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The Stream
Back to the Future

by Bamboo Dong,

Last time, many of you asked why certain titles were missing. At the time of the first column, there were a few titles that had either not yet started simulcasting, or had started late. In an ideal world, we'd get all of the good shows simulcast from the get go, but sadly, the world is not our oyster. At least not the fresh ones. Maybe more like the oysters that come in a tin can that taste kind of rubbery and have that gunky black stuff all over them. And are covered in a weird oil. What's up with that? But luckily, since then, a few more shows have caught up to speed, so we've got more on our plates. Or at least, I've got a lot more on my plate. And the ones that didn't get added… well, they were hurting my brain too bad.

Since this is the first time the list symbols are making a full-fledged entrance, here's a quick guide. Think of it as a race:
An up arrow means that a series has moved towards the front of the pack, relative to the titles around it. For instance, Hunter x Hunter has moved higher than Last Exile, so it gets an up.
A circle with a dash through it means that it hasn't changed in the relative rankings. Chihayafuru was #1 last time, and it's still #1 this time.
A down arrow means that a title is slipped behind. It doesn't mean that there's anything bad about the episodes, necessarily, just that it's been unseated by another title. Because Future Diary took the #2 spot this week, Fate/Zero was bumped down a notch.
An X means the show has been dropped. Even dropped, the show will remain on the list, with a link to its last review.

The system relies on all simulcasts starting on time, but this season, since Futury Diary and Phi Brain started late, it messes with things a bit. Hopefully in future season, we'll get more on-time simulcasts!

Let's dive in!


#1 - Chihayafuru [ep. 5-6]

I don't think karuta's going to take off in the US, for a variety of reasons. But I do think that it might spark an interest in the Hyakunin isshu, if just to motivate people to peruse some translations, and maybe read some interpretations of each. I appreciate that Chihayafuru took a moment to step back from karuta and take a closer look at the game's cultural roots. Just as Chihaya was amazed at the richness of the poem's imagery, so was I, as someone who has zero prior exposure to these famous poems. There is something immensely fascinating about the history of this compilation, and it's something I would never have sought out on my own unless I had seen the latest episode of Chihayafuru. In it, a new character is introduced; Kana is a fellow student who yearns for the days of olden Japan and the propriety that's been lost over the generations. She's interested not in karuta, but in the poems themselves, and through her passion, we catch a glimpse of how moving this classic literature can be.

Chihayafuru remains one of the best series this season because it never allows itself to settle into the doldrums of a generic drama. It veered close once, when Arata announced that he had quit karuta forever—but over the course of the next couple of episodes, it's increasingly obvious that the relationships between the characters are exceedingly complex. It's not just a love triangle. There are unspoken feelings and complicated emotions, all masked by the seemingly frivolous game of competitive karuta. In one scene, Taichi accuses Chihaya of only having the dream of becoming a karuta Queen because she appropriated it from Arata… an underlying observation that's been unspoken since the first episode. But instead of answering, she just stares in silence.

This series just sucks you in. Not only is it easy to get invested in these characters, but the show's visuals pull you in. They are absolutely stunning, from the character designs, to the background art, to that rousing instrumental theme that makes me smile every time it plays. When Kana starts explaining the poems to Chihaya inside her parents' kimono store, it's so enthralling that you can feel her excitement radiating from the screen.

I hate to be that person that just blubbers endlessly about how great Chihayafuru is, but it really is. I admit that episode four was a bit of a letdown, and perhaps the lowest point of the season so far, but it rebounded quickly. I realize later that it was instrumental in unveiling another layer in the trio's friendship. I'm eager for the presence of another character, and I can't wait to see who else gets pulled into their new karuta club.

Status: Still as strong as ever, Chihayafuru shows that it knows how to tell a story without falling into the rut of dramas past. It's also the perfect way to wind down from a stressful day. For a show about a speed game, it feels surprisingly dreamy and relaxed.


