「群青」 (Gunjou)

Last week I read a lot of comments (and not just on RC) that mentioned how people like KyoAni anime because of its name, not because of the anime itself. I also read a lot of comments that said that a lot of their character designs are similar, and the character themselves are quite stereotypical. Yes… I agree that it might come off that way because that’s just the style of KyoAni. No doubt, their animation is top notch though and no one is going to complain about that even if the girls (and guys) aren’t drawn the way you’d like. However, despite the characteristics that define KyoAni, I don’t think that’s a reason to skip out on Kyoukai no Kanata because you think it might turn out to be all moe girls jumping around doing stuff. The dark fantasy elements are slowly emerging (and I tried to highlight that in the excerpt images) and there’s quite a bit of action and mystery locked in as well. I don’t want to say that there aren’t any comedic moments in-between, but I think an excellent story is one that is able to combine all those elements and genres into a cohesive plot. This is a series that I think has high potential for that.

So there’s my vouch for everyone still on the fence about continuing with Kyoukai no Kanata but I think the second episode already speaks for itself. The action sequence was so detailed and crisp, it was seriously amazing to watch Mirai kill her first youmu. It wasn’t easy for her, but everyone has to start off as a novice some time. Her ability to control blood goes beyond solidifying it and it turns into something that resembles acid, totally immobilizing the youmu until it disintegrates and can’t regenerate. All that work and what is it worth? Well it’s worth two bowls of rice and a warm stomach. Tough luck in the world… and poor Mirai has to figure out how she’s going to pay rent now. Compared to the youmu that Shizuku captured, Mirai’s must have been small beans. It goes to show how skilled Shizuku is as a warrior and she’ll probably act as a model for Mirai later on. I think this is a good starting point for Mirai though – she’s just got her first “reward” and she started off very well for someone that’s never killed a youmu before. I wouldn’t have liked to see it any other way – if she was suddenly given 20,000 Yen for her first kill, that just like giving a university graduate $1,000,000 as a starting salary. That’s not realistic and doesn’t help you make you level up; I also don’t like main characters that just come off as overpowered and lucky.

Speaking of which, I absolutely love the idea of selling the “ultramarine” for money. The setting with Shindou Ai (Yamaoka Yuri) and Shindou Ayaka (Shindo Namoi) as storekeepers reminds me of fantasy novels I used to read. There is a system at play between rewarding warriors with actual Yen for killing youmu. What Ayaka does with the ultramarine is the question. Previous stories that I’ve read usually involve creating something out of the dead corpses of youmu or recycling them somehow that make it valuable. I’m not sure if that’s the direction that the story is taking because I don’t think Ayaka is a bad person character, but it’d be interesting to see that side of operations. Ayaka’s shop reminds me of a gypsy house or somewhere you’d go to buy potions and sell your frog hearts or something – not in a creepy way, more like a safe-house way.

The next youmu that’s likely to appear is this “Hollow Shadow” that Akihito’s mother is hinting at. First off, I don’t think anyone was expecting Akihito’s mother to behave like that. Talk about awkward introductions when you have your first day at school or when your friends meet her. She’s quite the character though and there are not a lot of parents out there (Nagisa’s parents come to mind from Clannad) that truly stand out. Secondly, where is she and where is Akihito’s father? It doesn’t strike me as odd anymore that a youmu and a human would mate (especially if Ayaka and Ai have “human forms”) but I’m dying to hear how that came to be. I’m a sucker for romance, but a beauty and the beast story is my preferred trope in romance. Somehow I thought both of Akihito’s parents were dead but I guess these are the surprises that I’m waiting for. The revelation at the end though… somehow doesn’t strike me as odd. Akihito doesn’t look too taken back either… could it be because he also murdered someone?

TL;DR – @RCCherrie: That right. That animation. Can I be any more impressed by the buildup of this anime? The atmosphere gives me shivers… #kyo_kai

Full-length images: 22, 29.




    1. Comeback? Really? Hyouka was the best show of it’s season, maybe of the year. Chuu2 and Free! were both very good, even Tamako was fun and enjoyable (Kana-chan!). I do not understand the KyoAni hate when people watch highschooldxd, hunterxhunter, or whatever other brainless bouncing boobs, ‘oops, my hands fell on your oppai, and i was covered in super glue!’ trope carptasticness.

      1. TRUE..I’ma agree with ZZZ on this..WHAT THE FART U TALKING BOUT WILLIS!?!
        don’t even try to lump HxH with that gelatinous tripe u just mentioned brah…fix ur face friend!

