Kyoukai no Kanata 12 – Shadows and Light
December 20, 2013 Leave a comment
As I have said on numerous occasions, the relationship between Mirai and Akihito has been at the very centre of this series, they are the odd ones out in society, both cursing their existences, and living with the complicated nature of who they are. The various plots and political intrigue that reared its head from time to time swirled around these two characters like thick fog, clinging to their clothes and never letting them go. That Akihito seemed to be harbouring the Youmu known as Kyoukai no Kanata in his body, a shade so powerful it is said to be capable of destroying the world emphasises how unsure his existence was. What is interesting however is how little we as the audience ever find out about the politics between Miroku – likely acting as a proxy for the Spirit Hunter’s Association – and the Nase clan. In many respects it seems find to leave it as a case of political intrigue, coupled with plans to use the power of Kyoukai no Kanata, along with numerous other Youmu to produce something dramatic and world changing.
By sacrificing herself Mirai hoped to save Akihito from death, and provide him with the opportunity to live a normal life, one free from the confines of his own complicated, and in many respects, unexplained existence. But she failed to take into account the feelings, and thoughts of Akihito, someone who is unwilling to live a normal life that was created through Mirai’s sacrifice. In the end Akihito’s struggle is an internal one, albeit one played out within the core of a powerful, all-consuming Youmu that is ultimately as much a part of him as his human form. If Youmu are create through the negative feelings of humanity, then the sheer power of this owes much to the repressed feelings of hate, despair, anxiety, envy, doubt, and selfishness of Akihito. But ultimately he must come to terms with that half of who he is and begin to accept that while he may be an immortal half-youmu he is also half-human. But up until these last couple of episodes its clear that all he has been seeing is the immortal half-youmu half, the negative aspects of his existence has overridden the realities that despite his complicated nature he is still surrounded by a group of people who care for him.
Another interesting conflict that only really surfaced in this last episode was the one between Miroku and Izumi, too immensely powerful, and in some cases, slightly warped individuals. Finding out that Izumi harbours a Youmu within her – the root of her powers no doubt – brings to light another possibility for this whole conflict between Youmu and humans. If we take into account the immense power that many Spirit Hunters have, along with the leverage that many clans have acquired throughout history it seems highly likely that many more people harbour the powers of Youmu within them. Ayaka and Ai already points to the existence of human-shaped Youmu, so perhaps the persecution of Mirai’s clan comes from their overtly demonic powers, something that could draw attention to the reality of Spirit Hunter society. Izumi’s confrontation with Miroku brings to the surface a particular attitude towards Youmu that had previously been hidden and also suggests that part of the reason for Izumi’s harsh view of Youmu come from her own existence. Interestingly, it seems that while Akihito and Mirai finally accept who they are, Izumi has yet to fully accept her Youmu powers, talking about never forgetting her pride as a human.
Overall this series has been an enjoyable one, using the idea of blood as a form of pollution found in Shinto belief as central to the main characters interactions and ways of viewing themselves. The complicated nature of both main characters and how they fit into what at first appeared to be a rigid, and highly structured world also helped. There were some issues naturally; it suffered from its short length, with particular plot points being glanced over, while others are added without any real explanation. I feel that the series would have benefited from a longer run time – what series doesn’t really? – thus allowing the world, and how the characters fit into it to be fleshed out more. In particular I feel that the more time needed to be given to the political subplot running throughout the series, especially given the final episodes revelation that Izumi has a Youmu inside of her. Several world-building aspects were either glossed over, or rushed, but even then I found the world that Kyoukai no Kanata presented a fascinating one that tapped into the religion and folk lore of Japan. The finale was enjoyable, if a little odd with Mirai dying then coming back, although this can perhaps be explained due to her clans’ abilities to manipulate blood and the effect Akihito had on the world. It certainly was not Kyoto Animation’s best work, with Free and Tamako Market overshadowing it somewhat, however, it was wonderfully animated, and had numerous memorable, and highly enjoyable moments.