While this was the year of Attack on Titan, there were a few other titles that stood out from the rest of the pack.
Despite not getting the media attention Titan got, what with the Internet meme’s and Youtube tributes, there was one Kyoto Animation series that made some waves.
Both titles featured large impressive worlds and battles, just this title looked a lot better doing it.
Beyond the Boundary is an anime series based upon a series of Light novels written and illustrated by Nagomu Toorii and Caise Kamoi and produced by Kyoto Animation.
The world of Beyond the Boundary is filled with youmu; beings that are invisible to normal people but to a select group are monsters that range in size and ability.
This group are known as spirit warriors. The warriors battle the creatures and stop them from causing unexplainable damage to the world around them.
The story revolves around the relationship between two high schoolers; Mirai Kuriyama (Risa Taneda), a shy glasses wearing girl from a cursed clan of spirit warriors, and Akihito Kanbara (Kenn) an immortal half youmu boy with a bifocal fetish.
At first Mirai is determined to kill Akihito due to his youmu half but the two soon strike a friendship as they both end up liking each other.
While Akihito is a youmu himself he’s different from the other spirits destroying the outside world. He looks like a normal high school student aside from the fact that he can’t die.
Youma are treated as just another form of mammals as they all have their own appearances and attributes that make them different from each other. Once a youma is killed it’s turned into a stone that can be sold to one of the many appraisers.
Miria, while seeming like a normal high school student, has a back-story of her own that haunts her throughout the series.
Akihito is no different as he has resentments and problems that come from him being only part human.
Over the course of the series the two team with siblings Mitsuki (Minori Chihara) and Hiroomi Nase (Tatsuhisa Suzuki) and take on a number of youma in their town as well as other hunters who have plans of their own.
One a technical side Beyond the Boundary is a stunning looking title.
Kyoto Animation, as usual, ends up creating a solid and fluid animation style that gives each character a lot of expression when it’s needed.
While other Kyoto Animation titles lacked some creativity with their character designs, Beyond the Boundary is different. Each of the characters has their own look and abilities that make them stand out from the each other.
Despite this, its’ hard not to notice that Miria looks a lot like K-ON! main character Yui.
Not only do the two share a lot of similarities in appearance but their personalities are similar with being shy and reserved aside from when they’re around friends. While this isn’t the worst thing in the world, it’s still something that should be noted by viewers. Despite this, Miria is one of the more interesting characters in the show due to her back-story and abilities.
Unlike other clans, Miria’s main weapon is her blood.
Miria is able to use her blood in a number of different ways; most commonly she’ll create a sword as her main attack. She also can flick her blood at enemies as it acts as a sort of acid eating away at the person or object that it touches.
While the use of blood as a weapon is an interesting choice the real interesting part of the anime is the world the characters inhabit.
Over the course of the 12 episodes the characters learn of about a conflict between the spirit warriors and one of the many clans in the area.
The show then introduces an event/entity called Beyond the Boundary that leads several of the characters to have to band together to take down the looming threat.
While these plot points end up being the focus of the show, several of the episodes before it end up being used to develop the characters mostly in a comedic effect.
The best example of this being when the group tries to defeat a youmu with a song and dance routine…it makes sense when you see it.
When the show does move into the heavier plot point’s episode end up filled with large fight scenes. Some of the battles between spirit warriors are amazingly animated and have some interesting twists that make each fight seem different from the others.
However, one area that falls short for Beyond the Boundary is its finale.
While the story moves in the direction you’d imagine for a supernatural romance drama, i.e. one hero looking to save their love interest, the events that lead up to that aren’t explored as well as they could have been.
For a majority of the show the characters are fighting creatures and going through a teen drama, and then in the final few episodes more back-story is revealed that leads to characters having to risk their lives.
The lack of proper build ends up crippling the show near the end and doesn’t let it get the punch that was needed for the final seconds of the show. While I’m not clear on weather or not this was the way the plot happened in the novel, it could have been done better in the anime.
Additionally the shows music isn’t as strong as I’d hoped.
The opening and closing themes sung by Minori Chihara and Stereo Dive Foundation are OK but sound like some many other anime themes over the years.
The rest of the shows soundtrack do their job and back up the great visuals but don’t really stand out on their own.
Despite this, the show ends up being a great deal of fun.
The characters are interesting and the dialogue and situations lead to a number of generally funny moments.
While it’s clear that Beyond the Boundary isn’t free of criticism, the amazing animation, interesting characters and back-stories will leave you wanting more.
In fact the show ends up being my favourite anime of the year, as it seemed to crawl it’s way into my brain and not leave.
The anticipation of waiting for a new episode each week in and out made me fall more and more in love with this show and it shouldn’t be passed up by anime fans.
Beyond the Boundary was produced by Kyoto Animation. The title is streaming on Crunchyroll and will be dubbed and will be released by Sentai Filmworks in the 2014.