"I'm gonna go save you, but I want you to come to me, Horizon" -- Toori Aoi
What was suppose to be just a simple confession to the girl that he loves escalates to the beginning of a world wide expedition. Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon, a 13 episode anime series adaption from the first volume of the "light" novel with the same name by Minoru Kawakami, was arguably one of the most under-appreciated shows in the western audience during the 2011 Fall Season due to its insane amount of information in regard to its setting. However the series held strong throughout with its colourful characters, fantastic music, dynamic fight scenes, engaging dialogues, and several well directed moments.
The plot is simple; What was just another uneventful day becomes disturbed due to the acts of someone who wants to change the world, and then the protagonist and his allies have to rescue a political prisoner from the occupying forces. The first series pans over the event of the 2 days, since instead of just charging head in, they went on and discuss the financial, political and benefits to the society for everyone on board. The story can be categorised as a shonen, yet it doesn't feel like a shonen with the emphasis on the broader picture. There's a lot of content that requires you to think you realise what the words actually means.
While some characters suffers from the huge cast, whoever that gets sufficient screentime had their brief time to shine. Whether it's the emotional tale from Rin, the dazzling dance from Kimi, or the most awe-inspiring confession speech from Toori. When they had the chance to shine, the scene is just beautiful. At first it can be confusing to learn all those 21 characters, but the series did a decent job letting them each to introduce themselves properly. With a cast huge enough for a turn base strategy RPG game, the character designs are colour enough to make it easy to distinguish between the characters.
Toori Aoi is the epitome for the whole "don't believe your first impression" theme when watching this show. Initially came across as a perverted idiot, he hinted at having tremendous wisdom throughout the story, has great insight into other people's perspective, and shows great people skill. He's not the most powerful character in the lineup, yet he's one of the few that's really likable and knows who he can rely on among his friends as per situation required. Similar to another great male deceiver this year, his endeavor to maintain that persona at all cost is quite interesting to watch
The animation is absolutely beautiful. Not only does the art quality stays consistently good, but the motion sequences are really well done especially the fight scenes. Coming from an established studio like Sunrise, the animation teams surely knows how to present a good combat scenarios. The director also knows how to use interesting camera angles to help guiding the long conversations, making them more visually appeasing while the debate is going on.
While it advertises itself as an action series, the talking scenes are also a big attraction. While the anime cut out a lot of the finer minor details due to medium restriction, the main idea more often than not gets through by well directed scenes. Some of the phrases might get too metaphorical, with the author's obsession on the imagery of parallel lines in quite a number of long conversations. While some of the settings are not fully used since it's only volume one, this series is showing signs that there are a lot of fun things to come.
Pacing and info-dump were the biggest problems in the first 3 episodes. Many people came in knowing nothing about the author's tendency to put in lots of background works, and got scared with the tremendous amount of background information. It's also not helped by the fact that the series used jumbled timeline really early when you even had no idea who those people are. As the result there are a lot of setting up in those early episodes but those just makes the viewers confused instead of enlightened by the unique world view that the author has set out.
Overall Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon is a decent series. It could've done better in the first few episodes to ease the viewers in, however once you can get past the initial stages, it's one enjoyable ride from there on. The best description for this series is that it's not what you might think it is on the surface. It's only the first volume of a long running series of books. With Season 2 confirmed for the 2012 summer season, only more good things can come from this franchise. I just love it when the original creator is having so much fun with the production of the anime. If I had to rate it I will put it 8/10.
Lastly I'm just going to drop off a fantastic sequence from ep4.