In the blink of an eye, thirty thousand bewildered Japanese gamers are whisked from their everyday lives into the world of the popular MMORPG, Elder Tale, after the game's latest update—unable to log out. Among them is the socially awkward college student Shiroe, whose confusion and shock lasts only a moment as, a veteran of the game, he immediately sets out to explore the limits of his new reality.
Shiroe must learn to live in this new world, leading others and negotiating with the NPC "natives" in order to bring stability to the virtual city of Akihabara. He is joined by his unfortunate friend Naotsugu, having logged in for the first time in years only to find himself trapped, and Akatsuki, a petite but fierce assassin who labels Shiroe as her master. A tale of fantasy, adventure, and politics, Log Horizon explores the elements of gaming through the eyes of a master strategist who attempts to make the best of a puzzling situation.
What started off as what seemed to be a bland-version of Sword Art Online turned out to be one of the hidden gems of anime shows. Log Horizon starts off slow with the usual setup of a "no-faults" main character, but with a slight difference. That difference is how the main character, Shiroe, strategically approaches each situation that makes Log Horizon an exciting show to watch. Shiroe isn’t the typical shounen main character that powers up throughout the story and then overpowers his enemies. Rather, he’s the guy in the background, the “villain in glasses” who controls the flow and direction of battle. Overall, Log
Horizon is a genuinely fun show without all the pitfalls that we've come to expect from a shounen-type series.
The story begins by introducing a set of typical MMORPG rules/restrictions that many viewers are familiar with. But what's not so familiar are the way these rules are manipulated, opening paths to feats that were previously impossible. When one thinks of rules and boundaries, one would assume that it would limit whatever it governs. Ironically, these strict rules expand Log Horizon's story from a generic show to a well thought-out strategic adventure. It's an extremely appealing story given the relatability to many of its viewers. Having played games like World of Warcraft, I and many other viewers understand how the core mechanics of questing, leveling, raiding and more work. That’s why when other possibilities that greatly affect these game mechanics are discovered, Log Horizon truly becomes special. It also feels completely plausible. It is NOT a “power of friendship defeating the boss that was previously kicking your ass.” It’s fundamentally sound and really becomes an intriguing show.
Although some may disagree, I really thought that one of the show’s biggest strength is how the characters all have defined, unique roles. Where Shiroe is the leader in the shadows, Crusty is the leader in the spotlight. Where Akatsuki is loyal, quiet and small, Naotsugu is the loud, pervy and funny big guy. And you also have... Rundelhaus, who's in a category of his own when it comes to goofiness. These kinds of distinctions allow Log Horizon to have all kinds of interactions between characters and the possibilities become endless. To me, the characters are one of the biggest strengths of the show.
The story is what makes Log Horizon quite different from a typical shounen show. It has heavy political/economical themes that tie well into one of the show’s biggest points: building a world. In fact, there are a few episodes where the dialogue gets quite heavy and may not be everyone’s cup of tea. With that being said, I genuinely enjoyed the dialogue and found the story to be engaging. Log Horizon also executes its' story quite well. I found the pacing and structure of the arcs to be satisfactory and enjoyable.
Art is decent, it's not UFOtable amazing, but not terrible either. It's consistently pretty decent and not "inconsistent" like some other shows. Nothing else to be said here.
Sound is decent as well, the opening and ending songs are quite good but take time to get used to. The background music, while not bad, is overused. You'll know what I mean when you get halfway through the season.
With all that being said, Log Horizon is not a perfect show. For example, why does no one care about what's happening to their bodies in the real world? You'll find yourself asking this question as you watch the show. It's almost as if the topic of what's going on in the real world is completely forgotten. Also, some people may find that the interactions between the characters become quite repetitive, especially with Henrietta, who has a loli fetish for Akatsuki. Her interactions with Akatsuki are always of the same manner and it gets boring very quickly. It seems that Akatsuki's character is reduced to mere loli humor later in the show.
On a side note, I really feel that it's important to point out that Log Horizon is not a combat-heavy show. That in itself already distinguishes itself from other shounen shows. But what's really important is how the show focuses on actual strategy and manipulating the rules within the game world that the characters live in. If Log Horizon's story didn't have these elements, I really believe that Log Horizon would not be an exciting show to watch, it would just be another okay show.
