What’s it about ?
Er… Let’s be honest, the show itself relegates the exposition about the setting to a super-speed summary over the ending credits, so I feel confident in thinking it’s a lot of clutter that doesn’t matter too much. (Some stuff about god-kingdoms re-enacting history with terrible accuracy, with the current period being an techno-fantasy version of the Warring Kingdoms ? Whatever…)
What matters for the purposes of this first episode : this is a floating city (the surface isn’t habitable anymore) with fantasy inhabitants (from normal humans to incubus & blobs). We’re following a class of elite fighter and/or mage students, most of whom are heirs to bigwigs in their respective countries/ethnic groups.
The titular Horizon is a girl who died 10 years ago in an unfathomable pre-opening-credits sequence. The local ruler built her a tombstone in the middle of the floating city, so she must have been important.
Ms. Oriotorai, the class’s teacher, decided that the best way to spice PE up was to have all 30-ish of her students try and tag her while they cross the city. (The inhabitants on the way wisely decide to barricade themselves to avoid most of the crossfire.) Oh, and she’s also using it as a way to beat up some thugs that recently annoyed her. I like her style.
Tora, the student council president and son of the local bigwig, arrives fashionably late after the whole thing’s over (he was standing in line to buy an ero-game). He’s, of course, the only one who even manages to touch their teacher (groping her by surprise, sigh). It takes all of Jun Fukuyama’s charisma not to make me want to throttle him (he has enough charm for a punch in the face to be sufficient).
Most of the other students don’t get enough screentime to get more than one-note characterizations, although they do manage to pull some stunts that look impressive even with the teacher no-selling them. There’s a wide range of talents in the class, from fighters to mages and including some outlandish fantasy races (there’s a blob, an incubus, etc.). They also do show some team spirit, with effective combinations and several of them taking the time to collect the wounded and apologize to the neighbours.
There’s a girl in a bakery who does nothing whatsoever, but is presumably some sort of reincarnation of Horizon to get this much screentime in so busy an episode.
Impressive action sequences that flow quite well despite the general chaos. There’s also a good sense of worldbuilding, with nice panoramas and a world that feels completely alien.
What did I think of it ?
This is another episode-long fight scene that leaves me clueless about the general direction the series is going to take, but unlike Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai! this feels way more coherent. It’s a thoroughly dense setting, but the writers have the good sense of barely bothering to explain it and to focus on how fun it is to adventure there. It’s an enthralling watch, with enough charm to get over the more cliché aspects or the overwhelming expospeak.
I could live without the more ecchi aspects of Tora’s personality, but so far it works.