#2 - Future Diary [ep. 1-5]

Talk about a shocking show! I was already enjoying the idea of a cell phone diary that tells you your future, but then the killing started! And it's not just any old vanilla kind of killing—Future Diary does not pull any punches. It blows up classrooms full of children, stabs people in the eye with darts, casually mentions sacrificial raping, and hoards dead bodies in guest rooms like baseball cards. It has psychos, serial killers, more psychos, weird creepy cult people—if you want a show that will spook you before bedtime, Future Diary is it. I watched an episode before bed and I had dreams all night about being chased by girls with hatchets.

Based on a popular manga of the same name, Future Diary is the ultimate cat-and-mouse game… if cats and mice could perpetually one-up each other with clairvoyant diaries. Weird high school loner Yuki spends all of his time writing endless diary entries into his cell phone and talking to his invisible friends. One day, he learns that his diary foretells the future. Oh, and that now he's part of a select group of people who have been given magical diaries, who have to kill each other if they want to be God. Problem is, because he made the first kill, now most of them want to kill him. The only allies he has is a crazy bunny boiling stalker girl (no, literally, she's a stalker, because her diary monitors all of his movements) and some cop. The cop seems like a nice guy, but watching too much of this show late at night has given me a high level of distrust in every character. It speaks to the brilliance of the show when viewers can't meet a new character without expecting them to turn into maniacal child-raping murderers.

Here's the best part—why does Yuki have this future diary, how does it work, where did it come from, how is everyone else involved? Oh, because of Deus Ex Machina, Yuki's invisible friend from the beginning, who's also the God of Space and Time and the overseer of this murder game. How genius is that? Every question in this show can be answered with, “Deus Ex Machina.” In other words, a literary contrivance that conveniently explains any plot conundrum. It's actually really brilliant. These explanations are so irrelevant that they're consciously hand-waved away by a god named Deus Ex Machina. And it works. Regular logic does not apply to this show or the world the characters find themselves in. The atmosphere of this show is so potent that it carries itself on its own. The characters are enthralling, the story is crazy, and it's impossible to stop watching.

Status: Hop on board the crazy train, folks, because it is here to stay. Future Diary is simultaneously sick and amazing, and I am hopelessly addicted.


#3 - Fate/Zero [ep. 5-6]

As much as I love watching the Servants battle each other, I love it just as much when the action winds down and the characters have a meaningful conversation. After several close encounters between the various Servants, including a fascinating exchange between Saber and Caster which leads the latter onto a homicidal spree, we get to see Archer and Kirei share a heart to heart over a glass of wine. Mostly, Archer has a glass of wine while he chastises his Master for his apathy towards the Holy Grail War. But during the exchange, he said something that I found oddly poignant. When Kirei professed that he didn't find joy in anything, Archer countered, saying that there's a difference between joy, and realizing that you're experiencing joy. If ever there was a grain of wisdom to be harvested from an anime series, it's that.

Fate/Zero has done an admirable job of juggling a large cast of characters while still keeping them separate and interesting. Most of the characters have fought in a few skirmishes, but for the most part, they're all still gumming their prey and testing each other's strengths. It's a lot like watching cats bat at a toy to see if it's dead or alive, only in this case, it's ancient warriors trying to figure out the best way to kill the opposition. It's a good way for the viewers to get to know the characters further, as well as set up just how mentally insane some of them are (read: Caster). Granted, we all knew he was a little off kilter when he killed a child in cold blood a few episodes back, but the man does not seem to have all his marbles in the same jar. From a viewer's perspective, it's great. He's both extremely vile and extremely entertaining, in the way that only a truly great villain can be. Every show needs one of those.

If there's one item on my wish list, though, it's that I wish the series would spend more time on each character. I realize that right now, we're still in the introductory phase and the show has to cycle through a dozen people, but I wouldn't mind getting a little one-on-one time with some of the players. And by that, I don't mean I want an info dump on where each Servant came from, and who's great-uncle is whose on whichever Master's side, but I like the insight that's given when the Master/Servant pairs have extended screen time. The dialogue between Archer and Kirei was thoughtful and interesting. The plotting between Caster and Uryu was interesting… but I preferred their first meeting, when the Crazy was stretched out a little more. Series like this thrive on atmosphere and tension, so I hope we get more scenes like that instead of all the fights.

