Anime Review: Kyoukai no Kanata

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!

Kyoukai no Kanata Review Youmu 1

Some of the Youmu look really cool…

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.

Kyoukai no Kanata Youmu 2

…and some look really damn stupid…

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…

Kyoukai no Kanata Youmu 3

…but there is no cuter one than her!

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…

Kyoukai no Kanata Review fetish

Gotta love dem fetishes…

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!

kyoukai-no-kanata Review Mirai cute :3

She’s so damn cute :3

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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Kyoukai no Kanata: First Impression

This first impression is still SPOILER FREE! It doesn’t go beyond the things said in the Synopsis! However I still would recommend to watch the episode before reading this since it will make things a bit clearer (I am not gonna give a summary!)

Kyoukai no Kanata First Impression monster

And that day noone gave a fuck…

Omg KyoAni…you did it again…I have to say that currently I am in love with the studio that is Kyoto Animation and almost all of their works. Kyoukai no Kanata is no different to that and the first episode already represents that as a perfect introduction to a new world that immediatly cought my interest. The first episode of this was pretty interesting to say the least and while it didn’t give away too much of the story yet, it still was able to pull of a really good start. From beginning on, we get quite some really cool character interaction, making me already like almost every single character (probably except the main protagonist as he seems to be rather dull) and love their interactions with each other. The animation looks as it was expected amazing and the show fits perfectly into the style that KyoAni has, even though I had some doubts about the fight scenes, since this kind of scenes have been pretty rare in Kyoto Animation works recently, but what they did blew me away. It looked gorgeous, it has an interesting story a likeable cast and a nice concept. I really am looking forward to see more of this!

Score: 8.5/10

Anime Review: K-On!

Before reading this Review, please note, that humor is entirely subjective and as is it is such, it fully depends on the viewer, if he is enjoying the humorous parts, that the show has included. As this show is a show that heavily relies on humor and similarly objective things, please remember that this is MY opinion on how I liked these subjective topics! Thanks!

The moe genre has been widely spread within the last few years, slowly creeping more and more into the seasonal charts before actually taking them over, as there have been many shows of this kind in there lately. One production company in particular has gotten their hands on many shows of that kind, being, as you may have guessed, Kyoto Animation. They were the ones that actually started the hype with Lucky Star and have ever since been able to receive more money just from releasing shows of this kind, such as Tamako Market in some ways Chuunibyou and most notably K-On!

K-On! Review Christmas

Most things happening in K-On! actually are rather random.

Story: K-On! is a 2009 Anime, done by Kyoto Animation and has been well known ever since. The story follows Yui a clumsy air headed girl that has just got into High school. As she never really was productive in any year earlier, she decides that this year she wants to join a club but doesn’t know which one, since nothing that other clubs are doing really is to her liking. That is until she finds out about a club called the “Light Music Club”. Thinking they are only playing easy songs and she won’t have to do anything but play the castanets she joins them, but it isn’t long until she sees, that underneath the big “Light Music Club” sign it says, that they want to form a band. Too late for Yui though as she already handed in her application sheet and she now has to at least tell the club that she wants to do so, since she can’t play any instrument. She tries to do so, but the club members are begging her to stay, since otherwise the club would have to disband. They show her a song and Yui decides that she wants to learn the guitar and so they start playing music drinking tea…

K-On! Review HeadphonesThe story of K-On! for the most part actually is pretty non existent as this is a moe show and moe shows are dependent on things like cuteness and humor most of the time. It is rather rare that a moe show has an actual overarching plot instead of just having a motivation that makes them do whatever they are doing (in this situation being the band). However there are a few points that kind of show something like Drama, even though it is nothing really worth mentioning, but that is really all there is, as everything else is just cute girls doing cute things. The thing about that though, is that it doesn’t make huge difference, since having a good plot obviously never was this show’s goal.

K-On! Review Band

The band members in the style of the ending!

