Anime Review: Beyond the Boundary – I'll Be Here – Past Chapter/Future Arc (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Drew Hurley 09.10.2017

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Beyond the Boundary - I'll Be Here - Past Chapter/Future Arc (UK Rating: 15)

Fall 2013 had a ton of break-out and memorable anime series: Log Horizon (Database! Database!) gave a grounded, stuck in an MMO VR experience, Magi finally received its anime adaptation, the absolute insanity of Samurai Flamenco confused audiences worldwide, and there was the phenomenal Kill la Kill. Amongst these great titles came Beyond the Boundary, a stunning new series from KyoAni that managed to somehow not just stand alongside these series, but above them; a touching and fantastic tale that is a must-see for new fans. This release is a double bill of movies; the first a quick recap of the original series and the second a whole new story and conclusion to the tale. This movie pack comes courtesy of Manga Entertainment and is available from today, 9th October.

The original series of Beyond the Boundary was something of a rarity in the world of anime in that it was a complete story that felt utterly satisfying. It gave a potentially open-ended finale but it felt like the story was told. There were few plot threads hanging and the characters had finished their journeys. Those viewers who cannot remember just how that story played out can look forward to the first of the two movies here, which recaps the entire 12-episode series in just 90 minutes. It's a decent enough film that manages to explain the major story beats of the anime series but due to trying to crush so much content down, it simply can't really hold a candle to the original.


 
The story of Beyond the Boundary saw a world plagued by supernatural creatures known as Youmu. These ranged from mindless beasts to intelligent beings, all thought to have been born from the negative emotions and twisted hearts of humanity. Keeping humanity safe from the creatures they birthed are the "Spirit World Warriors," humans with supernatural abilities who are able to see these creatures. At the centre of this story is a strange pair, a boy named Akihito Kanbara and a girl named Mirai Kuriyama. The two are pulled together when Akihito sees Mirai stood atop the school, seemingly about to commit suicide and rushes to her side to talk her down. Unknowingly, though, Mirai stood there to bait Akihito. She is a Spirit World Warrior and is here to try and kill Akihito, who turns out to be a half Youmu immortal. Mirai is the last of an ancient cursed clan of warriors who can freely manipulate her blood, transforming it and hardening it to create weapons, even being able to use the blood as a deadly poison that can tear her victim's innards to pieces.

Despite her initial mission, the two strike up an unlikely friendship, with Akihito actually mentoring Mirai in her hunting of the Youmu, this builds into a charming romance between the pair. They are both outcasts who hate their lineage and the bond that grows between them is very well done. What elevated the series wasn't just the always stunning presentation of Kyoto animation, but the strong characterisation that built the bespectacled beauty and her twisted upperclassman into highly likeable and relatable characters. Those who haven't seen the series can understand enough of the story from watching this recap movie alone, but it's doing a massive disservice to the story, lacking much of the character development of not only this duo but the extended cast, too. The entire finale is left as quite a confusing mess for new viewers, too, as they lack the context that makes the emotional story beats so much more impactful.

The second film, though… oh, that second film. Spoilers for the original series and first film here; the original series really deserves to be watched. It opens with quite the trite and overdone premise. After Mirai was returned to Akihito at the conclusion of the original story, it turns out not everything was quite as positive as it seemed. Mirai has amnesia. Wait! WAIT! Don't go anywhere. Yes, it's a story that's overdone, but bear with it - give it a chance. Everything that made the original so special is here in spades. Whether it be the normal moments of eating at a restaurant as the day comes to a close, the rich colours being cast over with shadows, or the dynamic combat scenes where Mirai spins and slashes, a beautiful storm of destruction in a little pink cardigan. This is KyoAni, after all, and it has made its name by delivering beautiful works - everything looks just so good. The highly likeable characters return and are further developed. Most importantly, the story is absolutely fantastic. A shadowy enemy enters the town, a Youmu that can enter the hearts of humans and draw out the worst darkness from them. Suddenly, the strongest Spirit World Warriors are being killed left and right and these puppets of darkness seem to be getting closer and closer to Mirai. Meanwhile, Akihito is trying to keep Mirai at arm's length, trying to stop her memories from returning and suffering so she can live the normal life she always wanted.


 
This release comes with dual audio options. The English dub is enjoyable enough, with one small exception: Mirai's voice actress, Krystal LaPorte, is fine until she needs to become emotional. Whenever she's angry or upset, her voice breaks and she sounds like Joey Lauren Adams screeching in Chasing Amy. It pales in comparison to the original voice of Risa Taneda, a true talent that has already displayed her ability to emote in her performance as the heartwarming and heartbreaking Kaori Miyazono in Your Lie in April. Other than the dual audio, the bonus features are rather limited; the original promo videos and trailers from Japan, along with the cast's idol performance from the original series.

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10
The quality of each film is drastically different in Beyond the Boundary - I'll Be Here - Past Chapter/Future Arc. The first is too short for the audience to develop the bond with the characters that give the emotional moments the killer punch they originally held. It's serviceable as a recap, at least. The second film is where this really shines. After a beautiful and magical story, it was worrying to revisit this world and potentially have the original sullied with an unnecessary tacked on sequel, but those concerns were needless. It feels like the best type of epilogue, giving a new story as a backdrop to revisit old favourite characters and see how they have grown, while also serving as an even better farewell to Mirai and Akihito.

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