Baltimore is still under the chill embrace off Father Winter. However that doesn’t mean that we don’t know how to warm up and enjoy ourselves. From January 10th to February 8th, be sure to catch your chance to see ‘Harvey’ at the Vagabond Theatre on S. Broadway Street. Don’t miss the opportunity to see this heartwarming tale about a man and his rabbit. Speaking of a heartwarming tale, it’s about time to bring out another Crunchyroll winner. Okay, not very heartwarming but no less endearing, this time, we explore Log Horizon.
Log Horizon has generated a lot of feedback, both positive and negative. Lots of people like it and some people think that it’s a grand rip off of animes like .Hack and Sword Arts Online. Well objectively, it’s time to put the review to parchment and get to the facts (or most of them anyway). Fact to paper, it is an anime about a population of people waking up to find themselves trapped inside of a video game with no idea how they got there or how to get out. Trying all the standard ways to exit their MMO, Elder Tales, they find out, no surprise, that they can’t. So stuck in the game, the initial panic settles in as people gather together in their groups to feel safe and figure out what’s going on and what’s the next move. We follow Shiro and his band of friends through this ordeal as they try to make their way through this entrapped world they now reside in.
As plots go, the premise of the story is not original. The way that the plot is revealed in combination with the people’s situation does make the storytelling rather unique. In the first few episodes, the passage of time goes by fairly quickly. The story gives you a brief chance to warm up to the situation and then throwing s you in to the first arc. If one had to guess, it’s probably because the idea of being trapped in a video game is something really fresh. It just happened in Sword Arts Online, so being able to get past the initial panicked people and concurrent reactions swiftly were enjoyable. In the first episode of exploring with Shiro and the gang, the “MMO” side of the story was integrated well with player interface while trying to get past numerous enemies. “Don’t pick them but just do them… and call them out,” was the gist and though it was a major problem, it was solved without dragging things out. This was visited again when players went against monsters and each other. Player killing (PK) was another hardship involved in the storyline. In this series, when you died, you just resurrected at the church (or graveyard like in MMOs). This plot point made the paradigm of the story shift from one where people were concerned about dying (like in Sword Art Online) to just getting by. Getting by usually involved PKing and proved to be a major plot device in the first two arcs of the story.
One of the few drawbacks to the plot is that things seem to “settle”. In the first six episodes (after the first), being stuck in a game doesn’t seem to bother people a great deal anymore. People learn to get by, time passes (at some interval), and lives simply move on. On top of that, no one really seems to worry about how or why they’re stuck in the game after the first few episodes as the main plot goes. The “stuck in the game” seems to take a back seat to the arcs and is touched on in moments as you’ll find people briefly talking about a possible reason everyone is stuck in Elder Tales. That reason being the new expansion and land that was just added into the game. And while there’s a plot for players to level up and bad guys to implicate, the unraveling of the mystery appears to be more of a side plot than a main one. To add to that, the backstory to the characters is very limited. Outside the game, you have no idea what’s going on, if people are trying to pull players out, how players even got into the game. On that last point, there appeared to be glimpses of Shiro in the real world getting up from the game console and walking away only to wake up in the game. While the glimpse is a helpful hint, it still does little in the way of backstory for the story or characters.
Highlighting the artistry and acoustics, both were spot on. The opening song, Database, is a great hook for the series. The artistry for the series are also well designed when it comes to the background and the scenery. When it comes to the characters however, the art appears to be blandish and generic. This can also be seen to be accredited to something like the character creation part of MMORP games. If viewed in that fashion, it makes a good bit of sense why the art is that style and is rather smart of the design team. The action sequences are another great focus of the anime. Not strictly limited to visual aesthetics, but also incorporating how MMO’s are usually based on team work and showing tank type characters, healers, and DPS (Damage type) characters in a way that people are familiar with. The enemies vary in their designs as well, from furious to wimpy which gives off a kind of nostalgic feel to anyone who’s ever touched an MMO.
Wrapping it up, Log Horizon is an anime with a lot of potential. As it heads towards its second season, it can only be hoped that it does not end up like the second season of Sword Art Online. While some may complain about hackneyed jokes and it being a “rip off”, Log Horizon seems to stand firm in being an anime of its own kind and telling its own story. If things keep going as it is, this anime should turn out to be a very interesting show indeed. Keeping fingers crossed. But until then, keep your eyes open. Until next time, keep laughing, keep readings and watching.