Log Horizon is not your typical show. It has firm grounded roots of realism in a world of fantasy that is genuinely exciting to watch. From diverse characters, to bending the rules in a world most of us are accustomed to, Log Horizon is a good show and is worth your time. With that being said, it is by no means a perfect show. It's a rather simple show in terms of concepts, as well as having plot holes in the overall story. But Log Horizon more than makes up for it in terms of its pure enjoyability (isn't that why we watch anime in the first place?) and execution of its story.
Log Horizon. The basic premise, as is evident in the synopsis, centres around a group of players who by some - as of yet - unexplained phenomenon, got stuck in an online massive multi player role playing game.
I can imagine anyone familiar with Sword Art Online doing a double take at this point, obviously comparing the two anime, itching to see how one holds up against the other. SAO lovers and haters alike will travel down this line of thought. To be honest, I was and is one of the latter. Infact, I went into the series hoping to find all I missed
in SAO after reading some assuring extracts that put this above Sword Art Online. And it did deliver.
I should mention, however, that this anime is not everyone's cup of tea. If you're not the type to sit down and enjoy a dialogue heavy show such as this, the anime will most certainly come off as dry and boring. To be fair, if you're on the extreme end of dialogue-heavy fanaticism, the end-result won't vary. Log Horizon is the kind of anime that sits on the neutral ground - its dialogue heavy, but the concepts are not overly complex, thought provoking or riddled with worldly wise philosophies.
That is not to say the show is not intelligent, but nonetheless, if you take the word of Log Horizon fans(a.k.a SAO haters) that judge the show as the intellectual's SAO, then you'll end up sorely let down. Because, at the end of the day, Log Horizon is still a kids show that shows no shame in shying away from the more ugly facets of the scenario, and the devious schemes that characters keep praising as something phenomenal are rather elementary.
Not that its a bad thing, the anime itself doesn't go out of its way to show its characters as human super computers or anything. We just get a normal gamer guy with above average intelligence, and one who actually does his homework to get things done. Seeing he's surrounded by other normal people and AI, it might even be a good thing. The situations themselves doesn't call for anything more than some rudimentary marketing and administrative tactics and strategies.
The story is in any case, fairly well executed and implemented; you won't find the characters doing utterly pointless actions or going on completely fruitless endeavours. Although, like they say, don't judge a book by its cover, because first arc of Log Horizon can mislead you on the show's main focus. Without spoiling too much, they first go on a rescue mission and the short arc serves as an exposition of sorts to give us a gist of the combat and gameplay mechanics, which while not a central theme, does get some focus later on in the series. Even so, combat is not heavy in Log Horizon. When there is action, it mostly relies on tactics and strategy. There is no one-man show where the mc's love overrides the game mechanics or anything. But, if you forget the two arcs where action is important - Log Horizon is about economics and politics at its core.
One significant factor that differentiates Log Horizon from its thematic predecessors like SAO and .hack series is that death in the game does not equate to death in real life. That is, the players can respawn infinitely. It is not without consequence though, as there is something even more terrible than death that await the players who carelessly let their HP bars easily chip away to zero. Oops, I said too much. Maybe you should go watch the anime, because I won't be dropping any more spoilers.
Now, onto the sound. The OST at first didn't at all sit well with me. It was sharply contrasting to the shows feel and theme. However, slowly but surely, I ended up loving it and started humming along. I can't honestly speak in-depth about the back-ground score...But they were certainly mood building, though I have my doubts about whether they went overboard with it. Some of the mood-building has gone to water and left me with a facepalm because the epic moments were made epic only because of the soundtracks. Without those, I wouldn't have batted an eye at the game winning strategies the characters employed and would have wrote them off as common sense. Meanwhile, the ending has already found a place in my favorites. Never skipped it, infact, I'm listening to it as I'm typing.
The art was quite mediocre. Nothing to speak of. Its not too bad and its not too good. I felt that it didn't quite feel like a game for most part. But you really can't complain, for all we know, they may not even be stuck in a game per se. The character designs were pretty generic and all of anime's usual motifs are used. I particularly liked the mc's design.
