Kyoukai no Kanata – 12 (Fin)

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Reunited within Kyoukai no Kanata, Akihito and Mirai work together to fight their way to its core. Izumi duels Fujima, who reveals to Hiromi that both of them conceal youmu within their bodies. When surrounded by dead humans, Akihito tells Mirai to close her eyes and listen only to him, breaking the illusion and revealing a massive congregation of monsters, whom Ayaka and Ai help them defeat. Once Akihito beats back the Kyoukai no Kanata and forces it back within him, Mirai vanishes along with it, after confessing her love. Some time later, all is back to normal, and the ring she left behind vanishes. Akihito runs to the school rooftop, and reunites with Mirai.

All of the light and dark colors that make up the world combine like paint into gray. Evil will neither ever totally disappear from the world nor totally absorb the world. It’s a world that matches its inhabitants, and few inhabitants match it better than Kanbara Akihito and Kuriyama Mirai. Both had loathed the darkness that lurked within them their entire lives, regarding it as a curse they must bear, but wished it would go away. Despite their hatred for their darkness, it was their darkness that brought them together. When Mirai took Akihito’s youmu away, it took her away too, and he learned he couldn’t live in a future without either. Fortunately for him, things worked out so he wouldn’t have to, because honestly, this would’ve been a pretty cruel episode if she’d stayed gone simply because of…magic n’ stuff.

And so the first Fall 2013 series we saw is the first to end. We had our doubts early on: it initially looked and felt like a rehash of past KyoAni series that while good didn’t require revisiting. But a quarter of the way through, we were proven wrong consistently and thoroughly. Conscious that fantastic production values (which it had) alone do not a great show make, KnK gave us a lovely, slowly-building, often gripping, not unpleasant romance between two characters with compelling chemistry, infused with comedy that was smart but not smarmy. We could have done without the one-dimensionally evil Fujima, and were never that interested in Nase Izumi’s dark past, but they did represent paths Mirai and Akihito could have gone down, were it not for their love for each other.

For all the darkness they both harbored, Mirai and Akihito ended up shining the brightest. Long live Glasses Girl, and her beloved Immortal Half-Youmu!

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Rating: 9 (Superior)
Final Cumulative Rating: 8.333
MyAnimeList Score
(as of 12/18/13): 7.91

Stray Observations:

  • The episode used every second of its running time, eschewing the usual OP and ED, a move we feel is essential to a good finale.
  • As shown above, there was a little E.T. in the moment when the lovebirds are floating in the sky between planes of existence.
  • We were also a little disappointed in how inert Mitsuki was down the stretch. Or perhaps she was a love triangle red herring all along, as she saw Akihito as more of another troublesome brother.
  • Ayaka is a really cool-looking youmu, so it’s kinda disappointing that Ai’s just a kitten. Not that she isn’t cute.
  • That rooftop scene gave us the happy ending we wanted, and the presentation of the glasses had all the formality and suspense of a proposal. Nicely done.
  • Chu2Koi 2 will have some shoes to fill when it premieres next month.
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Kyoukai no Kanata – 11

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Akihito wakes up after three months in a coma. Hiromi and Mitsuki tell him he’s no longer immortal, while Mirai has vanished and is likely dead. Izumi further explains why she had to recruit Mirai, and that she saved Akihito and the world of her own free will. Dejected, Akihito wanders around town, recalling his dream, and runs into a distraught Sakura. He returns home to find Mirai sent him a farewell text message.

Meanwhile, the weakened Kyoukai no Kanata fused with Mirai’s blood and created an isolated dimension above the town. Fujima amplifies its powers with his car, and it starts pulling youmu up toward it. Akihito’s mother Yayoi arrives to tell him Mirai is alive within the dimension, fighting to protect a puppet version of Akihito. Akihito uses his extracted youmu stone to rise up into the dimension, destroys the puppet, and finds Mirai.

