Posted by psgels on 4 October 2012 with categories: Anime Reviews

Horizon had so much going for it. In this season of creativity, it fit right in with its premise, and all sorts of weird powers for each of its characters, its unique sense of combat and its huge back-story. Along the way though, something went wrong with me. What went wrong, and why did this happen?

The thing is, that even though I mildly enjoyed this show, I could hardly bring myself to care about it. I barely managed to finish this sequel without dropping it and each week I had to push myself to watch another episode. It’s not like the episodes themselves were boring: there was enough action and creativity to prevent that from happening and this was far from as generic as Tari Tari was. Still, there is something in the style of storytelling that just could not catch my attention.

The reason behind this is something that I’ve noticed in a few other Sunrise series as well (they’re the one who produced this series), mostly Gundam: the action overload. This show wants to try so hard to deliver action that it keeps on delivering as much action scenes as possible. These action scenes are well animated, and they involve interesting powers clashing against each other, but there is so much focus on them that this show forgets about everything else. The balance is completely gone!

The result is that among all these creative action scenes, nothing really stands out. This show starts with a scene, then moves onto the next and then the next again, without any of them making any impact beyond mild entertainment. It’s like having a 7-course meal in which every dish consists out of some variation of chocolate pie: sure it’s delicious and all, but it’s just way too much and too monotone.

A nasty side-effect of this is that this show also refuses to spend time on fleshing out its cast. Every scene has to make an impact or build-up for the action, and we hardly ever get to know the cast beyond a few comedic skits that do very little in giving them any kind of character to sympathize with. The majority of them are bad boob jokes anyway. And I mean, there is this romance subplot that feels forced at best, but that’s the most character development we see in this entire series.

Horizon is a show that does one thing really well, but instead of using the rest to support this, it just ignores this. The complete lack of any attention to balance just made me unable to care about what was going on. The plot and setting are saved by good source material, but in the end I just can’t recommend this show because of this.

Storytelling: 7/10 – Lack of balance: this show is just action, action and more action without anything to differentiate it inbetween.
Characters: 6,5/10 – Great ideas behind them and they really try to be likable, but this show doesn’t take that further: every character in this show is completely one-dimensional.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Very solid, albeit that the character-design style still look quite ugly.
Setting: 9/10 – This is where this show shines: a huge plot, creative powers. You can see that the original source material spent a lot of time in making this stand out.

Armed Librarians – The Book of Bantorra
Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto
Law of Ueki

17 Responses

  1. wicked says:

    needless to say I disagree with a lot. Characters on the Spanish side got a lot of development with their screen time, same goes for the witches, the wolf, the commander and the mechanic on the Musashi side. Horizon literally gains an emotion every season.

    Though compare to other light novel adaptations, this is one series that really hyper condenses a ridiculous amount. SAO gets 25 episode to get through 2 books, Horizon gets 13 to get through both books of volume 2 and each of Horizon’s books are 2-2.5 times the length of an SAO book

  2. dm00 says:

    Horizon has been one of my favorite series of those from the past couple of years — largely because of the creativity you mention. I can understand the complaints that the characterization is hyper-compressed, however. Even so, I think they bring an astonishing amount of life to each member of its astoundingly huge central cast. For many, that may divide loyalties too finely, so that, in the end, one may not care enough about any individual, or may not feel invested in the outcome of any particular conflict.

    I find myself invested in many of the characters (though not, particularly, in the putative central couple of Toori and Horizon — I think the series is wise to keep them in the background the way it has this season). Add that to the creativity shown in each episode, and I’m hooked. I love the way this show rewards repeat viewings, the way it is packed with subtle jokes that are simply there for you to notice, and otherwise made little of. With that, I’m a bit confounded as to what the over-arching theme of the show is, but I’m not sure I care: it seems to have enough mini-themes going for it.

    • dm00 says:

      It’s interesting to me that you suggest Armed Librarians — I finally picked that up recently, and as I watch it I do find myself comparing it to aspects of Horizon (mostly the world-building, the development of the large cast, the inter-weaving of multiple plot threads). I’m only a third of the way into the series, though.

