Title: Kyoukai no Kanata
Genre: Action, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Psychological, Romance
Summary: Akihito Kanbara is a high school sophomore in the literature club who believes himself to be a “Meganest”, and although he appears to be human, he is actually half Yōmu, which makes him invulnerable to wounds, due to the fact that he can heal so quickly, and also immortal. One day, Akihito meets freshman Mirai Kuriyama when it appears as if she is about to attempt suicide by jumping off of the school rooftop. Mirai is isolated because of her ability to manipulate blood, which is considered heresy even among other members of the underworld, so she is shunned. Soon after Akihito saves Mirai, disturbing events begin to arise.
Review: Kyoukai no Kanata was probably one of the hardest anime to review for me. I had a lot of mixed feelings about it from my original preview post, to the first look, and now the final review. I wasn’t sure where I was expecting it to go or whether I should continue hoping for the best. Ultimately I ended up making a decision, and I feel like it is a pretty balanced one. The series took me through hoops and sharp turns finally ending up in one of the most epic yet anticlimactic endings I’ve ever seen. I only wished the anime kept that same feeling from beginning to end.
If you watched the series, dropped the series, or even saw a trailer you could tell that the animation was very high quality. It’s to be expected from Kyoto Animation with their works in Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!, Clannad, Free!, and Hyouka. I’m really glad that they took the time to make the characters move more freely compared to their stiff counterparts in other anime; it made the action seem a lot more fluid and exciting. The choreography for the fight scenes were jaw dropping. They not only brought out a spectacle of lights and weapons, the characters also interacted with their environment. It’s often overlooked in an action anime to include objects around the character to come into play. They also kept everything on an even playing field, making the line between background and foreground a little less distinct so you didn’t know what particular article of furniture was going to be tossed next. Kyoukai no Kanata took you to different worlds and settings keeping everything fresh. The character designs were eloquent and pleasing to the eye. I loved watching Kanbara transform into a demon and the destruction he left in his wake. Unfortunately the story wasn’t and continuously gripping as the art. It would have made for a much better story if they continued with the dark atmosphere they set during the first transformation.
Like many reviews that I have trouble with it all came down to the story. The start of Kyoukai no Kanata was very captivating because it held a aura of mystery. You weren’t really sure why Kanbara was being isolated or who Kuriyama truly was. The only thing you realized was that she wasn’t an ordinary human and Kanbara wasn’t your typical high school kid. As the story progresses the mysteries were slowly revealed and the end product actually ended up being rather well done. I did like the direction the story ultimately ended up taking and was sitting at the edge of my seat for the final episodes. The music, visuals, character development, and plot were all gripping. They even managed to throw in a bit of comedy here and there to keep things from getting too depressing. So what was the problem you may ask? If you didn’t catch the hints earlier, I only spoke about how the story ENDED up being and how the ENDING was phenomenal. The series decided to take a very comedic and slice of life turn early on after a major plot development. For what reason? Well none really. I began to lose interest in Kyoukai no Kanata because it didn’t seem like anything was really going to happen. I was actually rather lucky to have stuck it out for as long as I did, holding onto the sliver of hints they left the viewers that something big was going to be revealed. The characters mystery factor started to fade and they became a little more unappealing as time went on. Even during arcs where you were trying to feel for the characters coming from a “dark past” (but let’s be honest what anime character DOESN’T have one?) you never really get attached. I couldn’t make that personal connection with anyone which can be a fatal flaw in an anime trying to force an emotional bond. Another big thing was that they decided to use heavy dialogue rather than actions to depict what was going on. Of course there were a lot of things that needed to be explained, however, the amount of lines I had to read became dull and dry. It wasn’t until the very end of episode eleven where I couldn’t stop my heart from pounding. Suddenly everything picked up, the art, the characters, and the soundtrack. Even then due to the forever-long explanations which I drifted in and out of the plot still didn’t really make sense to me. The final nail that knocked this anime down from a high priority watch to a preferred watch were the final five minutes.
I mentioned briefly about the soundtrack earlier but I really wanted to drive home that it was a big factor for pushing this anime’s rating up as far as I did. During the action scenes and final moments of an anime it really hit the notes at just the right times to give the full impact. A lot of the sound bytes were very dark and powerful making many of the scenes memorable. The opening by Minori Chihara was beautifully executed and she has one of the most talented voices of the industry. With her numerous, amazing performances as both a singer and voice actress I can’t wait to hear more of her in the future.
Final statements: The ultimate downfall for this anime came from it’s dialogue heavy plot, poor character development, and final five minutes. I’m sure if I rewatched the series I would end up counting the number of unresolved plot holes and failed comedy gags preventing me from enjoying it. It was visually stunning and the soundtrack was fantastic but it couldn’t carry it anymore than a preferred watch.