Review

In 2012 the anime Sword Art Online was the biggest thing to happen in the medium for a long time for one reason or another. If you were an anime fan, it was almost expected that you were watching it because everyone else was. While the show was beautifully animated, the last 11 episodes weren’t nearly as good as the first 14 by any stretch of the imagination resulting in a muddled story and a feeling of disappointment at the end. Now comes another “we’re trapped in an MMORPG” anime, Log Horizon, but how does it stand up?

Shiroe, our main character, is one of many who play the MMORPG, Elder Tale. Within the world he is revered and feared as a brilliant tactician who was a member of a legendary group of players called the Debauchery Tea Party. However, he is somewhat of a loner never accepting guild invites because of those who try to take advantage of his knowledge and experience.

One day while playing, he attempts to logout but discovers that he can’t. The same happened for every other player logged in at the time which resulted in about 30,000 Japanese players trapped within (not to mention that the game map is a one half scale version of the world so there are a lot more). Shortly after this realization he meets up with friend Naogutsuo (a tank class) and Akatsuki, an assassin who Shiroe had recently teamed up with.

The core main characters from left to right: Akatsuki, Chief Nyanta, Shiroe and Naogutsu.

The core main characters from left to right: Akatsuki, Chief Nyanta, Shiroe and Naogutsu.

Beyond these three main characters, many more are introduced throughout the series. None of them felt like throw away characters either which was satisfying. About halfway through the series, the story splits off with the veteran group of players (the ones already mentioned) and a group of younger lower level players who are trying to get stronger (and are mentored by Shiroe and co.). At first this seemed like a bad decision as I cared about what the original squad was doing more, but as time went on I came to enjoy these characters quite a bit.

Unlike Sword Art Online, Log Horizon does not have the high levels of production nor the musical diversity. However, it makes up for it by being a character-driven story that takes a different direction than its predecessors. Instead of finding a way out of the game being the main goal, these people have accepted the fact that they might be there for awhile and try to make it as enjoyable as possible. This results in a show about economy and relationships between the Adventurers (players) and the People of the Land (NPCs). Don’t let that last sentence scare you off though. There is action for those who must have it, but it is infrequent making it more special when it comes about.

What is great about Log Horizon is that it feels like the players are in a game and not just a fantasy world with game elements. Player roles are explained, (tank, assassin, bard, etc.), ability cooldowns and effects are discussed and gameplay mechanics like enemy agro is demonstrated and mentioned. Everytime I watched this show, it made me want to start up my MMO of choice (Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn) and start adventuring. There are even little touches like every time an enemy is defeated, you see coins and potions drop after their bodies disappear. Another key distinction between Log Horizon and its precursors is that if a player dies in game, he or she is simply revived at the local cathedral allowing for a more lighthearted and fun adventure. However, there are some consequences to dying introduced later in the season.

A list of abilities while explaining ability cooldowns during an early battle.

A list of abilities while explaining ability cooldowns during an early battle.

However, like I said earlier, the animation while serviceable isn’t anything special. Battles aren’t too flashy while there is some CG that seems out of place and unnecessary in terms of some enemies. The artstyle on the other hand is great. Characters are distinctive, immediately recognizable and look like they fit right at home within this fantasy game.

From a sound perspective, the soundtrack is perfectly fine with no songs being particularly memorable. The opening song is one that I wasn’t a huge fan of at first but grew on me as time went on. While I cannot understand Japanese, the tone and emotion of each voice actor seemed to fit exactly for each character which might make it hard for me to watch the eventual English dub.

Overall, Log Horizon is a very good anime. While the ending of this 25 episode anime provides no closure, a second season has been announced at the time of this review and will be a part of the fall anime lineup. This show is for those who love to see relatable characters grow and develop alongside each other in a difficult and non-familiar situation. While there isn’t as much action as many might want, this is definitely a show worth checking out especially if you are into MMORPGs.

 

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About the Author

Ross
A recent college grad who just loves playing games. Hopefully I can help you save some money (and possibly spend more than you would like).