Nao ToyamaTsuyoshi KoyamaHiroki YasumotoEmi Nitta
Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere II
Also known as: Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon II
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2012
Director: Manabu Ono
Original creator: Minoru Kawakami
Actor: Jun Fukuyama, Minori Chihara, Ai Matayoshi, Ai Shimizu, Ami Koshimizu, Aoi Yuki, Ayuru Ohashi, Chiwa Saito, Daisuke Hirakawa, Daisuke Ono, Eiji Miyashita, Emi Nitta, Hiroki Yasumoto, Jouji Nakata, Kaori Nazuka, Kei Shindou, Ken Narita, Kenta Miyake, Mai Nakahara, Marina Inoue, Masaya Onosaka, Masumi Asano, Megumi Toyoguchi, Miho Yamada, Minako Kotobuki, Minoru Shiraishi, Mitsuaki Madono, Miyuki Sawashiro, Momoko Saito, Nao Toyama, Naomi Kusumi, Natsuko Kuwatani, Nobuyuki Kobushi, Rie Tanaka, Rika Morinaga, Ryoka Yuzuki, Ryoko Shintani, Ryoko Shiraishi, Ryota Takeuchi, Sho Hayami, Susumu Chiba, Taiten Kusunoki, Takashi Kuroda, Takehito Koyasu, Tetsu Shiratori, Tomokazu Sugita, Toru Ohkawa, Tsuyoshi Koyama, Yoshihisa Kawahara, Yu Kobayashi, Yui Horie, Yukari Tamura, Yuko Sanpei, Yuuji Takada
Keywords: Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere, anime, SF
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: Season Two, 13 episodes
Url: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=14205
Website category: Anime early 10s
Review date: 13 June 2016
I enjoyed it. I think it's quite good. Feel free to boil me in oil.
Going all the way back to Season One, I reckon this is a decent show once you've got past the first six episodes. It could surprise me, in a good way. However you'd have to be insane and/or a bastard to recommend it to anyone, because normal people will probably claw their eyes out before reaching ep.7.
It seems horrible, but it's actually quite good. Well, in Season Two, anyway. Let's go through this show's problems and explain why I was able to live with them!
1. TRYING TO TELL 1000000000000 EPISODES' WORTH OF STORY
In fairness, one sees often this with modern anime. Producers find something good to adapt, but the industry doesn't really think in 26-episode seasons any more. They exist. However they tend to be famous titles or something else that everyone expected to be a big hit. Leisurely anime adaptations are becoming an endangered species, so instead it's not uncommon to see entire novels compressed down to a scant handful of episodes.
That's a particular problem with this franchise, though, because the original novels are part of an epic SF universe that covers centuries of future history, the recreation of Earth, multiple power blocs, species, superpowers, weird technology and a cast of gazillions. The anime struggles with this. It did some thunderous info-dumping in the early episodes and even that wasn't enough. Even now, after watching two seasons, I'm still fuzzy on certain points. What's the point of recreating Earth's history in the future, for instance? It drives almost everything they do, but why? I think it's supposed to be an attempt to avert the apocalypse, but how? I don't get it.
(By way of example, I'll give some background. Musashi is a city-ship containing the original inhabitants of Japan after they were booted out by an invasion from the pocket dimensions two centuries ago. Everyone on the planet Earth is re-enacting history and they've got up to 1548, allowing for artistic licence. Musashi's government is comprised entirely of school students, as is laid down in its constitution, and their Chancellor is Aoi Toori, a perverted airhead who's often naked. In any and all circumstances, e.g. official meetings of state. His girlfriend is a robot doll containing the soul of a dead friend from ten years ago, whose emotions were stripped away from her and used to build eight global superweapons based on the Seven Deadly Sins. Don't ask. They're called the Deadly Sin Armaments. Her name's P-01s/Horizon Ariadust and she doesn't want her emotions back, but Toori has promised to go to war with the rest of the planet to get them back by force anyway. She often punches him in the crotch.)
Those are just two of the show's dozens of characters, by the way. Season One had a lot, then Season Two introduced more.
What's interesting, though, is that this is actually quite well handled. Season Two's arc is straightforward. Musashi visits Britain. That's it. All thirteen episodes are set in England, which is another flying city in the shape of the British Isles. Obviously they get involved in all kinds of trouble there, including the Spanish Armada, but at least we're being allowed to settle down and get to know what's going on.