Characters: The characters presented  in K-On! are all rather generic, as everyone seems to represent a certain cliche that they fulfill.
We have Yui, a clumsy, air headed girl that is playing the guitar. She originally joined the Light Music Club, thinking that she wouldn’t have to do anything but playing the castanets and even now she’d rather be somewhere playing around than actually doing something productive. Nevertheless she gets quite good at playing the guitar pretty fast (which makes me kinda jealous…I always had to practice!)
The second character is Ritsu, the Band’s leader and drummer. She is an energetic girl, that is just as lazy is Yui is, when it comes to actually practicing or similar things and loves to make fun of others, Her dream is to form a band and go to Budokan (which is a huge concert hall in Tokyo) to hold a concert there. Thus she decides to form the Light Music Club and puts quite some efforts into it, even though she forgets things really easily which makes some situations really hard for the band.
The next Club member is Mio. She is a really hard-working girl that plays the base in the band. She is really easy to embarrass though and gets easily scared, which often is used as the comedy relieve as it is quite funny to see for both Ritsu and the viewer.
The last band member is Migu, a really kind and well mannered girl. She plays the keyboarder for the band and actually wanted to join the choir club at first, but ended up in the Light Music Club as they seemed to look a lot more fun to her. She is the daughter of a rich father, who seems to own several stores, often helping the group out quite a bit.
The Supporting Cast in K-On! is just as the main cast nothing really special as they are for the most part just a bunch of moe cliches. We have the really crazy one, the caring one, the best friend and so on. Something that really stands out though, is that the supporting cast is really small, leading to them getting shown rather often and better understanding of the viewer, which really helps a lot to relate to them.

Basically how the concept of K-On! works…

In total the characters of K-On! really are nothing out of the ordinary. Every single of them is as I mentioned earlier just a Representative of a cliche and none of them is written really complex. On the other hand though, every single one of them is likeable and I could perfectly relate to everyone, not that this was really necessary, as there was no point where I actually felt bad for any of them, since this is a moe show and moe is really well known for actually not having any Drama in there. Nonetheless I really enjoyed watching them.
Character Development in this show is just as nonexistent, as the originality in the characters. Almost every single one stays the same for the whole show and while there are a few things that change, the change rarely gets significant and really visible.

The thing about this section though is, that it doesn’t really matter, whether they are cliche or not. It doesn’t matter, whether the characters develop or not, since this is a show that neither wants any complicated plot nor any amazingly well written characters. K-On! totally works without anything that way. This show never even intended to be taken seriously which already gets obvious from the first episode on and doesn’t really change throughout the course of the show. This is supposed to be a comedy Anime and as such we have to treat it that way. The thing that matters a lot more than the actual characters themselves, is the character interaction which in this Anime seems to be done really well. It is more than one time that I just had to laugh out loud, at just how cool the interactions between the band members were and that surely is nothing that you achieve by having great characters, but by making just letting them interact in a way that is cute and funny enough for the viewer to watch.

K-On Review Comparison

Character Design Comparison: K-On – Free

Animation: I don’t think I actually have to say a lot about this, as this was done by the Animation Studio known as Kyoto Animation. For those unfamiliar with them, they have done amazingly well animated shows such as Chuunibyou or the recent free. To keep it short, the Animation looks just as amazing as in other shows by KyoAni. The character designs look really damn cute and I think it is worth mentioning, that they actually influenced every single following KyoAni-Anime, as those always seem to copy the style that K-On! had.

K-On! Review Concert

Even though the music wasn’t fantastic the concert-scenes certainly were the most fun!

Sound: As K-On! is an Anime about music, you might figure that the music is really well done and that if the girls are playing the songs are done really well. The Soundtrack of K-On! though, only consist of way too few actual songs the band plays itself. The majority of the Soundtrack is the background music, which is rather boring and not really exciting to listen to. The songs that they actually play on concerts though, which happens rarely, are pretty well done and catchy. They are nothing that stands out due to it’s complexity, but going into a moe show about music I actually was thinking it’d be a lot worse than it was. The ending and Opening though, both were amazing. Especially the ending, featuring a style that is really cool to look at and a really cool song.

K-On! Review Moe

this is one of the moments to go: “awwww”

In total K-On! has been something that I was kind of cautious to start, since I heard mixed opinions about this, ranging from absolute love to hate. I didn’t know what to think of it until I actually watched it myself and I really have to be honest and say that I actually really enjoyed this. The humor was fantastic and I caught myself several times going “awwww…this is cute!”, an exclamation that I wouldn’t have thought I’d ever hear myself saying And while this is all there is to it, with it being really funny and really cute, the show really doesn’t need anything but this. It is enjoyable the way it is and I myself wouldn’t have changed anything about it. It doesn’t try to be something deep or anything that makes a lot of sense, but just wants to entertain the masses and that’s what it does really well!

Now as I calculated the scores I gave K-On! (being Story, Characters, Animation, Sound and my personal enjoyment), I came to a score of 7,66/10! It is really good for what it is supposed to be, but nothing beyond that!
As it is now, K-On! has been licensed by Bandai Entertainment, but since Bandai actually has gone broke, this is out of print. You can quite easily get a new one though, as this show still is rather new and there are quite some left to sale. If you happen to live in Australia this show has been picked up by Madman and by Manga in UK and if you live in the same country as me (being Germany), you are able to get this by Kazé entertainment.
With that I hope I could help you and see you next time!