Finding a balance between action and drama is really tricky, but I feel like Fate/Zero is settling into a good groove. Almost every episode has one or two really solid scenes that keep me glued to this series. I'm hoping for a little more characterization meat, but the series is going in a promising direction. I have faith that it'll start paying out in higher dividends. And until then, the fights are super entertaining.

Status: You can't go wrong with Fate/Zero if you're looking for some bad-ass characters and plenty of wine swirling. Plus they deliver some killer one-liners. Sadly, it got knocked down a notch this week because of the incredible awesomeness that is Future Diary.


#4 - Hunter x Hunter [ep. 5-6]

By now, I'm sure everyone who's been following this show has noticed that there's no blood. Even when dozens of Hunter applicants get impaled by sharp stakes, or chewed on by giant turtles, there's not a single drop. Frankly, I'm not that bothered by it. There may not be geysers of bodily fluids, but let's be real here, this show is still pretty gory. I was outright shocked by how many people died horrible, gruesome deaths in the fourth episode. It's a deceptive series. Visually, it's super cute and perky and chock full of bright colors (and who can really resent those monsters when they're insanely adorable?), but deep down… it's got a nasty streak. We started the Hunter Exam with thousands of applicants, and as of episode six, we're down to 40-something. Most everyone else is dead. There's danger lurking around every corner, and that's what makes Hunter x Hunter fun every single week. Every Saturday, I wake up wondering what kind of ridiculous hoops Gon and his buddies have to jump through next. Sometimes it's rewarding (like seeing them outsmart some giant pigs), and sometimes… well, sometimes the exams are really dumb (like seeing them cook those pigs). But there's a commonality—every week it's different.

That's the biggest bonus of Hunter x Hunter. It's something new every single week. There are a lot of long-running series that fall into the trap of safety and comfort. They latch onto a pattern and run with it, oblivious to the fact that viewers just don't want to watch the same tournament-style fights over and over again. It's a lot more fun when we don't know what to expect. I know that for avid readers of the Hunter x Hunter manga or fans of the original TV series, that this sense of surprise is probably diminished, but for new viewers, it's still fresh. And if you're an old fan that happens to be watching alongside a new one, I really hope you can find a way to experience that joy with new eyes.

Someone in the forums mentioned a couple weeks ago that Hunter x Hunter was a “kiddy” show. And like normally happens in discussions about shonen shows, there was an ensuing argument over whether or not it qualified as a kids show given the gore and eventual mental duress that the protagonists go through. I think what's great about Hunter x Hunter is that it feels like a kids show, even though it has the edge and shock value that older viewers have come to enjoy in their entertainment. It's a serious show with serious themes that doesn't feel weighed down by its subject matter. So maybe both sides were right.

Status: Saturdays are still the best day of the week. Hunter x Hunter may not be the best show of this season, but it's certainly one of the most fun. Plus how could you not love Gon? It's like watching a puppy winning at life.


#5 - Phi Brain [ep. 1-6]

Look around you. The people you think you know may not be who they seem. Jane, from Purchasing? She doesn't just love Dilbert cartoons and Marshalls sales. She might actually be… a Puzzle God. The guy sitting next to you on the train might be a Puzzle God. The fate of the world may lie at his fingertips because puzzles are Serious Effing Business. These aren't just your regular Sudoku. These are puzzles carved into mountains. These are puzzles that will obliterate entire cities with bombs if you don't jot down the right answer. These are… THE PUZZLES OF GOD.

Hold the phone. If this isn't the craziest, most ridiculous set up for an anime you've ever heard of, then we are no longer on speaking terms. This is an anime about people so insanely obsessed with puzzles that they have devoted countless hours and immeasurable sums of money to building vast underground complexes of deadly games. These people are part of a secret society of Puzzle Givers and Puzzle Solvers that spit on us mere mortals who can't get through the Monday New York Times Crossword.

