One day, he is invited to Rokka’s home atop the shop to help with some party preparations, where he is confronted by a man dressed in naught but boxers, who claims to be the ghost of Rokka’s late husband. Then it’s all French Marigolds and Belvederes (“jealousy” and “I declare war against you”) from that point forward. He is determined to help Rokka overcome her grief with an arrangement of Snowdrops and Tulips (“Consolation, hope” and “Declaration of Love”) and win her heart despite constant interference from the stubborn poltergeist.
The leading lady, Rokka Shimao, keeps a wreath woven of Scabious and Adonis (“widowhood, mourning” and “sorrowful remembrance”) in honor of her deceased husband, Atsushi Shimao. Though she is eight years older than Ryusuke, she does wear a corsage of Mossy Saxifrage (“affection”) for him, but it still falls short of anything resembling love.
She isn’t against taking a chance at dating Ryusuke as she has been alone enough to long for another man’s company. She is even enamored with the attention that Ryusuke heaps upon her. However, she continues to be haunted by her memories of living with Atsushi, and her perplexing relationship with Ryusuke does nothing to help her forget and move on. Rokka is also strongly reminiscent of Demi Moore’s character from the 1990 movie, Ghost (though Atsushi doesn’t really resemble Patrick Swayze, and Ryusuke is definitely no Whoopi Goldberg!) with her short hair and petite frame – wait, am I dating myself?
Atsushi Shimao, certainly the antagonist where Ryusuke is concerned, has been dead for a few years already and has been haunting the two-storied flower shop and home that he and Rokka once shared since his passing. Ryusuke is the first person to be able to see and speak with him, so that just makes it easier for him to make Ryusuke’s life that much more difficult.
He notices Ryusuke’s feelings for Rokka and in response tosses Saint John’s Wort and Wild Tansies (“Animosity, superstition” and “resistance, I declare against you”) at Ryusuke’s feet. He does everything he can to get in Ryusuke’s way of getting closer to Rokka, and though he cannot physically interact with anything, Atsushi certainly has a way of making things awkward between them. Imagine trying to kiss someone while someone else’s face is floating in the space between you. Yeah, totally awkward.
Ryusuke and Rokka’s relationship experiences several ups and downs very early on, and in a moment of drunken weakness after a particularly disastrous date, Ryusuke unwittingly agrees to allow Atsushi to take over his body. Finally, Ryusuke has an opportunity to interact with Rokka once again, while Ryusuke is the one relegated to the sidelines where he can’t do anything but watch helplessly. As of the time this article was written, we still do not yet know which way things will go!
It goes without saying that Horizon on the Middle of Nowhere II (yes, pardon the wrong grammar) does have its fair share of quirky, dialogue-infested mayhem that may leave you choking for air just to digest what in blue blazes is going on in the show. In fact, it wasn't until I watched the first season a second time; blazed through the original light novels, three of them at that, whose thickness would put a local telephone directory to shame; and finally skimmed through blogs and forum discussions just to get an idea of not just the current situation of the show, but even the historical precedents that lead to the whole sociopolitical environment that bathes the storyline of this show, as a whole.
The second season continues immediately after the events of the first season. In the world of Horizion on the Middle of Nowhere, mankind had reached greatness akin to Gods, only to eventually lose everything they attained. Being forced to return to their now barren Earth, they decide to "recreate" history by following a certain "Testament", which outlines the course of human history. The current state of the world is in the warring states period (Sengoku) between the different feudal lands, each nation of which is bound by the Testament Union.
Independent from the union is the autonomous floating city-state of "Musashi", which recently acquired former Far-East Testament Union member "Mikawa" after its ruler destroyed the city, himself along with it. Musashi aims to regain the lost emotions of the heir to the ruler of Mikawa - a mechanical doll imbibed with the soul of a girl named "Horizon". These emotions are, in turn, embodiments of "deadly sins", forged as weapons of mass destruction each owned by one of the nations under the Testament Union. In effect, Musashi has declared itself at odds with the Testament Union as it battles with nations in order to obtain Horizon's lost emotions - all in due time for the upcoming Peace of Westphalia, which will settle the fate of the Far East in light of these turns of events.
Don't worry - for what is perhaps beyond the casual viewer in terms of the politics and diplomacy, the series makes up for in terms of action and witty humor. The first episode is full of it, unrelenting in pitting the Musashi forces up against not one, but two different countries - take note: all of this in the first episode! It's as if there were no 6-month gap that stood between the two seasons. Nevertheless, the lengthy dialogues and politically ladened jargon start to re-enter in the succeeding episodes, so unless you actually take the time and effort to sit down and absorb what's going on, you may find yourself skipping to the "good parts".
