Colloquium: Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon 3 + 4

This week I’m joined by ReisengredballJohn Sato, and Foshizzel (who provided pictures). This post is also available at The Classiest Anime Blog.

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun. — Ecclesiastes 1:9

draggle: If we don’t learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it. In Horizon, this is true in a literal sense: since mankind forgot their own history, they are purposefully recreating it. The only difference is that the characters in Horizon see this as a good thing.

This means that the characters in the universe of Horizon have set aside their own freedom in order to safely follow the set course of history. This seems like a terrible fate. They have chosen to embrace and repeat all of human history, including its many terrible atrocities. Instead of having faith that they can write a better history, the cast decides to repeat it.

The world of Horizon is utterly absurd: they are repeating history again, in an endeavour that is long, difficult, and utterly meaningless. There is no point to all their striving and scheming.

There is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn. — Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus

But now, let’s imagine our characters as they take a long bath and admire each others’ oversized breasts. I imagine that as they look in the narrow gap between the two mutant mounds of flesh in front of them, each thinks back on the thread of their own life,the choices they made in pursuite of recreating their own meaningless history. They look back on their struggles in scorn, and this scorn crowns their victory. They are stronger than their history.

Despite their struggles and ordeals, the students find joy in their meaningless existence. In the moment when they rest, celebrate and take a bath, they are stronger than their fate.

Clearly, Horizon is an existentialist work.

Reiseng: Draggle is definitely right in that Horizon is an existentialist work. Whether they are happy to do so or not, the characters are following a fate that has already been set out for them. Interestingly enough though, it is the youth of this show that are having an existential crisis.

Jehoash was seven years old when he began to reign. — 2 Kings 11:21

If my understanding is correct, the young people in Horizon are the ones acting as Fate’s pawns. Why is it the youth though? Why not old people who have nothing left to live for? Why must the youth suffer for the whims of old, ugly men?

It is easy to assume that as it often happens in the real world, the cast of Horizon had their decisions made for them. That assumption, however, is wrong. These kids chose to follow this sad, dreary path. They chose to vanquish their dreams, their hopes and more importantly: their right to dream and hope.

Why? I don’t think they did it for the greater good of mankind. They chose to follow this path of destruction because they had no better path to follow. They had (in their minds anyway) no reason to exist.

These children desire some reason for existing and they think that by being in the spotlight, by helping to carve mankind’s history, they will find that reason. The fancy armours, the sharp weapons, the polished techniques and the revealing clothing are all little things the characters do to get the spotlight.

In the history books of tomorrow, Tori will be described as a man who runs around naked. Many stories will be told of the ninja kid and his magical hat. Each textbook will also include accurate illustrations of the bosoms of many girls. And to top it all off, the books will speak of their glorious wars and conquests.

If people in the future remember the actions of our cast, then our cast has effectively justified their existence. They have proven to the world that they should exist. The only problem is that, as much as they chose to believe otherwise, they will never be able to prove it to themselves.

The characters know that they are not special. They know that their existence is not any more justified than others, but chose to believe otherwise. And what choice do they have? A life without purpose, even a dummy purpose, is not a good life.

I am sure however, that in the corners of their rooms, or in the bosoms of their compatriots, our cast members cry and cry, for they will never feel satisfied existing for the sake of existing.

redball: I am afraid that I must again play the role of dissenter amongst our ranks. Draggle and Reiseng have given us much to think about, and indeed we should consider why this group of kids is going through the trouble to recreate history. Indeed, I believe that Draggle and Reising each bring wonderful ideas. Before you read on, ponder the meaning of recreating history. Would you undertake this burden? What is there to be gained? Is this simply altruism, or are these people out for glory in the rewriting of history? Please take a moment and find your personal answers.

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. — Desiderius Erasmus

One of the great benefits of modern society is the ability to look at, and learn from our recorded history. It is through our past mistakes that we learn the best course of action for the future. In a microcosm, this happens to each of us during childhood. It is human nature. As such, a society without its history is blind.

However, this society is not without its history. An imperfect record of history was retained. Details are fuzzy and inaccurate. The gaps must be filled. Thus, in order to fill the gaps in human history we must have humans reenact the events. Only then may we see the truly human aspects of history and better record the results. Unfortunately, an imperfect recreation of an imperfect record does not give us clear hindsight. Our story is of the one-eyed man attempting to become king.