Phi Brain is so ludicrous and out there that it is 100% pure fun. It has reached that ethereal plane of entertainment where it makes so little logical, real-world sense that it's one of the greatest shows of this season. The main character's parents were killed in a puzzle accident. Our protagonist Kaito is a genius puzzle enthusiast whose tortured past gives him a conflicting love/hate relationship with all puzzles. At the beginning of the series, he logics his way out of a maze and inherits Orpheus, an armlet that allows him to unlock every crevice of his brain and use it for puzzle-solving. He's soon targeted by a mysterious organization known as POG, who keeps throwing challenge after challenge at him. Each game is laced with deadly tricks, but with Orpheus in tow, our hero can go into a trance and watch the answers unfold before him. The world in which he lives is so enamoured with puzzles that not only do gifted Puzzle Solvers receive code names, but these titles confer them the privilege of eating anything in the school cafeteria for free. Is this madness, or is it genius?

There are two points I want to make about Phi Brain. As much as I love the sheer inanity of the concept, I almost stopped watching a few episodes in because I hated every single character except for Kaito and his gal pal Nonoha. But, be it through character development or Stockholm Syndrome, I eventually grew to love even the most obnoxious of them, and then I was hooked. Even boisterous Gammon, the frenemy who was always getting in the way, became delightful to watch, and then I knew I was in too deep.

But my biggest problem with the show is that it's super lazy about showing us the answers to these puzzles. This is a whole freaking show about puzzles. If they're not going to show us how the characters deduce their way through each new challenge, then that is just lazy and unfair. It's actually really uninteresting watching Kaito's eye turn red before he Orpheuses his way out of a deadly puzzle. I want the writers to break it down, show me every last trick of the trade, and spell it out for those of who are staring at the screen with question marks on our faces. The least they could do is walk us through Kaito and Gammon's thought processes, so that we can get that “Aha!” moment for ourselves. Even the explanations they do sometimes dole out are rushed and mostly pretty half-assed, which makes me think this vast world of puzzling is way beyond the scope of Sunrise's head. That whole lottery trace puzzle that reminded Kaito of his dead parents? Completely unexplained, which was really unsatisfying as a viewer.

Phi Brain is absolutely bonkers, and that's what makes it fun to watch. That the characters take themselves so seriously in this obviously absurd world is great, and I plan on sticking it out for at least a few more episodes. I just wish the writers would throw us a bone every now and again and actually make the puzzles as much fun for the viewers as it is for the characters.

Status: I used the word “puzzle” 20 times in the above review. There's no adequate synonym. But mostly, how can I disgrace the PUZZLE OF GOD by using any other name? Give this show a chance, folks. It's bananas, but it's fun.


#6 - Last Exile ~Fam, the Silver Wing~ [ep. 4]

Last Exile ~Fam, the Silver Wing~ is, if nothing else, really cute. The cherubic character designs are cute, the characters' infinite pep is cute, and even the way they eat their food is cute. It's just a cute show. Considering they're in the middle of a war, that's a fairly impressive accomplishment.

Once Princess Millia settles in and proves to be as tenacious as the other gals, she gets a taste of sky pirate life. Most recently, the pirates are after the amphibious ship Silvius, a ship with a strangely chipper crew that doesn't seem all that bad. But of course, things don't go so well for our adventurers, and they find themselves prisoners on board. A deal is made, and Fam agrees to capture fifteen Ades ships for the Silvius crew in exchange for their freedom. Even though in these past couple of episodes, a lot of actions are done on behalf of Millia, it feels a little bit like filler. Luckily, everyone's so darned plucky and adorable to watch that the time goes by quickly. Fam and Gisey are just goofy and genuine enough that they don't come off as precocious, and they make for good protagonists.

