Oh, you thought the story of one of 2013's best anime was over? Boy, were you wrong.
Beyond the Boundary: I'll Be Here: Future Arc is the second Beyond the Boundary film. But while the first was a recap film, Future Arc continues the story, tying up all the loose ends you probably didn't even notice were still dangling at the end of the TV series.
*As the film is a direct sequel, this review contains spoilers for the TV series*
The Beyond the Boundary anime series ends on a happy note. After taking the monstrous force known as "Beyond the Boundary" back into his body, series lead Akihito resigns himself to a world without Mirai, the girl he loves — only to have her reappear suddenly and give the appearance that everything will turn out alright. But as we learn in this film's major twist, while that may have been a happy moment, it was actually far from a happy ending.
While Mirai has indeed been resurrected, she has no memory of any events of her life before the final moments of the series. She has no idea who the boy standing before her is or why he seems crushed when she says she doesn't know him.
Thus comes the film's major dilemma: Is it better to remember or forget?
Mirai had a terrible life. The lone survivor of her exterminated family, she was forced to murder those most dear to her and was treated as an outcast by those who made her do the magical society's dirty work. While she came to have true friends over the course of the TV series, that doesn't change the fact that she suffered through years of self-loathing along with building hatred for those who would not accept her simply because she was born different.
Now with no memories, Akihito and his friends realise Mirai has a unique opportunity. She can live the life of a normal girl — completely removed from the supernatural society that both shunned and used her. The only price for this perfect, happy life is that they have to keep her true origins a secret from her. The easiest way to do this is also the most painful: They decide to largely cut ties with her and leave her in the care of her adopted sister.
In many works of fiction with a similar amnesia plot, it is always revealed that the person is better off with their memories than without. Yet, Future Arc makes a strong case against this. Until Mirai is targeted by a mysterious villain and dragged back into the world of magic and monsters, she appears to be happy. Yes, she wants her memories back and feels drawn somehow toward Akihito, but she is living a life the old Mirai could never have dreamed of. And when she does get her memories back — namely those negative ones — we see in no uncertain terms how much pain they bring her.
The other side of the film deals with a mysterious shrouded figure leading a group of nearly unstoppable shadow-like creatures into the city. What's great about this plot is that while at first it seems like our heroes are just being forced to deal with a run-of-the-mill forgettable movie villain, this is far from the case. Instead this villain serves to guide the movie's focus back to the unexplained mysteries of the TV series — namely the history of pseudo-antagonists Miroku and Izumi.
The film also fills in other characters' backstories with short flashbacks. Most are well done; but at some point, the film — and the franchise's story at large — starts to seem a bit over connected. Not every romantic pair needs some sort of shared backstory to make their love seem more like an act of fate.
The other weak point of the movie's story is the deus ex machina that looms over the whole series: the Beyond the Boundary itself. It is literally another world — one of seemingly limitless power. It can be used to do anything from bringing back the dead to exploring the innermost workings of characters' very souls. It can solve pretty much any problem. And with a plot device like that waiting in the wings, it feels both a bit predictable and cheap as you can tell that the movie is, in a way, just killing time before the big gun is brought into play.
Beyond the Boundary: I'll Be Here: Future Arc is a solid end to Beyond the Boundary. While the series itself had a good ending in its own right, the movie goes that one extra step to explain the series' remaining mysteries and give our heroes one final obstacle to overcome before they get the happy ending they so richly deserve. And even though the amnesia plot has been done to death in about every possible type of fiction, this film uses it to explore if it is worth giving up your memories for happiness — as well as the moral implications of making that choice for another person.
Plus, and let's be real here, who isn't up for some additional awesome-looking, blood-bending action?
Beyond the Boundary: I'll Be Here: Future Arc was released in Japanese theatres on April 25, 2015. There is currently no word on a Western release.