        BROOKLYN otaku
  1. I know I will be bashed for what I’ll say, but still…
    The way KyoAni has almost made this characters design their trademark… I find it really obnoxoius. Perhaps it’s because it’s impossible not to be reminded of K-on, even if this is a completely different genre.
    Still, there’s no doubt action is top notch. The whole episode was a treat for the eyes. The opening is what brought me to the show in the first place.
    Also, the humour and meta-humour sometimes feel rather bland to me.

    I know, that’s quite a lot for having watched only two episodes, but what I think is that this is anime in the most straightforward fashion, and it’s done right. It’s not anything special (yet), but no doubts about continuing to watch.. I watch anime for the sake of entertainment first.

      1. I didn’t watch Hyouka, but of course, that also comes to mind… What bugs me a bit is probably the fact that they jumped from using these distinctive drawings for K-on, which was all the rage a while ago, to mystery/dark fantasy shows. I know, it’s just the way the characters are drawn, but coming from the very same studio for all those shows, it looks like mere eye-candy to me.

        Of course, like many said, it’s the show in itself you should consider, and that’s why I’m watching Kyoukai no Kanata. Still, these thoughts inevitably come to mind, so don’t blame people.

  2. I couldn’t agree more with your intro this review.
    yes, KyoAni stick to “safe play” formula in many parameters (especailly character design) but clearly that doesn’t mean we can skip KNK. it is still very good and enjoyable anime. the battle of Mirai that episode proved it to us. it was damn good in terms of animation, pace, fighting modes and so. also, things did made a bit progress in terms of story and characters, like that Ayaka and the meeting between Nase and Mirai (or the other Nase and Akihito) but it’s still KyoAni’s safe play. I’d like more to get something new or “spark” of something like that..if the dark fantasy element finally shows up, it’ll be good and change the mode – something that necessary to break a bit the formula. and indeed there is imply for this, with the “hollow shadow” youmu which suppose to appear next time. it sounded for a second like some sort of “Walpurgis Night” of Madoka..it can be amazing if there will be an encounter(with fight) with such terrifying youmu in KNK.
    anyway, for now let’s just enjoy what the show gives us cause it is indeed good and fun.

    Haha I love the comment of Nagisa’s parents from clannad. really nice. both bizarre indeed, though I prefer Nagisa’s parents for sure (I think their “bizarre style” is better 😛 )

  3. The revelation at the end though… somehow doesn’t strike me as odd. Akihito doesn’t look too taken back either… could it be because he also murdered someone?

    Given the episode’s prologue, I think so too. Seems like they are so determined to ship the two together.

  4. KyoAni did an incredible job with the action sequence at the beginning! The animation was perfect! And it was refreshing from other action scenes due to it being from the viewpoint of an inexperienced fighter just trying to kill her fist youmu, and from Mirai being so moe!

    The rest of the episode felt kind of ill-paced to me. I HATE those audio greeting cards! XD 😛

  5. @Cherrie: I wouldn’t have liked to see it any other way – if she was suddenly given 20,000 Yen for her first kill, that just like giving a university graduate $1,000,000 as a starting salary.
    FYI – your example is pretty far off. 20,000 Yen = just over $200 US ($203.70 or so at the moment I’m typing this). $200 bucks for taking out a Youma – I’m good with that. That’s why Mirai was so upset at a 1000 Yen (IIRC) reward ($10 US and change).

    More on topic, I can see why people like this show. In some respect, I want to like the show…but I just can’t form any real attachment to the two main characters. Akihito’s OK, but so far hasn’t distinguished himself from a lot of other “nice guy” male leads I’ve watched before. As for Mirai, her character dichotomies don’t quite sync right for me (i.e. clumsy yet combat capable against Youmu, meek/quiet at time yet surly at others) On the plus side, I do agree that the show is nice visually and I do like some of the side characters.

    Kind of hard to explain, but there’s something missing here that prevents me from becoming immersed in the story. Close, but not quite. Still, close enough to the point I’m willing to give it another or even two more EPS before making any decisions on whether to drop or not.

    1. Sorry, I guess I didn’t make myself clear lol. I know the conversion of Yen to USD, but I’m not comparing that.

      What I was referring to was how a youmu can range from as little as 1,000 Yen to 20,000 Yen (and potentially a lot more) and it’s fitting for Mirai to only receive 1,000 for her first kill since she’s inexperienced anyway. It would be similar to how a university graduate shouldn’t expect to make millions in their first job since they too, are inexperienced.