      I’d consider suggesting Tatami Galaxy, though that is mostly because of the pacing and the way the plot weaves through the episodes.

      Also, Kyousogiga because of pacing and the fact that its alien world will take a while to understand.

  3. teelaelmes says:

    I don’t want to sound rude but you are mistaking the show not fleshing it’s cast for you not noticing it, svereal members of the cast got fleshed out in this season. Also you probably only noticed the action scenes and ignored the rest, as I see it, it was balanced well enough.

  4. Babel says:

    If nothing else, this show (and the season preceding it) requires new viewers to do homeworks before and after watching each episode to fully enjoy the content. I’m not saying this is a good thing. A story should stand on its own, but it is what it is. A lot of plot threads this season probably went by way over your head, and you lost some enjoyment because of that.

    If you venture out to other anime blogs, you’ll probably see comments about how so many episodes brought them to tears. That is not a coincidence. They just understood what the scene was about.

    What I don’t understand at all though, are your criticism about action overload. If anything, the show is smart in that the action scenes serve to develop characters and plot. Each fights always result directly in plot and character development. There are always a stake in each fights this season. Its just about understanding what those stakes are.

    Personally, Horizon is probably one of my favorite series in recent years. It asks a lot from its viewers, and rewards them just as much. Also, there’s something so wonderfully refreshing about watching fun and confident characters interact with each other with so very little angst. A rarity in anime.

    • Babel says:

      List of plot threads that are developed this season (without the boob jokes you mention). There’s probably more. This is just from the top of my head.

      – Toori convincing Horizon to give up logic and embrace emotions
      – Tenzou and Mary
      – Neshinbara and Shakespere-chan
      – Malga’s complex with Margot
      – Gin and Muneshige’s issues
      – Philippe and Juana’s issues
      – Mary and Elizabeth’s relationships

      There’s also a recurring motif with “scars” this season as well, and how they apply to different people. Try to apply the word to the different main characters this season (Horizon, Mary, Gin, Shakespere).

      ALL of these points are neatly developed and completed within this season alone. Now, some of them are quite rushed, but they are there to find. This is not a shallow anime.

    • wicked says:

      It’s not a series for people casually watching, but it’s a series that does make you want to find out more on your own

      • genius says:

        Horizon is a full frame that is why not enjoy it and not know anything monotoma horizon is rather a complex world where you see the negociacions, debates and how countries exposed their views on how to recreate the great battles of history.
        the characters take the names of the great kings, celebrities of that time to fulfill a specific role, but they are the same in the end choose the direction they want to take as did Tori, Horizon, Maria, Shakespere, Malga, Neshinbara, Gin, Juana and Felipe Elizabeth 2, etc.

  5. genius says:

    I was wrong to send the message well,
    and you’re right that wicked anime teaches you many things

  6. wakka9ca says:

    I still need to emphasize how anyone that is remotely interested in this series should either read the novel or read this:

    I mean both seasons were totally awesome in terms of the amount of details and dedication poured into it. The second season topped the first one because it was able to actually condense so much story in just 13 episodes… and in such a satisfying way. This is pure dedication from both the producers (thank you Sunrise) and the author.

  7. respectlost says:

    To criticize this anime without bothering to explore much more is seriously underrating this series. As some comments above have mentioned, this series has an information overload. I consider this the Lord of the Rings of the East, and it would require considerable time, effort and certainly capabilities to truly enjoy this series. The fine details included in this series just goes to show how dedicated the production team. To rate the likes of Mushishi, Kaiba, Armed Librarians as a 90+ series and this as a 76+ series just goes to show that you’re unable to digest multiple issues concurrently and the severe lack of attention and love in your life as reflected in your “insufficient character development” viewpoint.

    • psgels psgels says:

      No, it just means that I found this boring and my taste is different from yours. That’s a big difference. And this comes from a guy who loved Mouryou no Hako, so it’s not that I dislike show that discuss complex issues.

