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Beyond the Boundary Collector’s Edition Complete Series Blu-ray Anime Review

18 min read

Beyond the Boundary CE CoverTwists and turns involving saving the world amid a little high school romance.

What They Say:
They should never have met. They shouldn’t even exist. But when they come together, the entire world will change. The last surviving member of her clan, Mirai Kuriyama is cursed with the terrifying ability to control and manipulate blood, a power so heretical that she is shunned even by those with the ability to understand her “gift”. Akihito Kanbara is only half human, but while the monstrous other half of his lineage seems to have doomed him to a life alone, it has also given him near invulnerability in the form of rapid healing. Alone, their futures seem bleak, but when a chance encounter brings them together, it becomes clear that they share more than just an unexpected bond. Together they share a destiny and a mission that only the two of them together may be strong enough to survive.

Contains episodes 1-12 plus a 96-page booklet, a Mirai keychain, Mirai cosplay glasses, an authenticity card, 4 art cards, a 13″ x 19″ poster, a die-cut character sticker, a double-sided foil card, a lanyard, a metal pin set, and a lenticular ruler.

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this series is pretty straightforward with the original Japanese language track and the new English language track done up in stereo and encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The show is one that does balance the action and dialogue sides well so that it’s not a matter of ten episodes of dialogue and two of action, but rather action sprinkled throughout in solid ways that feels right. The action component for the show uses the forward soundstage well to tell its tales well as Mirai leaps about the place and the yomu and general sound effects are well placed and have a good sense of impact about them without overpowering. The flow of it is solid and the music complements it as well without overpowering it either. Dialogue works in a more straightforward fashion as it’s mostly center channel based with what it does as it moves between characters but changes the focus more than panning about. It’s something that comes across well and the mixes for both tracks are solid and problem free.

Video:
Originally airing in 2013, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The series is spread across two discs with nine episodes on the first and three plus all the extras on the second. Animated by Kyoto Animation, the series has a strong visual design that you’d expect and a handsome amount of detail throughout to give it a really lived in and engaging feeling. The transfer captures this look well with colors that are solid and rich in presentation, detail that doesn’t break apart, and some very fluid motion sequences that are some of the strongest out there. I loved the look of this show and Mirai’s blood magic in particular with how it moved about the screen and the color definition of it. It’s brought out beautifully here with a fantastic look that stands out and has you revisiting it. The transfer pretty much hits all the right notes with what it needs to do and the end result is smooth and clean.

Packaging:
The collector’s edition packaging for this release is one in a small line of them that have been produced this year from the company. Each has had a certain familiar aspect to them while also being unique to the show at hand. With Beyond the Boundary, we get a great oversized heavy chipboard box that holds the two DVD cases inside that hold the DVD and Blu-ray discs, as well as the large spacer box in it that holds all the collectibles. The box looks great with its wrap as the front cover uses the familiar image of our four leads in the park playground while the back panel goes for a larger cast image with Mirai in the center that lets almost everyone get a headshot in. It’s colorful yet not too vibrant, letting the front cover take most of the attention. The spine is usually something you don’t focus on too much depending on how you store your sets, but this one looks great with the simple logo through the middle while behind it we get the flow of blood in various colors, something that gives it a lot of color without being too full of pop.

Within the set, we get the two clear DVD cases with each case holding a different format. The front cover artwork works off of the Japanese releases with some beautiful and surprisingly emotional pieces that stand out well. The back covers have the format stripe/color along the top while below it breaks down the episodes by number and title with what disc they’re on and a corresponding image. it’s all against a black background and it feels a little rigid, yet it works quite well for what it is. The extras are listed with their respective discs as well while the bottom fleshes out the various production and technical information. There aren’t any inserts in the cases, but each case has artwork on the reverse side of the cast in a different setting.

What really made me very pleased with this set though is the 94-page book that’s included. This is a slick and glossy production that brings a lot of the artwork to life from the show with its episode breakdowns, the pages of storyboards, and the material focusing on the character designs. But it kicks off with the short Shibahime story from the original creator. It’s a touch awkward to read in this book in some ways, but it’s a fantastic little addition that’s so rarely available here in these sets. There’s a lot of material in the book to go through for fans of the series and I in particular really liked the sponsor background bonus pieces that were included at the end.

