
When I first read about Kyoukai no Kanata, I was a bit skeptical. After all, this is the first time in a long while that Kyoto Animation is going to produce a serious show. In fact, this is probably their darkest-toned anime ever. Compared to their old works (Haruhi, Lucky Star, K-On!), this is definitely a big shift, one that I am most interested to see. Just coming off its success from Free! (which is a departure from KyoAni’s norm as well, but that’s another story), it’s time to see whether or not it can expand its horizons to more mature territory.
And so far, it’s delivering.
That feel when you last your eyes upon her… then she tries to kill you
Kyoukai no Kanata (Beyond the Boundary) is a light novel adaption of the same name, and starts off with a girl, newcomer Mirai Kuriyama, trying to jump off her high-school building. As fate would have it, another student, Akihito Kanbara, see her on ledge and tries to save her… by admitting that he has a glasses fetish and find her cute. She hears him and does what any flattered girl about to commit suicide would do: jump away from the ledge. Then summon a sword made out of her own blood. Then stab him with it.
That’s the first scene.
He survives, for he is a half-human, half-youmu, and that’s when we start to get introduced to their world. A place where humans and monsters called youmu (or dreamshades, depending on the translation) co-exist in a way. Of course, some of these youmu are hostile, and it’s up to the spirit hunters, like our lovely bloodsword-wielding Mirai, to take them down (and earn some cash along the way).
Right from the get-go, Kyoukai no Kanata is showing off the kind of fantasy world it has, and the mysteries surrounding it.
Blood swords have never looked prettier
You may not be a fan of Kyoto Animation, but you simply cannot ignore the fact that they produce some of the best quality animation this decade has seen. From its background to its visual effects, it truly is a sight to behold.
As for Kyoukai no Kanata’s character designs however, it seemed like they are still stuck in their K-On! days. While I understand that it’s a studio thing to have a particular art style, I wished they would’ve designed characters that didn’t look like almost everything else they did.
It’s forgivable for KyoAni, though. For if there’s one thing it is amazing at doing other than animation, it’s writing characters. This is in my opinion the reason why the studio is so popular. Say what you will about the plot some of its shows has, but when they make characters, they make them memorable. Here in Kyoukai, the glasses-lover (and fellow comrade) Akihito and the troubled outcast Mirai are already winning over fans, and I haven’t even started on the supporting cast yet. The classmate and fellow Lit Club member Mistsuki, who verbally abuses Akihito on a regular basis, together with her brother Hiroomi who has a huge sister complex (among other things), are just part of the notable cast the show is slowy building up.
It’s dark alright, but still has that KyoAni touch
Set for only 13 episodes, Kyoukai wastes no time showing off the dark part in the “dark fantasy” subgenre. Murder, traumatic childhood events, secrets, unbeatable monsters, action, they’re all there. But inserted in-between these is a slice-of-life tale of a bunch of high school kids, making snarky remarks and joking around. I guess it’s something KyoAni can never move away from, and I like that. It didn’t make the show feel heavy, and its solid pacing will make you anticipate the next episode, as it slowly unravels the mysteries and teases you bit by bit with it. The constant jumping around between lighthearted fun and utmost seriousness makes each aspect even more enjoyable, as KyoAni consistently manages to do with their previous dramas such as Clannad and Kanon.
All in all, I am enjoying Kyoukai no Kanata a lot more than I expected. Maybe it’s because of Akihito and his glasses-fetish hitting my feels, but it doesn’t matter. It has been a while since I have followed anything Kyoto Animation has made (except for Free! but again, another story). Though currently Mirai’s stubbornness is getting on my nerves, her actions are understandable, which I think proves how well the studio writes.
Be sure to check out FLIPGEEKS every Friday as I blog about Kyoukai no Kanata and talk about how this dark fantasy goes on. Be warned, it’ll be spoiler-heavy, so I suggest you geeks start watching it as well and we can discuss it in the comments section!