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Six episodes in Beyond the Boundary (aka Kyokai no Kanata) is a surprisingly enjoyable entry in the Fall [1] 2013 season [2], and this is despite a fairly formulaic plot structure thus far.

The Setup

Monsters (or youma) are real and there are Spirit World Warriors who put them down. Kuriyama Mirai [3] is a Spirit World Warrior from a cursed clan that hunts using blood magic, and is something of an outcast from both magical and mundane society. By “blood magic” I mean that Mirai can summon a nasty sword [4] from her blood [5].

Kanbara Akihito is an immortal half youma who starts off as Mirai’s practice for hunting youma (since she can’t actually kill him), and this quickly develops into a sort of partnership to actually hunt youma.

The Formula

The first six episodes follow a familiar pattern:

  • Introduce the two leads
  • Introduce the supporting cast
  • Explore the main characters, introduce (or suggest) key plot elements such as why Mirai is likely to be a Defrosting Ice Queen (or similar) over the course of the series & hint at the actual villains (this was a two part story)
  • A Day in the Limelight episode for Mitsuki
  • Start showing the process of the Defrosting Ice Queen connecting to a group of friends.

At this stage I would be expecting two to three more Limelight episodes with Hiromi and then Ayaka being the most likely candidates. I’m not sure who the focus character for the third Limelight episode is likely to be.

The remaining 4 episodes are likely to tackle the core plot elements: the developing Mirai/Akihito relationship and what’s really going on in the world.

The Scripting

The episodes so far have generally been well scripted to achieve their aims within the formula, usually with some misdirection to make what’s happening slightly less obvious.

The two part sequence exploring Mirai and Akihito (Moonlight Purple and Bitter Orange [6]) uses some astonishing action sequences to cover the infodump and the growing connection between the two. In some respects the major sequence was reminiscent of the battles in in Puella Magi Madoka Magica, and certainly matched them for spectacle.

Mirai’s increasing connection to the Literary Club is buried beneath the gloriously funny parodies that make up Shocking Pink, but is still there if you’re watching for it [7].

The Characters

Most of the characters are engaging, well realised, and interact in interesting (if occasionally questionable) ways. Overt fanservice has been kept to a reasonable minimum [8], albeit that Akihito’s glasses fetish and Hiromi’s sister complex are more than a little creepy [9].

The Interim Verdict

Beyond the Boundary is, despite the formulaic structure, a fun series to watch with interesting characters and occasionally superb scripting of individual episodes.

Unless it pulls off some major surprises in the remaining episodes, Beyond the Boundary will be a good but not great anime.

Overall Beyond the Boundary is definitely worth following and, barring a major stuff-up of some sort, is a series that I’ll enjoy watching to the end of the season.

UPDATE: I’ve added a link in the footnotes to a post on Illogical Zen that looks at the Shinto implications of blood magic, and I forgot to put in the opening credits:

[1] I have to use the northern hemisphere designations for the seasons. This occasionally annoys me, particularly during bushfire season in Australia.

[2] The other Fall 2013 shows that I’m currently following are Nagi no Asakura, Gingitsune, and Arpeggio of Blue Steel.

[3] I believe that Mirai means “Future” so I expect that to become significant.

[4] Mirai can also use her blood to [SPOILER].

[5] There have been blog posts exploring the nasty implications of using blood like this in Shintoism. If I find a good one I’ll link to it, but it isn’t a topic I know well enough to tackle myself. If you know of such a blog post, please provide a link to it in the comments. UPDATE: This post by Illogical Zen is a good place to start.

[6] All of the episode titles have a colour theme.

[7] Along with another Madoka Magica shout out.

[8] Epsiode 6 is something of an exception.

[9] The creepiness is called out as such in universe, which makes the inclusion marginally more acceptable.