Beyond the Boundary is a twelve episode series based on the light novels penned by Nagomu Torii (a talented author who received an honourable mention in the 2011 Kyoto Animation Awards.) The anime takes place in an alternate version of Japan where entities known as Youmu (basically demonic spirits birthed from people’s negative emotions) live amongst the human populace. Most human beings cannot detect the presence of Youmu, but the select few who can are employed as Spirit Warriors that use their supernatural gifts to eradicate any unruly Youmu who step out of line. These brave protectors of humanity make an income by selling Youmu remains to their town’s local photographer (a mysterious lady who has attracted a pervy clientele thanks to the kinky snaps she takes.)
The series begins with high schooler Akihito Kanbara foiling transfer student Mirai Kuriyama’s apparent suicide attempt. Being a devout glasses fetishist he cannot stand idly by and watch a bespectacled beauty perish. His good deed doesn’t earn Mirai’s gratitude however. After being saved she proceeds to impale Akihito in the chest with a blade fashioned from her own solidified blood. Good thing then that Akihito is a half-human/youmu hybrid who possesses the power of immortality. It transpires that Mirai is a fledgling Spirit Warrior who isn’t particularly good at her job. To practice her craft she has decided to train on the durable Akihito. A fine idea in theory, but Akihito isn’t too keen on becoming a living dartboard for Mirai’s lethal strikes. Sure he cannot be slain, but that doesn’t mean that getting stabbed in the heart doesn’t hurt like hell.
As the story advances Akihito decides to aid Mirai in battling the malevolent Youmu haunting their town – partially to avoid getting gouged himself and partially to satiate Mirai’s rumbling tummy (due to her inept Youmu killing skills she cannot afford to purchase any nutritious meals.) Predictably romance begins to blossom between the two outcasts. The community fears Akihito because of his latent half-breed powers whilst Mirai is shunned by other Spirit Warriors due to the cursed blood flowing through her veins. The pair’s tumultuous relationship is rather sweet and good fun to watch. Akihito is smitten by the prospect of having a cute specs wearing girlfriend, but Mirai is unaccustomed to displays of affection. Compliments never fail to get Mirai flustered and trigger her catchphrase “how unpleasant.”
Beyond the Boundary is regarded as one of the better shows to come out of the Autumn 2013 anime season and after watching it I can see why. Unsurprisingly, from a studio that has previously worked on K-On and Lucky Star, the series has a good roster of likable characters. These include a teacher who regularly laments her inability to snag a man, Akihito’s eccentric cosplaying mom and an older brother who has an unhealthy fixation on his sister. With Japanese males lusting after siblings and cartoon characters is it a wonder that the nation’s birth rate is so low? The show’s amusing adolescent antics don’t however bar it from having top-notch action sequences. The battles with the Youmu are very impressive thanks to Kyoto’s exceptional animation work. On the audio side of things I liked the show’s opening theme and many other viewers have been gushing over the tune that plays during the end credits.
My final rating is four stars. I might have awarded the series full marks had it ran for more than a dozen episodes. The urban fantasy world Torii has crafted is an interesting one, so once the ending hit I was left wanting more. Beyond the Boundary has a solid story, which will keep you guessing who the piece’s true villains are. Perhaps the only place where the script stumbles is the manner in which it executes its finale. The latter half of the series has a neat twist, but the events that follow it are a little far fetched. Although it didn’t bug me, viewers with a low threshold for deus ex machina may get annoyed by how things pan out. Overall I really enjoyed the show and hope that Kyoto Animation decide to adapt more of the ongoing source material in the future. Ignoring this franchise would be most “unpleasant.”