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)

 

 

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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 – 06

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In order to afford her expensive bonsai habit, Mirai vows to defeat a nonviolent plant-type youmu on the roof of the school for the 500,000-yen bounty, but it releases a torrent of horrid-smelling liquid that soaks her and Akihito. He tells her the youmu likes girls, so Mirai dresses up to distract it so Mitsuki can take it out; the plan fails, and Mitsuki is drenched in even more powerful stink, which won’t go away until the youmu is defeated. Hiromi says the youmu also likes singing and dancing, but the first attempt fails because Mirai can’t sing, drenching Hiromi. After a week of training with AI, the group puts on a idol performance that has the youmu fully enthralled  but didn’t decide who would deliver the decisive blow, and it douses everyone once more.

A curious cold open, in which idol outfits lie on the floor covered in yellow liquid, and Mitsuki furiously pumps an empty shampoo dispenser, is the harbinger for perhaps the funniest, most inventive, and most satisfying episode of Kyoukai no Kanata yet; one that helps the show take one more step out of the shadows of its KyoAni forebears. It’s the story of a fiasco that starts out as seemingly easy way to make big bucks, but things snowball out of control quickly as this youmu Just. Won’t. Go. Down.The gang jumps from one plan to the next, Wile. E. Coyote-style, learning a little bit from their mistakes each time, but following them up with new ones each time. The episode was also most impressive in that it somehow managed to integrate not only fanservice but a friggin’ idol concert into the episode by making those elements crucial to capturing the youmu and therefore relevant to the story. Yes, there are times when the characters act a little bit too dumb or short-sighted, but the episode knows this as well as we do.

In fact, it revels in it, as things go from bad to worse, despite the gang exerting more and more energy each go-around. Perhaps most hilariously preposterous is the group’s ability to put on a perfectly polished (and beautifully-animated) idol performance in just one week, and turning Mirai’s tin pipes to gold. Again, the episode is quite aware how ridiculous this all is and milks it for all it’s worth – even juxtaposing scenes of the concert with scenes of the torrid week spent training for it, making it seem like far more than a week had passed, and with it, an epic amount of trials and strife. The youmu itself is suitably freaky-looking and confounding. Best of all, it isn’t defeated by the end of the episode; we end up back at the beginning, with Mitsuki pumping that empty shampoo bottle, because she’s already had a hundred showers and used it all, to no avail. The fourth episode showed us this show’s dramatic potential; this episode just as ably demonstrated its comedic chops.

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Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • Mirai has a surprisingly frank, casual discussion with Akihito about her underwear before remembering who she’s talking to, then whining on her blog.
  • “Shocking Pink” is the episode’s title, which refers to the pink discharge the youmu shoots at Mitsuki, as well as Mirai’s pink honeypot outfit.
  • Everyone in gas masks around Mitsuki seems like overkill against the stink, until Hiromi comes in without one and after a momentary flash of poise, becomes violently ill. 
  • Mitsuki as a bubble girl: another great sight gag.
  • Just wanted to reiterate, too-perfect concert inter-cut with the over-the-top training scenery was just brilliant stuff.
  • On that note, the fact that everyone practiced so hard they all forgot someone had to actually capture the thing.
  • Remember…all this was to make enough money so Mirai could tend to her pricey bonsai and afford to eat – a very random but awesome cause.