Kyoukai no Kanata – 10

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Akihito wakes up in bed to find Mirai has been nursing him back to health. However, as the sun sets, Mirai tells him he’s only dreaming, and that the real Mirai vanished when she drew Beyond the Boundary out of Akihito, its host. When he wakes up, only Mirai’s glasses remain. A series of flashbacks show how Mirai originally came to town at the behest of Nase Izumi to defeat Beyond the Boundary, and charts her progress across six months. When the Calm comes, Izumi tells her she can defeat Beyond the Boundary without killing Akihito, but it will probably cost her own life. Mirai remains trapped within Beyond the Boundary, heading towards its core.

First of all, WHOA. What a topsy-turvy, twisting, undulating, pulsing, moving ride this episode was. Secondly, we’ll be upfront: nothing we cyber-scrawl across these digi-pages will do what we just watched full justice, we can only try our humble best. Thirdly, we thought this was Kyoukai no Kanata’s most powerful episode, thus necessitating the 10 rating to the point we initially considered it worthy of a 10 rating. One contributing factor to our ebullient praise is the episode’s vast scope, traversing the past, present and future. It took us back to things we weren’t privy too, changing our preconceptions about a great many things, most importantly, the fact that the youmu half of Kanbara Akihito is Beyond the Boundary (BtB) itself.

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Izumi is still using Mirai, but she has little choice: believing BtB to be a threat to the entire world. As we watch these flashbacks with Mirai, her behavior in the earlier episodes all makes sense now: she was brought in to eliminate a threat that just happened to come in a nice-guy package, and warned repeatedly to keep her distance. Her early skirmishes with him aren’t just practice; she was honestly trying to dispatch him from the start. But events transpired, she came to know Akihito’s human side, and eventually fell in love, to the point she would sacrifice herself without hesitation—literally giving every last drop of her blood—to save him. Of course, Akihito is all too willing to do the same for Mirai.

From the start of the episode, we were a bit bemused by how “back-to-normal” things looked, and yet we went along with it right up to the moment Mirai said he was still unconscious. The real Mirai, meanwhile, is within BtB, and a part of us thinks maybe he’s still in there too, waking from one dream into another. What if the two of them are in BtB, on different levels (indicated by the different seasons)? Perhaps not, but it’s clear that Mirai simply letting BtB consume her body did not defeat it; and the hard work of defeating it has jst begun. And wherever Akihito is, he’s not going to let Mirai sacrifice herself for his sake. How do they save each other…without either of them dying?

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Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Obsevations:

  • Mirai’s avant-garde interpretation of omelette rice looked pretty good to us.
  • Early evidence Akihito is dreaming: Mitsuki in a bikini and sunglasses.
  • Mirai takes the initiative in her and Akihito’s first kiss, but alas, she’s merely and echo and they’re in a dream. These two, we’re tellin’ ya…
  • The glasses Mirai took off before stabbing him are sitting on the chair beside his bed. One could interpret this as a sign he’s back in the real world.
  • Izumi’s true true intentions remain murky. Did she think Mirai could really defeat BtB without killing Akihito, or was there some reason she wanted Mirai and BtB to merge?

Very Stray Observation:

This may be a stretch, but we heard Purity Ring’s “Fineshrine” on Pandora earlier today (for the first time) and also watched the music video. We were amused (and a little freaked out) by all the visual/thematic similarities to this episode:

  • Heavily-bandaged guy in bed being tended to by girl? Check.
  • Faucet drip? Check.
  • Girl going ‘beyond a boundary” to another reality? Check.
  • Magic blood imagery? Check.
  • Guy waking from a dream to find girl gone? Check.
  • Reversal of fates at the end (guy safe, girl now in peril)? Check.
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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)