When looking around for something new to try each season the genre tags help me narrow the selection at least those anime I’m most likely going to enjoy. So The Night Beyond the Tricornered Window with its boys love tag paired up with horror, mystery and the supernatural definitely had me intrigued and willing to give this one a go.
And in fairness, all of those genres are indeed on display here however the problem is that the cook had all the right ingredients but didn’t know how to assemble them into something palatable.
The Night Beyond the Tricornered Window is an exercise in how not to bake your story.
Watching The Night Beyond the Tricornered Window actually ends up being quite the frustrating experience because there are some really interesting ideas underlying the narrative. The various psychic characters with a range of abilities could have been really solid and I would still love to actually learn more about the rules and fundamentals of their abilities but unfortunately the anime isn’t willing to share.
Even in the final episodes as characters seemingly pluck new skills out of nowhere there doesn’t seem to be a consistent rhyme or reason for what they can do and when they can do it so instead of the plot being resolved satisfactorily we’re left with the power of emotions and characters simply telling us what they are doing but not how or why. It’s somewhat less than satisfying.
Which is so unfair when you have protagonist Mikado seeing spirits and as the series progresses purifying negative energy. What else he can do and how strong he is has yet to be determined but exploring that could have made for a really fun series.
You also have Erika, a girl who has been taught to curse others and who essentially invites dead people inside her and then uses their energy to fuel her curses (and whatever else she decides to do). Again, really potentially intriguing idea and character but utterly underutilised here in The Night Beyond the Tricornered Window.
And the lacklustre characters could have been accepted if the plot had been driven enough to keep us focused on the events rather than the people and yet early episodes have middling ghost investigations which on the surface work well enough but lack the drama and tension of something that truly knows how to tell a ghost story, like Ghost Hunt. As plot threads come together with Mikado and Erika’s stories being linked through the same mysterious individual that could have worked but ultimately I still couldn’t tell you what the antagonist even wanted or how he was beaten other that ‘just cause’.
Then we have the boys love elements. With more recent titles like Given showing the anime world that boys love doesn’t necessarily have to fall back on tropes of possession, violence and potential assault, early episodes of The Night Beyond the Tricornered Window are far more reminiscent on the opening episodes of Junjou Romantica and the innuendo is intense and just really off-putting because there’s very little romantic about it.
Worse, is that it takes nearly half the season before Mikado actually calls Hiyakawa out on his behaviour. They possibly could have pulled off the scenario if Mikado had in any way made it clear that Hiyakawa’s behaviour wasn’t acceptable earlier and yet for a good three or four episodes Hiyakawa forces himself into Mikado’s soul and uses him as he pleases for his spiritual work all the while uttering lines that are far beyond cringe worthy and feel like they belonged in a totally different era of entertainment.
And then, even though the story relies on ‘The Power of Love’ in the end to save the day it is really hard to understand why these two have any relationship at all because no effort is put into building the pair up as people.
So yes, I definitely like the idea of The Night Beyond the Tricornered Window much more than I liked any of the execution. What makes it even worse is that even now that the anime is over, I still want more episodes just so that maybe it has a chance to actually start doing something with all the great elements that are already there. Just use them properly.
But that’s kind of wishful thinking.
This is an anime that utterly squandered its potential and while I would love to see the ideas of this story reimagined in a different package, The Night Beyond the Tricornered Window is done. I cannot say I recommend it unless you really want to see how to undercook a story.
Images from: The Night Beyond the Tricornered Window. Dir. D Iwanaga. Zero-G. 2021.
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