I recently got interested in checking out Log Horizon, after it being out for quite a long period of time. (I know I’m pretty late to the party, being almost 6 years since the first season) I wasn’t interested in it when it first came out because I wasn’t exactly the biggest fan of isekai back then, and to be honest even now.
Well to my surprise, I enjoyed this show more than I had expected going in, and even craved for more episodes to watch. (Season 3 is coming out this year!)
If a person like me can love this show, you might also get sucked into the world of Log Horizon. You never know before you try it, amirite?
So I strongly believe that a person’s perspective and the state on mind highly affects the enjoyment of a certain show. I’m sure that there are many viewers like me that were turned off initially by this gem of a show because we all thought it was a copy of a more popular anime at that time, Sword Art Online. Or maybe you were intimidated by all the unknown game logic and lingo mentioned in the anime.
Thanks to one of my friends who is an avid player of MMORPGs getting me interested in the game genre and the mechanics and basics of an MMORPG, I greatly enjoyed this show and understood most of what the show was trying to portray with getting stuck in an MMOPRG and making use of the loopholes in the rules of the game.
Overall, this show hit all the right notes at the right time for me and ended up being a pretty cracky watch. I was actually quite sad to know that I would have to wait just a bit longer for Season 3 to come. (Oh well, what can we do about that?)
SPOILERS AHEAD. PLEASE READ AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION.
Stuff I liked
1. The ever-growing ensemble cast
I loved how the show takes its time introducing us to the characters that are central and important to the story going forward. There is the main male lead, Shiroe, the guy awkward at social interactions but is also a brilliant strategist, Naotsugu, the enthusiastic and happy-go-lucky guy, as well as Akatsuki, the stoic and silent assassin but having a pretty cute personality. There are more, but will only list them in the spoilery parts of this review. These three characters are the first few characters to be introduced in the show and immediately you see how they work well with each other. On paper, their personalities are so different that you would expect conflicts left and right, but the show makes it clear from the start that they would form a bond so strong that nothing can ever break it.
As early as the second episode, you can see how Naotsugu and Akatsuki, despite only meeting for the first time recently, have fallen into this friendly banter, despite it being quite lewd with Naotsugu being a pervert and Akatsuki being very peeved about it. Somehow this banter doesn’t feel forced like in other shows I’ve watched and comes quite naturally. I also like how Shiroe, who was introduced as the socially awkward one, being the one to become the bridge that starts this friendship.
END OF SPOILER
There are so many characters worth mentioning, but if I do list them all with what I loved about them, this review will be crazy long. The characters all have chemistry and none of them feel like a caricature, despite being characters in an anime. I have to say, nicely done.
Shiroe is introduced at the start of the story being socially awkward, kinda like a lone wolf. He doesn’t want any association to any guild and the one time he was associated to a group, it wasn’t even a guild. Right from the start the anime shows you how strong he is, being level 90 and having friends that are ALSO level 90, such as Naotsugu, Akatsuki, Marielle, Henrietta (I think? I might be remembering this wrongly) The anime also implies that he is quite well known in the MMORPG world of Elder Tale.
He also starts to make connections and learn more about the world of Elder Tale that he might not have known before and makes use of the knowledge he has learnt to make this new world that they are trapped in liveable.
More that that though, as the anime progresses, you get to see his growth and deepen his friendships with his friends. There is nothing too devastating that happens in Log Horizon, but the setbacks that the main cast do face alongside Shiroe does make him mature and come out the other side a better person.
One of the events that stuck out to me is how he realised that inventing new magic in the world of Elder Tale is possible by observing how Nyanta is able to cook food that tastes good. He then proceeds to use that knowledge to his advantage and invents new magic that only he could perform at that point in time, contracts. I felt that this shows how smart Shiroe is in making connections that others may not have made, and how he gathers his information by observation.
