Hunting ghosts gets sexual but does the main couple’s dynamic rub viewers the wrong way? Nicky and Jean-Karlo check out the anime adaptation of the fan-favorite manga.
This series is streaming on Crunchyroll
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network.
Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.
Well, October is over Nicky, but there are still a lot of freaky man babies sleeping in my bed. But let me tell you something:
Bustin’ makes me feel good.
Well if people were sad The Season of Spooks was over, we’ve still got many frightening things to come. After all, we of This Week in Anime
are accustomed to horror shows. Think of all the clowns we have to deal with on a regular basis!
However, nothing has prepared me for the nightmare that is this man’s fashion sense.
Somewhere, an old librarian is wondering who made off with her wardrobe
The title might sound like word salad, but as it turns out it’s because the protagonist Mikado’s name can also be read as “triangle”. This… only really factors into triangles being a recurring visual motif for some of the supernatural goings-on that doesn’t really get commented on.
That’s true but also, I’d be damned to say if spooky triangles didn’t look neat. They’re certainly the most poppin’ thing about this shows whole aesthetic vibe. These are from the opening.
I kinda wish the rest of the show had that same visual flair because intro aside, The Night Beyond
has a very workman-like appearance. Even the phantasmagorical glimpses into the inner psyches of our protagonists is just… purple voids.
There’s times where it works and times where it doesn’t, but the non-spooky scenes and the character art are standard. Didn’t think it looked quite good from most standalone images but in motion and presentation it’s mostly fine? I’ve seen both better and worse.
But if you’re going to do a show about looking at a couple of Hot Guys bustin’ (ghosts) together, the visuals are a major priority so it does feel like more of a let-down than not at times.
“Unremarkable” is a fair way to describe it. Sometimes there is an interesting camera angle or visual effect, but otherwise it’s just Mikado (with the glasses) and Hiyakawa (the Reigen-looking doofus) making innuendo at each other.
It’s a “psychic” thing they’re doing, I swear.
Anyways, The Night Beyond
is a horror series about a disgruntled bookstore clerk (Mikado) who happens to see ghosts who meets an exorcist (Hiyakawa) who happens to be a little hands-on when it comes to ghost-hunting. IYKWIM?
You see, even though Hiyakawa is in the business of spirts, he can’t exactly see them too well so he quickly pushes Mikado into becoming his partner (literally).
Yeah, but unlike Reigen, he doesn’t have the insane charisma stats to make up for it. He’s actually got more of a negative-charisma effect ala Mads Mikkelsen in NBC’s Hannibal
. Like a guy so lacking in charisma he loops around into becoming interesting again? Also he’s not exactly a scam artist when it comes to his work. It’s all legit and it pays well. Which of course, only makes him more suspicious! Overall, he’s not quite charming but also not a total creepazoid either, it’s very in-between, and so are his moralities and his people skills.
He’s very much in it for the money rather than helping people! There’s benefits to his practical way of looking at spiritual nuisances, like the fact that he isn’t afraid of them, but it’s also very cold. He doesn’t have a whole lot of boundaries.
This is also true with how he treats Mikado as a partner. He pushes him into scary ghost-related situations where he isn’t comfortable. Though he doesn’t consider their relationship to be wholly negative because soul-touching and stuff feels Pretty Damn Good, apparently. As well as helping him come to terms with his fear via exposure and experience.
Like the wise man said, “Bustin’ makes me feel good”…
And if you think we’re simply being coy, the show is rather upfront about the sexual and romantic aspect of the whole thing.
Yeah, while I mostly see Hiyakawa awkward as a person
and hesitate to call him totally bad. His track record as a boyfriend/partner is starting to look pretty damning! Once other people with spiritual power start coming into the picture, he immediately becomes controlling both spiritually and emotionally.
This is a pretty common element in horror, romance, and romance-horror. Those familiar with women-oriented media would be familiar with ye ole possessiveness tropes. However, what I like about this is that I find it to be relievingly straightforward about his behavior? It’s very clear that this isn’t something that’s desirable in a partner even if it is a little sexy.
This feels like boilerplate seme/uke dynamics to me, personally. Provided, I also grew up in the era of Boys Over Flowers
where a lot of these romances were just patently abusive.
Plenty of other characters are quick to reach out to Mikado over Hiyakawa’s possessiveness, however.
I think it’s common but the worst part is that theiruncritical of the situation and most of the time that possessiveness is seen as chivalrous, The Night Beyond
by comparison is very aware of the toxicity that exists between the two main characters. As graciously pointed out by Keita Mukae, an actual scam-artist (fortune-teller) who’s pretty perceptive.
Like yeah, having your soul and emotions fisted all the time without being careful isn’t healthy!
Innuendo aside, there’s an ongoing mystery involving Hiura Erika, a mysterious young woman with psychic powers who appears to be going around town sowing curses. Why? Well, she seems to be employed by some mysterious creep. Hiyakawa also rubs her the wrong way.
She also seems to have a thing for Mikado and he might also have a thing for her. Since he doesn’t have the experience to say no to people that leads to a lot of problems. Did we also mention that she’s a murderer?
At the same time, her curses clearly aren’t something to be messed with, and everyone says how they can tell it’s hers because they can “hear” them, advertising her name like a radio commercial. And in a way, this totally seems like part of her business model!
Poor Mikado needs better friends. Maybe someone should
introduce him to Reigen?
At any rate, if we’ve made this series sound like a particularly well-paced series of supernatural encounters filled with innuendo and compromising situations, we’ve done a bad job because The Night Beyond is more of a “stuff happens while Erika looms in the background”-kind of story. Hiyakawa—or someone who works with him—will drag Mikado on another job where he has to watch ghosts and get creeped out. Also, Erika looms in the background.