Anime Blog #2: Of Crossdressers, Chuunibyous and disappointing movies!

Well….It’s been two weeks since I was writing such a Blog the last time and here, I am back with probably me having marathoned the most Anime in a long time. As you might have noticed, my seasonal reports became a little more rare last weeks and yes I know I am way too lazy. Well it wasn’t only due to me being lazy, but rather me watching too much Anime to actually have time to write my Blogs, since I have been marathoning quite some pretty damn good shows recently!

Blog 2 Hagane no Renkinjutsushi Fullmetal AlchemistThe first Anime that I finished was one of the two that I am going to mention that have been featured last time already, being Fullmetal Alchemist. After being at Episode 40 already before starting to write the last Blog, There of course isn’t a lot to talk about except the ending. I often heard that the ending of the original Fullmetal Alchemist was pretty much shit, I didn’t really see that myself and was quite satisfied with the ending, leaving a lot of space for a sequel (which we got with the movie that I am gonna talk about later) and still leaving me rather satisfied. The whole show in my opinion was really well done and it just was a really enjoyable ride. The only thing that I can actually complain about, are the few parts where it went into humor, since those often didn’t get me further than smirk a bit and I thought the serious parts were done a lot better. After waiting only a few days, I actually started watching the movie “Conqueror of Shamballa” and while I was happy to have FMA back, the movie itself was rather disappointing, leaving me a lot more unfullfilled with the ending than the actual show did and except the action it was rather bad. Also Gluttony was quite weird to me…

Blog 1 Casshern SinsThe second one that I finished, that I mentioned back then already was Casshern Sins and about this I really don’t have a lot to say right now, having written an entire Review about it. I am just gonna revise what I said in there really quick. The thing about this show is that while I really liked it, it was kind of flawed, bearing a lot of flaws especially in the case of the main characters which seemed to be kind of dull to me and at times they were kind of annoying. The strength of the show really was the supporting cast, which really was amazingly well written and made the Setting stand out really well. I was quite satisfied with the ending as well and I thought it was quite good, even though it actually had a lot of flaws.

Blog 2 Eden of the EastThe third show I watched was a show called Eden of the East and while I haven’t seen the movies yet, I am gonna do so and I only really have a single complaint about the whole show….the ending! The ending was the thing that set me off the most, being not really satisfying in itself, but as I said I hope that the movies are going to make everything a little clearer. As a show in total…Higashi no Eden was amazing. it had really cool characters, a Setting that was unique and really damn cool while revolving a story around it that was pretty well done! One thing that I really liked about it was the Opening (which I have to admit I watched in fansubs q__q) and the Ending as both had a really cool Style and fit pretty well to the actual show! Also the pairing for this Anime must belong to one of my favorites so far! I am really looking forward to watching the movies now and I hope they’ll be as good and have the same impact as the show had. Also…Production I.G….thank you for that Animation :3

Hourou Musuko Review Main charactersAbout the next Anime I actually wrote a Review too, being Hourou Musuko. I went into this Anime, because I actually wanted to watch something that was mediocre and when I looked at the synopsis and saw that it was dealing with something as Gender Identity and Transsexualism, I thought of it as a show that would have a lot of fanservice and bad humor, so I went to check it out (masochist I know…) and well…let’s say it was totally different from what I eexpected it to be. I loved how the show dealt with a topic this difficult and the thing that surprised me the most was how well I could feel for the character even though they are completely different from me. The characters were amazing and even though the story was a bit weak at points, I really thought the show was very well done! Another thing I really liked about the show was the Ending which was really fitting!

Blog 2 Chuunibyou demo Koi ga ShitaiThe last Anime I wanna talk about actually is something I just finished around half an hour ago and wouldn’t have started if I didn’t promise a friend to watch it, since she told me it was a really cute Anime…so I went along and started watching Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! and you know what? I freaking loved it! Kyoto Animation stands as one of my favorite Anime Studios, having brought to us shows like Clannad, Kanon (2006), Lucky Star or this particular one. Their Production Value has proven to be really high every time and even though they make Slice of Life for the most part, most of their shows are extremely well executed. As for Chuunibyou itself, I have to be honest and enjoyed the first half a little more than the second half, since the humor is something that pleases me a little more than the Drama but still, that doesn’t mean that the second half was not good. In contrary, I really loved it. The movie is going to come out this fall and I am really looking forward to it! With another Season on the way too, I can only say that KyoAni is pure win right now (don’t watch free so I can’t say anything about that one though except that it looks really good!)

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