Characters of Log Horizon are not unique or spectacular in any sense. But they get their job done, and the mc is a wits above fists guy for once, and he's good at it. There is also the charismatic guy who gets all the praise, but luckily, we see him as a side character for the better part of the show. Not really surprising given Log Horizon takes a radically different route than most mainstream shounen shows by focusing on the action behind the scenes far more than the frontline adventures.
I have noticed the characters getting blamed for reacting too calmly towards their predicament and this is one of those criticisms I don't understand. If you came across such a criticism, take my word - that is baseless. Completely baseless.
One character I was thoroughly disappointed with was the loli assassin, Akatsuki. I actually had high hopes for her. But much to my dismay, her potential as a character was left untapped in terms of both execution and elucidation. I certainly won't condemn her character for development as she seemed to be wallowing in sadness because of her inability to be of sufficient use, and even more her because of her being unable to empathize with the mc towards the end. She still has a lot of potential for development, especially in the light of next season coming shortly. No, my problem is with her lack of chemistry with the mc. The same slap-stick jokes with the show's resident pervert can get old really easily, and the whole cosplay facade she uses to interact with Shiroe doesn't help either. Heck, Shiroe himself thinks her antics are nothing more than cosplaying when her personal monologues shows that she is invested in Shiroe on a more than superficial level. If there was some backstory for such an introverted personality, then I could have let it slip. But sadly, nothing of that sort came up. I'm hoping that the next season will take some time to flesh out her character, seeing she's the main female lead.
Rest of the characters were great for the duration of the show and we can hope that they will play more important roles in the upcoming sequel. Some of the secondary cast got a lot more development than the main cast, both a positive and negative point in my books.
Another weakness in its character department comes from overuse of certain gags. Shiroe adjusting his glasses when thinking making everyone go 'Ooohh the villain in glasses', Henrietta's obsession with dressing up lolis, Naotsugu's openly showing perverted tendencies only to get interrupted halfway by wrathful Akatsuki etc being only some of the examples. While this is not uncommon or ineffective, too much of these can be frustrating.
As I mentioned at the beginning, this anime is not for everyone. For those who like dialogue heavy anime that is not dark or depressing, with some light slapstick comedy thrown in for good measure - this is exactly what you're looking for.
As a last note, I must warn anyone who has been pushed onto taking up this anime by SAO haters - Granted, its different from SAO and does decidedly better than SAO on the story department, particularly the pacing. But its not the masterpiece that many of them paint it to be. Log Horizon is a little above the average shounen, however, its still an anime with flaws that cannot be overlooked. My own overall score is a result of the kind of entertainment I derived and not at all reflecting of the show's quality from an objective standpoint.
There is a demographic of people who love to dabble in the virtual world of Massively Multiplayer Online games (MMO) to achieve escapism from stress and other struggles that plague their nature. Recently, there has been somewhat of a resurgence of interest for anime fans to watch shows that detail the life of gamers who play these sorts of games, with Sword Art Online being the forefront of it. Asking questions that detail whether the virtual world could become more real to us than what we originally thought of as real from when we were born should be the main theme for these shows to
explore and bring a fresh new take on it. It’s just too bad that none of these shows in question ever bothered to in the first place and become generic as a result.
A year later we have Log Horizon, an MMO inspired anime that basically has the same scenario as the aforementioned show with only a few minor iterations here and there. Now before I begin, this won’t be a piece where I start to compare or contrast both Sword Art Online and Log Horizon, as many people unfortunately seem to be inclined to do so. Whether I think Sword Art Online was good or bad should not be a factor on how I think of Log Horizon in particular. Judging a show by its own merits without any outside influence of another show should be the number one key in critiquing any work. With that said, does Log Horizon really hold out on its own?