With the spacer box, this is where we get the rest of the physical goods. There’re a lot of neat pieces in here, from the authenticity card with its handwritten numbers (2287 here!), to the red glasses that Mirai wears. They’re a fun addition and a little bit of cuteness that made me smile more than I expected. The set includes a really red lanyard with the series logo on it, an utterly adorable keychain whose head is massive on it compared to her body, a pair of cute pins that reflect elements from the show, an adorable sticker of Mirai and a foil card that brings us a tight image of the front of the box set itself. The lenticular ruler is certainly bewitching in using it and watching Mirai’s move and I really liked the four character cards that we get as well. The foldout poster is also of a very good size and it brings the images from the box set to it since it’s double-sided. It’s definitely a great addition once you smooth it out and add it to your frame.

Beyond the Boundary LE

Menu:
The menu design for this release is one that’s certainly properly in theme but still feels a little off, mostly with the first menu in its static image choice. The layout is one that uses the static image for the bulk of the screen while the left side has the standad navigation layout. It’s given some really nice in-theme elements with the red and black while also splattering it with a lot of liquid-like blood similar to what Mirai uses. With red text on black, it’s a little hard to read from time to time but the highlighting works well. The main visual here is one that has the kids outside, presumably in front of their school, with lots of trees and a covered station. They’re all lined up in different positions along the way but they’re all at a distance, minimal in design, and it feels very distant overall in a way that’s surprisingly off-putting. The navigation for the release is a breeze and it looks good when used as the pop-up menu as well, so the whole thing is quite functional and performs properly.

Extras:
The extras on this release are quite good overall, though labeling the main OVA as an extra is understandable but still feels out of place. That full length episode is really engaging as we get some good backstory on Akihito and his life and how he ended up slowly but surely connecting with others after being protected by his mother. It’s not fundamental to the series but it fills in a few minor gaps. Also not fundamental yet incredibly fun are the five Beyond the Boundary Idol Trail!, Who Judge You Even Though They Waver specials. These clock in at around seven or so minutes each and it basically brings a few of the main cast in to be judged by Ai and some of the others for various crimes. it all ends on the same dance routine before the verdict is read and our poor victim is carted off. it’s cute and adorable to be sure, making for a grin-inducing time. The rest of the extras are familiar with a few minutes worth of the original Japanese promos and the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the light novel series that began in 2012 by Nagomu Torii, Beyond the Boundary has three volumes to it and is one of the latest from Kyoto Animation that definitely makes their trademark style of animation a key selling point here. The novels are interesting in that the first one was actually entered into the Kyoto Animation Award contest back in 2011 and won an honorable mention, which the company then used to get it published in 2012 and then adapt it into an anime series. This provided them with an interesting approach to new content that wasn’t quite in-house, but came close enough while still not being among their stable of regulars or approaching the usual parties to adapt something else. That said, Kyoto Animation is no stranger to the “dark fantasy” genre either, so it fit in well.

The series kicks off in a way that works nicely as we get the protagonist, a high school student named Akihito, talking about how the choices we make can take you down very different paths, each with their own merits and dangers. He surprises himself with the path chosen here as he sees a cute girl in glasses seeming like she’s going to jump off the roof of the school and he tries his best to stop her, noting that someone as cute as her in glasses shouldn’t do such a thing, only to find that she’s not exactly what she seems. Which he learns because she stabs him through the chest with a sword, something that she does of her own free will but is surprised by his reaction to it. This bit sets up what turns out to be a week of stabbings that the girl, Mirai, puts him through as it turns out that Akihito is half human and half yomu and it’s her job as a Spirit World Warrior to deal with yomu. But he’s outside of her experience and expectations and nothing she does seems to take care of the problem. Which certainly makes sense considering he’s not actually possessed by a yomu.

While we do get him talking about the number of times she’s gone after him, we also get a new instance as well, which is fun to watch as it’s well choreographed as it happens after school hours and she chases him through the grounds with her sword. Akihito’s method of just kind of accepting what’s going on and surviving it works well, but we also see that Mirai isn’t exactly all the best at what she does, including a sequence where she attacks with a bucket on her head. It’s a fun bit that does turn serious when a full on yomu appears and we see how that goes, even if it is done in rather short form, but it makes it clear that the monsters are real and she does have a mission, even if she’s not great at it. This sets an awkward if comical relationship between the two since she’s basically trying to eliminate him per her mission, but knows that he’s essentially immortal when it comes to what she does, so she uses him as sword practice.