    2. My feeling about Mirai is that she is a person who is quite capable, but is emotionally “bruised”. She lacks confidence because she has been shunned by others because of her particular power. It puts doubt about her own self worth, even if she knows her fighting capabilities are strong. Couple that with what she said at the end of the episode and the result is the girl that we see. I guess I’ve also known a number of people that are very adept at something, but wind up being total klutzes at other times, so her clumsiness doesn’t seem out of place to me. Her sadness and vulnerability I find attractive in a character.

      1. Fair enough – you make some good points, but I’m not quite convinced. It’s very much subjective anyway. FWIW, I don’t need examples of others for an RL example of being skilled at something and inept at something else – I’m that way. I’m proficient in racket sports, but hand me a basketball and things go down hill fast. In this case however, it just strikes me as somewhat odd that she can move with panther like agility during combat, but during “normal” life routines be clumsy (suddenly lacking agility and coordination). Perhaps it’s more a case of her problems weighing upon her mind so that she’s doesn’t focus on her surroundings unlike when some Youmu is trying to stab her.

        As for being “emotionally bruised” due to others treatment/view of her, I think it goes well beyond that. She clearly has some sort of inner confidence in her ‘forbidden’ technique even if it’s derided. The line about “not deserving to be happy” because of her past is pretty telling IMO. How much of her emotional suffering is due to others and how much is self-inflicted I can’t say at this point, but I do think it’s a combination of the two rather than one or the other.

        Still, I remain somewhat conflicted as to how I view her. One reason being her treatment of Akihito. Even if he doesn’t die, getting stabbed/slashed/etc. IS painful as he expressly tells her, but she brushes off that argument. Using him for “practice” isn’t exactly endearing to me. While her treatment of him has improved markedly (e.g. not chasing him around with a blood sword and even thanking him with a meal), I wouldn’t call friendly or truly grateful either. Maybe grudgingly polite, and she has yet to apologize for earlier transgressions. She has quite the “anti-Youmu” viewpoint (ex. not only Akihito initially, but her reaction to young girl at the store), yet hesitates to attack or later finish off a clearly aggressive Youmu. I’m sure it ties in with her past, but it’s still contradictory behavior at least on the surface.

        To clear, I MUCH prefer her to some helpless “heroine” who can do nothing, but cry for help as she huddles in the corner. I also can understand why you might embrace (figuratively :P) her character. For me however, given some of her actions and behavior, I am simply unable to form any meaningful attachment to her character. Like I said before, it’s all subjective.

  6. That was better that the first
    Hope it’s an indication of what to comes, because the story is developing into something really interesting and kinda dark
    Still not used to the silly comedy, but it’s usually just a matter of time to get used to it.

  7. Thoroughly enjoyed the card (and warning) from his mother!!!!

    Easy on the eyes, good flow through the episode and leaving me wanting
    answers; to know more about the characters – very well done!

    Looking forward to the next!

  8. Im under the very strong impression that these first few eps are going to be the only eps with the comedy spliced in. Ep 3 might be the last ep with comedic moments (no further than ep 4) before the hammer drops (the spear chick from the opening is on her way it seems). The training gloves are coming off really soon, almost in the same fashion as madoka magica

  9. I like how a Shindo (Naomi) is voicing a Shindou (Ayaka). For those familiar with Japanese dialect, is her kansai dialect a light one or a heavy one? I remember reading some character profiles and apparent Osaka-san from Azumanga Daioh is considered light, while Lucky Star’s Kuroi sensei’s one is considered a fake one.

    This show is one of my best 3 this season, along with Kill la Kill and a third one that I havent decided.

    1. Right now, I think that isn’t the case. They aren’t even officially friends. Perhaps somewhere down the road, but romance is NOT the focus. I doubt they will even go there even at the end of this anime.
      Off topic, this anime has quite the potential.

  10. Well, many Kpop stars are looking pretty much from the same mold and yet people across the world are crazy about them.
    Therefore even if the characters look similar since they are from the same studio, as long the anime is good overall just overlook it and enjoy the ride.
    Personally, I feel KNK is having a good start and I will be staying on the ship for more.

  11. I have to say that the 2nd episode rose much more to my expectations than the first one did – the first episode was rather bland for a pilot. The action picked up a lot better with this one as well.

    Maybe I’m just getting a little more tired of seeing too much moe characters, specially for what’s supposed to be a action-fantasy title. I know its KyoAni’s current style, but I for one wish that the studio will tackle KNK the way they did with Full Metal Panic!, which arguably is KyoAni’s best action title they’ve produced.

    Right now I’m still “sitting one the fence” for KNK, but its good that the title got better with the 2nd episode. That counts a positive with expectations with the 3rd.