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Our theory of a complex, multi-layered Kyoukai no Kanata is debunked, but who cares: this tour-de-force delved into the depths of despair while keeping kernal of hope dangling overhead. It proved that Akihito’s will to protect and save Mirai is just as strong as hers. She’s alive and close by; Akihito just has to break through all the fog and gain the means to rescue her. Fujima’s ridiculous “experiment” was the spark that led to Akihito gaining those means, so we can forgive him for his helpful but long-winded exposition.

Akihito has always complained about the apparent ineptness of his mother, but she comes through for him when it matters (and her reveal in the club room is one of the ages). Once he has what he needs the episode wastes no time flying him up to that dimension, breaking through, and plucking Mirai from the sky. In their constant back-and-forth struggle to prove how far they’d go for each other, Akihito gets a solid point in his favor this week. But they’re not out of the woods yet.

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Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • Akihito wisely addresses the fact he hasn’t eaten in three months. You can’t rescue a bespectacled beauty on an empty stomach!
  • Nice running jump kick by Sakura. “Sad Back” indeed!
  • Mirai’s text message was a tearjerker through and through, really showing how far she’s come; no longer seeing her ability as a curse, because she can use it to save people she loves. “Not unpleasant.”
  • Seriously, WTF did Fujima amplify Kyoukai no Kanata with his car? What is he, MacGyver?

Kyoukai no Kanata – 09

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Izumi’s fight with Fujima is interrupted by Akihito, who is conscious and in his youmu form. Izumi attacks him, but he flees. She warns Mirai that if the calm ends when he’s in such a state, he will become an unbeatable, legendary juggernaut. She asks Mirai to kill him while there’s still time. Hiromi believes Izumi weakened Akihito’s human side and is manipulating Mirai in order to summon the remainder of “Beyond the Boundary” to use a weapon against the clan’s enemies. Mirai finds Akihito in the woods and attacks him with the intent to kill.

One reason half-youmu must be so rare is ironically because of how damn fragile they are. Akihito’s human side is constantly fighting for its life against the youmu side, an perilous balance that is all too easy to upset. Izumi does so in an act not of malice, but of what she believes to be sheer necessity. Without such extreme measures, she believes the Nase clan will be destroyed. With those perceived stakes, all other considerations—from Akihito’s right to exist and her own morality—fall away. Hiromi, meanwhile, cherishes his friend Akihito too much to sacrifice him for his clan’s benefit.

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Surely other ways exist to preserve and defend the clan that don’t involve forcing Mirai to kill Akihito. Doubtless Mitsuki would side with Hiromi over Izumi, though it’s easy for them to begrudge dirty work they don’t have to do; Izumi carries heavier burdens than either of them, and she’s not your typical insane villain. But what about Mirai? Never before this week has her overused catchphrase “How unpleasant” been more apropos to the situation: it is indeed thoroughly unpleasant that things had to come to this after all she and Akihito had been through, and after forming such a profound bond.

It’s so unpleasant, she tells Hiromi she’s starting to feel cursed after all; not because of what she is, but because she met Akihito. As the curtain falls on the episode, it would seem Izumi’s getting her way, but Mirai isn’t doing it for Izumi. The fact of the matter is, Mirai is a spirit hunter, and Akihito—in his present state—is her quarry. But before she delivers the apparent killing strike, she takes off her glasses. Is she making sure the last thing he sees isn’t his beloved bespectacled beauty…or does she not want to clearly see what she’s forcing herself to do?

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Rating: 9 (Superior)

 

 

Kyoukai no Kanata – 08

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The “Calm” arrives, a time when all youmu are weakened and spirit hunters enjoy easy pickings. In a video postcard Akihito’s mother urges him him to be careful. Fujima tries to wring info out of Mitsuki about the Nase clan’s plans regarding the powerful emergent youmu called “Beyond the Boundary”, but Hiromi rescues her. Akihito takes ill, apparently due to the Calm, and Mirai wants to stay with him at the Ayaka’s studio. Fujima comes to take him away, but Ayaka holds him back until Izumi arrives.