One thing to realize about the plot is the tone of the setting and how it feels very lighthearted despite the dire situation that all of the characters are in. As far as the characters know, they have no way of getting out of the game. Many have criticized this aspect as being somewhat unrealistic in how real people would react to something of this magnitude. It might be an understandable critique to offer, at first. However, as the show goes on it feels fitting based on the nature of how the characters feel about how they live and survive in the virtual environment. For how ever long they’ve been trapped in the game for years on end, at least based on their own confusing logic, that virtual world just becomes their own world and get used to it by then. It also helps to the show’s credit that they don’t ever show us the real world at all and keeps it a mystery as to how things are going to make the situation from the characters’ perspective feel more apparent to the audience.
While this might be one of the stronger points of the show, the story itself in how it is paced and told isn’t really nail-bitingly intuitive or well thought out. The premise isn’t that complicated to begin with, as we’ve been shown before, but Log Horizon seems to think that if they throw in multiple sub-plots into the mix to make it seem complex, it’ll succeed. Unfortunately, those sub-plots I’d mentioned don’t really amount to anything special in the long run and aren’t even that memorable because of it. Not only that, but that lack of memorability stems from the fact that all of these political and social constructs that Log Horizon’s world possesses aren’t really written clear enough, other then the fact that they’re there to establish some sort of basis for our protagonists to go somewhere. This comes into perspective with how many characters there are to follow in Log Horizon, but I’ll get to that later. The problems with the world-building might be more apparent after knowing that the original creator, Mamare Touno, was responsible for the creation of Maoyuu Maou Yuusha, which also had the same problems in its adaptation that can be compared to this one. These sorts of problems are very common in adaptations in this type of scale, but that can’t be an excuse at this point.
Though the massive cast of characters might seem like a huge negative, the way I put it, that shouldn’t mean that all of them are mediocre. The main cast of characters that are prominent throughout the show are extremely likable and hilarious to watch due to their numerous escapades with each other. It helps tremendously how they all have their own unique characteristics that improve the nature of every one of them, rather than making them all generic and uninteresting. The same thing can’t really be said for the side characters, regrettably so. With our main cast being Shiroe, Nyanta-nyan, Akatsuki, and Naotsugu, there’s this really fine sense of chemistry between these four characters that is ultimately lacking for our side/supporting cast. All of their archetypes mostly consist of them having a trait that tries to make them distinct, such as Henrietta having an obsession with cute things like Akatsuki, and Serara, who has a habit of wanting to clean things to calm down. At first it’s humorous, but after a while it becomes redundant and it doesn’t make them any more meaningful.
In an action anime centered around the MMO systems, it would make sense to make the anime feel like you’re really in an MMO game from the gritty details of cool-downs, being a tank, healing your party members equally, and conjuring status effects at the right time. I, myself, am one of these people who enjoy these types of games and, to me, Log Horizon is probably the only one that actually gets it right. Normally something like this would steer off into brainless shounen show cliches and there are a few here and there. Amazingly, Log Horizon gets the idea of taking its time for the characters to strategize their movements and actions rather than just blindly fighting off monsters without any sort of thought in the world. That make the action seem too slow or methodical to enjoy watching, but in reality, they do a very good job in the pacing of these fight scenes and keeping the action flowing seamlessly in order to give us a clear picture of what’s going on.
The art style can be construed as good, just not excellent in quality. The character designs themselves are very plain and ordinary enough for me to even consider them a triumphant success in artistic quality, but we come to expect that and for what it’s worth, it handles it decently to where they don’t seem to cut any obvious corners in the later episodes. As I’ve mentioned about the action being fast and flawlessly executed, the animation is a big part of why those are the case. The fluid character movements feel nice and kinetic to the spells that are cast and look pretty good as a result.
Voice talents range from relatively unknown voice actors to the familiar ones we’ve grown to be fans of giving their artistic liberties to full effect with Log Horizon. Emiri Kato as Akatsuki is devilishly cute and her being a fellow MMO fan sort of gives her performance an interesting spin. Even though Henrietta wasn’t that special as a character, Ayahi Takabaki manages to pull off the mature woman voice really well and gives her voice some new territory for her to explore for her vocal talents rather than more boyish female characters. Takuma Terashima proves himself worthy of being the main protagonist of a show and I hope to see him do more in the near future. Not to mention, I could listen to Jouji Nakata say anything with the word “nyaa” at the end of his sentences and never get tired of it.
