I recently showed a friend of mine the article in which I discussed my hypothesis on what the Nudist Beach organization is in KILL LA KILL. While I won't go into his thoughts on the piece (he thinks I'm brilliant, obviously), he had an observation that I tend to have a very academic approach to articles here on Anime Vice.
So you know what? Screw them book smarts! It's time to get into the raw emotions and reactions and go freeform up in here! Here's a mishmosh of thoughts on BEYOND THE BOUNDARY, a show that I can't help but like despite my better judgement!
This show's story jumps around more than a kid goat full of espresso beans. It introduces new characters or big plot points, then tosses them in a dark corner for several episodes so you can forget them. Remember how Akihito is immortal and spent the first episode being slaughtered over and over again? Well, that's going to have NOTHING to do with the plot for seven episodes.
Then suddenly these concepts are back and you're, like, in high school and the teacher pulled out a pop quiz. Remember the eldest daughter of the Nase family? Of course you don't - - she had no discernible characteristics aside from her station. But now you're going to have to recognize her AND instantly grok the politics behind all the strings she's pulling despite having no exposure to these esoteric organizations. It frequently feels like they're skipping scenes in an attempt to establish mystery, only instead to cause confusion.
I don't even really like these characters! They're flat and gimmicky, always putting on shows for each other to emphasize the fact that they're PERVY or INSECURE or [GENRE TROPE].
And yet... there is something about this strained interaction with each other I find engaging. The show began by pointing out just how wary of one another all the characters are (or should be), but then spends the next several episodes showing you that they're still behaving like high school friends. They WANT to fill in roles in a group. They WANT to clearly define how they interact with each other. They WANT to like and trust one another. But on a fundamental level, they know they can't. They're going to be on separate sides at some point, and the longer they have to keep up the charade the more they know they're going to be hurt when that time comes.
But I guess that's me searching for other reasons to justify my watching the show. As it stands there's one biiiiig reason that I keep tuning in, and that is the stunning quality of animation. Any fight scene always makes my jaw slack and eyes widen. Spiraling scarves, tendrils, and blood splatter carve through imaginative monsters with deadly grace. Spirit World Warrior signature abilities are defining even if they follow the same principles; in addition to erecting mystic barriers all the members of the Nase family are masters of slicey-dicey style combat, but each has a distinctly different weapon of choice that gently reflects their philosophies.
What surprises me most about the animation is that it makes me love things I usually loathe. The silly, almost fan-service-y episode where everyone dresses in pop idol clothes and does a dance number to distract a demon? It is my favorite part of the series so far. For the dance they cranked up the framerate and MUST have hired a choreographer, yet there's no sign of the herky-jerkyness of rotoscoping. This could have been an excuse to cut back on the budget, but instead the masters at Kyoto Animation made it the crown jewel. And I don't know if I want to hug them or punch them for it.
Ah, who am I kidding...? I'm a lover, not a fighter.
Since BEYOND THE BOUNDARY is only slated to be thirteen episodes long, we're coming in on the final stretch. I'm expecting some major shakeups and twists, possibly some betrayals and world-shaking reveals. I have to wonder, though: will it actually make me care? Am I in this for the story at all, or just the pretty pictures? Either is fine, but wouldn't everyone prefer both?
Matt Murphy is a freelance nerd who has contributed to many nerd websites. You can reach him by going to where the light meets the shadow, by sending out zeta-brainwaves or by following him on Twitter @Murphix.