Kyoukai no Kanata 09 – Truth and Lies


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As discussed in last weeks post, there has been an arbitrary line placed between Youmu and Spirit Hunters, one that creates the binary division of Youmu = Bad, and Spirit Hunters = Good. However, over the last couple of episodes it has become increasingly clear that such a division does not exist, and that in many cases the roles appear to be switched. Many Youmu such as Ayaka and Ai lead relatively normal lives despite the immense power that they posses (in the case of Ayaka), and do not pose a threat to humans. They good friends with the main characters and even run their own business trading Youmu fragments. They are far from this image of a deadly force, or a mass of dangerous, bloodthirsty creatures that we as the viewers assume them to be. Furthermore, the presence of Yakimon (Sweet Potato) as Mitsuki’s familiar and pet presents us with another, more gentle side to Youmu, and one that is very different from the Hollow Shade in previous episodes. Rather it is humans, and particularly Fujima Miroku – and arguably by extension the Spirit Hunters Association – that come across as the more aggressive and dangerous, more so than most Youmu.

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Kyoukai no Kanata 08 – Into the Gloom


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Throughout Kyoukai no Kanata there has been an arguably arbitrary line forced between Youmu and Spirit Hunters. Spirit Hunters have been portrayed as people who are attempting to rid the world of potentially dangerous shades and creatures that can bring great misfortune to human beings. We know that it is impossible to completely eradicate Youmu as they are often the accumulations of humanities negative energy, or in some cases appear to be the particularly powerful natural spirits. So, the Spirit Hunters act like shepherds on the one hand, herding these potentially dangerous spirits and preventing them from bringing harm to others, while on the other they are hunters, using their powers and abilities to thin out the herd as it were. While characters have debated the merits of this activity, and characters like Izumi Nase have their own opinions on the job of a Spirit Hunter, they are largely portrayed as warriors tasked with helping humanity. Youmu are therefore a scourge, a deadly plague, a faceless mass, or terrifying creatures that threaten all those that come near. Read more of this post

Kyoukai no Kanata 07 – Memories and shadows


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Last weeks Kyoukai no Kanata served as a brilliant diversion from the main narrative of the series, one that explores ideas of cursed existences and the idea of blood as a form of pollution. It was very successful at what it did as well, providing us with another glimpse at the business of hunting and destroying spirits, albeit one that involved classic training montages, a full musical number, and the main characters apparently forgetting that they were supposed to destroy the Youmu, not entertain it. As a break from the darker themes of the series it was both entertaining, hilarious, and also rather interesting as it presents us with a different vision of Youmu and their place next to humans. Up until that point all the Youmu that this series has introduced have been particularly vicious looking creatures with murderous auras, and in the case of the Hollow Shade, a dangerous reputation for destroying Spirit Hunters that try to confront it. What last weeks episode suggests is that Youmu are far from being the evil, destructive creatures that until recently we may have assumed them to be. Instead they are merely spirits, many may be potentially dangerous, but then so are humans, and the reality of it is that many of them do not threaten the safety of humans of Spirit Hunters, providing they are left alone to get on with their own devices. Read more of this post

Kyoukai no Kanata – Youmu 1, Idols 0


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While previous weeks of Kyoukai no Kanata have had a decidedly serious, often very dark tone, with the central characters fighting for their lives in one form or another, this weeks took a different approach to Youmu and Youmu hunting. Initially Youmu hunting was introduced as a serious matter, one where Spirit Hunters would go out and hunt down and destroy potentially dangerous spirits – at least we are told they are dangerous, and the threat they pose to human’s remains to be seen. Mirai has to hunt to survive, her powers are immense, but for a variety of reasons, many we have yet to fully comprehend she has not spent much of her time hunting Youmu, and is therefore immensely poor. In fact, one of the main comedic gags used throughout the series so far has been Mirai’s poverty, and her immense pride that makes her try to ignore others charity, even when she knows would allow her to survive. Read more of this post

Outbreak Company and the dissemination of mass culture


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The premise of Outbreak Company seems a little odd at first – developing good relations with another nation (in this case one in a fantasy world) through the use of popular culture. However, once we look a little closer at this series whilst also exploring real world examples we can see that such a premise has been used before on multiple occasions, and is arguably central to the Japanese governments attempt to enhance its standing in today’s globalised world. Indeed, culture – be it political, religious, or social – has always been one way for a country to strengthen its position with its neighbours, or perhaps in a foreign country. If we look at the process of imperialism throughout the 17th-20th centuries we can see how elements of the conquered nations culture were supplanted by the conqueror. Culture can be used to rebrand a countries image, change how it is perceived in the world, and recreate a powerbase that was once lost. Read more of this post

Kyoukai no Kanata 05 – Bathed in Light


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While Mirai’s abilities and Akihito’s nature continue to drive the story, they both seem to be at the centre of several plots, or plans involving Spirit Hunters, although we do not as yet know what these are supposed to be. However, this week took a slightly different approach, and instead focused on Mistuki and the notion of loneliness. Mitsuki is an intriguing character, one who seems to care about Akihito, and yet remains loyal to her position as a Spirit Hunter and a member of the Nase household. Mitsuki’s character and how she approaches her own duties and personal feelings once again fit into the giri/ninjo (duty/human feelings) model that is mostly seen in samurai or yakuza dramas. Read more of this post