The next round of reviews are two shows that isn’t from this past Fall season, but before. One I faintly recalled watching years ago, then this past one was a new experience (sort of). Expect one more entry in my September’s watched list, as I still have Aldnoah Zero and Persona 3 to properly review.
This a show I gave a brief chance almost a year ago now, and walked away because I didn’t like the feel of the opening scene. For some reason, the show didn’t click with me. Perhaps I couldn’t connect to the story when the inciting moment is when someone I shall dub as hipster glasses feigned suicide only to stab a good (yet slightly perverted) Samaritan. The scene felt far too melodramatic, tossed together and I immediately rejected the show.
However, I gave this show a second chance. I saw the title in the crunchyroll library, recalled the fondness my supervisor at my previous job shared towards the show, and gave Beyond the Boundary another chance. Thanks to his strong recommendation, I was able to enjoy a mostly decent show.
Beyond the Boundary, without giving too much away, is fairly nice balance of comedy and darkness, fantasy and human drama. The characters are charming and for the most part, deep. They established each character fairly well, weaved an intricate web of connections in the supernatural society, which goes unnoticed by majority of the population. The dark undertones on the plot makes this series a worthwhile watch. The dynamics of the two lead characters, Mirai Kuriyama and Akihito Kanbara, continue to grow throughout the story, adding a nice touch to the plot as we are shown they’re more alike than different. By the end of the series, late developments give purpose and some explanation to the plot. Yet at the moment of truth, I cringed at the resolution of this anime, at the squandered potential.
Beyond the Boundary did a good job with the characterization of majority of the cast; the characters were fleshed out to the degree that elevated the show and added to the plot. Mirari Kuriyama and Akhito Kanbara both possess troubled and dark pasts, but their ability to cope with such burdens while traversing the story creates for intriguing leads. They are supported by a cast that is as deep as they are colorful and fun. The characterization of the cast is enforced with the copious amount of interactions between each character, creating an additional dimension to the overall product. As a result, the setting crafted for Beyond the Boundary feels as if it’s an actual world with a community present. Examples of this spans from Ayaka Shindou’s peddling of edgy photos of Mirai to Akihito, to Miksuki Nase’s constant teasing of her peers, and to the presence of Izumi Nase’s fingerprints on every event that transpires in her town. The world feels alive with such constant crossfire of interactions between the cast.
The show has balance. The comic relief gives relief when the tension of the plot grows high. The plot becomes darker and darker, and as a result, the pay off is glorious as we are gifted with wonderful moments. Everything feels human. We are constantly reminded that we create happiness and warmth amidst a cold bleak reality. There are painful choices we must make. There are difficult actions we must take. There’s a price for everything. There’s unfairness. At the end of the day, not everyone can be winners. When have a character whose draws upon her own blood as source for her magical powers, it is a good sign that there is much potential for a mature and dark story. This, combined with the fact that the Youmu in this tale has a wide array, from friendly sociable spirits to nasty, devilish creatures, is what makes Beyond the Boundary shine.
Yet on that note, that strength suddenly crumbles due to an unimaginative and counterproductive ending. All all of this wonderful build-up, all those events that have transpired to set up for what could have been a perfect ending, all came crashing down because I felt they copped out. Not to give the ending away, but I felt the ending contradicted the lessons the characters had been taught through the course of the show. After all, we were there with the characters when they grasped life’s lessons and grew with them as they tried to rise above.
Moving on, as I hinted earlier, I had an issue with the inciting moment. Late in the series, it became clear while hipster glasses suddenly appeared in the lives of Akihito and the Nase siblings. Nevertheless, despite the explanation, it did not rationalize how the opening scene unfolded. There is no real logic behind the scene. And upon further examination, the opening scene was tossed in there only to catch an audience initially as we see stories and other series do from time to time. Ironically, this same approach was what had originally pushed me away. By one saving grace was the distance between the explanation and the scene. By the point we are finally revealed the true catalyst to the entire plot, the scene had already faded in our memories. I didn’t feel as cheap as it would have felt if we were given such an explanation with those events fresh in our head.
