Back again with another Afterword. I’ve been following the second season of this show religiously for a few weeks now and that gave me the push I needed to go rewatch the first season (this time in blu-ray!). When Horizon S1 initially aired, I followed the show, but it didn’t seem to hook me. There was tons of world building, but the show lacked something. Looking back now, I can say perhaps it was not missing something, but rather I was the one missing the understanding needed to enjoy such a well crafted show.

The wiki thing:

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 begins to spread when the Testament stops revealing what happens next after 1648. Taking advantage of this situation, Tori Aoi, head of Musashi Ariadust Academy’s Supreme Federation and President of the student council, leads his classmates to use this opportunity to regain their homeland.

It’s hard to properly discuss Horizon without first talking of its world. Minoru Kawakami has crafted an immense world chock full of sci-fi and fantasy elements mixing together with history. The result in anyone elses hands may very well be chaos, but this is carefully crafted chaos at its finest. The world of Horizon is highly advanced, with fascinating and charming technology that looks both old fashioned, while also futuristic, with weird and wonderful elements. The systems used in the world seem to operate in various complicated manners, but in a way, one of the strengths of Horizon is the lack of explanation when it comes to this technology, instead leaving it as merely another part of this futuristic world.

Too many series have significant amounts of exposition, with explanations cluttering too much of the content. There are times when simply leaving them as part of the world, adding another visual element to the series, adds significantly more than explaining the inner-workings of each individual component. With this in mind, the action and fighting in Horizon incorporates elements of magical realism, with the idea that there are many ways to fight and win: through physical prowess, economics, politics, and even oratory. Horizon underlines the need to have skillful orators, politicians, and tacticians as well as powerful warriors in order to win a fight; lack any one of these and you will lose not only the fight, but potentially your life as well.

At its core, Horizon is a story of pain, love, and forgiveness, where the main characters take the duty of transforming the world onto their shoulders despite overwhelming odds. The primary characters are engrossing, especially Tori, a character who may play the fool, but it far from being a fool. He has the charisma and ability of a true leader, someone who inspires everyone they meet, someone who people will follow no matter what the cost. He is able to go unnoticed by the greater powers in the world of Horizon largely due to his personality. Leaders such as the Pope dismiss him as a fickle, silly high school boy with no knowledge or understanding of the real world, which is essentially part of his genius.

But more than this, he is willing to put his life on the line for those that follow him. Unlike the other leaders he continuously gambles and plays with his own life as if it were nothing. This is an element of his character that may be overlooked: his inability to fully forgive himself for killing Horizon. His actions and use of his own mind and body as a catalyst to power up those that follow him can in a sense be viewed as his atonement for the crime that he has committed. This in stark contrast to his bubbly personality, and it is almost impossible to think that such a happy character with all the abilities of a leader can think of his own life in that way.

In Horizon the central premise is that of rejecting the status quo, and deciding that the only way to truly live is to do things yourself. Toori loves Horizon and rejects the notion that she will bring about the next apocalypse; instead he suggests that such fear is merely used as propaganda by the Testament Union to maintain control over the world.

The political subplot adds a further aspect of depth to the series as well, with the notion that while Musashi may be a flying city state, it is not truly free, and is instead consistently harassed and controlled by other powers who fear it. There are certain Machiavellian aspects to this story, and the power of the individual city-states, along with the constant political shuffling, not only within the Testament Union, but also within Musashi itself helps to demonstrate the complex and powerful nature of Tori’s decision. What I particularly liked about this aspect of the series was the way in which the plot managed to match the Machiavellian politics of this world with a romance that is condemned by the other powers as heretical and dangerous. Tori is a brilliant, and in a sense, somewhat devious character, one who decides to fight the world for the one he loves and drags everyone else along for the ride due to the power of his personality and the charisma that he embodies.

Horizon was a series that many either ignored or dismissed as ridiculous, with an incomprehensible plot to anyone who had not read the light novels upon which it is based. It is a fascinating series, and while there are still a number of problems largely due to the way it has been adapted, there is far more to it than meets the eye. It is a story with many influences, and many ways of viewing it. It is far from a guilty pleasure and has more to it than at first meets the eye; furthermore, while the story may be incomprehensible at first, it is at its heart a simple story of love, loss, and the wish to have a better life.

This is a tough series to recommend for most anime fans. But for those who love rich worlds and aren’t afraid of complicated storytelling, the combination of the two is nearly unmatched in most any series released in the last decade. I wholehearted recommend that you give Horizon a proper chance, it took me two viewings to fully appreciate its beauty and given the same chance, it may very well solidify itself a spot in your heart as well. Like an unpolished stone, it is a series that many will glance over and never look back to, but the few that do will undoubtedly find themselves a diamond.

5/5 (100%)