Today it's follow-the-leader as I review Log Horizon in the wake of Richard Eisenbeis. It's a story about an entire community of gamers suddenly and inexplicably getting pulled into the game world of Elder Tale. What follows is a story of thousands of players finding their place in this new world and the implications of forming a society.
Log Horizon's strength lies quite a bit in its almost educational approach to the premise that people deride as "unoriginal": trapped in a video game. Instead of focusing on getting out of the world or having in-game shenanigans, Log Horizon digs deep into its setting and decides to look at the society that would be formed as a result of living within a video game world.
A great deal of the exposition in the show is given through internal monologues within one of the characters, mainly Shiroe. While many will call these boring and unnecessary, I take the stance they that quickly and efficiently delivered exposition to the viewer in a way that I enjoy. It's a great way to get viewers that might know about certain elements in on them quickly. I rather enjoyed this element.
That aside, it's worth noting that Log Horizon is just good fun. For the duration of its run, it never got very dark or very sad. While there are elements sprinkled throughout that showcase the darker aspects of Elder Tale, the show never loses sight of its commitment to fun, light storytelling. There's just the right amount of humor and just the right amount of compelling drama to keep most viewers interested.
At its core, Log Horizon is the story of a group of normal people coming together to change the world. When the series begins, life for the adventurers (players) is bad. People take advantage of each other and the entire social structure is a mess. It's a society based in a world with no direction, no hope, and no order. The only order is that imposed by the "game rules", which allow for a great many crimes by our world's standards.
Shiroe and many others dislike this system, so the show is the story of them fixing it. To do so they need hope, they need luxuries, and they need a plan. Shiroe, being the former strategist of the legendary raiding group "Debauchery Tea Party", is most happy to oblige the latter.
In a nutshell, the show examines the socio-economic life within the game. It explores how life in a video game would function and how one would make such a society function. This fascinating look at the interworkings of society and the requirements of "leadership" makes for a great story and a great buildup.
As society slowly comes together in Elder Tale, you get the sense that even bigger challenges are in store for the heroes in the future. The final episodes certainly give this impression in spades. It's an exceptional example of using tension to keep the viewer interested.
Problematically, the last few episodes are also the victim of treading water. The show didn't have enough time to jump into the next arc (which will kick off in Log Horizon's second season), so the last arc of the show is mostly filler designed to round out the season. It examines some of the characters of the show a bit and the relationships among them. It doesn't work all that well though and it just stalls.
On another note, the action of the series is pretty forgettable on the whole. You shouldn't watch this show expecting any sort of epic fighting sequences. While there are many gif-able moments in the series related to the fighting, the action itself is usually either a curbstomp or an offscreen moment of awesome. The fights are short and relatively forgettable. They lack in... impact would you say? In any case, this should not be something you're looking for going in.
Log Horizon was a very good entry in the 2013 fall season. It was a fascinating and fun ride through a concept that people constantly deride as "boring" and "unoriginal".
It takes a look at one of the things I'd have loved to see in Sword Art Online, namely how exactly a society in such a world would function. It examines the socio-economic implications of living in a game world and what sort of things you would need to build a true society in such a place. It delves into the political maneuverings of both the player world and the NPCs' world. Overall it was a smartly written series that focused less on action and more on consequences.
On the other hand, it starts to tread water at the end because it's clear that they ran out of plot points to explore. They needed to hold onto the next arc of the light novel series to use in the next season, but they couldn't end the series early. As such, the last few episodes are filler of mixed quality.
If I had describe how good Log Horizon was in a sentence, I'd say that it wasn't quite a great series, but it was consistently a very good show. It was never bland or boring, even at the beginning, but it was never overtly great either. It is very worth a watch and I stand by it as one of the biggest treats of the last fall season.
This is part of Anime Marathon 2014, a continuation of Anime Marathon 2013 by popular demand. I'm on a mission to review every anime I can for the TAY community and anyone else that wants to read. I can never guarantee when these reviews will be posted, but I'll do my best to keep it consistent.