What do you get if you mix a tragic tale of young love in a fantasy setting, with all the tricks and trades of your average anime? You get a sure-fire hit, if the fandom of Kyoto Animation’s Beyond the Boundary is anything to go by.
Blending high school romance with Potter-esque fantasy, Beyond the Boundary follows the awkward monster-battling shenanigans of semi-perverted Akihito and the terminally bumbling Mirai Kuriyama. Given the fact that Akihito is a half-human half-youmu and Mirai is a warrior who can summon a gigantic sword from her own blood, it’s no wonder Beyond the Boundary has such a devoted fanbase. The duo cross paths when Mirai attempts to kill Akihito, but the pair soon bond over the deadly fate the world is plunged into, thanks to the oncoming storm of youmu monsters.
What sounds like a promising, if not entirely original, set-up becomes rapidly hampered by the fact that Beyond the Boundary is littered with instances, where a plot appears to have been completely forgotten about. The overall story starts off with enough interest, but then slugs in the middle, becoming a far more episodic affair, whilst the motives of the various heroes and villains quickly descend into vagueness after their introductions. However, it can be argued (and boy, if you try to talk smack about Beyond the Boundary, you’ll certainly have a hell of a fandom to argue with!) that such things are deliberately vague, and that it all works as a platform to demonstrate the evolving, inevitable romance between Mirai and Akihito.
It’s a sweet enough thing to watch develop episode after episode, but those going into Beyond the Boundary hoping for a fresh, riveting story will have to search elsewhere in Kyoto’s portfolio. There’s nothing wrong with the story as such, overall it’s perfectly enjoyable fantasy fodder. However, there’s just not enough grip on proceedings to make it an emotionally convincing ride for the viewer, and the finale is a confusing, lacklustre affair.
Still, Beyond the Boundary just about hooks the viewer till the end with its entertainment value, and has other strong elements going for it. The muscularity of its diverse cast strengthens the show enormously, and its offbeat humour strikes at the right moments. But where Beyond the Boundary really comes into its own is the animation. Gorgeously rich in colour and vivid detail, it has a spring in its step that compliments the action, the fantasy and the drama to the point where it masks the misfires of the plot.
Beyond the Boundary is a bit beyond comprehension in the story-telling department, and the whole thing may just be little more than an excuse to show us how Akihito and Mirai slowly but surely fall for each other. Despite all the show’s failures, it still has a bit of flair and kick to it. A shame then that it doesn’t have much else.
BEYOND THE BOUNDARY: COMPLETE SEASON COLLECTION / CERT: 12 / DIRECTOR: TAICHI ISHIDATE / SCREENPLAY: JUKKI HANADA / STARRING: TANEDA RISA, CHIHARA MINORI, YAMAOKA YURI / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW