One year after the events of the original series. Mirai has lost her memories, and Akihito separates himself from her in an attempt to protect her from her painful past. Despite the heartache it brings him, Akihito is determined to protect Mirai's happiness as she moves through life as a normal human being - but when dark forces stir, she may be forced back to the front lines in the fight against the youmu, and re-open the wounds of her past.
Source: Sentai Filmworks
Story: Having not seen the original full-length series, I watched both the condensed prequel and sequel movies of Beyond the Boundary in isolation; my thoughts on the complete work are presented here. Within the first few minutes, Beyond the Boundary carves its identity out using several layers of tropes and archetypes that connoisseurs of action anime will readily recognize. Haunting visages of Shakugan no Shana and Kaze no Stigma, two series which had a great deal of popularity at the time of their release and served as progenitors of the high-school-kids-with-powers genre, quickly came to mind. This particular genre of anime has always felt iffy to me, trying to be a sort of shounen-but-not-shounen style of work that focuses more on a smaller cast of characters with a bit more drama than say something like Bleach. My persistent gripe across on these shows is that they attempt to convey a “serious” story with tension-based drama while simultaneously filling a lot of space with slapstick comedy. This, I surmise, is avoid being too dark in order to maintain appeal with a younger demographic. Beyond the Boundary falls into every rut and pitfall of its predecessors in this regard, but does manage to set itself apart from the pack with a romantic subplot that actually manages to be interesting. Thus, while Beyond the Boundary fails to break from the conventional mold in which it is cast, it did manage to end up watchable – largely, I would say, due to its story being condensed into a movie format. This is certainly more praise than I can say for its forebears. The romantic subplot seems to – quite thankfully – cut out a great deal of the comedy filler in favor of focusing on the core story between the two protagonists, Aki and Mirai, and give the show more concise direction. The writers decided they wanted a more serious tone, and they do generally deliver on this front. Aki’s role in the story is that of supreme demon lord shackled up in the frame of a nice, ordinary teenage boy, and Mirai’s that of demon huntress in a bloodline that’s about to go extinct. Aki’s caveat is that he is so powerful he cannot be killed by normal means, foiled by Mirai’s being the only power which can actually harm him. This sets up the duo in a complementary role of unkillable and killer in a cat and mouse game...at least in theory. While the premise may sound interesting at face value, just about every anime in the genre suffers from “interesting premise, mediocre execution” and Beyond the Boundary is certainly no different. The story behind why anything is the way it is pans out to be one big, jumbled mess and full of arbitrary eastern philosophy much in the vein of Noein. To properly make it through both movies one must, out of necessity, accept the arbitrary as such, and instead rely on the character interactions being presented well enough to pull things to a meaningful conclusion. Which, to its credit, the story does actually manage to do. Kyoto Animation has a remarkable way of transforming trash into a palatable entertainment based on the aesthetics alone, I will give them that. Helping the first movie along is a rather slow, drama-focused start which came as an unexpected surprise. Even if rather cliché, it does a great service acclimating one to the fairly close-knit cast of characters that clearly have a lot more going on than the movie has time to convey. While every major plot point comes essentially pre-scripted for the viewer and not a twist may be found in sight, all works decent enough under the comfortable guise of a one-off action-drama flick that one watches and readily forgets. Uncomfortably for the sequel movie, which is by far the superior of the two works, reaching it by means of consuming the first movie requires a bit more intrepidity than one might wish to stomach. While the first sets the stage, certainly, it condenses a lot of character development into a rushed amalgamation of scene-to-scene major plot advances which leaves a lot of implied character development of the side cast off-screen. While I have never been a fan of these sorts of movies for this reason, the bulk of the first movie is spent on this weird Noein-style fight scene that makes little sense and comes across as boring and lame. Sadly, this appeared to more a flaw with the core writing than an oversight in editing, but it does seem like much of the generic filler material was removed so I suppose this is more of a wash. Animation: As with all Kyoto Animation works, both movies look visually sharp with crisp action, gorgeously detailed scenery, and vibrant character designs. Having reviewed this studio’s work for so many years, there is little else original to add on what has been said time and time again. A high level of production quality is maintained from start to finish, and the artistic direction nails what it needs to in order to deliver entertaining action sequences. One particular thing the movies do specifically well is a tonal transition in the style of animation from the prequel to the sequel. The former is somewhat light-hearted and fun, getting more serious as it moves along, and the use of lighting and mood mirror this quite well. As the second movie carries on with the more serious aspects of the climax of the first movie, and the story shifts toward a more tenebrous drama, the on-screen visuals keep the mood going as intended. Sure the story leaves a lot to