A continuation of an already strange series, Horizon needs you to know the first season inside out otherwise you will be utterly confused. However if you are a fan of the first season, this adds a strange combination of continuing plot, fanservice, characterization and the ability to mingle in historical figures into the anime world…and somehow make sense. AND entertaining.
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 on 2 discs Special Features: Commercials & Teasers, Far East Enlightening Lectures 2-4, Clean Opening Animation, Clean Closing Animation.
Set up in both 2.0 English and 2.0 Japanese, I was actually surprised when I saw the fact it was an English 2.0 Track, not because of the fact there was no 5.1, but the fact that the audio track actually rivaled some 5.1 tracks I had to check the audio setup to make sure I wasn’t mistaken. A surprisingly good track with no real issues, both Japanese and English are very good releases as no situations where the track was out of sync, you just wonder how good a 5.1 track would have been. Set in fullscreen format, the video does lose some effect in terms of some elements of pausing, which caused some of the animation to look out of place. In terms of the actual playing of the episodes, no noticeable errors and very colourful and fast paced, but it was quite noticeable on the times I paused the show, otherwise fine.
Both menu focus on the new British monarch characters, with the first disc having a shot of Queen Elizabeth with a background picture in the bottom right of young Mary/Elizabeth, whilst the second release does a nice shot of a fanservice style Mary in her outfit in the final shot she causes to win the battle. Set on a white blu-ish background with a medieval style menu on the right with Play All, Episodes, Set Up and on Disc 2, Extras. Static, but colourful, they do get to the heart of what the main story is whilst introducing new characters – no problems or delays in selection from the main menus, sub menus or reverting to the menu from the show itself.
There are quite a few extras on Disc 2, albeit they are mostly small, but a few unique ones.
We have some teasers which are basically clips to the opening song from the show as teasers for the release, whilst in the later teaser the voices from the characters do explain some of the things going to happen. We also have some Blu-Ray commercials with intros with some of the characters (Tenzo, Horizon, Tori) and also the textless opening and ending.
The more interesting extras are three short segments totaling just under half an hour called the Far East Lightning Lectures: These are segments with characters from both the Musashi and from England discussing the world of Horizon and their characters…done in visual novel style. So yes, it gets silly but actually does explain a lot of things to new viewers about the world Horizon inhabits, explaining some of the ins and outs of Musashi, about some of the characters and the cast as chibi form turning it more as a strange comedy, from discussions to what ghosts are made of to what the mice are fed on to Nate’s hair, to both canon and silly reasons the battles don’t follow historical accuracy, and of course the inevitable perversion jokes. Very silly but if you’re struggling with what the characters are in Horizon, it’s actually surprisingly informative. And if you are familiar with everything…seeing poor Tenzo be verbally abused is hilarious.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Horizon is one of those series that has an extremely interesting premise which kind of gets lost in its own ideas due to the amount of characters it has. The sequel is a continuation of the first series – in the idea that the Musashi is trying to reclaim its original homeland, with the Tres Espana battles continuing and England also getting involved, which basically means you have to have watched the original season to make heads or tails otherwise the first episode will completely lose you, with little to no background on what is going on or indeed who the whole cast of characters are.
It does focus a bit on the main plot of the Musashi trying to reclaim its homeland from the Testament Union, but the focus on the characters through the second season is a lot more varied. For example, Tori and Horizon are not actually a huge focus on the series, and a lot more attention goes to a number of the other characters and some new ones in the English fleet. The English fleet is considered neutral in the battle between the Far East and the Espada, but as their land is being invaded, they begin to attack. The Musashi work out they can seek asylum in their area, and this begins focus on who I consider the main male protagonist of this series more so than Tori in Tenzo. In the first season, he was quite the perverted comic relief, and whilst that hasn’t changed he does play a big part in perhaps the most plot driven arc of the season, the revelation of the sisters Mary and Elizabeth in England…
Whilst the students do stay in England and help out whenever they can, the underlying plot of the first season continues with Tori calling the shots (despite being naked most of the time) whilst trying to get Horizon to get her emotions back via claiming the Mortal Sin Armaments. Tenzo meanwhile meets with a mysterious female warrior named Scarred who seems to wish to be against the queen of England’s plans – which is basically to make the Musashi bow under her will. To do this, she sends various warriors from her fleet – one early incident is in episode 2 where we get a plot point of Toussaint, the secretary of Musashi’s council getting into a fight with fellow writer, Thomas Shakespeare (a lot of the English characters unsurprisingly are take offs’ of well known people of English history) which causes her to be cursed in that she cannot be near Tori otherwise she will attack him to kill. Scarred meanwhile reveals herself to be Mary, a woman who is considered a traitor to England and sister to Elizabeth, the queen. Tenzo and she surprisingly hit it off outside of comic relief where it is an interesting relationship considering Tenzo’s rather perverted tendencies towards blond big breasted females (which Mary is) yet being very nervous and chivalrous at the same time.
