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AKA: 境界線上のホライゾン II (Kyoukaisen-jou no Horizon II)
Genre: Shounen sci-fi action-adventure
Length: Television series, 13 episodes, 23 minutes each
Distributor: Licensed by Sentai Filmworks
Content Rating: 16+ (nudity, pervasive fan service, violence)
Related Series: Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere (1st season)
Also Recommended: Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere, Ikkitousen
Notes: Sequel series to Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere, itself based on the light novel series by Minoru Kawakami, currently running in ASCII Media Works' Dengeki Bunko magazine.
Rating: Three StarsThree StarsThree Stars

Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere II

Synopsis

With Mikawa turned into a nuclear wasteland and the great powers on their heels seeking to control the power of the Mortal Sin Armaments, the students of Musashi Ariadust Academy have traveled to England seeking refuge. However, the Faerie Queen of England, Elizabeth has her own ambitions, and Toori Aoi and his faction find themselves fighting for their lives, right in the middle of the reenactment of the invasion of the Spanish Armada.


Review

Quick! Before you go any further, make sure that, if you haven't already seen the first season, you've at least read our review for it here.

Now that you know roughly what to expect, here's the good news: Toori Aoi spends far less time on screen as the focus character for this show, which is good because he's easily the most annoying member of the cast to a wide range of audiences. The bad news: he spends 90% of this season naked, for absolutely no good reason that I can fathom, though thankfully his naughty bits are censored, even in-universe for the other characters. They all have good reasons for putting up with his silliness, but he's certainly one of the stranger "crusaders for love and peace" anyone could imagine.

Thankfully, this series focuses primarily on the side characters, who are, by and large, more interesting and entertaining, even if they often seem to be little more than excuses for fan service (ie. the entire female cast) or entertaining magical combat gimmicks (Shirojiro Bertoni and his "mercantile power"). A fair amount of the second season is in fact something of a love story between one of Toori's subordinates and a "mysterious character" in England whose true identity should be readily apparent within about seventeen seconds. Horizon may come at the viewer like a fastball spat out of a pitching machine at max setting, but this is certainly a franchise that capitalizes on Sunrise's decades worth of bringing out the noisiest, liveliest shonen anime possible, and if that's your style, then you will enjoy this. It's telling that the few times that this show reverts to drama, it's about halfway likely to get seriously sidetracked into ecchi territory, but knowing what to expect from the first season makes it easier to swallow this time around.

There are still loads and loads of often extraneous characters, though - no, lolicon guy and curry guy still don't make any sense - and the introduction of new factions brings new pitfalls, like the undead skeletal priest Christopher Hatton who feels the need to end every single one of his lines with "DEATH!" (a pun that is particularly cringeworthy in Japanese, or any other language known to man), and possibly the least appealing gender-swapped characters I've ever seen: levitating, egg-shaped William Cecil and bizarrely frail and seemingly middle-aged Robert Dudley. (I am, however, quite amused by the "athlete-poet" Ben Johnson - an obviously purposeful conflation of poet Ben Jonson with disgraced Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson.)

While I respect and enjoy the cleverness and dumb fun of Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere, I also recognize that this is definitely a polarizing series of the greatest sort. There's no doubt that this series is chock-full of high-octane action sequences, but there are occasional directorial mistakes (the weirdest one being an obvious "power-up" scene near the end of the series without any followup whatsoever to showcase what's transpired). There are a fair number of annoying and outright frustrating characters, one of which is the male lead. Where often we would get too much exposition in the first season, we often seem to get too little in the second, or it's presented in such a way to incite facepalms. And yet I still enjoyed this for its energy, its liveliness, and its willingness to be just plain silly and stack Crowning Moments of Awesome end-over-end for no good reason.

Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere proves that quality and entertainment do not necessarily go hand in hand - it's never smart enough to ever be a great show, but I can't deny it's a lot of fun.

If you liked the first season, then you will enjoy this, and want more when it's over. Conversely, if the idea of remaking history by means of high-powered martial-arts and techno-magic duels seems pointless and extraneous to you, then this isn't going to change your mind.Carlos Ross

Recommended Audience: Toori is naked throughout most of this show, and while his front side is censored, his backside is not. There's also an inordinate amount of fan service with the girls (at times even made plot relevant). There's also a fair amount of violence, though dismemberments tend to be purely mechanical in nature (cybernetic parts, etc). Though younger teens might probably think this is the greatest show ever made, I'd recommend this to older teens and above with parental discretion.



Version(s) Viewed: crunchyroll.com stream, Japanese with English subtitles
Review Status: Full (13/13)
Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere II © 2012 Minoru Kawakami / ASCII Media Works / Horizon Committee
 
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