Kyoukai no Kanata – 03

KnK - 03 -5 KnK - 03 -15 KnK - 03 -18

Holding pattern, check.

I’ve been searching for the right word to describe my experience in watching Kyoukai no Kanata, and I think “detached” is about as close as I can get.  There’s nothing in here that I really dislike, per se – apart perhaps from a little irritation that Kyoto Animation has to run every series through their special filter – but I don’t feel much of anything one way or the other.  It’s just a very flat effect for me – instantly forgettable and lacking in any emotional or intellectual connection.

At this point I’d say it’s an open question as to whether I’ll blog any subsequent episodes of KnK – I suppose if the next one grabs me, I’ll blog it.  In some ways I guess this was the best episode of the three so far, at least in terms of having a few moments that had a bit of impact, but the narrative felt disjointed and uneven to me.  There was a lot of jumping around from place to place and character to character without much explanation, and as the cast is pretty generic so far I was having a hard time remembering who I was looking at some of the time when Mirai, Akihito and Hiroomi weren’t on-screen.

As for the plot, the big twist seems to be that Mirai accidentally killed a child belonging to the family that had taken her in, while that child was possessed by the Hollow Shadow.  As a result she’s bearing a grudge against it and decided to try and take it out, despite the fact that all spirit world warriors have been warned to steer clear and let it move through town unmolested.  So she goes after it and end up fighting with a girl named Sakura who fights using a chainsaw (if we’ve met her I can’t remember her), and Mirai seems on the verge of getting bisected until Akihito (who we’ve just seen nuking his dinner) shows up and saves the day.  And oh by-the-way, Hiroomi is a siscon.

The discussion about the origin and background of the youmu did at least manage to spark some interest in me (though it isn’t terribly original) but as far as the main plot and any of the central characters, I just don’t feel anything yet.  That isn’t helped by the fact that the humor is pretty wooden so far, and the art direction and cinematography seem very uninspired.  The last thing anyone needs is for me to keep harping on Hyouka in a KyouKan post, but comparing the two series really highlight how it isn’t enough for KyoAni simply to throw their usual technical prowess at a show – artistry really does matter. Others may feel differently, but for me it’s impossible not to see Hyouka as a series that clearly has far more passion and commitment behind it than Kyoukai no Kanata does.  This isn’t a bad show, but it just isn’t yet giving me any compelling reason to care about it.

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17 comments

  1. D

    The best part of the episode was the spear gun. I think I'm going to keep watching just for that marvelous weapon. Otherwise, I share your opinion, I'm quite apathetic about this show. Everything it tries is done better in a different show airing this season.

  2. M

    My expectations for this show were mediocre to begin with,as they are with the other supernatural/school setting shows we're having this season such as Unbreakable Machine Doll,Tokyo Ravens,Strike the Blood(and although far from great,I still like the main characters in those 3 shows more).The only thing I see Kyoukai no Kanata having above those is KyoAni animation.That being said,the awfull humor attempts of this show still managed to annoy and/or bore me as it was disturbing the things the show actually does well.Due to that very reason however,I liked this episode the most so far because it didn't have as much attempted humor and mostly stuck to doing what it does best – well animated action scenes,with a better BGM this time too(still not as exciting as Valvrare's action scenes though).If Kyoukai no Kanata realizes that and sticks to it's guns,I think it's safe to enjoy it for what it is(it'll go in the time killer shows territory for me) but I really don't think anyone should expect anything great from this.

  3. Yes, the BGM was better this time around, noticeably so.

  4. t

    well it's kinda typical for KyoAni. you don't feel anything in particular, maybe some solidarity from 1 or 2 MC..with funny/bizarre second cast, and slowly it just drag you in. the same goes for "free" and even "chuuni"(though it was better).
    hyouka (and clannad) aren't really stick to the regular KyoAni formula cause they are adapted from an original source(LN or VN). yes yes, all those mentioned above (free,chuuni and KNK) are also LN, but they are published specifically by KyoAni, so those anime aren't really an adaptations, and only take the basic and concept and put it into an anime.
    in other words we can practically say that they are KyoAni's original.

    anyway…having said that…I understand what and why you feel that. I am not even sure how to treat it myself. but you can't deny(I think) – every new episode there is improvment in terms of story and characters. I love the stuff going on with Mirai. and the things going on behind the scenes with that fight. and the rescue was..too cliche IMO but probably necessary :S

  5. i

    I think characters are always the most important part of anime. If I like them I can go through hell and back as far as the story and production values are concerned but if I hate them well not even Satoshi Kon could keep me interested. It gets murky though with KnK or animes like it where I don't care about the characters. A good enough story and animation can keep me going but Kyoani only guarantees one and the other in this case the other one is quite generic/boring/Fabulous Minimum.