It’s amusing to see how Akihito handles not only his own origins and what it means, treating it just as a matter of fact and who he is without making it into a thing, while also coping with the kind of off-kilter approach Mirai has to life. She’s not exactly a ditz, but she comes close to the definition because of how she acts and presents herself. It also doesn’t help that she can’t seem to hide anything about herself, making her life like an open book that he can easily interpret, which frustrates her hugely.

Mirai’s interactions with Akihito allows her to start learning more of the larger world that’s out there with them. While Akihito has kept his nature hidden, he’s known about it for a few years now and he’s able to help her understand some things, including the fact that there are services that yomu use created by other yomu in order to survive in the world. While a number of them are certainly outgoing and aggressive as we’ve seen, a lot of them are just the usual types that want to live and let live. This has Akihito introducing Mirai to others from school that are aware of such things, though Mirai’s understanding is comical and she gets easily flustered by all the girls that are now a part of things, particularly since she’s not sure she can actually trust what’s being said by them.

As is the case with most series, we get a smattering of supporting characters introduced early on such as Mitsuki and Ai, we also get another male character enter the picture with Hiromi, who has a bit of a mild hands-on approach when it comes to dealing with “Akkey.” The cast gets fleshed out quickly here in an easy and relaxed way that’s surprisingly pleasant and almost fun. But at the same time it’s very light overall and you can imagine that the series could largely exist without them. All of this does allow Mirai to get a bit closer to everyone overall and she even spends some time with Mitsuki to get a bit familiar and friendly with her, which is nice. There’s also an intriguing bit that comes into play as we see Akihito talking about his heritage and how there’s some disagreement between parties over which side of his family comes from the yomu side that has given him the quirk of birth that he has.

Not surprisingly, a lot of the show through its middle section is all about familiarizing ourselves with the cast, watching the very lightly budding relationship expand between Akihito and Mirai, and engaging in some fun things. It’s not exactly rich, because we’ve seen it before, but it’s brought out with a great polish and smoothness about it that makes it enjoyable even if not memorable. The result is that we get a few fun adventures and some silliness but not much that really makes the supporting characters interesting. It does mix in some elements of the larger story at play because there’s some family politics involved, but honestly a lot of it the kind of material that only makes sense with its true meaning once you finish the series and the trick of it all.

Miria continues to be the main focus, with Akihito a close second, and she had some good material within these episodes. The best of it though is with the sixth episode where in the early part she attacks a yomu on top of the school building that ends up spewing a ton of fluid all over her and Akihito. It’s a foul and disturbing bit overall, but it’s laced with some good humor since Akihito does his best to try and stop her at first. The show has a fair bit of fun how Mirai tries different ways to deal with this particular yomu and it eventually turns in a way where Mirai has to ask help from the others in the Literary Club. That means doing their best to convince Mitsuki to help out since she’s so knowledgeable about everything and there’s always some good when it comes to having different people provide ideas on how to tackle a situation since we all think differently. The variety of plans that goes into motion is fun, including having Mirai dress up all cutely and distracting the yomu so it’s less guarded while Mitsuki puts the more formal plan into motion. It’s not one that go well and we get a whole lot of the same kind of stink related issues going forward.

The episode largely focuses on this and other kinds of plans to deal with the yomu but it’s all done with a kind of a wink and grin as it goes on. You almost get the feeling that Akihito has planted the thing in order to just mess with everyone and have fun with Mirai and Mitsuki. When we get the whole shower scene later in the second half and the kind of youthful passion behind it, you just feel it all the more. But it’s all about that youthful energy as they put their all into finding a way to defeat it, which means really going the distance and doing the unthinkable – creating a band with Mirai as the terrible lead singer in order to devastate the poor creature. With Mirai naturally being quite good at singing, and Mitsuki as well considering the voice actresses, what we basically get a really fun and polished dance sequence montage that just sells the characters in a very, very fun way.

When the show shifts to its finale arc, something that is seeded throughout it, it ends up being spread over four or so episodes. This comes in the form of the introduction of The Calm, a yomu that generates every few thousand years due to the growing human resentment. You’d think with a few billion more people around it’d be a pretty regular occurrence. The show spends a good bit of its time on dialogue and exposition about it, but it also gave us some good action, which it’s really finding a good balance for even when we have a couple of episodes that are mostly character and personality driven rather than main yomu action pieces. Everything does keep coming down to Mirai and Akihito though and that gets reflected even more since she’s put into a very difficult position when it comes to him, but a necessary one. Since he’s impacted by The Calm so heavily, her only role is to eliminate him. A role she was seemingly born to do.

