Beyond The Boundary The Movie: I’ll Be Here Past Chapter/Future Arc (Cert 12)
2 Discs DVD/Blu-ray Combo (Distributor: Manga Entertainment) Running time: 83 minutes approx. / 92 minutes approx.
Unless you have only watched it recently you’ll have to cast your mind back to January 2016 to when Beyond The Boundary appeared on UK shores, the fantasy adventure from KyoAni concerning the battle of the Spirit World Warriors and the deadly Yomu that ended on an ambiguous but seemingly happy note.
In fact, there was still more to tell of the stories created by Nagomu Torii which has manifested itself in a feature length film spin-off I’ll Be Here. But first KyoAni saw it fit to accommodate newcomers to the franchise by releasing a recap film ahead of the concluding instalment of the saga, handily entitled Past Chapter.
Perhaps they shouldn’t have bothered as condensing 300 minutes into 82 is, being polite, detrimental even for fans already familiar with the show in following the storyline. Aside from a couple of new scenes to bridge some gaps, the presentation is literally chronological clips cherry picked and spliced together to highlight some of the salient action scenes and create a very rough idea of the central concept.
With no regard for narrative, cohesion or even bothering to introduce and identify most of the characters for new viewers and those of us with poor memories, this recap/primer for the second film Future Arc is utterly confusing and counterproductive. Only the post-credits sequence offers a nice segue way teaser for the follow up, the plot of which contains spoilers in case you’ve not seen the TV series.
Future Arc is set one year after the events of the TV show. Akihito Kanbara is still an immortal half-Yomu half-human and member of the school literary club which is now down to just two members, him and Mitsuki Nase. Akihito is still pining for bespectacled classmate Mirai Kuriyama, the Spirit World Warrior from the Cursed Blood Clan who we thought had died but returned at the end of the final episode.
However, while Mirai’s curse was apparently lifted her memory has also been erased, meaning she has no clue who Akihito is, any idea of their relationship or of her yoma fighting exploits. In order to protect Mirai, it has been decided that she remains oblivious to this aspect of her past to allow her to live her life as a normal schoolgirl, and not a pariah with a huge burden on her shoulders.
As practical as this sounds it is tearing Akihito up inside, and he is forced to distance himself from Mirai in case she encounters any further danger, which upsets her as wants to know what she has done to upset him. But secrets have a habit of being revealed and when mysterious shadow figures appear, attacking and defeating A ranked Spirit World Warrior with ease.
The yoma are controlled by a stranger hidden under a hood who shares equally great power and is targeting Mirai to reawaken her memories of the past. This slowly yields results when Mirai accidentally triggers her blood manipulating skills and seeks answers from Akihito and Mitsuki, who want to tell Mirai but also want her to remain out of trouble. The hooded stranger meanwhile has other plans.
I’ve probably recapped more of the plot than I intended too but it isn’t a straightforward storyline as you can tell. Jukki Hanada’s script features a number of variables to add further intrigue to the central premise, whilst being mindful of the loose ends from the TV series that need tying up. In a similar vein to the recap film, some secondary characters reappear with no fanfare that only the truly devoted will recall who they are and why they are relevant.
But as the purpose of these characters is largely to add numbers to the protagonist side in the battle against the shadow monsters – with the exception of the Nase family who have their own issues to deal with – we are left to accept their contributions as if they were a cameo appearance.
The main thrust of the plot is the moral dilemma of whether it is best that Mirai remains ignorant of her past to give her a better chance of living a normal and burden free life, or if indeed Akihito and the others actually have the right to make such a decision on her behalf. With no family to speak of, there isn’t someone with a direct connection to take control of Mirai’s well-being, and this responsibility is self-assumed yet with her best interests in mind.
A flashback scene reveals the tragic depth of the cross Mirai had to bear ever since she was a small child, presenting a compelling argument for keeping her past from her, but as one of the Cursed Blood Clan, her raison d’être is to destroy the titular Beyond The Boundary, surely allowing her to fulfil this remit is a right only she can decide upon?
Instead of pontificating and labouring the issue with endless philosophical discussion turning this into a pseudo-psychological borefest, it is a case of a practical exploration over the theoretical, propelled by the shock developments and plot twists dictating how Mirai’s future will play out under both circumstances, right up to their logical conclusions.
The TV series boasted a good-looking presentation reflecting the high standards KyoAni are known for, befitting of the fantasy elements. The increased budget for this film reveals itself immediately in the lilting opening sequence, reaching its apex with a pivotal surreal black and white moment in the third act. Some cinematic techniques have been employed to give the images an extra depth, best viewed in HD for maximum effect.
With both films included in this release there is no reason to feel shortchanged by the damp squib of the recap as Future Arc provides ample compensation with this rollicking and moving closure of the Beyond The Boundary saga. Be sure to stick around after the credits if you haven’t been emotionally affected already – it’s what the fans have been waiting for!
English Language 2.0 DTS-HD MA
Japanese Language 2.0 DTS-HD MA
“Future Star” Dance Music video
Dance Music video Clean Closing Animation
Limited Edition Blu-ray Collector’s Edition
14 mm Blu-ray Case
Rigid Collector’s Box
Rating – *** ½
Man In Black