One evening, I found myself browsing Crunchyroll; as a result, I stumbled upon the anime adaptation of long-running light novel series Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere. With a high rating and an interesting synopsis, I clicked on the first episode without a second thought; even today, I find myself praising this hidden gem as one of my favourite anime!
Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere (Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon) is a light novel series written by Minoru Kawakami and is part of his Genesis Saga; it features illustrations by Satoyasu, and was #13 in LN sales for 2012 with over 410,000 copies sold.
Synopsis: The world is coming to an end. When humans descended from the sky, they brought with them “the Testament” – a guide detailing how to return to the skies once again.
Review: Produced by Sunrise, the Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere (KyouSen for short) anime serves as a prologue to the light novels; it first aired in 2011 and ended with a second season in 2013 – though many fans wish for a third. Despite mostly favourable reviews, the series’ sales have halted further adaptations.
KyouSen starts by showing a cataclysmic event without any context; due to the episodic nature of the show’s exposition, this is explained later – but can be confusing on a first view. In the next several minutes, the show dumps information on the viewer, making it hard to fully grasp what’s going on. Unfortunately, this issue is prevalent in both seasons.
To prevent this cataclysm, our protagonist, Toori Aoi, decides to gather all nine Mortal Sin Armaments. Later, he finds the eponymous Horizon – a girl who died young, yet continues to live on as her soul gets transferred into an android called P-01s. Toori then makes it his mission to love and protect her, doubly so when he learns that P-01s is an Armament that can unite the others. Just as Toori tries to reach her, she is captured by the Testament Union – the ones responsible for the Testament. They believe P-01s to be a threat to the world. Toori rescues her regardless and then confesses his love to her. While doing so, he single-handedly declares war with the world and claims he will be “king of the world”. If that’s not a crazy plot, I don’t know what is.
The themes and world-building are the show’s strong points. For example, Toori is an unlikely hero – but his eccentric personality leaves the viewer wanting him to succeed. The show doesn’t necessarily focus on Toori all the time, though, as each of its diverse characters has an extensive backstory and a role to play in the grand scheme of things. In fact, despite being the main protagonist, Toori is hardly treated as such as all the other characters take the spotlight.
Now, the problem with KyouSen is that it is a grand story, but has trouble easing viewers into it. Only during the second season will fans start to understand the story’s ins-and-outs – but you’re left with more questions than answers by its end! This problem is undercut by major cliffhangers, which seem to come when the viewer finally starts understanding things. Of course, it goes without saying that this is confusing, and not satisfying either.
The anime does have a few things going for it, though: first and foremost is its soundtrack, composed by Tatsuya Kato. There are a few special tracks I personally enjoy that really tie the mood with the atmosphere of the story. For example, after the cataclysmic intro, the anime transitions with a solo sung by P-01s – a song which holds significant meaning later.
KyouSen also boasts Sunrise’s exceptional art and animation quality, primarily in flashy, well-coordinated, CG/special effect-filled action sequences. There is no shortage of action as every episode has something going down. Whether it is a battle of wits, or a gruesome fight to the death – there is no shortage of action in each episode. Sunrise makes excellent use of color choice to really express the tone of each setting; highlighting tense moments and emotional scenes.
Combine all of its strengths and you have an immersive viewing experience. It’s a shame, though, that the story is so difficult to comprehend – even on repeat viewings. It’s clear that KyouSen has too much going on, as its expansive story was ambitious, but regularly falls into plot-holes and leaves the viewer almost bittersweet by its finale.
Personally, KyouSen is one of my favorite anime for a reason. It’s got pretty much anything a person could want: comedy, drama, romance, ecchi, and even more; it boasts a large cast of well-rounded characters and puts them together in a sort of world war. It manages to balance exciting action scenes with heart-warming, downbeat moments – all punctuated by clean visuals and an amazing soundtrack. On the other hand, I can easily understand why some might not like it: its pacing and exposition are clear cons, and the anime isn’t long enough to fully convey all the major details.
In the end, I would still recommend this show to people. You have to really focus on it and its plot, otherwise you’ll find yourself in need of a re-watch. KyouSen is available on Crunchyroll for free, and may leave you wanting to pick up one of the 20 (and counting!) light novels.
With that said, here’s my final verdict on the anime Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere:
If you want to watch the anime, it’s available on Crunchyroll here.