Review: Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon

Hey guys, sorry for the late post, I couldn’t access Moar Powah for the last few days due to some DNS issues. Anyway, on to the review!

I think what interested me about this show originally was the main character's extremely derpy face. I'm not even joking here.

Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon, or Horizon on the Middle of Nowhere, is an extremely weird show. It’s an adaptation of a series of novels that are some serious doorstoppers (for reference, that’s Index there on the left). In addition, it’s by Sunrise (since when have they ever done light novel adaptations?), and it’s set in the framework of a massively complicated universe spanning multiple series by the same author. So all in all, Horizon itself is nothing to sneeze at: it’s very complex, even borderline convoluted. However, in this complicated mess lies an actual gem of a show.

The plot can be a massive headache for the uninformed and inattentive. I think this is one of the few shows that deserves at least a partial synopsis, as the show doesn’t bother to go into much detail regarding the backstory; it expects you to know what’s going in. Well, to start with, humanity once got to the point where it could travel into outer space easily, but due to unexplained circumstances, they were forced back to Earth, which is now largely uninhabitable save for Japan. In order to compensate for the lack of land, humanity uses some advanced technology to create pocket dimensions for people to live in, while the Japanese stayed in the original Japan. Humanity, trying to find a way back into outer space, starts recreating history by following the Testament, a sort of holy scripture. However, in 1413 of the Testament Era (which matches our A.D.), the pocket dimensions collapse and all the people there invade the original Japan, dividing it up into feudal states not unlike how Japan was divided up in the Sengoku period. Luckily, humanity still manages to continue following the Testament unabated, until 1648, which happens to be the last year in the Testament, when rumors of the Apocalypse springing up. This is when Horizon starts.

Now, in all honesty, I can’t admit that what I just described is anything but convoluted. However, the series is pretty interestingly written to allow for a ton of historical comparisons. For instance, all of the nation/political groups are “assigned” Sengoku-era clans. This means that one can reasonably speculate what happens based on what happened to the clans in history. At the same time, all the countries are trying to follow Eurasian history, and as a result of this crisscross, you get some really interesting scenarios. Does this mean that only people who know a lot of history can appreciate the show’s plot? Not at all. There are a quite a few political debates, and I don’t mean it in the traditional sense: what’s interesting to note about the debates in this show is that they sort of mirror the entire political system (which I won’t point out, because that’s something I’d rather have the viewer find out on their own). While the logic can be quite weird, in universe, it just happens to work out nicely. Speaking of politics, there’s a ton of political discussion in this series too: one of my favorite discussion topics in the show is sovereignty: Horizon goes really in depth into the meaning of sovereignty, and what a sovereign nation can do, allows, can’t do, and can’t allow. What else does the series have? Tons of action (some of which combine powers that shouldn’t normally coexist in a universe!) and a generally gripping and emotional tale, too. However, the series is still pretty convoluted precisely because of these elements. The sum of all these elements, in my opinion, actually brought down the show’s plot, as it seems like they threw in a lot of elements that just seemed cool, rather than trying to make all these elements fit cohesively (though there is a certain appeal in that). Still, despite the mess, Horizon’s plot is a damn good one.

Something like this is par for the course in this series. I know you find this a lot in games, but when something ridiculous like this is a normal battle in the series, all the ideas can get to be a bit dissonant.

While I did like the characters a fair amount, there’s no real depth to a lot of them. While the main character is an infinitely entertaining character with an empathetic background, and the female lead’s circumstances are also rather unique, most of the characters have no real depth to them, and are probably little more than outrageous tropes and stereotypes, in some cases. Each character, fortunately, is at least pretty unique, except for one particular case I had trouble with in the beginning. I found it really hard to forget what some of the cast did when they showed up, even if some of these characters aren’t particularly memorable. That being said, even if there isn’t a lot of substance to them, they’re very entertaining to watch, at the least. I should also point out that characters have relationships among themselves, aren’t all attracted to the main character like it’s some kind of harem, but that shouldn’t be a really praiseworthy point.

Many of them are also quite good at debating, like the Pope!

As always, I don’t have much to say about the art. Though there are some really cool design choices (like the derpy looking main character), most of the time, they just fit. However, I do like the uniforms. By taking some local country motifs and adding them to futuristic designs, we get uniforms that really reflect the level of technology they live in as well as small cultural things. For once, however, I don’t really have that much of an opinion on the mechanical designs, either. I’m really ambivalent about them, as they’re not appealing nor unappealing. The animation, luckily, is solid: there is nothing in the way of stock frames, many of the scenes are fluid and dynamic, there’s often never a lack of interesting things on screen, and the fights are pretty well animated (though they have a tendency to be confusing at times). Overall, Sunrise did a pretty good job animating Horizon, as it’s usually a visual treat.

The music in Horizon is actually decently good, and somewhat memorable, too. What’s great about the music, however, is that it’s very much a situational soundtrack. It fits very well in the context of the show, luckily: in fact, the music couldn’t serve as a better compliment. The theme songs are also pretty good, though I’m more of a fan of the second ending theme over the other two. The voice acting is pretty convincing, especially from the two main characters: Jun Fukuyama does a really great job, and Minori Chihara, while not as good as Fukuyama, still does a good job. There are plenty of sound effects, too, seeing as how this series has an immensely large scale, so that’s a plus. Overall, the sound is a really good complement.

Rating Breakdown
Horizon's plot is very complex, with a ton of great elements thrown in. While the over-inclusion of so many elements hurt the overall plot, it's still pretty great.
While there is a very large cast, not many of them get much, if any, characterization and development. Luckily, many of them are still pretty entertaining, if one-track.
The art makes some really interesting choices, but for the most part, it suffices.
The animation is very solid, with very few stock frames and fluid scenes, Horizon is almost always a visual treatment.
The sound, with its great, situational music, memorable theme tunes, good voice acting, plenty of sound effects, serves as a great compliment to everything else.
While Horizon has a lot of great ideas, the combination of all of them creates a small mess, with a somewhat convoluted and a large cast of characters that are somewhat undeveloped. However, despite all that, Horizon is still pretty good, as all of its ideas are interesting entertaining.
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A mad scientist who's so cool!


A mad scientist who's so cool!

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