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.

Kyoukai no Kanata – 04

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Mirai and Akihito remain trapped within a mental labyrinth of the Hollow Shadow’s making as Sakura continues to chase them. Among the illusions is a massive effigy of Yui, but with Akihito’s imploring Mirai destroys it, revealing the shadow’s main body, which she also destroys. They return to the real world, and Sakura withdraws.

The final form of the shadow possesses Akihito. Mirai is forced to stab him, drawing out the shadow, which she finally destroys, but the damage done to Akihito’s body awakens the extremely powerful youmu side, which Hiromi, Ayaka and Shizuku struggle to neutralize. Mirai jumps on Akihito, and he returns to human form.

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This was a properly epic episode, which had a little bit of everything: a chase through a weird, surreal dreamworld that exploits insecurities; a murderous vendetta; a big, multi-layered boss battle; a surprise setback; and most importantly, Mirai’s realization that yes, Akihito knows exactly what the fuck she’s going through. If anything, he has it worse! Like Monogatari’s Koyomi, Akihito is far easier to take seriously once we’ve seen exactly what he is and what he’s capable of, besides healing quickly.

By showing some of the more powerful characters in the series barely hold him at bay is telling of the danger he poses when his human body is in peril. Now Mirai gets it: Akihito, like her, bears a terrible curse that constantly reminds him he can never rest easy in his life…but that doesn’t mean he won’t live it. In the crucible of fire and blood, Mirai and Akihito’s friendship deepens. In a way, these two are a perfect match. All they need to do is control their powers so everyone else isn’t forced to eliminate them!

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Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • Two characters who leave just as soon as they’re introduced: Sakura and that Fujima dude.
  • Mitsuki, Hiromi and such may not have wanted Akihito anywhere near Mirai, but you have to admit, things would not have gone so well had they not been together.
  • Mitsuki and Hiromi’s sister Izumi is scary powerful, at least with defensive barriers.
  • Izumi is also a damned thief, stealing the crystal the hollow shadow dropped!

Kyoukai no Kanata – 03

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When the “Hollow Shadow” – a massive, storm-like, amorphous dreamshade (youmu) approaches the town, Mirai is resolved to fight it, while continuing shun Akihito. Through Mitsuki and later Mirai herself, Akihito learns that she was adopted by the Inami family of spirit hunters, but when the Hollow Shadow possessed their oldest daughter Yui, Mirai’s only friend, Mirai panicked and killed her. Yui’s younger sister Sakura ambushes Mirai; and they’re both absorbed in the Hollow Shadow. Sakura is about to kill Mirai when Akihito appears and breaks up the fight.

When Akihito delivers to Mirai a 10,000-yen bounty for the youmu she cornered (Mitsuki finished it off with her pet squirrely thing), Mirai verbally refuses the cash, but contradictorily holds her hands out to take it. Akihito notes that her words don’t match her actions at all. This is one reason why he ultimately ignores her warnings to stay away from her and out of her affairs, to the point where she’ll even stop hunting him. The other reason is, without knowing it, she’s put a spell on him. Not literally, no, but he cares about her and doesn’t want her to throw away her life.

When the ominous Hollow Shadow arrives in town, it’s treated as a force of nature like a hurricane; something to weather out, not take on directly. Mirai disagrees; she killed her only friend attempting to fight it, and in addition to not wanting that death to be in vain, she wants to atone, at the cost of her own life if necessary. It’s good then that Akihito decided not to listen to her words. Considering how quickly Sakura almost defeats her, Mirai probably would not have lasted long against the Big Black Cloud of Malice. Not that we expect her to be grateful for his heroics.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Fujima Miroku, an interrogation officer from the Spirit Hunters’ Observation Department, shows up due to the Hollow Shadow…but he doesn’t do much. That’ll probably change.
  • The Nases keep a real youmu embedded in the wall. Makes a great conversation piece at dinner parties!
  • We like how the Shadow not only turns the night sky purple, but also causes the propagation of all manner of lesser youmu all over town.
  • Sakura’s gun-spear (complete with built-in chainsaw) is an awesome weapon, and her blood-splattery battle with Mirai is quite exciting.