Kyoukai no Kanata – 05

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Mirai joins the literary club at Akihito’s insistence  officially meeting Hiromi and Mizuki. The four go to the Nase residence, where Izumi confiscates Mirai’s hunting license for a month due to her actions. Mizuki and Mirai work together to destroy a youmu possessing a passerby. Mizuki helps Mirai get a part-time job minding Ayaka’s store and posing for photos. Depressed after his transformation, Akihito skips class. After much convincing, Mirai gets Mizuki to end her embargo and attend the lantern festival, where they’re joined by Akihito and Hiromi.

There’s really nothing quite like a well-funded Kyoto Animation series, and little this season can match its frame-for-frame grace and beauty. Lovely details abound: characters rapidly cycling through facial expressions, lessening the need for spoken words; characters playing with their hair; swirling ice in a glass; arrogantly sipping on a juice box. If this is a guilty pleasure, we don’t want to be innocent. In contrast to last week’s focus on one big central story-line – defeating the hollow shadow – this week is a veritable smorgasbord of little vignettes that make up the day and night Mirai spends mostly with Mizuki, leading to something resembling the start of a friendship.

When Mizuki first shares a space with Mirai this week, you can tell there’s tension. We’re assuming if Mizuki had her way she’d simply be able to “observe” Akihito in peace, free of interloping bespectacled strumpets. But the more time she spends with Mirai, her notion of her softens, to the point she’s even laughing and smiling around her. Perhaps a part of her admires Mirai’s willingness to reassess her ascetic outlook in light of recent events. Mizuki’s stoic sister admonishes her that she’ll always be alone due to her calling. But in truth, everyone is “all alone” at one point or another, so its something everyone can relate to.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • A kind reader pointed out something to us we had somehow missed up until this week: that the episodes titles refer to a common visual motif in that episode, in this case, “Chartreuse Light”, which is everywhere: tea, a sweater, a soft drink, and of course, lanterns.
  • Akihito puts up a brave front in the opening scene (for once, confiding with Hiromi on Mirai’s “little-sisterness” in a way making him worthy of her and Mizuki’s scorn), then kinda going off by himself to mope.
  • Mirai’s tendency to “whine on her blog” is a pretty funny aspect of her character, and in reality great way of letting off steam.
  • Ayaka does run a studio, and Mirai did need the cash, so the photo shoot counts as Justified Fanservice.
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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 – 02

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When the dreamshade escapes, Mirai chases it all over the neighborhood as Akihito follows. She finally defeats it after great exertion, and it turns into a jewel-encrusted rock. Akihito invites her to join the literature club, but she declines. The next day he takes her to an appraiser for the rock, but she isn’t home, so he introduces her to Shindou Ai, a dreamshade with human form. Akihito asks around for information on the shade Mirai fought, including his senpai Nase Hiromi, but no one has answers for him until he listens to a “thought letter” from his mother that the appraiser, Shindou Ayaka, decodes. Ayaka also gives Mirai 1000 yen for her rock. Mirai treats Akihito to dinner, but then announces they can no longer associate, because she killed someone in the past.

Ah, the episode which confirms that despite any concrete perverted or debauched behavior on the part of Akihito, he’s still going to be insulted and ridiculed on a regular basis by virtually every female in the show. Seriously, there was a point at which you gotta say “lay off the guy already!” Sure, it may only be affectionate ribbing, but a sizable chunk of the dialogue is given over to this kind of banter, and in addition to being a shade (no pun intended)…overweening. If you’re going to put a full court press of verbal abuse on the male lead, at least make him deserve it. As it is, Mitsuki and Mirai chide him for stuff he doesn’t even say or do. Of course, if the point of all of this is to make us sympathize with an otherwise smug Akihito, it succeeds to a degree – as does the revelation that he has a very bizarre mom.

This week he sees Mirai in full-on Spirit Hunter Mode (the battle is intense, but not quite on the same level as Chu2Koi when it was firing on all cylinders). He merely observes and doesn’t assist. We learn he’s made a deal with his weird senpai not to “stick his nose where it doesn’t belong” in exchange for being left alone. Having to sit on the sidelines while people may get hurt when you have the power to intervene doesn’t sound quite like the “fun life” Mirai says she can’t allow herself to have. We’re not going to pre-judge her situation, but in most cases like this (and having watched plenty of Railgun) isolating oneself from everyone else only makes one weaker. Then again, after killing someone, maybe Mirai doesn’t want to be stronger.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)