For my second review I thought I’d look at one of my all time favourite anime’s. Log Horizon, it is the reality that gamers dream of. Having taken several forms and adaptions over time, the anime truly is a written marvel.
The power of Log Horizon comes from its immense cast, deep explanations and connected story. Following an update on the popular MMORPG Elder Tales every logged in avatar suddenly finds themselves inside the game, and having to grasp the switch of reality and game’s in terms of society, mechanics, economics and adventure. The focal point of the anime is the exploits of legendary player Shiroe, an entirely support class character with encyclopedic knowledge of the MMO. Lacking the ability to work on his own, but his reluctance to team with others, we can only observe as he pits his intellect against the very nature of his new reality. Of course he can’t do this alone forever, and an extravagant array of supporting cast comes into effect.
The first season follows Shiroe much more actively, while the second season oversees the events set in motion by his actions through the eyes of several supporting characters, and by extension begins to explore how they came to end up inside their new reality. With former allies and new enemies coming to light, the growth and development of his friends and the repercussions of his actions butterflying across the world…one can only imagine what may come of Log Horizon in the future. The vastness and depth of the plot are unmatched, the only weak feature in the anime is the art. This isn’t because it’s bad, but because its budget was small and the length of the anime was long.
Attempting to cover the cast is nigh impossible, however there are several that will stick with you. Of these I found a few to be my favourites.
Shiroe-The main character, a college student and socially awkward genius. He possess encyclopedic knowledge of the game up to the latest update and follows his plans with absolute resolution, leading to many misunderstandings with his associates. He is the leader of the main group (the guild Log Horizon, and its allies in battle)
Akatsuki-A roleplaying ninja assassin in the service of Shiroe who goes through several character development curves.
Naotsugu-An old associate of Shiroe who joins him on his adventures early on, he provides the comedic relief in the series with his attempts at perverted outbursts…falling short of being completed by Akatsuki’s interventions.
Minori-A young new player to the MMO that Shiroe helped when she started out, after which she tries to emulate Shiroe’s method of playing the game. She is the leader of “Scrub Horizon”, the group composed of the lower level members of the Log Horizon guild.
Rundellhous Kode-An apparently stereotypical noble-esque adventurer who ends up in league with “Scrub Horizon”, following certain events and the nature of his past he ends up being saved by Shiroe and officially ends up in Log Horizon.
The animes in depth explanation of the MMO mechanics behind the reality and the fleshed out world make sure that you understand the nature of the tactics and plans employed, in addition to seeing how these change or impact how the new reality forms. However as far as Action anime go, this has no majorly impressive looking battles, nor does it offer much in escapism, this is very much an intellectual anime. Shiroe isn’t your typical hero, he works from the shadows and manipulates events to his desired outcome…even if that means playing as the villain from time to time for the greater good.
Log Horizon is often compared to Sword Art Online for its setting of “trapped inside an MMO” that first caught our attention back with .hack//SIGN. However I feel they couldn’t be more different, what one does well the other does catastrophically. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy both, however it limits the comparison. The closest comparison to Log Horizon would be Overlord, which sees another player trapped in an MMO that has become their reality, and how they deal with the politics of their existence within it ever so slightly intellectually.
In that fanboy battle between Shiroe and Kirito (Sword Art Online) it is clear who would come out the victor, Shiroe said it himself.
“Being strong on your own is meaningless. To have power you need other people, and they need a world where they can be at their best.”