What They Say:
Taking advantage of the opportunity that the Mikawa Conflict provides, Tori and his comrades attempt to rescue Horizon from the Testament Union. But even as the Floating City Musashi speeds towards its next destination, the Floating Island England, Tres Espana is preparing its own armada for war against the British Islanders.
Now, as the quest of Horizon’s emotions builds to its climax, Tori’s new battle is about to begin in the land ruled by the Fairy Queen! The reenactment of the history described in the mysterious Testament continues as the secret of the Armor of Deadly Sins is unleashed!
Contains episodes 1-13.
The audio presentation for this series is definitely well done as we get the original Japanese language in stereo as well as the new English language adaptation, both of which are encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The show has a strong blend of dialogue and action, action that goes pretty big at times, and it handles it quite well. With it being just a forward soundstage design, it works it quite well as there’s a good sense of placement and depth with the way the attacks go, resulting in some very fun scenes. The dynamic is strong and the mix captures it well. The series also handles the dialogue very well, which is important since there’s a lot of characters talking at a time and plenty of back and forth material. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2012, the transfer for this thirteen episode TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1..78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The show is spread across two discs with nine on the first and four on the second, which is also where all the extras are. With animation from Sunrise, the series has a very, very strong visual design to it with a lot of fluid animation and detail that really is quite impressive. The bitrate for it is naturally all over the map at times, dealing with the static scenes well while hitting up to the max bandwidth on some of the big high impact scenes with things happening. The color design for the show is very good as well and the transfer captures it quite beautifully throughout, though there are scenes where there is some source banding going on that doesn’t devolve into a lot of blocking and noise. There’s a whole lot to like with this series with how it looks and the transfer is pretty much a strong payoff for it.
The packaging for this release is quite good as we get a standard size Blu-ray case which ties in decently with the artwork here. The front cover gives us the Fairy Queen in all her armored glory looking down at the viewer with a mix of reds and whites for the background that ties it all together. The logo along the top is kept simple but effective and there’s a good color balance with it in how it blends things. The front cover is definitely very eye-catching with how it stands out without being garish. The back cover is a bit darker though, as it does night time shades of red along the top that turns to white as it gets further down. The top half has a good summary of the premise that’s fairly easy to read and there’s a good mix of shots from the show and character artwork that shows off its fun side and action side. The discs extras are clearly listed and we get the standard heavy chunk of production information. The technical grid along the bottom is clean and easy to read with the black text on white background that covers everything accurately. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for this release is very nicely done as it works the main static image well with different pieces of character artwork along the right which is set against a background of reds and whites similar to the front cover that all goes towards the obvious horizon. The colors look great here and the detail stands out really well. The navigation is all along the left as we get the episode numbers and titles aligned vertically that are clear and easy to read while also doubling as a pop-up menu. Language selection is a breeze and the extras on the second disc flow well. The disc defaults to English with sign/song subtitles rather than our players’ language presets.
The extras for this release are all on the second disc and it’s largely filled with familiar pieces. We get the clean opening and closing sequences as well as a collection of commercials and the original promos for the series. We also get a five minute extra that’s done similar to a visual novel game in which two of the characters describe the way the Musashi ship is actually eight ships and the way they all carry different functions. It’s cute but feels like it goes on for just a bit too long.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the first season of Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere, it was a series that I found was just some beautiful insanity as it played out. Introducing us to this world where people were reliving recorded history in order to figure out what the apocalypse was that happened is certainly different and it left me curious as to the reality of how it would work and the way that people’s lives would be molded to go through what had happened before. That season threw in a ton of characters though which made it pretty overwhelming to keep up with, but considering the way that season and this one is working off of some very thick novels and trying to cram it all into just a handful of episodes overall, it was no surprise that there was very little character to the characters.
With the second season, I find myself in much the same boat where I really love and admire the technical aspects of the show but have very little to connect with when it comes to the characters themselves, and even their situation. While we saw a lot going on in the first season with Horizon and the rescue of her that stumbles into here, the show is moving away from Horizon being all that key of a player for awhile and it really feels like she has maybe a handful of useful scenes at best across the whole thirteen episodes that are here. Where the focus eventually settles on here, after a wide variety of incredibly choreographed action sequences, is that the Musashi has headed to the Floating Island of England where they want to strike a deal and alliance with them that will secure their plans and give them the resources they need. This takes many, many episodes to actually get to, but when we have the sequence where the Musashi representatives are going up against the Fairy Queen of England in order to come to an agreement, it’s fascinating to watch it unfold since they have to take into account the history they need to recreate and the way that what Musashi is doing could upset it, yet also find a way for it to serve each sides larger goals.
What drives some of the larger action drama in the season is that there is a war brewing in the 1648 year that this takes place in the Testament Era where England and Spain are about to go to war. That’s brewing in the background for a lot of it and it slowly but surely pushes its way into the foreground in a big way. This does, of course, expand the cast and there are some interesting connections to those on the side of England as it goes on. But mostly it’s just more large scale insanity across the board with the various weapons, combat spells and craft that are used alongside with so many unique styles of attack on the more personal character level. It plays out in just as grand a way as the events of the first season do and there’s a real beauty to it, but it’s like a war in the distance that you have no stake in and in that weird way just enjoy the beauty of it all.
When it comes to the character side, the prominent ones from the first season are more background – Horizon for example and Tori spends most of his time completely naked and just being a buffoon – but it also has one arc that really worked well for me and salvaged the show to some degree. With the arrival in England, Tenzo ends up falling for a woman that he knows only as Dame Scarred, only to discover that she’s Mary Tudor and is set to be executed at some future point. The two end up in quite the respectful relationship as it progresses and it’s really fun to watch how each of them deal with each other and their own quirks. It’s particularly difficult for Tenzo since he doesn’t want to upset the planned future history all that much, but as he gets to know who Mary is more and more and what her true role is along with the things that occurred between her and her sister the Fairy Queen, the more fun it gets to be. There’s also those early moments where he’s just following her in the tower and gets a very, very good view of her bottom and is just comical in how he narrates it. Not that you can blame him, they really do make the characters gorgeous here and allow some of them to show a real love of someone’s physique.
Horizon in the Middle Of Nowhere II is really what you expect, and extension of the first series with some new locales and an advancement of the larger plot. But like the first season, it’s also very light on connectable characters and a sense that it’s all coming together well. I did enjoy a lot of aspects of it when you get down to it, but I still very much feel like I’m watching the show from a distance rather than something that I can truly engage in. There is some subplot material here that does work very well for me, and some great dialogue moments, but there’s not enough connective tissue to make it work as a whole. Admittedly, I’d still be up for a third season of the show to see where else they can go with it. This set has some gorgeous animation and a real flair for choreography that just allows it all to work really, really well, but that can’t be the only thing that it can do right. There’s a lot of material here but the adaptation of the original work just can’t bring it all out.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Commercials & Teasers, Far East Enlightening Lectures 2-4, Clean Opening Animation, Clean Closing Animation
Content Grade: C+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: July 2nd, 2013
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78;1 Widescreen
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.