Kyoto Animation is a Production Studio that recently has been very well known for it’s cute Animation style and very moe influenced shows. They are hated by some people for founding the moe-blob genre and basically being the sole company to make it as popular as it is. But they are also loved for exactly the same reason, as there are many people (such as myself), that simply fell in love with shows such as K-On and Lucky Star. There are several reasons to why Kyoto Animation rose to popularity, most of them being discussed badly, but there is one undeniable thing about the Animation Studio itself and that is it’s unbelievably high production standards! Although there are almost no recent Anime by Kyoto Animation, that included fights or anything similar, the Animation always was incredibly fluent and amazingly detailed! Now imagine…An Anime with these production Standards, based around a fantasy fighting premise, with just as much moe as we are used to from KyoAni! Ladies and Gentlemen, todays topic is the Anime that combines all of that, Kyoukai no Kanata!
The story of Kyoukai no Kanata is set in a world similar to ours, except that there exist beings called Youmu, which basically are demons that can have any shape or form, ranging from humans, over cats to something along the line of a fruit…There also are those who make their living off fighting exactly these Youmu, by killing them and selling the stones they got out of it. They are called Spirit Warriors and for the most part have some kind of ability as well. Also they are all part of an organization that one knows almost nothing about called the Spirit Warrior Organization. The plot itself is about Akihito Kanbara an ordinary high school boy that goes to school like every other person…except for one little twist: he is a half youmu…One day he stumbles upon a girl that seems to be wanting to jump from the roof of the school he goes to. As fast as he can he runs up the stairs to confront the girl and after telling her in an epic speech, just how much he loves glasses, she proceeds to stab him, only to find out that he is immortal. The girl, Mirai is a Spirit Warrior and her goal from now on is to kill the immortal Half-Youmu that is Akihito and basically uses him as a punching bag to get better at hunting.
Now I guess you can imagine that this is not all the story has to tell, but that there is a lot more behind it than this! However I am not going to give away anymore than this, as I am a little afraid to spoil anything for you! The story for Kyoukai no Kanata is weird to review…it honestly is nothing too impressive. It starts out strong with an interesting premise that certainly has a lot of potential, but soon takes a little bit of a nosedive! The show forgets to focus on the plot itself. but rather goes in the direction of doing some Slice of Life stuff that we are so used to seeing from KyoAni. Those episodes for the most part were good for developing the characters and their interactions, but sometimes not necessary, being proven best by the example of episode 6, where they take an entire episode only to kill a single Youmu, using idols…now don’t get me wrong I absolutely adored the episode itself, I just think it absolutely wouldn’t have been necessary and they should have rather made that to be an OVA. Anyway, back to topic. The story picks near the end of the show up again and even proceeds to get some feels out of the viewer. The ending of the show is worth noting as well, as it was one of the most satisfying endings that I have seen in a while and while it left a bitter aftertaste for what the characters had to go through, it ends the show in a perfect way and left me personally very satisfied! However the show has one more fatal flaw and that is the setting itself. The world on it’s own is really interesting, but unfortunately it’s potential is not fully used! I might be nitpicking at this point, but I feel like Kyoukai no Kanata is a show that didn’t use all of what it could have. It has a lot more potential than what it used, as it didn’t explain all of what happened in the world. What exactly are Youkai? Why do the Spirit warriors exist? None of these questions get addressed and I do hope that KyoAni at some point in time decides to actually clear up all those questions and make a second season for exactly that sake! I would be happy about it at least…
Now for the most part, the show’s story really isn’t the strongest and it really is not what makes this Anime as enjoyable as it is, but it is it’s storytelling. The way the story is told, never fails at keeping the viewer interested and always makes him come back for the next episode, even though nothing too interesting happened! It is that, what makes the Anime really enjoyable and way better than it should have been! It makes the show a lot more fun to watch and with an ending such as the one Kyoukai no Kanata presented, it certainly concludes as a rather average plot line, that has excellent execution.
I love these Idols waaaay too much…
For the Characters of Kyoukai no Kanata, it basically is the same as for the story. Most characters are only a variation of stereotypes and none of them are really original! Our main protagonist Kanbara Akihito at first is one of the blandest main characters that I have seen so far. He starts off as your generic Light Novel main characters, as he seems to only exist for the purpose of helping people. He doesn’t really have any further motives other than “I want to help you” at first. However, it is not until a short time into the show that this changes. We get to know more about him and we can get attached to him. He even does develop a little bit and even though the development by far is not the best one and not the biggest one that I have seen so far, I can safely say that it was enough to keep me interested in him and I didn’t see any need to develop him more than he was. Some people might only see him as the Glasses-loving douche bag, but honestly, I thought he was a lot more than that!