Secondly, it's easy to tell all the characters apart. Just look at them! This show's character designs are outrageous, sometimes to the point of being offensive (e.g. bust size). Your eyes will pop. Petite women will have hair the size of a small helicopter, or be wearing robes that could shelter a church congregation. This makes them memorable. It's great to look at, but more importantly it allows the use of a monster cast without confusing the audience. It all looks so effortless that you might not even spot the trick.
Besides, some of the characters are pretty good. Sugundo is a lovely old gentleman and your heart has to go out to Juana. It's astonishing that Tenzo gets a romance, but it's both important and sweet. Even when some of these many people only pop up for occasional cameos, you'll generally know who they are and what those cameos mean in character terms.
Then we have the antagonists, which are one of the best things about the show. No one's Evil. During the mega-battle of the last few episodes, in which the show juggles a dizzying number of levels and combatants, everyone's a person. Villain figures are some of the show's strongest and most sympathetic characters, in fact. You might have a stronger emotional link with our heroes' enemies than with the heroes themselves, despite the fact that we know the heroes are going to win. (Some things are historically inevitable. Even the antagonists themselves know what's coming. They went into battle expecting to die.)
2. THE HISTORY
To some extent, this is a personal thing for me. I realise there was just as much history in Season One, but I'm less familiar with 16th century Japanese and Spanish history. Thus it wasn't doing anything for me, because it was going over my head.
Here, though, I know the history they're mangling. I'm British. (The mangling is okay. In fact it's funny, because it's a distorted SF view of history from the future, not the real thing.) Anyway, I recognise these names. It's an interesting experience. There are a lot of real people here, often quite obscure. The show is capable of showing off specific knowledge and imaginative comparisons, but at the same time going huge and ridiculous with such inappropriate recreations that you can only laugh.
I still don't buy the justification for the historical re-enactments, but even so they're dramatically powerful. They're the cause of much of the show's strongest emotion. Some people have to die. History says so. Everyone knows it. What are you going to do?
3. THE OFFENSIVE MATERIAL
The boobs like Polaris missiles. The groping. The sexual harassment.
It's got better.
The main offender was always Toori and he's far more palatable here. He's got a girlfriend and that's made a big difference to him. He's hard-working and supportive. He'll also be naked for entire episodes for no reason at all, but that's okay. It's an inoffensive, amusing way to characterise a happy-go-lucky pervert. (One doesn't get the impression that Tooi's doing it to get his rocks off, but simply because he's such an airhead that he forgets to get dressed.) I also enjoyed ep.12 making a joke out of everyone not wanting Toori to come and help because they think he'd just be annoying.
The bosoms are still terrifying, mind you. There's also more fanservice (e.g. the hot spring in ep.4), but for the most part this season didn't make me want to kill anyone. I strongly disliked the Romantic Boob-Groping Test in ep.11, but it's only a moment.
4. THE FIGHT SCENES
These are good.
Season One went out of its way to shoehorn in fight scenes when I wanted the show to slow down a bit. Here, they've got more story space. The last few episodes go completely apeshit, yes, but the rest of the season had enough build-up to earn it.
5. LUDICROUS PLOT POINTS AND OPAQUE LOGIC
Yes, Musashi still has a government of teenagers. Live with it. Personally, as it happens, I can. This is a ludicrous universe, as can be proved by looking at it with your eyes.
Slightly more problematic is the show's tendency to demonstrate its characters' cleverness by having them do or say something that we're being assured would be clever if we understood this fictional universe's contrived rules. Look, our heroes have done X, not Y! Followed by Z! Whoooooh! This doesn't mean much to an audience. However at least one gets the impression that this universe has indeed been thought through to that level of detail and that the show's just bad at conveying it.
I liked it. I'm even quite happy about owning the DVDs, although admittedly I didn't pay money for them. (They were a Christmas present.) It has some good jokes, some characters I care about and a pretty decent story that carries all thirteen episodes. I also personally got a boost from knowing more about this particular historical setting. I think it's worth a look. However there's almost no chance of getting normal people to watch more than a few seconds of it. They'll be repelled by the ridiculous cup sizes, brain-melting design choices, comedy perversion, supernatural elements, joyful disregard for reality and historical appearances, etc. It's the kind of anime that reinforces negative stereotypes about anime, but I enjoyed it.