    • Hogart says:

      At a certain point, you have to get over yourself and realize this is supposed to be entertainment, not some grandiose introspective on the history of humanity. If it’s not entertaining someone, and they point that out, then taking offense at it is just ridiculous.

      Did the anime adaptation leave you with the impression that it was “The Lord of the Rings” of the east? If so then we were watching very different anime and I’d argue that you’ve got some incredibly thick rose-colored glasses there. I’m guilty of that kind of fan-ishness too, but you’re not winning anyone over by taking potshots at people who prefer Mushishi to this.

  8. Kamen Grinder says:

    Horizon 8/10
    Kokoro Connect 8.5/10
    KC higher than Horizon.
    Give up Japan, not making any effort is better received than actually trying to do something.

  9. Hogart says:

    I tried enjoying this, I really did. I even abstained from reading negative opinions, and read that huge page devoted to explaining season one better than season one actually did. And you know what? I’m even less inclined to read the novels now then if I hadn’t watched the anime. You can argue I have bad taste, but then I’d just argue this wasn’t trying to win any new fans.

    I wanted it to work so badly that I watched it with the most open mind I could give it, but with Horizon’s fanbase it really doesn’t need any more detractors. It’s an acquired taste, and the anime is for fans. If you’re lucky, you might enjoy it. If not, the fans won’t convince you that you’re missing out on anything.

  10. Kingkirin says:

    Should’ve make a recount on the score. Last time I checked, This anime is terrible. One, too many characters all mashed up into a cramped anime. Two, It’s logic has crumbled into dust just as the tower of babel’s logic foundation is turned into dust turning their form of logic into a muddled mess. I can’t understand what they are saying let along follow up with the nonsense of a story. Lastly, All the characters are so stupid that the characters in that nonsensical show should be placed along the lines of barbarians and unintelligent savages. Furthermore, Reenacting history while people inheriting the names of historical figures is stupid let alone sinful to abuse the names of famous figures of history. If the grading system is shattered, I would give that stupid show a quadruple F Minus.

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  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 07:58 AM)
    @Aidan: Something always feels off to me when you criticize clannad, I mean I’m critical enough of key these days too but it seems odd that you rank it as an 8 on MAL when you’ve always made it sound its more of a high 6 or a 7.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 03:45 AM)
    But I’m no fan of gung-ho soldier games/most fps games so I am glad clannad, a visual novel outsold call of duty.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 03:44 AM)
    I said it once I’ll say it again. I preferred the clannad movie over the tv series, had more style, a more mature feel to it and cut out all the superfluous arcs/comedy for the better. It also concludes better than the series. The emotional involvement in the kyoani version doesn’t work for me anymore, doesn’t hold up. However the film remains emotionally engaging after revisiting it.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 03:19 AM)
    Holy hell Clannad is selling like hotcakes on Steam. Even beat Call of Duty in sales at one point.
    Kinda happy to see a VN get recognised and it would help open up the market for more titles to come over. But..well..Clannad really isn’t all that great.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 02:29 AM)
    I can remember when I first got into anime when I was a whole lot younger I always said I would watch lodoss war, El Hazard and slayers, yet I never ended up doing so…
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, Nov 24. 2015 05:34 AM)
    Ha, the child in me would love to see a film like that I’d imagine, when I was young I was pretty crazy about Egyptian supernatural stuff.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Nov 24. 2015 05:23 AM)
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Nov 24. 2015 05:22 AM)
    @Kaiser: yeah, even tho it was his highest grossing movie it managed to brought his career to a stand-still. His next film Gods of Egypt looks like it could be fun, albeit it’s just as much as a CGIfest as I, Robot. Egyptian stuff is admittedly rather intriguing, I remember a 2004 French film Immortel ad vitam that blended that with modern themes that became popular for a while.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, Nov 24. 2015 04:50 AM)
    *remove second and
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, Nov 24. 2015 04:50 AM)
    @Bam: Regarding dark city, such a shame the director of that followed up dark city and the crow and with Irobot.

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