The opening scene will most likely be a hit or miss for some people. And despite the ending, I would still recommend Beyond the Boundary. Some people might even be satisfied with the fashion they ended the show. But in this case, the journey is worth the watch, even if the destination isn’t all that great in my opinion. I felt this show is an example of how to successfully manage a sprawling cast in a modern fantasy setting. If you’re looking for a well-balanced show, give this series a shot.
Plus this anime has some beautiful, dazzling action scenes!
Score: 7.5/10 – Good
Whenever I feel bit underneath the weather, I find myself marathoning romcoms. I don’t exactly know why. Maybe romantic comedies nurse my mental status while feeling the battering whatever sickness is giving my poor body. Perhaps I yearn for warmth I garner from digesting these shows. Maybe I should consider this genre as my hot cocoa. For the shows that particularly thick with the romance, I definitely need to be ill to be in the mood. Toradora is probably one of the best romcoms I have ever watched. I recalled years ago watching Toradora, but upon rewatching, I didn’t remember much about the show. I knew the general premise and plot. However, the intricacies of this show was forgotten, making this replay enjoyable
The story has the set-up of a Shakespearean play. Almost every character appears to have romantic aspirations to be with another, yet no two character initially share the same feelings for each other. Keeping true to the teenage spirit of the cast, their romantic desires consume a good proportion of their attention in life. The love triangles that constantly emerge in this one class continues to feed the conflict and work well with the overlying theme. We are eventually shown through the small moral victories and the heartbreaks the character experience the difference between ideal love and true love. As a result, for the romance credentials, this show is top-notch. There are winners and losers in the battle for love. There are moments when we have to give up on our wants, and be smart in order to ultimately protect ourselves long-term. There are other times we just have to go the distance, even against the odds. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. That’s the true nature of love.
This show could not have last so many episodes without the dynamics between Taiga and Takasu. They are the catalysts that allow for the plot to weave the tales of love found and love loss. The dynamics they share create for moments of drama and for moments of comedy. They are truly a great duo to lead to the cast. And then the supporting cast prop them up. When the plot needs a certain role fulfill, these supporting character steps in seamlessly to accomplish the task at hand. Close friends to the pair, Minori and Kitamura serve as not only moral support throughout the challenges encountered but also, at the same very time, they function as the romantic interests/challenges for our leads. Ami serve as a good dose of reality occasionally and the right spark for the right situations, that is required to continue he plot towards its natural outcome. But not one character of this core group remains static, as each grows with the plot and become a very much different person by the end of our tale. The events of the plot affect each character’s standing towards each other, their relationships, and each character’s mental state.
On a side note, I also enjoy the fact that each character steps outside their archetypes. The tsundere can be sweet in the right mood. The bubbly girl can be outright mean in the wrong situation. The nice guy can be an asshole. Like human beings, we can act almost out of character if we are placed in the right (or in some cases, the wrong) situation. Due to this variable, each character feel multidimensional.
There isn’t much in the terms of flaws for Toradora! The plot can be easily predictable, but that is because the plot remains ultimately logically until the end. The ending shows a little twist, one I can’t completely rationalize, but it wasn’t so far left-field to be very detrimental. I am under the assumption that the final twist to the resolution was done to prevent from the plot being completely 100% predictable. The twist is more of a playful jab than a blindsided hay-maker. However, within the first few episodes, one can easily figure who’s going to end up together. I sort of wanted for some derivation from the plan, but that would have been difficult and would have meant risky, drastic measures. They show played it safe, and in the end, the choice definitely paid off.
Fans of serious romance and good comedy will most likely rate this show as a 9 or a 10. Since I am a man who needs to be in the right mood (;-)), my score is probably a little reflective of that fact. I would suggest this anime for anyone who wants a show that dedicates itself to romance and comedy. I would even go as far to say that this is the standard-bearer for the entire genre.