The Anime in the Middle of Nowhere

I think it’s too early to close the books on Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere anime series. I sincerely hope it continues on to book 3 and keep on adopting. I’m not too sure if I actively look forward to them, but things feel rather inevitable given how well it is doing on the Japanese domestic home video sales front. I guess this post is a status check.

But rather than criticizing (I think JP pretty much nailed it, even if his hammer might be a little too unforgiving) it for its substantive content, I feel the biggest worry I have for subsequent Horizon adaptation is how it is kind of bringing little that is new to the table. And I don’t mean in terms of having razor blades in oranges or exploiting hooks from British history–I mean it in the adaptative front.

I really enjoyed season 1 in terms of its Jerome Bettis-like attitude towards the finish line and having to bring everything along despite that it just wouldn’t quite gracefully fit. It also kind of fits the nature of Horizon–everyone gets on the bus. It’s a battering ram that truncates what MP3s to what I think you can’t hear, the stuff that might not really be necessary for us to have a good time watching the show. Forget about procedures, explaining why, things making sense making sense, or any other standard operating procedure–we can’t afford the time in 12 episodes, not if one of these “light novels” are a billion pages long.

Well, I can live with the consequences. I’m more concerned about the music, so to speak. When I watched season two play out, it felt like the same cultural tourism again, except this time it is kind of a play on British/European history. I think I’m marginally more familiar with it than Japan’s local history. And to be honest what transpired in season 1 is so twisted and detached from the real world I don’t think familiarity really matters. But it does a little bit in season 2–maybe as a distraction. I think this is kind of the danger with anime tourism in the sense that we get this perception of something that the average Japanese thinks about this thing that is closer to us foreigners than how it appears to them. On one hand it could be pretty interesting, on the other hand, well, let’s just say it was a small issue for me when watching Baccano. And that one was definitely more meticulously researched.

I guess cultural imperialists like Americans just have to learn to live with it. Meanwhile I hope more anime would just put things in their now Neo Venezias, and I suppose Horizon qualifies with its alternative-universe fantasy. Which is why I’ve stuck with it and would stick with it some more.

PS. I had the most glorious XCOM battle this weekend, involving Rk. Aya Hirano and Sq. Kotono Mitsuishi, being ambushed by a nine-pack Muton scouting force. It was fierce and I didn’t know if I could’ve made it out, but thankfully I did–despite having no medkit, no support, and only one assault and one sniper in the task force. Largely thanks to their meat-shielding. Rk. Hirano was particularly courageous, having snuck into the landed UFO from behind and tased the only Muton in reach (considering the odds of hitting it from a “safe” distance was much lower than what the Arc Thrower offered). Those grenades, man, can make quick work of you.


6 Responses to “The Anime in the Middle of Nowhere”

  • jpmeyer

    “Rk. Aya Hirano and Sq. Kotono Mitsuishi”

    Do you name all of your soldiers after female seiyuu, regardless of sex or nationality?

  • dm00

    I feel the biggest worry I have for subsequent Horizon adaptation is how it is kind of bringing little that is new to the table.

    That’s my biggest fear, too. This second season, to a large degree, was just an echo of the first, just with a few new characters and a slight variation in the setting. I’m not sure the world got any richer nor were there any innovations in the “gee-whiz” front (well, maybe Ben Johnson’s swimming pool and Margot’s response to the constraints it imposed on her).

    The main thing the second season did accomplish is adding depth to its central cast of characters, but that effect is diluted over the show’s large cast. We got a season’s worth of character development, but it was divided over twenty characters. While Horizon is wonderfully efficient in its presentation, that still doesn’t add up to a lot on a per-character basis.

    My one hope for the next season is that they move into the territory of the witches’ back-story. For me, the witches are the most interestingly developed and intriguing characters in the series, so I think featuring more of their story would be a promising approach.

    (It’s too bad JP didn’t choose to discuss his post when he made it. I don’t think he “nailed” anything, but the time is pretty much past for that discussion.)

    • omo

      (I think we’ve already had that discussion, rather, but you’re welcome to have it again if you have anything new to contribute.)

      It’s great that the show gets you to care about the characters, for whatever the reason. I haven’t really reached that point yet, except maybe from Masazumi’s angle in terms of potentially attacking some of the more difficult issues in international politics (eg., where Japan is today in regards to WW2). I don’t think Horizon has enough balls to go there though, given its conservative stance in general. But to me I don’t really care how the witches (or anyone else–maybe except how Toori and Horizon might change in small ways as that always drives the story in some major ways), because it’s simply too diluted full of every sort of stereotype/archetypes people can come to like. I’m more interested in the general character of the show. In a lot of ways the main cast is simply too similarly-minded, and those who aren’t often are just straight out arch-villains or things they don’t really explain enough. Or, as I mentioned previously, the “character” of the adaptation. I don’t think it has fully emerged yet.

  • praestlin

    Nine-pack Mutons? Man, either one of your people blundered into a nasty concentration or you were unlucky enough for a couple of squads to wander into your firefight. I dunno about Impossible diff. but Mutons only ever appear in groups of 2-4 at a time.

    • omo

      You’re right. It was a pack of 3 and two packs of 3 that were chained by LOS >_> If it was just 9 of them out of the gate, well, i guess i might have had an easier time since i had 2 heavies!

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