I recently enjoyed an anime TV series called Beyond the Boundary on Crunchyroll. It featured great character designs, artful pacing, and an intriguing plot. There’s a lot in the series to recommend for fans of fantasy or anime.
In the world of Beyond the Boundary, there are youma (demons), half youma, and the spirit world warriors living in secret amongst humans who interact with or destroy the youma. Youma are the result of humans’ negative energy. Wherever humans gather, youma can be found as well. However, once they are created, youma feed off of the Chaos around them and produce more of it. That is why they often need to be destroyed.
Beyond the Boundary focuses on two main characters. The first is Akihito Kanbara, a half youma who is just a regular high schooler whose demon side is mostly asleep. It seems to come out during periods of intense spirit activity. Akihito is supposed to keep himself calm and in control. This is why he’s allowed to live among other humans. Without giving away any spoilers, we learn later that the demon inside of him is quite powerful, and that is the real reason why he lives amongst other humans: so they can keep a watchful eye on him.
Meanwhile, we are introduced to a girl named Mirai Kuriyama, who is the last member of an outcast clan of spirit warriors who can control their blood and use it as a weapon to dispatch youma. Her assignment seems to be to kill Akihito, and she might succeed, too, if only he’d stop being so nice to her. She is probably the cutest meganeko (“girl wearing glasses”, a character type in anime) that I’ve ever seen, and she is the object of Akihito’s disturbing meganeko fetish.
The first six episodes establish the world setting and all of the characters. Some are serious and some, like Akihito’s mother, are hilarious. There is also a monster of the week feel to the show in the beginning, but it’s not so pronounced that it becomes mundane and boring.
The sixth episode marks a break in the narrative. It is the most hilarious filler episode I have ever seen—truly a delight—and I still laugh thinking about them doing a pop band dance number to distract the stupid monster. Episode six is also the last time the show plays for laughs.
Episodes seven to twelve dispense with character establishment and build on the intrigue and suspense that has been bubbling under the surface since episode one to create a crescendo that leaves the viewer with questions that beg to be answered with each following episode.
Beyond the Boundary is based on a light novel series in Japan, which might explain why there are times when the story feels like parts are missing—the scene where Akihito’s goofy mother is revealed to be a serious and deadly character for instance. However, there are so many strengths to the series that you may not mind the few minor times the narrative has you scratching your head.
The visuals are stunning, especially towards the end, when the youma world collides with the real world; the character designs are beautiful and well done; the characters are fun and not typical; the battle scenes are phenomenally staged and animated; and the story is intriguing.
Aside from the few times I wished I had the light novels to read for reference, the only other downsides were a bit of fan service and gore. It wasn’t “Rated R” gore, but definitely PG-13. Beyond the Boundary was a refreshing break from the stereotypical anime shows I have seen lately. I definitely recommend it.
Original Air Dates: October 2 – December 18, 2013 (Japan)
TV Parental Guidelines Rating: Not Rated (but likely TV-14 or TV-MA)
Network: Tokyo MX, ABC (Asahi Broadcasting), TV Aichi, Crunchyroll
Language: Japanese with English subtitles
Original Title: 境界の彼方 (Kyōkai no Kanata)
Alcohol/Drugs: 2 (occasional social drinking)
Language: 2 (TV swears, possibly an s-word)
Nudity: 1 (fan service)
Violence: 4 (brutal violence, death, gore, ichor, explosions of blood and body fluid; blood is a weapon for one character, so I guess the show is a little bloody)