But the good parts ARE, in fact, those bits of wordy dialogue that make up more or less the core of this otherwise politically charged show. From clashing swords and bursts of magic, we are eventually thrown into conflicting ideals and prostrations and debates. It's a weird combination of sorts, but for some reason makes for a very deep show, focusing more on the development of its ecosystem rather than going for flashy moves or well-endowed female characters and service shots.
Perhaps the only thing that is quite offsetting in this season is the eccentric cast of characters from the Oxford school of England. Not only do the characters look outlandish, but some of their moves and manners of fighting are simply beyond eclectic. Besides requiring an extremely generous amount of patience to absorb the series, it may also take a bit of tolerance to accept the rather bizarre, new cast of characters. This isn't to say that something this strange was not to be expected from the Horizon franchise; rather, things are looking to be quite interesting, if not totally (and unapologetically) weird.
So, do you need to watch the first season to understand what's going on? Please, that should be obvious by now. This may, in fact, be the first time I actually recommend re-watching the first season just so that things make sense. The second season doesn't baby its watcher with unnecessary re-caps or fillers of the previous season - and this is a good thing. As a result, however, the homework falls upon the viewer to make good use of the lull between the weekly episodes. In that regard, I say that's good time spent to make the most out of the story of Horizon.
What is immediately obvious about Humanity Has Declined is just how bizarre it is, which prevents it from being pigeonholed. To fit it into a single genre is difficult - while it seems like a comedy, it has a sinister side, yet it’s also a semi-horrific fantasy. A lack of genre heightens the show’s peculiarity while making it unpredictable, which creates a more intriguing viewing experience. Humanity Has Declined also comes across as a very cheery anime - the character designs are extraordinarily cute, and the color palette is inviting - but there always seems to be darkness lurking beneath the surface. The carefree fairies consider human starvation to be a new fad, and humanity is always on the brink of extinction. While the initial lightheartedness of the show is pleasant, the ominous cloud in the background creates a more riveting atmosphere. Further adding to the uniqueness of Humanity Has Declined is the fact that none of the characters have proper names; the main character is known as Mediator because of her job as a mediator, her assistant’s name is Assistant, and she also has an acquaintance called Y. Perhaps it is because the characters’ names aren’t important in this anime that they’re not included, but it is certainly a rare move that just adds another layer of oddness.
The humor of Humanity Has Declined stems from the show’s oddness, which makes the humor also rather eccentric. Things foreign and outrageous to our own world are ordinary in this anime, and this absolute acceptance of the most absurd things, such as the sentience of skinned chickens, makes Humanity Has Declined strangely hilarious. The humor becomes even quirkier when the anime itself takes the strangeness seriously, such as when it plays beautifully tragic music for a scene that is too ridiculous to be sad. The characters also balance out with the humor well by, instead of being just as absurd as everything else, being relatively regular people with perhaps a darker side. Mediator is a sarcastic realist, so while her seriousness adds to some of the humor, it also serves to keep Humanity Has Declined from being ridiculous; having some serious moments highlights the oddities Mediator keeps on finding, and it also sets up perfect moments for dark humour. This humour, combined with Humanity Has Declined’s strangeness, creates a great, unique flavor that stands out.
The comical aspect to Humanity Has Declined is one of its strongest points not only because it is humorous, but because it serves as a unique form of social commentary. Through humor, the show is able to convey concerns about society in an entertaining way. Who decides what is significant to human culture and history? Could our view of the past be skewed by whoever decides what to put in our history textbooks? How can people be so absorbed by trivial things (in this anime’s case, BL manga) when things such as the fate of humanity are more important?
Humanity Has Declined asks these things and more through strange, original deliveries and even comedic cynicism. For example, the fairies, the predominant race, represent the ignorant carelessness of humans, but their idiocy is humorous on its own. Best of all, the social commentary is subtle due to the humor ornamenting it, so it isn’t preachy. It’s up to the viewers to interpret it as they will, and if they’re not careful, they might just miss the real messages Humanity Has Declined is sending.
Choji is unable to attack Asuma and loses his will to fight. Ino and Shikamaru try to snap Choji out of his paralysis.
NARUTO SPIN-OFF: ROCK LEE AND HIS NINJA PALS Episode 19
Team Guy and Team Kakashi head to the beach. Lee wants to scope out Sakura's "amazing" new bathing suit, but Guy-sensei makes him train instead. Can Naruto and Konohamaru help him escape Guy-sensei's clutches? Lee wants to have fun by splitting watermelons, but Guy-sensei turns it into a training exercise. It's a race for survival to get a crack at the perfect target!