I have a mind that this might be an adaption problem. There’s an element to the ghost-hunting that’s clearly empathetic to the clients and their various problems. I rather like the time Mikado explores with Keita, because even though he’s a supposed fraud, he clearly listens to people and spirits in a way that wasn’t conceivable before. And I’ve always been fond of haunting being more of the supernatural world reflecting the real-world than the other way around.
So like the girl with self-esteem issues, the haunted high-schooler, or the woman whose curse is her own controlling mother, all of these reflect a piece of their lives.
But I do agree, it doesn’t have a lot of room to play out as much as I’d like, but they’re moments I still enjoy.
That definitely is a fun bit of storytelling; the bit where Mikado and Keita deal with the manifestation of a model’s imposter syndrome manifesting as a blob of… something… in her bathroom was a fascinating thing. But these feel less like ventures into the realm of the psycho-spiritual and more like digressions from the rest of the plot. And I’d excuse it if the show wasn’t so bland in its presentation.
Mikado also gets a few sparse but enjoyable interactions with his mom, so we clearly understand that they had a good relationship before this. Feels kinda rare for an anime parent especially for a character that’s a young adult.
I also appreciate how she approaches how his dad walked out in a way that isn’t resentful or melancholy. She clearly still cares, but doesn’t let it crush her spirit.
It might be my own experiences speaking, but I did catch an underlying vibe of Mikado’s mother being too protective of him, which explains a lot of Mikado’s weird shelteredness. I’d like for the series to address that somehow, where the relationship isn’t toxic but maybe could be.
Yeah, I get the vibe that even though that’s a positive connection. A lot of Mikaido’s shyness comes from the fact that he was totally bubbled and ended up avoiding his problems with people and ghosts rather than becoming someone that tackles them head-on. He’s good at reading a room but that doesn’t mean much when you don’t have the experience to know to act. Thus making him easy for others to use.
I think that’s also not really farfetched for the story since we see a lot of other similar relationships with mothers. The woman who defended her mother’s goodness even though she was clearly being cursed and twisted by it as seen earlier, or watching Erika Hiura trying and failing to make contact with her own mother, like a spirit haunting her own household.
That could be true of Mikaido’s negative relationships too! Just like how positive experiences and relationships have negative effects. I consider his relationship with Hiyakawa to be negative for his wellbeing at the moment, but it also seems like he’s starting to build more confidence in himself through his experiences. So I don’t consider them to be unfixable. This is something that fiction is good for exploring in a way that’s more unsafe in real life.
Now that we’re talking about this, I wonder if any of this will somehow fit in with Hiyakawa? Like, maybe Hiyakawa had some kind of strained family background that’ll humanize him and make him less of a tool?
There’s likely some stuff we still don’t know about him. Like we’re only allowed glimpses of it, but he’s clearly had a strange upbringing coming to terms with his spiritual powers (his sexuality?) and the fact that he’s not all that great with people. He’s also money-motivated despite already making quite a bit of it, as pointed out earlier. And early we discover that the way he senses ghosts (and people?) is even more existentially horrifying than anything Mikaido has seen, despite not being afraid of them.
Also as the rule with any story, I find that the less we’re told directly about a character, the bigger the skeletons they keep shoved in their closet. I’m talkin’ some people who went and bought that 12ft baby from Home Depot last year and instantly regretted it types. Assuming they didn’t rock it on their yard all year round.
I question the decisions of a person who needs that much baby in their lives.
At any rate, I walked away from The Night Beyond rather unimpressed. The simple visuals weren’t much of a factor, I’ve watched workmanlike shows before. But the innuendo between Mikado and Hiyakawa was on-the-nose and a little trite. Like, Twittering Birds Never Fly at least had the balls to have yakuza getting spit-roasted in an alleyway. I’m not saying The Night Beyond needed hardcore pounding, but the twee “Oh dear, isn’t this a compromising situation!” setups are kinda bland. Are these men gay or not? Kindly don’t waste my time, I’ve got gayer things to watch.
Mikado’s interactions with Erika quickly become a highlight if only because it’s something concrete to go off of that isn’t euphemisms and also holds a mirror up to each character. The show is only half-over, so this potentially marks the point where this show finally grows the beard, as it were.
I thought it was fine but I also felt like something was missing, I’ll also note that I heard good things about the manga, and even checked out a bit of it through SuBLime
and I think the anime could’ve done a lot more to adapt the story and the character designs. As it is, it feels pretty loose and it glances over a lot of material including some important details about the character relationships that could come off as unsatisfying if you were already an established fan of the source material.
And deep inside, I keep glancing at the parts of what could belong to a better show. There’s some cool elements here that provide window for one that could live up to it’s greater potential. But the current view is very muddled by poor execution and lack of a bigger picture.
Like I said earlier, The Night Beyond feels a bit too much at times like a random-events-plot where Mikado gets dragged into a new supernatural curse to investigate while Reigen hawks spoopy Bitcoin at people. Maybe give it a look, it’s not too late for the show to turn it around.
If you’re like me and want to get a little more of the story beyond what the anime has to offer, it’s never too late to read a goddamn book by checking out the manga!
Ah yes, the most horrifying thing of all: English Lit
If anything, I have this show to thank for offering me another Anime Denny’s of Sadness to add to my collection! It goes right next to Scum’s Wish
. Nothing good ever happens at a Denny’s. Truly the most cursed places of all. Stay haunted, folks!