The second main character is Kuriyama Mirai. She is the character that fits the best in KyoAni’s concepts, as she is the moe induced, glasses wearing moe, clumsy moe stereotype and fills that role surprisingly well. Just as for Akihito, she is rather generic to begin with and at first doesn’t really have too much of a character but more of a stereotype attached to her. But we get to know her over the course of several episodes dedicated to her and her relationship with others. She starts to develop as well and becomes just as Akihito a memorable character that can stand on it’s own, without being a mere moe stereotype
The side characters for Kyoukai no Kanata all are rather interesting, the most notable being the two siblings Hiroomi and Mitsuki, which both do get a fair bit of focus but not nearly as much development. The two of them are a lot of fun to watch whenever they are on screen, with Hiroomi having a little sister fetish and not being hesitant about showing that. The other side characters all get a little focus but nothing too important and while they all have their stereotypical roles, again, that is totally fine, as they all are fun to watch!
Kyoukai no Kanata in total does not have a single ground-breaking characters. None of them are too innovative, but all are stereotypes that have been used pretty often before. However, the show is completely fine that way! In the same way as the storytelling is executed in such a good way, that the story suddenly got a lot better, the characters get a lot better through how well everything around them is written. What KyoAni is by far best at is writing character interactions. One can argue against K-On or Haruhi however much he wants, it is undeniable, that the interactions of the characters are either hilarious or at least well written. Even in Kyoukai no Kanata, KyoAni doesn’t fail at that point, but makes the characters really likeable by letting them interact with each other. I think that without his Mirai, Akihito might have been the bluntest character of all time and that without Akihito Mitsuki would have been the most generic Tsundere ever. A character cannot shine if it doesn’t interact and that is what KyoAni is able to pull off again and again. They understand how to recycle a stereotype that they have been using for ages and make it feel fresh over and over again. People can see that it in K-On, Kyoukai no Kanata and heck, even free to some extent uses the same stereotypes only in a male field. The characters don’t need to be completely original as long as they feel that way. That is the secret of the character cast behind Kyoukai no Kanata.
As I already mentioned several times, Kyoukai no Kanata has been done by Kyoto Animation, a production studio that is well known for it’s extremely high production standards and as it was to be expected, Kyoukai no Kanata looks damn amazing! The fight scenes are some of the most fluent I have ever seen and even while only in Slice of Life mode, the show looks beautiful. The backgrounds are stunning and the animation is detailed to an extent that lets your jaw drop several times. It is one of the best looking shows I have seen so far and is almost at the point where it would be good enough to receive a 10/10. The only problem I have with it, is that it sometimes while fast paced scenes, relies on still frames. There are a few stylistic still screens, that I can forgive, but even sometimes during a fight and that is nothing I do like too much.
look at this beauty…
The OST for Kyoukai no Kanata has been scored by Hikaru Nanase, who was also responsible for shows like Scrapped Princess and Phantom, Requiem for the Phantom. The Soundtrack is a mix of happy slice of life tracks and darker Drama tracks. While the SoL tracks are rather generic and would fit into almost every Happy go lucky slice of Life show, the Drama bits certainly do suit the show really well! They are well composed and part of an OST that in total really compliments the show it is attached to. It might not be as good as let’s say Attack on Titan’s OST, but it certainly stands it’s ground against many other shows. The Opening for the show sounds rather good being sung by the same artist who did the Gargantia Opening and I did like it, but the Ending song definitely was a lot better! I am a huge fan of KyoAni Endings, ever since I saw Chuunibyou, as they often have a surreal feeling to it, that often even fits the show. For Kyoukai no kanata that feeling returns and it doesn’t disappoint. Coupled with the gorgeous animation from KyoAni, both the Opening and Ending were brilliant.
Kyoukai no Kanata has been a fairly enjoyable from the beginning of the show on. It had it’s downfalls but always has been rather interesting for me. With the cool premise, the amazing animation and the for the most part really likeable character cast, I think that it really did a good job of delivering an enjoyable anime. It might not be perfect and it might not even be amazing at most things, but the way it presents itself is it’s biggest strength. The plot really is not too good, the characters are all stereotypical, but it has a charm that not every Anime has and that is what I love about it, but that could just as well be me simply fanboying over my by far favorite Animation Studio of all time!
Now as I calculated all the scores for Kyoukai no Kanata (being Story, Characters, Animation, Sound and my personal enjoyment), I got to an average score of 8.4/10. It is a show that might have it’s flaws but certainly does a good job of getting across what it wants to get across. It might not have the best story but succeeds in presenting it. The show at this point in time has been licensed by Sentai Filmworks, but has not been released yet, as it still is fairly new.
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Hummingbird Version: http://hummingbird.me/anime/kyoukai-no-kanata/reviews/5119