It also helps that Fam, the Silver Wing is just blissful to look at. There's something intangible about shows like Fam and Chihayafuru that always lends them a dreamy quality, even when hectic stuff is happening on screen. Perhaps it's a combination of a soft color palette and pleasant, doe-eyed character designs. Whatever it is, it makes these shows pleasant to watch, and even scenes where characters scrap over a last piece of quiche are damnably cute. Watching the pirates fly above the clouds and around impossibly tall mountain crags is joyful, and I get the sense that the animators had just as much pleasure in creating every scene as viewers get from watching it.

This series hasn't quite gotten to the point where I'm hooked yet, but I do find that when I do watch each new episode, I have a great time. Hopefully with another few episodes under its belt, we'll be more attached to the story, but for right now, it's a nice diversion.

Status:This show doesn't really leave me gasping for the next episode, but I enjoy the 25 minutes that it's on every week.


#7 - Guilty Crown [ep. 3-5]

I feel like Guilty Crown got a lot better in the past few episodes. Granted, Shu is still a whiny little twerp, but the backstory has been filled in a little more. We at least get to learn a little more about the virus that wiped out most of Japan's population, and we get a peek at the GHQ peacekeeping side of things. And as with many good action dramas, the more we learn, the more we start to doubt. Obviously there's something unkosher going on with GHQ—it's almost impossible to have a multi-country mega-organization without giving off that Bad Guy stink, but it doesn't seem like Funeral Parlor really has its agenda straight either.

Whether it's because Shu is just jealous of Funeral Parlor leader Gai, or if it's because it's hard to trust a shirtless guy with flowing mid-back-length hair, Gai is increasingly being set up as someone who isn't as noble as he seems. He's been painted as an ass since the first episode, but now we have to wonder if his motivation to lead his freedom-fighting terrorist organization has a dark side to it. It makes for an interesting dilemma. Shu obviously resents him and has been given clear instructions to turn him in, but the more he becomes involved with the organization, the more he just wants to fit in somewhere. Rarely do I find myself warming up to these types of milquetoast protagonists, but Shu is an interesting case. You can see that he's torn between wanting to go back to his old life and finally being part of something where people respect him. When he wins a mock battle at Funeral Parlor, you get the definite sense that this is a kid whose efforts have never been applauded or acknowledged before. You start to feel sorry for him. The kid even goes through the stereotypical, “But why do girls love assholes???” rant at one point.

Guilty Crown started off as a big honking mess. It was really pretty to stare at, for sure. There are robots everywhere and a kid who can pull objects out of people's chests, and it was pure visual eye candy. But the further it goes along, the more interesting it becomes. It's no longer a case of GHQ = Evil Overlords and Funeral Parlor = Scrappy McScrapsters with the Hearts of Gold. It's a lot more involved than that, and I'm curious how things will pan out.

Status: I'm really starting to warm up to this show. The pacing isn't quite as frantic as it was at the start, and the characters have become a lot more interesting. And what is going on with Gai and that IV bag he was hooked up to? Mystery!!


#8 - Persona 4 [ep. 5-6]

It's Filler Time on Persona 4! The huge, tremendous upside is that we're saved from the repetitive pattern of watching these kids jump through TV screens and collect more Personas. The downside is that it's incredibly hard to care whether or not the cute manager girl on the basketball team gets with the man of her dreams or not. Call me picky, but I want somebody to be slightly more alarmed by the fact that dead bodies are ending up on television poles, and maybe less concerned about who has a crush on whom. Episode six is a little closer in the right direction. For starters, we at least have a slight lead on what might be linking all these murders together. Why the kids don't tell the authorities is beyond me. There really is no indication that the cops wouldn't also be able to jump into TV land, other than it would mess up the flow of the video game. Maybe the old guy in charge of the Velvet Room doesn't want them there.

The good news is that now the kids know who the next victim might be. He's this new freshman hooligan who beats up biker gangs in his spare time, even though he seems like he could be a real softie on the inside. For an entire episode, our heroes follow this guy around like the Bobbsey Twins. Nothing is really accomplished, but at least the story is headed somewhere. There was a scene in there where I thought for sure our sleuthing teenagers would have a cooking contest, but we were spared that nonsense.