For some of us who are fans of the MMO genre, Log Horizon should be the one show to be doing it right and while it does handle the actual MMO aspects brilliantly, the actual narrative and storytelling sets itself down from being great. I do appreciate the amount of depth it tries to convey that wants us to feel attached to the world, yet I can’t help but wonder if that could’ve been done to better effect had it made the narrative more tightly constructive and less cluttered. The saying, “Too many cooks spoil the broth,” sums up Log Horizon perfectly. Only when the eventual sequel comes out we will know if the journey will be worthwhile enough to experience its imminent climax.
There are certain degrees to which MMROPG series are adapted these days. While not an original concept, Log Horizon has been unanimously compared to another popular series known as Sword Art Online. It’s almost unavoidable considering both series are based off a light novel and relates to character in an MMORPG setting – an open world based off a video game. But really, that’s all there is to it and the similarities ends there. Log Horizon isn’t a rip off of SAO, .//hack franchise, or anything else relating to the MMOROPG theme. It’s a show that shines in its own way that makes its point
in the horizons.
Log Horizon is an anime adapted series based off the light novel of the same name written by Mamare Touno. The setting takes place in a virtual world known as ‘Elder Tale’. Log Horizon follows the story of a young man known as Shiroe who has earned a reputation in the community. His nickname “Shiroe the Strategist” fits his title exactly as such because of his analytical skills and abilities of intellect. Together with his companions, they take on this world that blurs between the lines of fiction and reality.
As a MMORPG series, Log Horizon adapts many of its concepts relating to the fantasy realm. Nothing in Elder Tale is real but they have their own mechanics. These include but is not limited to various classes players can adapt their roles in, monster categories, economic/politic aesthetics, and world concepts. In fact, the world that Log Horizon is based on is colored with all sorts of fantasy attributes; goblins, murlocs, gryphons to just name a few. More importantly is the fact that the world itself also has its own rules such as penalties, death/respawns, pking, etc. On many chances, Log Horizon follows a suit of narrative through which mechanics are explained thoroughly to give viewers insights. These narratives often goes over background information and how exactly certain notions function. Log Horizon presents this flawlessly because it both tell and shows its mechanics firsthand. It brings out its best when the show follows the concepts of actual MMORPG mechanics. As a former MMORPG player, I am pleased to see this such concepts being explored. More so, Log Horizon also focuses on world building with its construction of its fictional universe. It aims to inform, presents it, and delivers.
Series based off of MMORPG often incorporates a large cast of characters. Log Horizon is no stranger to a large cast. Most prominently however are our main protagonists of the guild – Log Horizon. Shiroe, Naotsugu, Akatsuki, Nyanta, Minori, Tohya, and Isuzu makes up this group of players and together stands as a unity to face their world. Even from the first episode, there’s a sudden degree of chemistry between each member that can attract viewers to see how it develops. On a technical level, each character has their own personalities and more importantly, a class and level. This is important as each class has a skill of its own as well as a sub-class that is imperative for a guild to survive. For example, Akatsuki’s class is ‘assassin’ with a sub-class of ‘tracker’. Both of these functions well in stealth missions where infiltration and gathering information is significant to ensure a guild’s success. Log Horizon demonstrates this well on various degrees by testing the limits of these classes for both its advantages and flaws.
The series functions well in terms of storytelling on most parts. Every episode offers something new to the audience with its game mechanics whether it’s combat, politics, or even culinary. While the series does have its concept of survival, it doesn’t just focus on that exclusively. Rather, its formula consists of various degrees of concepts that connects the story as a whole. It focuses on an internal level of struggle and warfare that sets Log Horizon as a unique series. Furthermore, it also engineers the overall theme of the plot and doesn’t go overboard with its comedy, drama, or even romance. Of course, there is also action offered which brings the show to life with its sequences. What makes it more entertaining and attractive is the way characters engage in combat with their skills based off their classes. Even players in a party such as healers play prominent roles and no one is left in the dust. There is also no player that plays the role of an overpowered protagonist or break through impossible circumstances through deus ex machina. The concepts and mechanics are explained beforehand and applies when the time calls for it.
