Beyond the Boundary is a light novel series written by Nagomu Torii that won an honourable mention at Kyoto Animation’s Award competition in 2011. The series was later published by Kyoto Animation, with three volumes currently available, and then adapted into an anime. The series originally aired in 2013 in Japan and has since received an OVA, or Original Video Animation, and a two-part movie project. Whether we see a release of these here in the UK only time will tell but fans are eagerly awaiting their arrival. This series itself has been brought to the UK via Animatsu Entertainment and contains the full 12 episode series plus the 5 episode ONA, or Original Net Animation, Idol Trial ~The Who Judge You Even Though They Waver~.
“The dark fantasy follows a high school sophomore named Akihito Kanbara. Although the boy appears human, he is half youmu and invulnerable to wounds because he can heal quickly. One day, Akihito meets freshman Mirai Kuriyama when it seems she is about to jump from the school rooftop. Mirai is isolated because of her ability to manipulate blood, which is unique even among members of the spirit world. Disturbing events begin to unfold after Akihito saves Mirai.” – Animatsu Entertainment
As a huge KyoAni fan Beyond the Boundary is easily one of my top personal favourites. Not only does it contain all the usual KyoAni visual stylings and signature look but it’s also a lot more serious than their other work. Of course, moe and cuteness are still major themes but the tone of the series is definitely a much darker one. The series covers some very dark themes such as death and loneliness; this is definitely not your typical KyoAni series. Although there are a few episodes that scream classic KyoAni and if you’re a fan their work you’ll get a kick out of them if you’re not then maybe not so much.
The series doesn’t have a small cast of characters, but you never feel overcrowded; each character is given time to develop and grow throughout the series. By the time you reach the end you feel like you have been through so much with these characters even though it’s only a 12 episode series. I really have to praise the world that has been created in Beyond the Boundary; everything just works together and fits so naturally, it’s just a fantastic series to watch.
Beyond the Boundary is a very special effects-heavy series and for the most part, look absolutely fantastic. The DVD edition of the series does suffer slightly from artefacts and pixelation during some of the very fast action scenes. While it’s hardly noticeable and does not impact on viewing enjoyment I would strongly recommend watching the series on Blu-ray. The DVD edition, while adequate, doesn’t really do the series justice.
I never really care too much about the menu systems as long as they look good and do the job but Beyond the Boundary’s gave me a little chuckle. The inclusion of Mirai Kuriyama’s glasses and sword as the episode selector was a nice touch.
Having seen the series prior to this review and really enjoying the Japanese voice cast I was hesitant to select the English language audio track knowing of Sentai Filmworks reputation of having less than stellar dubs. I have to say though, I was pleasantly surprised, the Japanese audio track is easily the superior choice, but the English track is not bad going and still provides an enjoyable experience. KyoAni never seems to fail when it comes to opening and the ending songs as both are truly brilliant as are the animations. Both “Kyoukai no Kanata” by Minori Chihara and “Daisy” by STEREO DIVE FOUNDATION fits perfectly with the series and it’s such a joy to listen to them.
Extras can be found on disc one and three, disc one features clean opening and closing animations. A collection of trailers can be found under the heading Also Available from Sentai Filmworks and include No Game No Life, Atelier Escha & Logy ~Alchemist of the Dusk Sky~, The Familiar of Zero F and Magical Warfare. Disc three features Beyond the Boundary Idol Trial ~The Who Judge You Even Though They Waver~ the five-episode ONAs with Japanese audio-only, and Japanese Promos. The Idol Trial episodes focus on putting various characters to trial for their creepy behaviour; you can guess who spent most of their time getting punished here. Trials are run by Mirai Kuriyama, Mitsuki Nase, Sakura Inami and idol judge Ai Shindō who all appear in chibi form and perform an idol routine when handing out their verdict.
Beyond the Boundary is a visually stunning series from Kyoto Animation that has a notably darker tone than their other works. The series is full of great character, story and fast-paced magical action. The darker setting allows us to experience a different side of KyoAni and it’s brilliant. I highly recommend watching the series on Blu-ray if you have the chance but the DVD does a fairly good job of presenting the show.