Table of Contents
- Brief Review
- Morals and Ethics
- Long Review
Log Horizon is a light-novel-based anime that revolves around the stories in an MMORPG known as “Elder Tale”. The story deals with the struggles encountered in maintaining social order, even inside a game world, and the plot objective and setting sharply contrast with previous anime of this kind, most notably Sword Art Online and anime in the .hack franchise.
How I found it: My friend and I decided to randomly pick a few anime on Crunchyroll to watch a single episode and review. Out of the four anime we watched, only this one turned out to be worth viewing. More than that: I ended up watching the first 8 episodes in two days before being stuck on the regular release cycle like everyone else.
In case you’re interested in reading one of the four manga renditions, you can find it on Famitsu.
Expect .hack and SAO, get something quite different. The most notable similarities between those three franchises and associated anime occur in the first couple of episodes. After that, you actually get something new!! While it’s not an original story, having been based off a light novel, it’s far from being a ripoff of anything popular that I know of.
Basic premise: Stuck in a video game. This seems to be a big fear of the Japanese because it seems to happen frequently. The rules are different, however, and this presents some challenges to the players than can be solved using intelligence instead of merely brute force.
There’s action, there’s intrigue, and there’s romance. This anime is packed with content, and it’s the only anime I’ve ever felt jittery with excitement both before and after watching. This is a MUST watch.
As as side note, this is one of those anime that attempts to explain things that are going on, including the spells. This might annoy some people, but frankly I like it because it answers unasked questions and prevents you from thinking the fight is a random mess where the good guys pull trump cards merely because the plot says they have to win.
The action in the anime is not all sword slashing. In fact, if you are only thirsty for war, this will be a disappointment.
Music – 8/10 – A unique soundtrack with exciting background music. It’s nothing epic but it’ll exceed your expectations if you’re expecting something B-rated.
Directing – 8/10 – Excellent, though not perfect. This isn’t Miyazaki, so expect an average anime feel. However, the action shots are far better than in SAO. You can actually see what’s going while it’s still mysterious enough to be interesting. Plus, the tactful usage of action shots makes otherwise drab scenes quite entertaining.
Animation – 6/10 – Nothing spectacular, but nothing was messed up either. The imagery has a very natural hand-drawn feel. The 3D is still 3D (*sigh*), but fortunately it’s minimally used.
Story – 9/10 – For being centered in an MMO, this story is quite creative for not breaking any rules and going wacko. There are a few stereotypical elements, but they aren’t so strong that they dominate the show.
Morality – 8/10 – This isn’t a kids show, but there is very little to worry about (More on this later.) It goes to show a good story doesn’t need that crap. All of the violence is very, very mild. I saw only one drop of blood – when someone poked their finger with a needle. In this MMO, everyone is trapped, so there’s also no dying.
Overall – 8/10 – Yes, I have high standards.
This show has a lot of ground to cover, and as such, the characters are made distinct (beyond flat) but only a few chosen ones get developed. There was something special or unique about all of them, a second side that would be discovered in time, and while many times it contrasted their normal personality, it didn’t conflict with it.
I will not cover all of the characters. There are too many, and I don’t want to give spoilers in this section.
Shiroe (しろえ), a mage/enchanter and the main protagonist, is an unmistakably solid INTJ character. Mostly unsociable but not a clam. Intelligent “as all get out”. He’s a strategist and a very good, calm one. For once in MMO anime history, the lead character is neither a clam (Tsukasa) or a swordsman, usually reckless (here’s looking at you, Haseo and Kirito). He’s a kind-hearted individual, helping those in need, but like any good introvert, he doesn’t particularly like the idea of belonging to a group; he’d rather be around a tight group of friends. The story focuses on him, and rightfully his personality is very well developed.
Atatsuki (あたつき) is the half-chibi assassin that joins Shiroe (ahem, half-height of everyone else, twice the height of chibi, which is… half chibi… -_-). She’s arguably the loli character, though her personality isn’t mushy by any means. She’s not a tsundere (thank God) because she’s actually supportive to the person she likes without being nasty, though she isn’t slobbering over anyone either. Her real nature is to stick to a code of honor, and she’s a very likeable character.
Naotsugu(なおつぐ) – also called “Naotsugi” – is an experienced knight – “tank class” for those of you who know about MMOs. He’s the self-entitled “open pervert” of the show, but more often becomes an unsuspecting target.
Opening: It rocks, but the lyrics s*ck. What’s worse is that they are half in English, and so you get hear the full force of the sh*tty lyrics.
Ending: “Your Song” by Yun Chi. I can’t get enough of this song. It’s upbeat yet describes a state of slice of life bliss. (Though I admit, the vocals are so high pitched, they could be from Vocaloid.) It fits the show perfectly – more so than the opening, and that seems to be the general drift in the comments section of the videos.
The background music fit the show nicely. No complaints here.
Morals and Ethics
From an moral standpoint, this show is very clean for an anime. There is good and evil, and both sides are presented quite clearly, which is nice.