A lot of the characters are involved fortunately despite being relegated not to the sideline, but due more to the sheer amount of characters added, which is a bit of a weak point of the series. Malga and Margot, for example, our favourite lesbian duo, are not involved in much (Malga spends a lot of the time being beaten and trying to see if she can be strong for her), Nate – another personal favourite is also on the sidelines a fair bit. With so much going on, it is at least good that the main plot which seems to be Mary as a traitor to England against Elizabeth at least is focused on, especially when the Espada comes on as it appears to be a battle replication of the Spanish Armada, and thus needs to execute Mary – Tori won’t have any of that and decides that the Musashi must fight the Espada whilst Tenzo intends to protect Mary. Whilst there are fun and hijinx aplenty through the series (ranging from festivals to girls hiding in robotic chambers to escape whilst the male guards think they are doing…ahem…other stuff…), the key plus to Horizon is the battle sequences.
There are a lot of fun battles, both visually and psychologically (Toussaint’s battles with Shakespeare are among the most interesting as Shakespeare tries to break Toussaint both physically and mentally in various episodes before Touissant gets the intelligence and resolve to break through Shakespeare’s words) – the planning for the Musashi getting as many characters involved in some small way (ranging to Tori’s sister Kimi, Futayo Honda with her amusing way she interprets the word ‘sex’ to meaning something different…which causes embarrassment and anger to several people, friends and enemies alike, Masazumi who sadly doesn’t do as much in this season) along with their opponents (the character Gin who faces Honda is intriguing, as we see bits of her past relationship with Muneshige of the Espada) – however it is also the series biggest weakness, in that so much happens that in all honesty I had to be reminded who some of the characters are and looking into research, because it has been a while since I saw the first season and whilst the main arcs and ideas of the plot are told well, because so many characters are involved, it was very confusing at times.
One thing I did enjoy was the use of Excalibur as a Sin (Excalibur Collbrande) and how Tenzo becomes more than just a comic relief character. The actual romance is actually surprisingly well done between him and Mary, and whilst he does have his moments, he is very humble and noble throughout. Elizabeth as a villain of sorts really seemed to be a bit weak but at the same time the focus on what was important to Mary and indeed to Tenzo in saving her was well done. However, the original plot of Tori focusing on using the Armaments to get Horizon’s emotions is actually put aside for a lot of this season. In fact, it is pretty much only mentioned about 4 times and only got put into focus right at the end of the series. Hence why again this is a series you need to have watched the original at first otherwise you are going to get very confused. It does however have a very nice ending and sets up another potential sequel (with it being based on several light novels the potential is definitely there)…
This review isn’t as full knowledge mainly because the plots whilst focused, also seem to be over the place – at least the characters are. It is simple – if you’ve seen the first season and liked it, you will enjoy this. If not, you won’t, and if you for some reason wanted to try this season first, it will simply confuse you. Even watching the first season it can be confusing especially with the addition of the English fleet and the fact that Horizon herself isn’t really the main focus of this arc. However, for just a battle anime with some fanservice, and some interesting characters, then you could do worse.
Horizon Season 2 is justified as a sequel because it carries where the first season leaves of and does what it does best – some colourful and entertaining battles, and the re-enactment of the Spanish Armada was excellent with its new twist of Musashi being involved. The romance with Tenzo and Mary was actually quite sweet and whilst minor, the plot of Tori/Horizon is not actually forgotten. However it does feel like a whirlwind went through and there was so much to get through that not one real focus made it stand out. As such, it’s enjoyable and a decent sequel, but you may have to get through it a few times to make heads or tails out of it.
Content Grade: B-
Video Grade: B-
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: October 21st, 2013
Running Time: 325 minutes
Review Equipment: Playstation3, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.