The Night Beyond the Tricornered Window

3 out of 5

Directed by: Daiji Iwanaga

A fun, bizarre, fascinating bit of supernatural dramatics, sprinkled with BL elements. Unfortunately, the intersection of these different tones isn’t necessarily smooth, and the layering of the genre atop the series’ themes doesn’t quite come through.

Zero-G’s adaptation of Tomoko Yamashita’s manga, The Night Beyond the Tricornered Window, does a lot of things right by the source material: the stiff, fairly basic animation is actually a good representation of Yamashita’s open style, and chief director Daiji Iwanaga and writer Ayumi Sekine do a solid job of porting over almost all of the chapters, while keeping the pacing episodic and tight. The offhand humor of the work also comes across well. However, the experience of actually reading – setting your own pace, being affected by the way dialogue is presented – and the slight expansion on scenes and characters in the manga, make it a much more seamless and affecting work, transitioning from its overt innuendo to a more nuanced and contemplative take on relationships; the anime just can’t quite manage that nuance. So it starts pretty in your face with BL stuff, and then hits a hard switch to a mystery, and then hits another hard switch to a rather complex family drama. On the plus side, the writing within these sections is very consistent, and, in general, the dialogue timing and acting are all quality; it is the kind of show that feels like it could’ve been smoothed out, but that you’re also very open to rewatching, making the experience more seamless once you know what to expect.

Mikado (Nobunaga Shimazaki) is a nervous book store employee, who is in denial about his ability to see spirits. He’s forced – humorously, but then more troublingly as the relationship develops – into employment as a ghost hunter by Hiyakawa (Wataru Hatano), who can abolish said ghosts, but needs Mikado’s “vision” to more easily do so. Tricornered Window somewhat drops us into a case-by-case episodic structure for a while, but a recurring name – Erika Hiura (Chika Anzai), who’s responsible for a lot of cursed spirits the duo keep finding – turns things into a slightly more longform mystery, eventual leading to a complicated overlap of various curse / spirit-related abilities, and their implications.

The casual way the show sifts through this stuff makes it easy to watch, but also easy to get sort of overwhelmed with questions once you’re late into the season, making those rewatching a likely – but, as suggested, appealing – prospect. But the very fact that we wind up in such a complex spot from what started out as a kinda goofy, BL meet-cute is quite intriguing in itself, and though the transition to that has its problems, the show never feels like it’s without intention; that is, the depth is there at the start, you just can’t see it yet.