Fortunately, another author has taken this subject to task. The science fiction pioneer H. G. Wells wrote a short story “The Country of the Blind” which turns Erasmus’s adage on its head. In this story an unfortunate hiker named Nunez discovers a lost tribe in the mountains of Ecuador who has lost their sight. Nunez becomes obsessed with the idea that as a sighted man he should have an advantage over the sightless people. I am sorry to spoil the story for you, but things don’t go as planned for Nunez.

You see, in a true country of the blind the people will adapt. Their other senses will take over, perhaps even becoming more acute. In turn, they will adapt their culture and civilization to their blindness. This creates a situation where a sighted man loses many of his advantages, a lesson Nunez learned the hard way. In fact, it is even possible for the blind to have an advantage.

We can also apply these lessons to our ragtag group of young historians. Perhaps it is for the best that they approach their task as the blind would, with their sense of now keen and their sense of history dull, than if they were to attempt the same feat believing foolishly that their knowledge of history is accurate and complete. Likewise, an imperfect recreation is not a fools errand. Rather, it allows our students to learn the lessons of history without experiencing its true horrors. Perhaps this makes those lessons soft, but they may not need to be more than a gentle reminder when presented to an advanced civilization.

I think this is why it is essential that adolescents perform this reenactment. As this is the time when the brain approaches its full, adult capacity. It is also a time before experience has a chance to set in. They must reenact history for the sake of society, but they will gain knowledge and understanding for themselves. It may seem extreme, but the opportunity to partake would be difficult to decline. Going back to my initial claims, that this is a view of dissent: The difference is that I don’t think the students are doing this for nothing, nor selfishly, nor altruistically. Instead this is a mutually beneficial undertaking and it is part of the students’ role in society.

John Sato: All of my fellow writers have brought up good points, and I feel that each has solved a piece of the puzzle that is Horizon. However, I believe the key to all this is a subject we have been disregarding this whole time: religion. So far, there has been little to no discussion of religion, and I feel that is an oversight. Though not obvious at first, there is much religion in Horizon. What deity to the cast members worship, you ask? Why, none other than money itself, of course. Allow me to go on a small aside to explain this concept before I get back into our colloquium subject.

There is plenty of support for the idea of a money god. The ridiculous extravagance of everything is clearly indicative of an over-ripe, but surely self-sustaining global economy. Why, money is so plentiful that some cast members even use coins as their weapons of choice! Once we accept the idea that money is a god in Horizon, a number of things start making sense. For instance, the last half of episode three is dominated by a protracted bartering showdown between two merchants over previously unknown goods and issues. This was not, strangely enough, an awkward, out of place aside to our main story, but was in fact a religious ceremony. But this idea also makes clear the meaning of our cast’s journey. This whole quest can be taken as an attempt to determine which country is the most devoted to their god.

In this economic religion of Horizon’s, whoever has the most money is also the most holy. It is also clear that the daunting task undertaken by the inhabitants of Horizon’s world is an expensive venture. But when one thinks of the rewards for whoever does the best job at recreating history, for whoever discovers what happens, it suddenly becomes a lucrative one. Whichever country recreates history the best would surely have the most fame and would be rewarded handsomely, thus resulting in great profit. If we take all this together, then the search for what happened in the past also becomes a battle between nations for who stands as the religious leader of the world.

With this new information at our disposal, we can easily determine that our characters’ reasons for going on this journey are to attain religious prestige and to worship their god. This is by no means the only possible motive our cast could have, of course. Horizon is, after all, a classy series. Thus, all of my co-writers theories are perfectly applicable, only in different ways. Using Draggle’s point of view, the cast scorns their prison of unwanted religious fervor by using the journey to explore their sexuality (as detailed in the last colloquium), thus rising above their god-given fate. Yet it is also possible that they sink into the pits of despair as Reiseng suggests, due to the realization that they are merely cogs in the greedy machine of their nation. Even Redball’s view that they undergo this task for their own benefit can still be supported, as they have been given a rare chance to go on the ultimate spiritual journey and thus rise higher in the ranks of the god Money’s priesthood — that is, to become richer.

draggle: One final thought: John Sato’s idea of Horizon’s god of money helps explain the enigma that is Aoi Tori. Why does everyone listen to Tori? Because everything he does is so utterly radical and unexpected. He is an apostate who renounces god himself. While everyone else preaches the gospel of wealth, Tori runs naked through the marketplace and chases skirts. He is the prophet of a new and charismatic religion that worships a fertility goddess. The battles in Horizon may be a war among the gods.

3 thoughts on “Colloquium: Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon 3 + 4

  1. Excellently done, everyone! I feel as though we’ve gotten closer to understanding why so many characters in Horizon are habitually nake-I mean, the full backstory of the series itself.

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