Concerning “fan service” (usually porn), this show makes a joke out of it. At most, there were two women in beach clothing, neither acting provocative, and the scene lasted a minute. While there are a couple of covered breast shots, that’s the extent of the sexual humor.
War? They fight non-human creatures, who don’t have blood. There is some in-house, er, round-house kicks for slapstick comedy.
Now for the interesting part, and here are some spoilers. One of the key aspects of the story is the game world becoming their “reality”. There was a similar theme in SAO, and it makes me wonder if this is a hint on Japanese escapism. The idea that the game is reality ties into the idea that gamers should treat NPCs (non-player characters) with a kind of equality for being human. While I understand the point and how it is useful, I have a few complaints along this line, and since this is my blog, I get to ramble (oh boy).
First, NPCs are never as smart as the show makes them out to be. The NPC characters are flat enough to where it is conceivable making some personalities, but what the author of this story did was write human characters and make them NPCs.
Second, while it may be useful treating the NPCs kindly, they are not, in any way, equal in humanity. Considering them as such does not elevate them – since you know what they are – but it is a detriment to one’s view of the inherent dignity of a human being. Theology rant incoming… and skipped.
Third, doing this isn’t creative. It’s enough trouble in a plot just considering people – Do we now have to consider everything that walks? While in some cases, it adds action (and opens the door for some naive decisions), in other cases, it’s just a plot tool with obvious holes that makes certain events every bit more… unbelievable. Here’s watching the world change.
I really like this show, so this review might be a bit slanted, but for good reason.
One thing this show really has going for it is its unique approach. I must applaud the author for not copying everyone else. In fact, it seems more or less that they distance this story from other MMO-based and action stories. Hence, notice that the common parallels are missing.
First, there is no primary superpower character. From .hack, we have Aura. From SAO, we have Yuki.
Second, death is not the concern. Instead, death leads to re-spawning, like it should in every normal MMO.
Third, rage isn’t what wins the game. In fact, fighting isn’t the solution at all. SAO and .hack//G.U. both had dark, big-temper protagonists: Kirito and Haseo. Log Horizon, however, takes a more logical approach: using logic. (dun dun DUN!) While there is some deception involved, there isn’t lying. It’s just good ol’ market tactics.
Speaking of which, I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited watching conference meetings. 😀 Each conference was treated like a fight scene – the directing, the sleuth, the ace in the hole. And the anticipated outcomes came with such delightful pizazz, that predicting them in advance didn’t spoil the victory. Kudos to the director.
But don’t worry, the story isn’t solely about conferences. There is plenty of action, and not merely action for the sake of action. Most of it adds something to the story, or at the very least, informs the audience of how things work and the environment in which the characters find themselves.
As a well-balanced show, there are a few noticeable features that I haven’t been finding in other anime recently. For one thing, there is a balance in the private world and the global world. There are several named characters who are neither members of the protagonist’s group, nor so distant that they will eventually be forgotten. There are no faceless pawns, but there are plenty of nameless ones whose plight the author wants you to sympathize with. Based on how the story is told and, you really get a sense of a global connection and responsibility while at the same time a value of close friendships. All that said, this anime is very Japanese in the mentality it promotes.
Another feature is the morality. As much as punch words like “devil” or “villain” are passed around and applied to some of the main characters, I wouldn’t describe their activity as even remotely “devilish”, except the fighting. More fitting words would be “crafty” and “conniving”. While I can’t say confidently for everyone else, I would say Shiroe has the best of intentions and conducts himself honorably and in accordance with such ideals. Rather than resorting to violence and getting-to-the-top, he is instead looking to promote peace and cooperation. In that, he’s a very likeable character, and given his intelligent approach to things, he’s also one of the more unique characters in anime, ranking as my second favorite, behind Vash the Stampede, of course. You might wonder why Vash – who took the violent route in the end – would be ranked ahead. Both he and Shiroe stick to their ideals, but Vash’s were tested to the limit and in the end, there was no other solution. Shiroe, on the other hand, got the option, and his resolve to hold on to those ideals aren’t tested to the full extent as in the case of Vash.
And of course, one of the best parts about this anime is that just when you think it’s over, it’s not even half-done!
Thus far, I’ve done a good job in discussing this show without revealing many hints about the show, but there are a couple of things that must be touched on that might spoil things for you… just a wee bit.
First: Serara is not that young. She is at least in her mid to late teens if not older, and consequently, I can’t figure out why she is depicted as a loli other than that the anime creators seemed to like that theme.
Second: Can we please NOT have a harem in anime? Especially – God forbid – a LOLI harem?! Harems get old. They were probably amusing the first time they were created, but even while this harem actually makes some sense (also unusual for anime), I believe most of the audience will agree with me that it would be nice to just have one-on-one relationships.
And announced at the end is the coming of season 2 this October! I’m giddy with excitement. Of course, by the time it comes around, I’ll have forgotten to look for it.
I’ve even had this article half-written around for months waiting for the show to finish. In that time, the artwork sort of improved. I’ll have to add stuff later.