Musaigen no Phantom World – The Ghostbusters go to High School:


I do love Kyoto Animation – they have produced many of my favourite anime over the years (although I’ve never been a big fan of Haruhi), and may well continue to create series I enjoy watching for many more years. Saying that, Musaigen no Phantom World is a step back when compared to recent series like Hibike Euphonium, and yet, I still rather enjoyed the first episode. As setups go it’s a fairly standard Light Novel story, with a school, phantoms or ‘youkai’, and a plot that allows our central characters to interact with these phantoms, and even capture them. Read more of this post

Behind the Façade: Hibike Euphonium and the Pressures of School Life

Hibike! Euphonium - 01

Hibike Euphonium provides us with a snapshot of school life, and the ordinary, everyday workings of an afterschool club and those who are a part of it. We are given the opportunity to look at how complicated a social group this club is, and the myriad different attitudes, ideals, and ideas that something apparently as simple as playing in a concert band can be. Like most anime, the afterschool club is a focal point for all the drama, human interactions, problems, tensions, and character growth. Rather than examination and studying – although we can assume they still exist – these characters are preoccupied with their club. Some may continue to participate out of force of habit, others may be very serious about their club, and there are also those who may simply have nothing better to do, and had to join a club anyway. The school space within anime like Hibike Euphonium remains central to character development, acting as the focal point for all of their hopes and worries, and serving as the one space where they are capable of exploring new ideas and approaches to life, seemingly without worry. Read more of this post

Kyoukai no Kanata 12 – Shadows and Light


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. Read more of this post

Kyoukai no Kanata 11 – A Place Between Worlds


The relationship between Mirai and Akihito has been a complex one, with both characters coming from complicated backgrounds and having to deal with their own issues throughout the series. This episode acted as a continuation of the progression in their relationship, and arguably served as a defining moment in how they view each other, and themselves. From the very beginning of this series Mirai, and Akihito have had their fair share of problems stemming from their backgrounds and lineage. The complex issues of pollution within (traditional) Japanese belief means that both characters are arguably polluted, with backgrounds that single them out as strangers, outcasts that neither fit in the world of humans or the world of dreams and shadows. Read more of this post

Kyoukai no Kanata 04 – The debt that had to be paid


As we have seen already, the cursed blood that Mirai has controls how she views the world and her place within society. It is the source of her hatred, anger, pain, and suffering, something that has shaped her perception of her own worth and how people should treat her. Throughout the last three episodes Mirai has consistently tried to distance herself from Akihito, constantly pushing him away by saying that he is different from her, someone with friends, who has a happy, carefree life. Mirai has thus internalised the negativity of individuals around her, truly believing that her clans blood is truly cursed. Interestingly, Sakura Inami reinforces this negative view by describing her as a ‘Shinigami’, a god of death with the power to destroy the land around her with blood that falls like acid rain and purges the land of life. It is easy to see why Mirai’s clan is so maligned when the full power of her blood is unleashed, melting away the trees and leaving the landscape around her barren and scarred.

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Kyoukai no Kanata 03 – The Shadows of the Damned


Throughout these early episodes of Kyoukai no Kanata it has become obvious that Mirai truly believes that she is from a cursed bloodline and is therefore a cursed individual who may hurt anyone she gets close too. This is further backed up by the latest revelations that she has already killed someone, a good friend in fact, thus reinforcing her already negative attitude towards her own existence and that of her clan. Here we see how easily negative viewpoints and attitudes can be internalised by an individual, to the point where they begin to believe them to be true. We do not know if Mirai’s clan is cursed, or destructive, although it is arguably the case that they were neither, and it is a label they acquired from other Spirit Hunter clans. As I have mentioned in the last couple of posts, blood plays a significant role in Shinto, being a source of pollution, and through the creation myth of Izanagi and Izanami a source of death and destruction for humanity. It can therefore be argued that the ‘cursed existence’ of a clan with the ability to manipulate blood can be directly linked to their abilities, and perhaps a suspicion that they are somehow linked to the very Youmu that the clans are supposed to hunt. Read more of this post

Kyoukai no Kanata 01 – It’s all in the blood


Kyoukai no Kanata is a series about cursed existences and the continued importance of blood within Japanese belief. Both of the main characters live cursed existences due to their connections with blood and the realms of gods and spirits. There is no moral notion of sin within Shinto belief; death is not the ‘wages of sin’ as it might be for Christianity, but rather the outcome of evil-doing. Because purity is valued above all else, evil is defined as that which is ‘pollution’, or ‘polluting’. The primary pollutions within this belief system are sickness, death, and blood, and exposure to such pollution can offend the kami, resulting in disasters such as plagues or famine. Because of this Shinto shrines usually do not conduct funerals, leading the to familiar adage, ‘Shinto for weddings, Buddhism for funerals’. Nevertheless, Shinto has historically dealt with ideas of dead; with practitioners believe that spirits of the dead go to the mountains, above the sky, below the ear, or beyond the horizon (Kyoukai no Kanata). Living beings from this world may visit those from the other worlds in borderlands such as cliffs, caves and coastlines, places where the boundary between the two worlds is considered weak. Read more of this post