The Horizon by JH, which is one of my most anticipated new manga releases of 2023, is one of the most profound and dark series I've ever read. It's also one of the few series I'd call a masterpiece. The story follows a young boy who is trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world after losing his mother. One day he meets a young girl who is struggling to do the same and they accompany one another. Despite all of the scary moments and obstacles they face, they push forward in search of a safe haven and are looking for light and hope in this dark world.
An English print release of The Horizon has been highly anticipated, so I couldn't be happier that Ize Press is releasing one. After getting the first volume in hand, I'm even more excited, because the quality, as well as the design of the volume, is everything I could have hoped for. Before I get into the spoiler-free review of the series, I want to first talk about the edition itself.
Like JH’s art, the volume's design is minimalistic yet aesthetically pleasing. The image on the cover says a lot about what you are in for with this series. The sprawling landscapes, and a child, left alone in a post-apocalyptic world, that now must traverse the land in search of safety and hope. The artwork wraps around the entire volume and the volumes have a texture to them as well, so they feel nice in hand. The volume looks incredible both on and off the shelf, but the overall quality, including the print quality, is top-notch too.
For those of you that are wondering how many chapters the first volume collects, the first volume collects the first 5 chapters of the series. The Horizon only has 21 chapters, but it is still as impactful, if not more impactful, than stories I’ve read with 100 chapters or more. It didn’t take as much of a toll on me as Goodnight Punpun by Inio Asano or No Longer Human by Usamaru Furuya did, but it came close, and for a series that’s this compact, this is a huge feat. The Horizon explores deeply complex themes that give it a lot of weight and it’s one that you will never forget.
One thing I enjoy about all of JH’s works is that they deeply explore existentialism and dive into what it means to be human, and the struggles many face throughout their lives. The Horizon is an amped-up version of this because these kids are suddenly faced with surviving in a harsh and unforgiving world, where morality has taken a back seat to survival. They suddenly have to face all of the hardships of one lifetime, in the span of what feels like days, whether it be grief, loss, or trauma.
The Horizon is similar to The Road, and to this day, that movie still haunts me. Much in the same way, The Horizon still haunts me to this day, but even more so, because no parents are helping these children in this story. Post-apocalyptic manga, like Blame! Eden: It's An Endless World, and Neon Genesis Evangelion—three of my top sci-fi manga recommendations—always take a hard look at humanity, but since The Horizon is told through the eyes of children, it hits harder.
Even though our MCs are young children, they are still smart and streetwise, and while they still find themselves in tough situations along the way, they bond together and work to overcome the odds. They stick together no matter what, and their relationship brings about some light in this dark world.
Watching these two navigate this bleak and unforgiving world, which has been ravaged by war, is heart-wrenching, to say the least. They meet other survivors along the way, notably adults who have lost their humanity in their endeavor to survive no matter the cost. Some have lost all morals, some have resorted to terrible acts, and you see firsthand just how dangerous it can be to trust others in the face of such calamity.
Despite all of the scary moments and obstacles they face, they push forward in search of a safe haven and are looking for light and hope in this dark world. Of course, that light can very well be felt at times in their interactions with one another. But it’s very clear from the images in this story that the loneliness they feel, despite having one another, still exists.
Many of the panels you'll see in this series hone this in further. You'll often see these two walking together hand in hand, but the scale of what lies ahead of them feels much too large to overcome. Yet still, they press on, because they have hope and one another. A lot of the panels in The Horizon either feel chaotic or they feel empty depending on the situation and the emotion they are trying to get across. It’s this ability to convey the gravity and feeling of a moment that really sets JH apart.
The Horizon is mostly in black and white, but you will see some pops of color when reading the chapters, kind of like you’d see in series like I Am A Hero. I enjoy when creators do this, because it adds emphasis to particular moments in the series, and in The Horizon, it further highlights just how traumatizing and life-altering some of these moments are for our characters.
The story is told in a way that feels poetic, so the storytelling in The Horizon is strong, but it also feels real and the characters are relatable. JH tells this story minimally and there is little dialogue throughout—only when necessary—yet the messages it gives can be heard loud and clear. JH also highlights the beauty of simplicity and how things don’t always have to be said with words but can be told with art.
The dialogue and text we do get are impactful and often what others would say in pages, JH gets across with a single sentence. We are asked questions, like “What is wrong with this world?”, that puts us in the mind of the characters. Because of this, it's one of the most thought-provoking and tough series I’ve ever read.
It's an emotional tale that, while has little dialogue, has so much to say. The atmosphere and emotion that JH conveys through the panels are unbelievable as well. You grasp the grave nature of the situation, and the way the story unfolds is just so expertly done. The landscapes in this series are incredible. It’s the scale of the landscapes and the absolute silence that can be felt within them, that hone in on just how alone these two kids are in this world.
It's one that broke me, but I'm glad I experienced it nonetheless because it's one of my favorites of all time. Volume 1 of The Horizon is releasing from Ize Press on June 20, 2023, and I hope you will check it out! It’s one you’ll want to give a shot, especially if you enjoy post-apocalyptic or thought-provoking series. If you like JH’s works, be sure to check out The Boxer, which recently began releasing with English translation thanks to Ize Press as well.
You can shop The Horizon now at one of the trusted manga retailers listed and get an inside as well as an all-around look at the first volume in my review on YouTube below!
The Horizon Manhwa Review Video
In other manga news, check out my most anticipated new manga releases of 2023, including The Horizon.