Kyoukai no Kanata – Episode 5

And we’re back! Excited to see where this goes. Last week’s episode did a lot of work to bolster my faith in this series – I didn’t really care about Mirai’s sadsack past in the first half, but the second established a legitimate bond between the main two, giving Mirai a little substance and retroactively adding some interesting undertones to Akihito’s upbeat facade, pursuit of Mirai, and other relationships besides. A lot of efficient work for one I CAN’T CONTROL THE RAGE INSIDE ME RAAAH light novel sequence.

Speaking of which, yeah, this is obviously all Dark Flame Master as fuck. That doesn’t really matter to me – virtually every plot is a variation on other plots, and all I care about is the execution. Will they sell me on these characters to the point where I care, where I feel? Will the scenes be visualized and directed in such a way to create a compelling mood, tone, or world? Will it be about something, and will what it has to say be articulated well enough to have some resonance, or even some truth? This all seems like a very calculated effort, but in practice it really isn’t – if these things work, I’ll know they’re working because I’ll give a damn. Because in spite of all crustiness to the contrary, I’ll naturally care about what’s happening, and what this piece can show me.

Alright, enough of my own melodrama. I’ll let the show handle that.

Episode 5

0:06 – If you’re gonna embrace your faux-literary campiness, embrace your goddamn faux-literary campiness. Love these silly episode titles

0:13 – I have to say, I love KyoAni’s fashion sense.  Akihito has clearly learned his sweatervest swag from the best (the best is Hisao)

Kyoukai no Kanata

0:21 – And that scarf! Love it. 

Sorry. This… probably isn’t what you’re here for. Anyway, as long as you’re looking at that image, I might as well point out how goddamn good KyoAni’s control of posture is. Look how much of each of their personalities their respective poses conveys

3:13 – Again, the poses are great.  Not something I want to obsess over, but it’s one of those thousand subtle things that make KyoAni’s shows so endlessly watchable, even when they’re not ostentatiously good on the narrative front. It’s no surprise they basically pulp the light novels they adapt – they’re scrapping for parts to create something fundamentally suited to being portrayed in a very different medium. In comparison to this, shows like Spice and Wolf or even OreGairu, which I actually like more than any KyoAni show, clearly display their light novel roots – their writing is much better, but they might as well be stage plays for how little they use the animated medium

3:34 – Oh my god you fucking creepers . His sister needs to put a stop to this

4:40 – Another exchange riding on small physical gestures.  It’s funny how scenes like this seem to have much more kinetic, purposeful direction than the actual action scenes do. Granted, KyoAni’s been the best at this shit for years, and are only just experimenting in action scenes, so it kinda makes sense

5:51 – I like this shot.  That nice painted-looking fence and forest. G-Man’s hipster-ass car fits his hipster-ass haircut

Kyoukai no Kanata

7:59 – Mitsuki unveils her masterplan: sell her rival into prostitution 

8:15 – Oshit chartreuse IT’S SYMBOLISM 

10:01 – Interesting little exchange.  I was gonna complain about overtelling, but Mitsuki ended up not telling as much as she did tell. This group isn’t very good at expressing themselves without Akihito there to facilitate it

12:13 – I dunno Mirai, KyoAni have proven you can make a whole lot of money by just being lost and floundering . Wouldn’t want you to develop a personality or anything!

12:49 – Preaching to the choir, Mirai 

Kyoukai no Kanata

13:25 – “I want to hate her, but she’s just… too damn moe 

13:44 – I AM PLAGUED WITH DOUBT.  Moving this drama right along

14:12 – Ugh, this girl.  Yeah yeah dead sister blah

14:30 – Does this mean you can use soulbucks to power up your Killing Goods?!?

Kyoukai no Kanata

15:09 – Classy scene transition 

15:24 – Love the little details of this “set”.  I was worried Mitsuki worked in a maid cafe or something

15:57 – OH GOD DAMNIT 

16:23 – I almost prefer that they’re just like, “yeah, we have no reasonable excuse for this scene whatsoever” 

17:24 – Ahahahahaha 

Kyoukai no Kanata

17:55 – Unlike Mirai, KyoAni knows exactly what pays the bills 

19:35 – That’s an interesting perspective, and definitely helps me fit Mitsuki together.  She obviously feels isolated as well, due to both her family’s position and her own personality, and that isolation itself was probably a bond she felt she shared with Akihito. But now Mirai’s coming in and being all pleasant and friendly, which is endearing her to Mitsuki at the same time it dissolves what she thought she shared with Akihito. This has overall been a pretty Mitsuki-focused episode, and I think it’s doing solid work there

19:56 – CAN’T HOLD ALL THIS SYMBOLISM . I’m kidding, it actually works well – in fact, using a visual motif like the color to act as an emotional touchstone like this is very efficient work

Kyoukai no Kanata

20:25 – THEY’RE GOIN’ ALL OUT.  Hairband PLUS glasses PLUS yukata PLUS fluffy hair? I hope they can maintain control of this moe density

And Done

Damn. Solid ending there. I don’t know if the “everyone is alone” stuff really came together (personally I think Mitsuki should have hit that line in their first lunch meeting, so the callback would seem less immediate and thus less artificial), but Mitsuki’s mini-arc certainly did. Kinda interesting how focused of a vignette that was – it pushed the plot in a variety of ways, but it was clearly a little Mitsuki story with a beginning, middle, and end. I now buy Mitsuki as an actual friend of Mirai, which is often a difficult relationship to make meaningful (the new love interest and obviously screwed rival), and her independent journey wouldn’t even have to be relevant to the larger plot to be an effective emotional arc in its own right. The direction was very, very solid this time, and the relationships are coming along nicely.

Yeah. Really strong episode – if this is the “new normal,” I have great hopes for the future.