Log Horizon

Title:Log Horizon
Keywords: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Notables: KATOU Emiri
MAENO Tomoaki
R1 License - Sentai Filmworks (ADV)
Elder Tales is an online fantasy RPG that has become popular worldwide. But when its twelfth expansion package, "Cultivate the Noosphere," is installed, thirty thousand players in Japan are trapped inside. Among them is grad student Shiroe, who isn't very good at interacting with others. But to survive in a world full of monsters, he forms a guild called "Log Horizon" with an eclectic group of other players.
(Synopsis courtesy of ANN)

[TV series, 2013/14, 25 episodes, 23 min; based on an ongoing novel series with 6+ volumes since 2010 and four ongoing shounen manga adaptions]
See series sequel, Log Horizon 2.
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Rent 8 7 8 6 8 8 Ggultra2764 [series:2793#1552]
Log Horizon follows in the same path as Sword Art Online in being focused on a popular MMORPG game where thousands of its players find themselves incapable of logging off the game under mysterious circumstances. Unlike SAO though, Log Horizon is a bit more light-hearted in its focus on how players handle their rather unique situation and the serious moments are not as heavy-handed, the latter being the major reason why I never got drawn into Sword Art Online. Mainly focused on enchanter Shiroe and the members of his party, our leads strive to restore stability and order to the game as many players are abuse their unique predicament for personal gain to enforce their will on weaker players, steal items and player-killing.

The series does a rather great job tackling the normal behavior of players participating in an MMORPG with novices, veterans and rule-breakers. This can involve anything from helping novice players, making friends, actively participating in game activity or actively abusing the unique circumstances of the game. Regular MMORPG activity such as special events, forming guilds, gaining game experience and getting rare items is seen and part of regular social activity within the series. Those that form parties even strategize to develop strategies to fend off enemy threats as they either compete against rogue parties or fend against enemy monsters. In addition, logging out of the game isn't the only bizarre thing affecting players and the gaming environment as other bizarre things pop up that get explored which affect how players deal with their present situation.

Gaming isn't the only element addressed within the series either as a good chunk of the anime's plot revolves around Shiroe and his comrades trying to make sense of their current situation in the game and restore order to it. The task isn't an easy one as players are wary of the current gaming environment thanks to guilds and parties reigning control over parts of the game and intimidating other players into joining their ranks or not to put up any resistance. Through extensive knowledge of the game and social interactions between others, Shiroe develops a number of plans throughout the series to deal with rogue guilds, rescuing novice players, dealing with hostilities and bringing some semblance of rules for players to follow that involve some bits of ruthlessness as he exploits unique abilities and game resources to drive off the corrupt elements affecting players within the game.

Beyond Shiroe, we do get introduced to a number of other characters who have their personalities and mentalities explored as to why they participate in the game. While a number of them milk character types typical of MMORPG and rom-com titles, they are still a likeable bunch and the majority of characters get enough fleshing out where you can connect with them as they adjust to events that take place throughout the series. Only issues that come up with the series for me are hit-and-miss attempts at comedy coming from typical anime tropes mostly coming from Akatsuki's character in some form, a few rather shallow characters and the series still ongoing into its second season as the mystery surrounding the changes to the game still left unresolved.

Still, Log Horizon was an engaging series for the most part as it struck a nice balance between typical MMORPG activity and its plot exploration with Shiroe trying to deal with their unique situation taking place in the gaming world and restoring order to it when chaos breaks out. Fans of MMORPG-based anime titles should give the series a look.

Last updated Friday, May 29 2015. Created Friday, May 29 2015.
Unevaluated chibi [series:2793#2380]
When the endings come too soon and I'm waiting for the minute the next episode downloads, I know that I've got a good series. The parallels to Sword Art Online are obvious, but Log Horizon takes the tack of giving us a game without a winning goal, or maybe the object is to figure out what the winning goal is. Either way I'm finding the title guild's adventure to create their own meaning in an artificial world to be highly engaging.

By the way, the "log" in Log Horizon is not a part of a fallen tree. The Japanese version of the guild's name, "kiroku no chiheisen (記録の地平線)," indicates the meaning intended is of a report or record, as in "log book." Probably a reference to Shiroe's avocation as a scribe.

Last updated Monday, March 03 2014. Created Sunday, March 02 2014.
Watch Stretch [series:2793#628]
(All episodes watched):

My first impression of Log Horizon was that it seemed like a less serious, more comedy-oriented version of Sword Art Online, though comedy would still be subordinate to action and adventure, apparently. That might be a good idea, since it would be hard to outdo SAO. I hoped the focus would be on figuring out what has gone wrong and how to escape from it rather than just fights-of-the-week. I liked Shiro, the sort of nerdy protagonist, and the characters in general. It was too soon to say, but this might work out OK and be interesting.

Sure enough, LH doesn't seem anywhere near as complex and intriguing as SAO was; it's more about simply playing the game than trying to find a way out of it. But this general premise interests me, and I would say it is better to have a poor man's SAO than none at all. The battle in episode four seemed almost like an animated lesson in how to play the game. The tactics that were used are dissected afterwards to explain why things worked out the way they did. It was kind of fun, but I also noticed that whereas we had been told something about what Shiro did in the real world and why he took to playing Elder Tale, there was no more mention of the real-world personalities of any of the other players. And this seems to close the first arc of the story, which was ultimately about rescuing someone from an unfriendly region rather than trying to find a way to escape from the malfunctioning video game. The game itself seems to get as much (or more) attention as the people forced to play it. I get the feeling that this could go on indefinitely, since unlike SAO you apparently can't get killed in the real world by what happens here. The players are more concerned with finding virtual food with taste than with making sense of what could possibly have gone wrong with the game and what it means for them. This seems like a major sacrifice of potential--like Log H doesn't intend to stretch the envelope of people-trapped-in-video-games at all. I never expected it to be as good as SAO, but if it isn't even going to try to venture into uncharted territory in any way, that would be a major disappointment. And the fact that the series is based on an 'ongoing novel series' means that no conclusion is likely to be forthcoming and things may never get any more engaging than they already are. One other thing: the 'Ninja girl strikes knight guy for foolish remark' gag got old long, long ago!