I also liked the dorky side of Shiroe, especially his love for curry. He may seem like the stoic one in his friendship with Naotsugu, but deep down both of them are equally dorky and thus causes both of them to connect so well.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching his growth as well, from a guy who was a lone wolf and wanted nothing to do with guilds, to becoming a guy who STARTS his own guild. I also liked how even though he was slowly opening up to his friends that he doesn’t immediately become like an open book. He is still quite guarded, as shown by how he didn’t want to let them know his plan when he left Akihabara with Naotsugu to get the finances needed for the maintenance of the town. It is only after losing the raid and realising that he needs to learn to open up and trust in his friends more that he finally opens up and informs them about his motives. This growth feel quite organic and believable, making Shiroe seem more human. I hafta say, I really liked this aspect of the show.
END OF SPOILER
At the start, Akatsuki was quite bland. I thought she was going to be the stereotypical loli girl that is exceptionally good at what she does and becomes peeved when people mistake them for being a young child. To my surprise as the show went on, she quickly rose the ranks of my favourite characters in Log Horizon and stayed at second place until the end of Season 2. (Number 1 is Shiroe, so being number 2 is no easy feat!)
Her character got more focus and development in Season 2 compared to Season 1, and although I wish she could have more development in Season 1, I’m actually happy with where she ended up and how she grew and matured until the end of Season 2.
Right from the first episode, you learn that her avatar in Elder Tale was a tall and lean muscular man. Even though it is a minor detail, I liked how it was subtle foreshadowing for the insecurities she had in real life about her appearance. The constant gags of people calling her ‘shrimp’ were played for comedy but also foreshadowed the insecurity she has about her stature.
In Season 2, we learn that she has low self esteem and felt like she needed to be good at what she does to remain by Shiroe’s side. Because of this insecurity, she also didn’t make any effort to make connections with the other members of the guild and withdrew deeper into her shell.
It is only when she dies and fights the serial killer that she realises that the reason why Shiroe didn’t take her along for the raid was not because she was a burden, but that Shiroe relied on her to take care of the princess. She also regains her confidence and also comes to a realisation that her short stature isn’t a disadvantage, but a unique trait that she has. She starts to open up about her insecurities to the other members and made their bond even stronger.
Although many shows and anime do discuss the theme of self confidence and self love, I like how it never became preachy and instead showed a natural growth in Akatsuki to demonstrate this point. This not only made Akatsuki seem more relatable, but also makes this message more memorable for viewers.
END OF SPOILER
What can I say, I love characters that feel human and relatable.
4. Character moments
I can’t list all of them, or else this post will become WAY too long. So I’m going to list some of my favourites. Of course, SPOILERS INCOMING.
5. Game mechanics and the mystery elements
I admit, I’m a noob when it comes to MMOPRGs. I do know the basics, but nothing more than that. I’m more of a singleplayer RPG, visual novel kinda person.
The show explains the game mechanics in very simple terms and even a non MMOPRG player like myself could understand the logic. Shiroe alsomanages to find the loopholes and slowly become stronger because of that. Unlike some protagonists that are strong simply because.
The mystery element of the show and how the players got stuck into the world of Elder Tale is also very compelling. The players slowly learn more about this new reality that they are stuck in and learns that the world may be more different than when they were playing the game. This makes the question of ‘how did they get stuck in the game’ and ‘who caused them to get stuck in the game’ become a mystery that needs solving, and not just a plot device used.
Log Horizon is quite clever, much more than I had expected going into the anime.
Stuff I didn’t like
Honestly, I had to REALLY nitpick at this section. There were so many things to love about this show. SPOILER WARNING!
1. An abrupt start
The anime starts off quite abruptly. Without any context whatsoever, you see Shiroe waking up in the world inside a game. He ponders his situation for a bit before realising he can contact Naotsugu. He meets up with Naotsugu and talks to him familiarly.
Even though you know there is backstory regarding them both, you can’t help but feel as if you were missing certain pieces to the puzzle. It’s almost like someone asking you how a puzzle looks like without even you having the pieces to the said puzzle. The pieces do come as the story progresses, however, so this feeling of abruptness doesn’t last long.
The final verdict
Full of action, and lots of nice character moments. Game mechanics are explained simply for noobs to MMOPRG player and can be enjoyed by anyone. Highly reccomended!