    KnK's biggest problem is that we expected something different to what it is. Hyouka was slated as light mystery club and what we got was a light mystery club, which eventually grows on you. KnK looked like a cool supernatural action anime but is quite lackadaisical supernatural story with occasional action and very little drive to create a compelling narrative. All animes should start with something interesting to 'hook' viewers but it really feels like Kyoani believe the hook is just the fact that they're making it. I'll probably give it one episode more and decide but with Kyousogiga and a bunch of good sports animes around the competition is high.

    I actually quite like Strike the Blood a lot more. It might be lower in production values and also lack a drive but since I had no expectations for it and the fact that it feels a little less generic than its peers (imouto acting like an imouto and a nice girl not a bitch for a main character) keeps me interested for now.

  6. J

    I guess it would be good practice for studios to place a certain kind of "hook" in a first episode to catch viewers with short attention spans. Then again, there must be some number of viewers who don't allow preconceptions to get in the way.

  7. Z

    Well in this day and age, where you are guaranteed an audience on flash visuals and a select few popular tropes alone, there is little desire or incentive to innovate. That's the kind of studio Kyoto Animation is, and the kind of studio that gets "rewarded" by consumers.

  8. T

    The action and the OP and ED pieces are pretty much the best parts of the show for me. I agree in that there is absolutely nothing that really pisses me off(well except maybe from the siscon bigbro) or makes me think this is a bad show but still… I'll more than likely keep watching, sometimes the bad attempts of humor make me laugh at just how lame it is and if anything else it can at least tide me over as popcorn entertainment until Kyousogiga (which may be my favorite show so far) or Kill la Kill comes back on. That and honestly my watching pool isn't really that large.

  9. s

    I was pretty much sold on this 3rd ep. I was certain last week that this ep would probably be the end of the goofy humor and that from here on out, the series was gonna start delving into the dark plot and characters and it looks im right so far. If anything, what this fall season has brought in terms of anime is a bunch of series that are very enjoyable watches. I dont know how to explain it but, there are plenty of good series this fall but nothing that has truly jumped out and screamed "profound greatness". I see potential in Kyousogiga but its not quite there yet. Either way, Knk (falling in the category of just good so far) is in my opinion, turning out to be a truly solid series, which if there was one word to describe it, it would be that, But it also has this feeling of constant improvement every ep that truly feels like its going to build up to a cresendo in its final eps and if this series pulls that off it will be quite the accomplishment.

    I thought the way the second half of this ep turned somber and foreboding was handled very well; the night atmosphere, the purple moonlight, akihito and mirai's argument which was handled with the good direction and subtlety needed to feel natural; everything is just starting to build up and it looks like this series is only going to get better. If the animation and increasing dark nature of the series (and hopefully the director keeps his promise about making the forefront of the series) continues to hold for the next 9 or so eps, kyoani will have yet another great series under their belt. To me, Hyouka was the first series in a while from kyoani that was great; not quite superb or spectacular (like kanon or the disappearance of suzumiya haruhi but nevertheless a part of my kyoani favorite list), but it definitely showed that it was a capable series willing to pull away from some kyo ani conventions (moe characters aside) and was able to deliver tight writing and a more cohesive narrative in its second half to make up for the more slower and slightly weaker first half. Not to mention its impressive art (Knk has the higher budget but doesnt quite have Hyoka's art direction). Overall this ep is a good sign of things to come and hopefully the ride becomes more and more enjoyable as we delve into the plot and characters and less on the comedy (which honestly isnt any different from the comedy seen in any other show airing this season)

  10. R

    Fall is such a large season that I need to be stingy and only stick to the shows that I really like. Kyoukai no Kanata is decent, but it lacks the ambition and falls back to following KyoAni's fomula that doesn't work on me. It just doesn't interest me enough — in terms of its storytelling and characters — to make me follow it through. I think I will put this aside for the moment and — depending on the reviews — come back at a later time. Bye for now, KyouKan, and hope to see you later.

