What They Say:
Osamu Mikumo is a member of Border, an organization designed to protect Mikado City the from alien invaders knows as Neighbors. One day a mysterious new student named Yuma Kuga transfers to his school and turns out to be a humanoid neighbor himself. The two are supposed to be natural enemies, but could there be more to neighbors than Osamu has bargained for…
Content (warning as portions of this review may contain spoilers):
The Invasion arc is still going strong and the material’s still paced pretty well. However while it’s still fine on that end, the arc is starting to run into a crucial problem that’s hindering the experience a bit. Mainly in that there are getting to be way too many characters to keep track of. It’s an issue that existed in the manga, and apparently one the anime wasn’t going to be able to really fix either.
The first of these two episodes doesn’t suffer as much from this issue as it mostly focuses on Chika and the Tamakoma squad. Chika hasn’t gotten to have too much spotlight in the show despite her being the heroine, and the situation she finds herself against the Rabits is one where she’d normally be expected to play the damsel in distress. However where things look like they’ll play out that way and she’s even told to run, she instead opts to take charge against her fear and strike at the Rabit herself. It’s a really nice character moment and one that breaks expectations a bit though some of the impact is taken away when Osamu finishes it off. Still, it’s a start and hopefully not the last.
The Tamakoma squad end up being the real stars of the episode as they step in to help deal with the rest of the Rabits. We get some cool info from it as it turns out that they have their own experimental modified Triggers and ones that allow them to fight like Neighbors. Whom speaking of which have special abilities of their own as the horns the humanoid Neighbors from Afrokrator have enhance their Trigger powers. What’s been seen of the Triggers displayed so far as been pretty neat but given that a lot of the characters across Border are expected to use the same types, adding in these elements helps to give a bit more variety which is always appreciated in an action series.
Sadly the problems with character pile-ups starts to occur in the second one where the humanoid Neighbors head out to battle the higher ranked agents, with Kazama’s squad fighting against one named Enedora. Kazama’s been sort of interesting for what’s been seen of him but his teammates have just kind of been in the background. Thus it’s sort of irritating when a good chunk of focus goes to one of them named Kikuchihara and his issues concerning his side effect. It’s a decent little story about him finding his opportunity to stand out thanks to Kazama noticing his talent but given the character’s gotten almost no real attention before it’s kind of jarring. All the more so when despite that focus, the Kazama squad doesn’t even actually defeat Enedora and end up having to retreat when Kazama gets taken out.
The fight itself is pretty good and Kikuchihara’s story does mostly tie into it but it’s something of an indication that the show’s cast is too big for it’s own good. An ensemble cast isn’t anything particularly hindering to a story and when done right it works really well but in this show’s case it can be really hard to keep track of who’s who. Almost to the point where you really do need the show’s over-insistence on character title cards in order to remember who everyone is among the side cast.
On the bright side, the show is still holding up decently on the visual front. The action scenes still cut corners but for the most part Toei’s been able to manage them well enough that nothing ever stands out as bad enough to ruin things and there’s a couple of good looking moments, though they’re pretty scarce. It also doesn’t look like the core part of the cast won’t be without much to do in the near future since things wrap up with Jin taking Yuma with him to try and prevent the vision of Osamu’s death he saw. However there’s a lot more of the side cast to go through too, and that may slow things down a bit longer.
This arc is still mostly hitting the right notes, though the show’s incredibly large ensemble is starting to catch up with it. It’s getting a but hard to keep track of the side characters and kind of frustrating to focus on them when they’ve barely had much screentime before them. Things still have quite a ways to go though, so it’s an issue that’s likely only going to progress.
Streamed By: Crunchyroll