be desired, but the visuals just seem to carry the bad along steadily much in the same way Violet Evergarden salvages its subpar writing with brilliant aesthetics. Sound: Perhaps due to the content itself lacking particular depth or substance, the musical score felt apt-but-unmemorable. Unlike a movie such as Your Name, whose impeccable musical score carries the raw emotion of the film almost single-handedly, the pieces here are fitting but do little to dredge up emotion of their own merit. The exception to cite would be the sequel’s ending sequence, which has several melancholic piano tracks that nail the closing drama quite well. Voice acting, likewise, seems passable against a mediocre script, and the content does not seem functional enough to give the seiyuu chances to really shine on delivery. Characters: Both Aki and Mirai are reasonable main characters, each well-developed in an otherwise hackneyed environment. Their romance fails to be understandable in terms of its origin, but if one accepts it at blindly it’s executed rather well for this type of show. Still, their characters borrow so many clichés from other similar works that they do not come across as memorable, leaving them largely as functional role-fillers rather than authentic, originally-written individuals. Mirai’s buffoon-esque nature contrasts fairly starkly with her role as demon-huntress-extraordinaire, and the notion of “but deep down, she’s really just a normal high school girl looking for love” just feels awkwardly placed in a story in which two forces are vying for control of the fabric of the known universe. Aki’s good-natured font of empathy and kind-heartedness falls similarly short when he goes on psychotic rampages on a whim -- one would think some sort of guilt would haunt him given the scope of destruction. Random obscure quirks for slapstick humor purposes aside, the side cast of the movies stood out to me more than the two leads. Unlike many high-school-themed settings which treat the magical going-ons as if they do not exist during relegated “school segment” screen time, all seem quite aware of what is going on within the story and find themselves placed in reasonable supporting roles. Mirai’s friend Sakura and the youngest of the Nase clan, Mitsuki, were poised as particularly strong directors of drama, foiling their respective leads to move their relationship and interactions along smoothly from scene to scene. This creates a strange juxtaposition where the side characters felt more impactful than the main characters, and yet the narrative of the main characters – and the resulting action flicks – is the only strong juice to keep the story going from start to finish. It works…just awkwardly. Overall: In its conclusion, Beyond the Boundary cements itself as a story that just could have been better. In too many ways it attempts a Hollywood-esque take on its topics by recycling so much material from other works that it never develops its own identity. Perhaps for those who have yet to see a particular anime like this there may be more base appeal, but it falls to me as just another magical high school fantasy show that managed to do a bit better on the non-action elements than the norm, carried almost exclusively on the animatory magic of Kyoto Animation. There are plenty of better things to watch, but this certainly is passable as an action flick to watch once and forget.
This movie has the best directing I have ever seen in an anime! I have honestly never caught myself paying such close attention to directing while watching an anime before. Every scene, every camera (drawing?) angle was perfectly executed to increase your emotions. Every single expression Mirai or Akihito showed was so well defined and distinct. As you can tell, I loved this movie! Story: The story begins after the Kako-hen movie and shortly after the anime series. The premise is that Mirai has lost her memory of everything involving Akihito and her work as a Spirit Warrior. While she is naturally drawn to him and wants to know what she has forgotten, Akihito is set on not getting close to her since he is thinks that a normal life is best for her. Meanwhile, a new enemy appears with the power to control shadow beings. The enemy strengths the film’s theme of isolation and severed bonds. It is an emotional ride of sadness, loneliness, and angst. It is touching, moving, and fully satisfying. Characters: Same characters, more emotional. Now I know that Mirai and Akihito got pretty emotional toward each other in the show, but I felt their emotions more strongly during this film. Each expression they made ripped a new piece of my heart out or covered it with a fresh bandage. The supporting characters were also quite emotional, all suffering with them through Mirai’s amnesia. We see Hiroomi struggle with his new position and supposed powerlessness. His goofy side is greatly toned down to his cooler, serious side. The one flaw I saw in the entire movie is that the explanation of Mirai’s ring did not add up and seemed odd to me. The only other draw back I saw was that the shadow creature portion of the film could have been explaned in more detail. It begins on the slow side, without any fighting, but the anime began on the slower side as well. Besides, this film is about the emotions. It is a beautiful film with beautiful animation, beautiful directing, beautiful expressions, and beautiful pacing. With that said, I definitely recommend this film because I truly found it an exceptional watch. Since I have had people comment in the past when I rate differently in my reviews than on my profile. I am giving this 9 out of 10 here but 5 out of 5 on my profile. This is because my initial experience of the film was an emotional high. Here in a review I feel the need to acknowledge the two shortcomings I listed earlier.
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