In the far future, humans abandon a devastated Earth and traveled to outer space. However, due to unknown phenomenon that prevents them from traveling into space, humanity returns to Earth only to find it inhospitable except for Japan.
To accommodate the entire human population, pocket dimensions are created around Japan to house in the populace. In order to find a way to return to outer space, the humans began reenacting human history according to the Holy book Testament. But in the year 1413 of the Testament Era, the nations of the pocket dimensions invade and conquer Japan, dividing the territory into feudal fiefdoms and forcing the original inhabitants of Japan to leave.
It is now the year 1648 of the Testament Era, the refugees of Japan now live in the city ship Musashi, where it constantly travels around Japan while being watched by the Testament Union, the authority that runs the re-enactment of history. However, rumors of an apocalypse and war begin to spread when the Testament stops revealing what happens next after 1648.
Taking advantage of this situation, Toori Aoi, head of Musashi Ariadust Academy's Supreme Federation and President of the student council, leads his fellow classmates to use this opportunity to regain their homeland.
"Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere" is a very difficult anime to describe.
It synthesizes humor, action, and romance together into a series where each element is an irreplaceable part of the dynamic and story. Because it combines many different elements together at once it can easily bewilder the viewer and leave them in a position where they have little clue of where it is going. For some this may be a significant flaw and hold back their enjoyment while for others it may pave the way for an interesting and unpredictable story. This is definitely not an anime for everybody.
The story begins in a
distant and somewhat bleak future. Humanity previously ascended into space but was forced back to Earth after fighting and warring beyond their limit, only to find Earth itself in an equally devastated condition. With Japan the only hospitable and habitable area remaining on Earth, humanity is split into the Harmonic Divine States where each administrative district is ruled by an individual country. It's then that humanity uses the Testament, a book detailing the events of past human civilization, as a guide to regaining their former glory by the means of reenacting human history. Unfortunately for the Far East—originally Japan itself— conditions are less than ideal as they are forced out of the country by the other ruling nations. A sizable portion of the Japanese refugees flee to the flying city ship "Musashi", which is where the story of the anime takes place.
"Horizon" boasts an interesting and unique array of characters, ranging wildly in terms of personality, appearance, and gender. Most notably is the protagonist Aoi Tori, a happy-go-lucky and heavily perverted teenager holding a strong preoccupation with erotic games and a propensity to grope the tender regions of the females around him. On paper this likely makes him seem a very annoying character but in the actual show his interactions with the characters are nothing short of hilarious and as the series progresses he develops into a genuinely likable character. His perversion is not so much a running gag as it is a defining and inherent part of his personality, one which makes him stand out more than any other character in the series. In a medium where bland self-insert protagonists are the mainstay, it’s a really great and refreshing thing to be able to see a protagonist with his own personality and a likable one to boot. It’s this behavior that also conflicts and contrasts well with the object of his affections, Horizon, a girl that he sets out at the beginning of the series with the objective of confessing his feelings to. Their relationship by the end of the series comes across as very endearing and heartwarming, something that would never be expected at first given the nature of his personality.
Dozens of other interesting and likable characters fill the rest of the story and create a sense of camaraderie. Most of the more important characters receive significant character development in proportion to the length of the anime, such as Suzu and her relationship and crush on Tori, and Tori's older sister Kimi and the past surrounding their relationship. Giving all of the characters sufficient screentime and developing them to any significant extent is difficult given the short length of the anime, but Sunrise does a good job of helping the audience at least feel connected to most of the characters on-screen with their own individual plights and teamwork as a group.
Unfortunately, the anime begins with very slow and inconsistent pacing which may initially put off viewers. Sunrise has personally admitted to the difficulty of adapting the early parts of the novel and it really shows in the first three episodes. While they aren't by any means bad episodes, they are definitely slow-paced and it takes a while for the anime to actually take off and set its feet into what makes it such an entertaining anime in the first place. After these episodes, Horizon really begins to shine and show what it does best, and that is the engaging action sequences and comedy between the characters. It’s a silly and lighthearted series where the characters fool and mess around in even the most climactic sequences but it never feels forced or out of place and the serious moments never fail to deliver either. These comedic traits in the characters are an inherent part of their personality and to remove that would likely lead to them feeling out of character and for the tone of the anime to sharply contrast in itself.
And for that reason, people that are expecting the anime to be serious and dramatic throughout are likely in for a world of disappointment. This isn't necessarily thought-provoking and there isn't an abundance of thematic depth to be found, but it’s rather simply an entertaining and amusing anime. If that’s something that you aren't personally fine with then you would be doing yourself a favor by avoiding the series.
Perhaps the largest flaw can be attributed to the complex and sometimes convoluted story. Aside from passing mentions and a few minutes of infodump during the credits of the first episode, the audience isn't left with much idea of the setting for the entire duration of the series. To have even a basic grasp of what is going on with the story it’s nearly mandatory to spend time online reading up on and researching the series. For a visual medium and an adaptation where reading the source material should not be a requirement, this is a massive detriment to the series. There’s no doubt that it would have been hard to convey all the details of the setting but I can’t help but feel like Sunrise could have done something a little more, even spending just a fraction of an episode to explain the basics to the audience. There’s some great worldbuilding here but it’s hampered by a convoluted and confusing presentation.
One thing that Sunrise should be commended for is the fantastic music used in the anime and the application of these tracks. A few of them in particular verge on stunning and they stand out almost immediately; and with the use of some tracks during the climax they essentially become a defining aspect of the series itself, being as irreplaceable as the characters and the setting. Whatever your disposition towards the anime, it’s nigh impossible to criticize the music.