  11. S

    It's kind of a problem when I couldn't care any less about one of the two protagonists in the show (Mirai). The setting isn't particularly inspired, the characters aren't particularly interesting, the best relationship is probably Akihiro and Mitsuki, in an almost SHAFT-style banter (but not quite…). And to be frank I'm kind of tired of this "I murdered someone, I can't bring myself to do this, also revenge" kind of motivation, which is kind of a shame. I suppose I'll keep watching, because I do like Akihiro and Mitsuki, but…that's about it.

  12. F

    Hmm. Well, for me I find myself enjoying it a bit more than the poster and a fair number of other commenters above, but I will agree that it isn't as engaging as, say, Hyouka. For me iinterest wise t is on the same level as Tamako, which I felt to be breezily pleasant and enjoyable.

    Then again I do tend to enjoy the KyoAni product to begin with…. πŸ˜‰

  13. If Kyousogiga were one end of the scale in terms of ambition, I think Tamako would be the other – even for KyoAni that was aiming low. I too would rank KnK about on a par with it, but the difference for me is that I never had any expectations of Tamako. And to be honest, the premiere of Tamako was way more entertaining than any of the first three eps of KnK have been.

  14. F

    Actually, tbh I had no expectations for KnK before watching it. It may have worked in my favor to being able to better enjoy it – who knows?

    But again, I generally am an easy sell with the KyoAni formula/style.

    For me the story and charas of Tamako didn't really go anywhere after three eps any more than KnK, and I enjoyed that series as a whole, though I thought the ending a bit anticlimax'ish. Still, not bad.

    I will be giving KnK the same attention – perhaps it will be like Tamako, perhaps it will be an uncategorical disaster, but then it may get better and not portray the suspended slice of reality style that Tamako moved around inside, but go different places. [shrugs]

  15. j

    It's funny how the 'absurd' can affect. I fink KnK completely boring and forgettable, even the animation can't keep me interested for too long. And above all else, so, so bad of a story.

    KlK on the other hand, oh boy boy boy boy boy boy, the 'absurd' in there is completely fine. The key in this comparison is 'how serious you're going to be'. KnK presents a clichΓ©, absurd story and seems to be wanting to make you weep emotional tears at the end of each episode. KlK presents a RIDICULOUSLY absurd story, but because it doesn't take itself too serious, oddly it becomes a much more engaging story.

  16. J

    In what way are either of these shows absurd?

  17. j

    It'd be an argument of finding plotholes really, mainly highlighting the fact that it's always a bunch of teenagers that have the power to change (or annihilate) entire civilizations, and usualy end up giving in to their teenage emotions like love. It's not 'bad' because of that, but because they present you with awesome premises but very, very poorly constructed worlds and logic.

    KnK: Where are the adults? This episode we were introduced to a secret society/association of adult hunters that monitor supernatural stuff, but it seems odd that such an organization would let a teenage girl like Mirai run loose with such powers. Where are the scientific people? Wouldn't you like to analyze Mirai's blood and see the secrets and extensions of that magic? Imaine the possibilities man~
    Or how barrier-adult-san from the organization came to investigate the demon, when he could have done so while the demon was just moving around, before getting close to cities and possible witnesses. Or how they're asking the hunters to stay away, but beg the children with barrier powers to protect the city while fighting off dangerous demon wolves. Surely the hunters could have helped protect the barrier men?
    The problem isn't that there are plotholes, but thet they're presenting this to younger audiences as if it was a big dramatic thing, when it isn't. They want to sell themselves as best they can of course, but still, a couple of lines could help make this show a lot more interesting (but maybe that wouldn't sell as much Blu-Rays).

    And KlK…really? You want me to say how KlK is absurd πŸ˜› ?

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