Basically, this show has taken an attitude of "well, we're trapped in a virtual reality which we can't log out of, and the behavior of others is getting ugly, so let's just play the game as best we can, and try to make right some of the wrongs other people do". There is no wondering about what people in the real world might be doing to try to rescue them, or what might be happening to the player's physical bodies as they presumably lie attached to computers, or any thoughts about whether it was a good idea to let video games get this all-encompassing in the first place. The show is skirting around human psychology, which seems like a terrible waste of potential. Come to think of it, couldn't this show just have been a fantasy series to begin with, and dispense with the video-game-gone-haywire aspect altogether? Because very, very little is being done with the malfunction premise; I can only guess that the idea was to flatter teens who play a lot of games like this into watching by including mentions of the game rules and tactics.

We are tossed a bone in episode 14, as Shiro meets a Mage who has developed a theory of how magic works on a massive scale in the world of Elder Tale. I think he's a 'Person of the Land', i.e, a computer created character rather than a character controlled by a player, so he must explain things in terms of 'magic' rather than computer problems. But his ideas might just help explain 'the apocalypse'. The show doesn't go this far, but this was a mind-expanding concept which had me wondering things like 'Is Shiro (and everyone else) a player sitting at a computer and playing a game, or are they the fictional characters which such people have created, who exist only within the game's software, and which have somehow become self-aware'? It kind of blew my mind. Can Log Horizon really go this far, or am I reading too much into it?

I was reading too much into it. Episode fourteen was unusual and intriguing because it's virtually the only episode which explores the topic of what's really going on. For the most part, Log Horizon doesn't seem to want to stretch the envelope too much. I don't know what, if anything, the Mage's theories will amount to later on, but for now the plot seems to back away from this angle and take a less adventurous route. It gets kind of tiresome and frustrating. I just wish the show was skillfully revealing things like Shiro's ultimate goal rather than my having to guess at them and hope that I have gotten it right. A somewhat less intellectual problem (a mass invasion by goblins) becomes the matter of greatest concern. maybe I am only imagining things, but it seems that hints are dropped, but then we hear little more about them. In fact, I can't help wondering, what is the plot of this show supposed to be? I'm seeing no signs of the characters' entrapment within this malfunctioning video game ever coming to an end, or, for that matter, of anyone caring about that. Living in Elder Tale must be as good or better than their real world lives were. The show just goes from one MMORPG issue to another without much of any long term plot. It ought to be nearing a climax at episode 18, unless it will be three or more seasons long. It remains modestly entertaining, but I wish this story was going somewhere.

Well, I guess the bit about Rudy had a happy ending; he has been upgraded from 'Person of the Land' to 'Adventurer'. But still, no real world person is controlling him; can the software of Elder Tale generate characters that are as intelligent, three-dimensional and likeable as real-live people? I haven't noticed any hints that that might be so, other than Rudy's nature coming as a surprise to his companions (and what would that say about people in general?). Some hints from past episodes came together to explain what happened, which was unexpectedly nice. But the thought occurred to me that the one thing I would most like to see happen, but which Log H seems determined to avoid at all costs, is us learning something significant about the player's lives in the real world before they became entrapped. We've learned a little about Shiro, but not much, and I'm frustrated that we weren't told more. It seems to me that the one way to radically expand the characters would be to delve into their lives before the apocalypse. But again, Log H seems determined not to stretch the envelope too much, and as a result doesn't approach it's full potential, IMO.

With this show nearing the 24-26 episode mark, I can't help wondering if there is going to be any sort of major, things-turned-upside-down conclusion (like escaping from the Elder Tale virtual world, or discovering some shocking secret behind it), or if it would just peter out with one more minor arc. I honestly can't say that I noticed any sign of the story coming to an end--will there be another season? Log Horizon seems to me to be more like a collection of short stories than one comprehensive long story. If there is any long term plot behind it, it is an extremely vague one.

The final episode offers an explanation (of a sort) as to why little or no effort has been made to break out of Elder Tale and return to the normal world: because the story isn't over! Another season (or two) is in the works, and we will hear some more about the mage who had figured some of this out. I guess that's better than nothing, but the fact that resolution of this issue (which you would think would be the primary one for everyone) is moving at a snail's pace doesn't bode well for the future. Will there ever be an anime about people trapped in a virtual reality in which the characters react in a realistic manner, rather than just shrugging it all off after the carpet is yanked out from under them? In which the characters react more with 'why did this have to happen to me?' than 'here's an opportunity for me to become a hero!'? It's a shame, because that could be truly fascinating. Log Horizon became tedious and I ultimately felt that I might as well be beating my head against a wall as wishing for some sort of well-crafted, explanatory conclusion coming together. When the second season came along I declined to watch it.

Last updated Thursday, January 28 2016. Created Monday, October 07 2013.

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