Ultimately, the most important question in determining whether or not this anime is for you is quite simply this— do you enjoy silliness and are you willing to accept a story that you may not fully understand? While it’s certainly flawed in some significant ways, "Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere" is still a very entertaining anime that stands out from its competitors and has some fairly interesting details going for it. It’s unlikely that it will make its way onto your list of favorites or become something you remember for years and years to pass, but for what it is, it’s an engrossing and sometimes compelling series that should at least be given a try beyond the mostly lackluster and non-representative introductory episodes.
It's just unfortunate that so many people will choose to disregard a potentially great title based upon the first episodes.
This particular Anime started off on the wrong foot but in the end left me looking forward to the second season. The first four episodes are heavy handed and will be a challenge for some to get through. The best way to put it is, this Anime is set up like most Historical dramas are. The start of the storyline is about setting up the history for those who don't know anything about the history, because otherwise the viewer would find themselves confused.
However, unlike most Historical dramas just about any fan of Historical Fiction will be left in the dark because this particular show
creates its own history. Which is rather ironic because there is this constant talk about recreating history running through the entire show, yet it hasn't become clear to me yet which part of history they've been trying to recreate. This has left me wondering if we'll ever find out or if the characters only think they are recreating the history that is down in their books. Which would be a definite satirical about how people have tried to recreate history over the years.
The art work for the Anime is spectacular despite the fact the artist has a tenancy to exaggerate the female chest area. The drawings are filled with detail and there is a wide variety of character designs. You also have buildings that look very much like the historical buildings you would see in Japan mixed in with intricate technological designs. On top of this, the sound track for the Anime is beautiful, particularly when you get to hear Horizon sing.
The characterization is another place that people will find themselves struggling to get through during the first four episodes. In truth, the first four episodes are about setting the characters up. One ends up with snip-its of their personalities through out the first four episodes. When the plot begins to really unfold, then to do the characters begin to come out in their full capacity. Of course, a good deal of the male characters come across as perverts. On the other side the characters that tend to be this way are high school who are still learning about life which is interesting in its own regard.
As for my actual enjoyment, this is the kind of show that I enjoyed more after I finished watching it rather then during. It wasn't until after I finished that I could appreciate the complexity of the storyline and the elements that were chosen to be placed into the dynamic.
Horizon is the kind of anime I'm tempted to say isn't being made anymore, except that is evidently incorrect.
It is completely over-the-top crazy and wildly entertaining, and fails to fit in a neatly defined genre. The writing is pure genius and has carried over well into the anime which despite its complexity doesn't stop for long-winded explanations, but rather sweeps the audience away with the constant hands-on revelations about the structure of its world.
The production values from character designs to animation, voice acting and soundtrack are excellent and it's hard to believe this is a Sunrise studio production. It's fair to say that after
their long history of B-class titles this is their crowning piece.
The series provides immense re-watch value, and my only complaint is how short a single-cour season of it feels. Luckily the source material seems very long so taking into account the highly successful sales of season 1, there is a good chance the series will continue for a long time.
Should a story aim to be a self-contained little bit of perfection, merely outlining a small aspect of human existence – or should a story aim to contain the world? Should a work be self-sufficient and explain everything within its premises, or demand that a person experiencing it strive to reach its level by poring through setting details and whatnot before experiencing it? In both cases, Kyoukaisenjou no Horizon strove to be the latter. The sheer amount of information packed per episode is focused solely on aiming for that little explosive ‘wow’ factor that comes with its recognition – while the problem is whether the
experiencer’s mind is open enough to cede to that recognition.
The amount of expansive detail within the setting would do well to put any writer who aims to create ‘worldbuilding’ fiction to shame. Especially given that Horizon is one of the most politically intense Anime out there, maybe only behind Ghost in the Shell, Twelve Kingdoms and Legend of the Galactic Heroes. Of course, to even understand the importance of what’s happening on screen requires some flipping through exposition regarding the exact relationship between the countries within the fantasy metaphysical system created.
Is that a bad thing? Maybe bad in an economic sense, because it prevents newcomers – although at this point in time, the amount of fan articles on the net makes up for that. A plus to using a method like this is that exposition can be minimized within the narrative itself, allowing for things to be just as fresh upon rewatch.
In the end, Horizon teaches a very simple lesson that many people don’t realize when creating fiction like this. Structure is everything. It has taken so many adventure arcs from all sorts of works out there, so many methodologies from history, politics, and economics, so many cues from sports Anime, and even so many jokes from ecchi-comedy – but the structure is simply impeccable. The battles may be in so many different varied shapes and forms, from political debates to one on one battles to flying gunship battles, but Horizon understands push and pull (almost losing, then winning, then losing, then winning) so perfectly that it can catalyze the exact same sense of “FUCK YEAH” at the end of every single one of these by structuring multiple trajectories within a single over-arching path.
Even then, it isn’t without thematic support. The overexuberant youth and adventure in the face of ridiculously large adversity makes Horizon closer to Trigger’s Ideal of Anime even more than Kill La Kill. Simple romance stories are given the weight of kingdoms, and simple emotions are reflected a thousandfold into all of the characters. Horizon has no moderation, even while it has an intense logic to its method (take note that I said logic to method, and not to the setting itself) and, what else should you expect from art like this?
Horizon is the text-book for anyone who wants to learn, similarly for how Lord of the Rings set the standard for the genre years ago. It synthesizes all of its influences and opens up a new pathway for what should be written next. It’s a shame there are little who are willing to match Minoru Kawakami at this level – but there can only be hope.
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