Even though Log Horizon is the main guild that is explored throughout the series, it doesn’t just focus on them. Supporting characters also get their spotlights with their own classes, levels, and secrets. There’s a degree of connection that the audience can relate to. There’s no random fan service or the typical cliche of the accidental bath walk-ins that sets no relations. As a fan of MMORPG games, I appreciate its presentation that focuses supporting characters and not just its core players. Even NPCs (non-playable player) gets its exploration that is intuitive. And as a MMORPG based off setting world, it doesn’t forget to add the idea of PKers – player killers. It’s a common sight to see and offers a threat for players to face beyond just the world and its creatures.
As fantastic as it sounds, Log Horizon is by no means a perfect series. Fantasy wise, the world of Elder Tale adapts itself well but hard to take it at heart. It quirks into silliness with its high dosage of comedy that makes it hard to take the show seriously on occasions. Demonstrated by its cartoonish designs, most of the characters lacks any features of impressive design. Akatsuki is also advertised as a young girl with a cute face but dangerous nature which is ironic since her age contrasts greatly with her appearance. Her devotion to Shiroe, or rather in her words “protecting her lord” can get repetitive and lacks substance. Essentially, Akatsuki suffers from developments and characterization. And from some flashbacks are shown, most of the main characters’ backgrounds are only briefly touched and vaguely touched upon. It leaves viewers in the dark as to how our characters became the players are they are in Log Horizon. Finally, the connection between the players in the game and their real life counterparts is completely omitted leaving viewers in the dark on their origins.
Despite some of these drawbacks, Log Horizon still offers impressive features to take notice of. From minute one, the show focuses on its theme and doesn’t venture far off of it. The world of Elder Tale also presents location that is credible such as the natural mountains, the ruined cities (that resembles past civilization), fresh breathing beaches, and dampening caverns. There’s a sense of reality that the audience might relate to if they have played MMORPG games in the past. It adapts itself based on these themes where Log Horizon and should be endeared.
The artwork of Log Horizon strikes as a make or break situation. By credibility, it works out very well with adapting its fantasy style of Elder Tale. Satelite studios previously were involved with other fantasy series such as Guin Saga, Arata Kangatari, and Fairy Tail. Here, they make the show believable with its artwork designs at the surface level. On other hand, character designs sometimes becomes distracting and hard to take seriously with their designs. Akatsuki is perhaps the character that stands out the most with her appearance as an assassin but nothing else strikes more than her as that. This same applies to Shiroe with his geeky like appearance that acts as the brainiac of the group. They just seems to be there with its blend background. However, Nyanta is one character to take notice of because of its feline features that really defines the fantasy atmosphere to what Log Horizon is.
Soundtrack wise, Log Horizon strikes as an outstanding feature. Beginning with the OP song, the show defines itself with the theme of “Database” that blurs between lines of fiction and reality. Most characters’ voices fits their roles well with some that defines their characters more than others such as Nyanta. The OST also performs at a level that matches scenes whether it strikes as important, emotional, cinematic, or comical. The ED song also reflects a more innocent theme with Akatsuki as its main mascot.
As a former MMORPG player, I appreciate the way Log Horizon presented itself. Rather than just going with a concept of the typical virtual war trope or saving the world, Log Horizon sets its basis on a foundation of mechanics that is presented in an exquisite way. Not only is it accurate to the basis of an MMORPG setting but the characters themselves drives the story with their adequate roles. Log Horizon also likes to focus on various degrees of politics and economics to explore its insight on a more intellectual level. It also adapts world building concepts that becomes a focus to drive the story forward. It explores territory an MMORPG exactly as it should be and doesn’t lose track. On some technical note, it can take some time to get used to the artwork. Comedy can also strike as a hit or miss depending on your preferences. Still, the end game is that Log Horizon is an unique series. It’s not a clone of Sword Art Online or does it leave audience confused. In fact, you’ll likely be forming your own theories as each episode progresses relating to its world and characters. It’s appreciable that Log Horizon can adapts so many concepts into the show as an industrial revolution of success.