With Akihito essentially being out of control here in his yomu mode, there’s supposed to be the idea that the yomu are weaker during this phase of things, it’s showing them to be a bit more out of control than normal and that’s making containment and dealing with them all the harder. And with Akihito having succumbed to it, the psychological side of it for his friends is definitely making it difficult. What makes matters worse is that while they understand what’s going on, there’s also the fear that what could happen is that he could stay in this form and because of his abilities become immortal in that dangerous form.

That puts a huge burden on Mirai since she’s the only one that can actually stop him, which means killing him. This slows things down because it becomes rather discussion heavy while creating a particular mood since we have Izumi trying to put Mirai on this path to eliminate him while the others are trying to figure out how to save him. Mirai’s not exactly caught in the middle, but she has her own issues with it to be sure and is struggling with it. It’s a pretty good second half overall when you get into the nuts and bolts of it, but it has that forced dramatic pause from where things started that just makes it a bit awkward. Having the two sides working towards a conclusion with Mirai in the middle, trying to find her own way amid all the heavy atmosphere, does work though and you can really sympathize with her as it goes on.

With it all coming down to what Mirai does, it has its moments of feeling powerful even if it goes through the familiar. That Mirai tries to find an out that comes at her own expense isn’t a surprise. Nor is it that everything is changing because of that move she makes as it essentially sends her into The Calm/otherworldly place where she’s just biding her time to the end. Amid all of this, Akihito starts to get more of Mirai’s backstory that helps explains what she did and how it was impacting her along the way, which only makes Akihito more morose in a way.It’s not bad, but it’s that kind of late episode piece that has you questioning everything from the start, which is both fun and frustrating. He’s not succumbing to it significantly, but you can easily see how he’s starting to build up towards really making an effort to find her rather than just acknowledging that she’s gone and having no answers on what to do.

Not surprisingly, it really doesn’t take long for the two worlds that exist to start coming together and those in the normal world start to see what’s really going on up above. And how so many of the yomu are being sucked upwards. The general chaos is actually kind of fun to watch in a creepy way as it progresses as we see how the gang all ends up coming together in the same place, including Akihito’s mother who orchestrates a lot of it. Having the truth revealed of what Mirai is doing is definitely expected as we zoom in on the finale to the series, but it’s done with some good style here in terms of the visuals when you have the reflective world above and the general seriousness of the characters. Even the humor manages to work right, which is surprising.

Putting the two of them in this other place definitely has a great look to it with all the snow, the darkness and having the snow fall upwards. But it also gives them some challenges in surviving that helps to bond them together more as they have to help each other with the skills and abilities they have, all while taking some decent damage along the way to make it seem all the more real. And naturally, the stakes have to get raised a good degree for them as they try to find a way out of this world, all while we see how those on the other side are waiting for them and to deal with what may come, since there’s some uncertainty about what’s going to happen. As this is the final episode of the series, they definitely build up the stakes well here by making it huge yet keeping it wholly personal in a way that works beautifully.

In Summary:
Beyond the Boundary is an interesting series overall because you get this experience that is very, very familiar, yet it works on several levels on you in the end if you allow it. Though you could easily predict the path of the series from early on there are still some nice little twists and expansions to it, from within the series itself to its zero episode OVA, that provides just enough of a push to the side that you can re-evaluate. But at the same time, you still mostly have a series that runs by the familiar and doesn’t truly challenge or try something new. It’s very well put together, it has the right emotional resonance at the end, and the animation is fantastic throughout. But it just doesn’t have quite the same soul and heart that other Kyoto Animation series do, which is more noticeable because it is KyoAni. That said, for fans of the show (and I do consider myself one), Sentai Filmworks has put together a great package here across the board that will delight. From the collector’s side and all its goodies to the disc itself with its encoding and the cast that was brought in to bring it to life, everything works and works right. This is a release that’s made to really make the fans happy and you can tell from it.

Features:
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Episode 0 (Daybreak), Beyond the Boundary Idol Trail!, Who Judge You Even Though They Waver, Clean Opening and Closing, Japanese Promos

Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: A-
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: B+

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: October 13th, 2015
MSRP: $179.98
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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