Ya know, we never liked this Fujima dude. The show never tried to hide his smug sliminess, but it’s still gratifying to see him show his true colors, and see that like us, no one else is surprised in the slightest. Like Mitsuki, we’ve been in the dark about his intentions, as well as those of Izumi and the Nase clan in general, but now it seems like it’s their duty to subdue the titular “Kyoukai no Kanata”; the latest Big Bad. Fujima is the slightly smaller but still powerful Bad trying to gum up those works, sow discord amongst the clan, and claim the rare half-youmu Akihito for his purposes…whatever they are.

Funnily enough, Fujima wouldn’t have been able get Mitsuki to easily had she not wandered off in preemptive disgust for her big brother. Still, Hiromi doesn’t shrink from his duty as his sister’s protector no matter how many times she shuns him. It’s also notable that both Fujima and his apparent Izumi both get uncomfortably close to people. Fujima’s just messing with Mitsuki, but it’s strange that Kanbara’s condition deteriorates significantly right encountering Izumi, and even though she saved Mirai from the Inamis, we still don’t know why. Until we learn more, we can’t really trust her much more than Fujima.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • This episode is called “Calming Gold”, referring both to the Calm, a “golden opportunity” for spirit hunters everywhere, as well as the gleaming golden sunset preceding the evening the Calm commences.
  • We failed to mention Mirai’s role in this episode: struggling with her feelings for Akihito, the one guy who treats her normally, no matter what. Her new roomie Sakura doesn’t let her sidestep the issue, either.
  • Fun to see Shizuku take time off work and really get into the spirit of the Calm. She needs to do a better job minding her surroundings though.

Kyoukai no Kanata – 07

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Inami Sakura remains in town, and transfers to Mirai’s class. Of evenings she defeats low-level youmu, charging her scythe in preparation to fight Mirai, but grows exhausted from its power and is rescued by Akihito, who takes her to his apartment. Mirai shows up and catches a glimpse of Sakura before she flees. Later the two duel in a sewer pipe. Sakura is no match for Mirai, and is nearly devoured by her own weapon, but Mirai saves her and talks her down. Fujima Miroku, the one who originally gave Sakura the scythe, retrieves its from the sewers. Izumi and Mitsuki observe the start of “the calm.”

You can be the most badass spirit hunter around, but what’s that compared to being a great cook? We kid; we truly enjoyed this episode—enough to award it a 9—but it was very different from last week’s 9. Whether it’s a playful loopy standalone romp or a serious character drama culminating in an earned catharsis, Kyoukai no Kanata it is capable of making any story a compelling one. This week was the dramatic kind, in which welcome resolution comes to the impasse between Mirai and her would-be nemesis Sakura, sister of the friend Mirai “murdered,” climaxing in a cool close-quarters sewer pipe fight. And the episode doesn’t forget how Mirai’s outlook evolved after defeating the hollow shadow.

Not letting guilt and regret consume and define her anymore, Mirai recognizes a similar misapplication of energies in Sakura’s. She knows from experience that Sakura is walking down a one-way road with no solace at its end. As much or more than she thirsts for vengeance, Sakura hates being so unsuited for the work at which Yui—and Mirai—so excelled, and of being unable to carry her sister’s mantle, something she never should have felt she had to do (but was encouraged by Fujima, lending her that scythe). Mirai is able to pull Sakura from falling into the shadowy abyss, for which she’s thankful, and onto a new path of peace, forgiveness, and self-acceptance. We like the change, and it will be interesting to see what the show does with Sakura going forward.

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Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • Even in a very straight-laced episode, there was still room for the ol’ “Girl #1 visits when Girl #2 is already there” scenario at Akihito’s place…not to mention that aside with Hiromi’s idol CDs being replaced by Yaoi
  • There, Sakura criticizes Akihitos cooking (likely because she’s a better cook)…though she still scarfs down every bit of her omelette.
  • Were we the only ones who thought the scythe’s vicious tangle of “feelers” resembled Mirai’s beloved udon?
  • Fujima Miroku has been a shifty one since his abrupt intro, so we’re not surprised he was the one who gave Sakura that scythe. Was he just performing an experiment, or did he want Mirai taken out? 
  • That “calm” looks pretty dicey, if beautiful.