Persona 4 is kind of one of those shows where you turn on the TV and there's something on that you're sort of interested in, but mostly you're just too lazy to change the channel. I want to know what's going on with the TV world, but the show is taking its sweet time giving us the real scoop. It's fine. I don't mind them stretching it out. I'm just kind of worried they'll never answer our questions in lieu of just leveling up Yu's Persona collection. This show still feels very much like I'm playing a video game. Even when they're chasing the thug around, I'm just reminded of every countless video game I've ever played where I've had to stalk somebody around town without them spotting me. I can't tell if it's because I know this series is based on a game that I feel so aware of its game tendencies, or if it's in the delivery of the lines. But there's something very unhuman about the way the characters interact. I'm pretty sure that's not going to change.

Status:Persona 4 is fine, I guess. It's something to watch. It has a really cool backstory and a lot of potential, but I just don't feel that invested in what happens. I would like someone to address the elephant in the room of “Why is there a world inside the TVs,” but I doubt that will happen anytime soon.


#9 - Un-Go [ep. 4-5]

This series has so much wasted potential. It is disappointing how good it could be, compared to how good it's not. It could be a scathing exposé of bureaucracy and its evils. It could be a shocking account of how politicians and corporate leaders use buzzwords like “honor” and “patriotism” to further their own agendas. It could be so much… but it's not. It's just an unsuspenseful, repetitive detective circus act that doesn't know how to make itself interesting.

To be sure, there's always a little taste of something deeper under the surface—the primary role of computer-bound Rinroku Kaishou seems to be covering up crimes for the good of the state, but they don't dwell on it as much as they should. This is fascinating stuff, and they just sweep it under the rug. I would like to know more about this. What is the frequency to which people like Kaishou cover things up for the government? What is the biggest atrocity they've ever covered up? I care a lot less about whether or not some detective can figure out who stuffed some dead bodies in a statue by virtue of his demon lady friend.

Ultimately, the biggest problem with Un-Go is that it completely lacks all suspense. It's not fun to watch. Mysteries should be suspenseful. That's why they're mysteries. What is the point of solving a case if there is no suspense. The characters go through each and every murder like they're just choosing which restaurant to eat dinner at. Even the revelations about Inga's identity and how she came to follow Shinjurou is pooh-poohed, even though that should've been an incredibly dramatic moment. It kills me that there are so many great ways for this show to be amazing, but the director isn't taking it to the next level. Un-Go is the ultimate example of a good concept gone to waste. The most recent episode was about the controversy behind three young men who voluntarily (??) risked their lives to drive a truck bomb away from a large gathering. But did they do it for honor, or were they forced into it? And if the latter, how often are such tragic PR scenarios staged ultimately for selfish purposes? The series never goes into it. Also, why it takes three men to drive a truck, I don't know.

I feel like I care more about Un-Go than the series cares about itself. It's incredibly disappointing.

Status: Somehow, Un-Go has made solving murders a run-of-the-mill activity. Maybe that's kind of impressive.


#10 - Majikoi - Oh! Samurai Girls [ep. 5-6]

I can't stop watching this damned show. It's a terribly pointless show, but I can't stop watching it. I can't quite figure out if it's because it's a guilty pleasure, or because it takes zero brain power to consume. It requires next to no brain power to kick back and watch these nincompoops make boob jokes. Sometimes, I'm even rewarded with a laugh. But what on Earth happened with all the setup that was introduced in the first two episodes? The Kawakami Conflict was intriguing, but no more. The illegal arms smuggling ring? Forgotten. All has been replaced with episodes of girls having their own personal moments with Yamato. Episode five revolves around heiress Kokoro, whom viewers might remember as the high-born girl who gets spanked during the Kawakami Conflict. In case you've forgotten, the scene is played again, in slow motion. Episode six mostly follows the characters as they go to some kind of fertility festival. There's an incredibly long and gratuitous scene where the girls suck on dick-shaped candy pops and describe in lurid detail how one gives a blow job. I mean, they're technically describing how they're eating the candy, but really, they're talking about dicks.