  12. I like how Mirai dedicates probably at least half of her meager reward to show gratitude to Akihito. And how she is wrecked by guilt over killing someone. Even if I did nothing of this caliber there are times I feel unworthy of being helped by others. Action sequences are animated top-notch!
    Also, that crazy cosplaying Mom (ILF) of Akihito…
    Definitely gonna keep this one on the watchlist.

  13. Awesome post!! This episode was even stronger than the first due to the action and increasing mystery about the characters and youmu. The comedic bits are a bit uneven, but when the show focuses on the developments of the characters and their world, I’m instantly engaged. One note about the character designs, I personally love them. They are detailed, fluidly animated and also pretty distinctive (as in the characters can be told apart beyond their hair designs). Most importantly they are capable of expressing a wide array of emotions without seeming out of sync with their personalities. For critics of Kyoani’s use of a similar character designer one only has to look at the characters from any Hayao Miyazaki, or Mamorou Hosada films. Both directors have stuck to the same character designer for all of their films and neither have been criticized for their decision to so.

  14. The fight in the first act is what I’ve been wishing KyoAni would do for a long time. They always had a huge budget, amazing artists and gorgeous cinematography but their recent shows… well its like seeing Industrial Light and Magic do a beautiful, understated family movie. Not that its a bad thing (I loved Hyouka specifically because of how understated and beautiful it was) but there is always that nagging feeling that you wish that KyoAni , with their assets, could do something(anything!) amazing if they push out of their comfort zone.

    If this is is the level I expect from them, I can’t wait to see how beautful their epic finale would be. I have no idea what’s going to happen, but I still can’t wait to for it in the next three months!

    As for the moesploitation moments of Mirai, I’m not really bothered by them. They’re KyoAni’s trademark for better or worse so they come across me more as creator fingerprints. This show may be diverging from less traditional KyoAni elements but it’s still their anime so I don’t fault them for still showing them when its what defines them.

  15. The best part of the episode was the Akkey x Scarf-kun moment. <333

    That made me decide that I’ll continue watching this. The rest of the characters still seem really flat; they’re just stereotypes and none of them really make me interested in them. Even the main character isn’t too interesting, although I love KENN’s voice. 😀 But his interaction with Scarf-kun was really interesting! He was so adorable when he cringed from Scarf-kun’s touch!! :DD

  16. I seriously cant understand why people hate KyoAni so much. To be honest, i dont give 2 & 1/2 F*cks about who the animators are. I dont care if this anime reminds me of Hyokka or K-on. All i care about is if the anime is good or bad, and right now, Kyoukai no Kanata is in my TO WATCH LIST.

    1. I also never used to care so much about animation until I started blogging =X To be honest, I’ve seen a ton of shows in the past that weren’t “my taste” in animation, but still ended up being some of my favorites. Fantastic Children and NANA are examples of two shows that turned me off initially, but they’re amongst some of my all-time favs.

  17. I’m slowly coming off the fence, another 2 or 3 episodes will get me off it completely, for better or worse, most probably the former, as I’ve never dropped a Kyo-Ani series which I’ve picked up before (Munto and FMP being the only series I’ve not watched), even if some of their first episodes do give out a feeling of “meh” (Lucky Star and Nichijou comes to mind), they do have a knack of slowly winning over people who decided to give them a go. So I intend to continue this record.

    (Haters OTOH will always hate)

    LOLWUT at this:

    Kyo-Ani still in Free! mode, I see. XD

  18. Still on the fence. Gonna give it another ep or 2. Hyouka was my only kyoani I enjoyed post 2009. Seems like the kyoani magic is rubbing off, I’m just not into the projects they decide to adapt.

  19. So interesting, very very interesting, easily the most interesting series this season for me. It’s Kyoto Animation and a great anime from story, characters and so on.

    I love KyoAni from drama (Clannad being the first), but since Chuunibyo and now this, even they can make a great action anime as well.

  20. I will just say how I love this episode. The action was great. The development of the characters is going very well. I’m dying of laughter for poor Akihito. Women abuse him and take him to the brink of mental collapse. And the boy “scarf” sexually harasses him. I feel a true sorry for him. XD

    A dark development to approach this, and I find myself excited. Thank you very much for your post Cherrie-sama. I’m equally curious to know what they do with the captured youmus, but I also wonder what are they exactly? My first guess is that they are not differents to yokai from other stories.

  21. Thank you for the fullbody image of Hiromi x MC. (So far the former is my favorite character, and he’s had like 2 minutes of screen time). Yikes. I’m still waiting out the 3-episode trial period for BtB/KnK. Hopefully I’ll be able to get into it and start liking Mirai in ep. 3.

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