It is so dumb, but I'll be damned if I don't occasionally laugh at their antics. My favorite character is resident perv and creative body part manipulator Yonpachi, who strikes again when he and Yamato join forces to use their fingers to superimpose a fake vagina on Kokoro. There's also a pretty great exchange when Kokoro bemoans how hard life must be for those who look like hoodlums, because people can never tell if they're laughing or smiling. If only we could get rid of the main character Yamato, who is just not interesting enough to be in every episode. The girls are great. Even weird sexual assaulter Miyako, who I'm slowly warming up to. Anyone but Yamato. I realize that the point of characters like him is to be totally bland, but Yamato is like a stale white bread washed down with tap water.

Status: This is a terrible show, you guys. But I keep watching it, because it's easy. Is that bad?


#11 - Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere [ep. 5-6]

My heart sinks every time I see the “Play” icon light up when I mouse over the next episode of Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere. It's the worst part of my week. Watching Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere isn't fun for me. It's a chore. It feels like work. I wring my hands while I watch it, asking the universe, “Why can't I have nice things?”

Then I realized that I don't have to subject myself to this anymore, because I'm an adult with Big Girl pants. I will say with no hesitations that Horizon definitely gets better around episode five. It gets a lot better. It stops being a total panderfest, and it takes the story somewhere. I'd much rather figure out why warring families are fighting with each other than learn whether or not some dude is going to ask some girl out, which was the primary plot point for the first three episodes. And frankly, it's kind of cool watching these fighters whip out ridiculous magic weapons, even if there's a total eyeroll moment where a robot girl wraps her arms around one of the guys so he can use her as a shield. It is incredibly hard to look cool while you've got a dying lady dangling off your neck.

The series also gets massive bonus points because it finally reveals some crucial information about the previous and current identity of Horizon, who up until this point, was only just vaguely alluded to. Basically, she kind of got turned into some Horcruxes, although I'm not really sure what the characters are supposed to do with that information, other than just be really creeped out, I guess.

That's where I hit my dilemma. Undoubtedly, Horizon is “getting better.” But not consistently. Half of episode six is a total snooze and goes back to being a panderfest again. I'm not getting what I need out of this show. I actually actively loathe watching this series. It's not that it doesn't show a lot of promise—especially now that it looks like it's settling into something more interesting than just a character parade. But it's really exhausting to watch. I feel like I need a timeline in front of me to properly understand this show. I need a character chart, with arrows pointing between them reminding me who's who, and what everyone wants. I'm all for investing energy and time into my series, but Horizon sucks the pleasure out of it. Watching it just isn't enjoyable anymore. I don't want to keep watching a series where every single week, I save it for last because I feel like I “have” to watch it.

So I will say this. Readers, if you're the type of viewer that has a lot of patience for shows that “get better,” I think Horizon might have a payoff. I can't promise that, but I do know that episode five and part of six are vastly better than the first four. The story is more focused, the cast of characters is slowly, possibly getting whittled down to a few major players, and the action is a lot more interesting now. If you can make it past the sixth episode and say to yourself, “Hey, I kind of want to know what happens next,” then by all means, keep watching. I will not be joining you on this adventure. For me, the story is too convoluted, the writing is shoddy, the characters are too poorly developed, and if it took five episodes to get to a point where I finally saw a light at the end of the tunnel, how many more episodes of darkness do I have to slog through before I stop hating this show? If there were only five shows being simulcast this season, and we all had infinite time to enjoy them, then maybe Horizon would be worth sitting through. But life is too precious to squander away on entertainment that just isn't entertaining.

Status: I wrestled with this decision, but in the end, my gut won out. And by my gut, I mean the part of me that cried every time I forced myself to watch this show.


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