Log Horizon Season 1 – Review
Original Air Dates: April 19th, 2017 – ???
Synopsis: One day, while playing the online game Elder Tales, 30,000 players suddenly find themselves trapped in another world. There, eight-year veteran gamer Shiroe also gets left behind. The trapped players are still alive, but they remain in combat with the monsters. The players don’t understand what has happened to them, and they flee to Akiba, the largest city in Tokyo, where they are thrown into chaos. Once proud of his loner lifestyle, Shiroe forms a guild called Log Horizon with his old friend Naotsugu, female assassin Akatsuki and others. (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Log Horizon had the difficult position of coming off as a copy cat when it launched one year after the massive success of Sword Art Online. In fairness the basic concept is quite similar, and when looking at the original release dates for Log Horizon’s light novels, the work the anime is based upon, it does seem Log Horizon was published in an attempt to leech off the re-popularization of the “sucked into a video game” genre that Sword Art Online revived. Thankfully Log Horizon takes that basic concept and runs in a significantly different direction.
Linny: While SAO focused on showing off combat scenes and had only very basic character development, Log Horizon truly and completely embraces the ‘sucked into a game’ situation. It portrays all the numerous plausible and somewhat realistic consequences of such an implausible incident. Themes like dealing with inventory items, menus that still pop up and block your vision in the middle of a physical combat, the drama and politics of setting up a new society, etc are all given due diligence. There’s also a lot more focus on personal character development arcs for numerous characters, making the show feel more well rounded and deep rather than just a flashy fantasy tale.
Tom: Log Horizon easily feels like the deeper of the two anime, with far more thought put into the plot, avoiding problems SAO suffered from, such as a creepy, over used villain and lack of tension. But Log Horizon is far from perfect. While SAO is a fun romp right from the get go, and only loses steams towards the middle, Log Horizon takes quite a while to get going. It isn’t until around episode six, or even seven of this twenty-five episode series that it starts to show its true potential.
Linny: The show seems to have a tendency to drag ever so often throughout its run but thankfully, these ‘slow’ story telling periods end before they become show killing. There’s also the fact that Log Horizon likes to focus on the political and emotional drama a tad too much while underserving its action content. For example, in the latter half of season one, a story line is introduced that makes you feel like it’s leading to the final arc/ big showdown. But with still 4 episodes left, that story line is wrapped up with the main villain teased in the arc never once making an appearance or having any sort of battle with our heroes. Viewers might feel like they were built up only to be let down hard.
Tom: Log Horizon also doesn’t really stick its landing either, much like SAO. The series loses its edge a bit, and its final episodes feel more like set up for a continuation, rather than a worthwhile conclusion. Which is fine, and as Log Horizon received a second season, it’s hardly a major flaw. But even so, the way the show comes to its first season close feels almost anti climatic. It’s not as if Log Horizon focused on gigantic flashy battles, but a battle of wills between Shiro and an enemy through the usual political, scheming drama could’ve provided a marked high point for the series final episodes. As it stands the show merely peters out with ho-hum set up for its return. Turning attention to the characters, I feel like Log Horizon’s are fairly well fleshed out. Characters have their own, distinct, non-cookie cutter personality and while the show balances quite a few characters, the principles are more than appealing enough to hook your attention.
Linny: I’d have to disagree a little with Tom when it comes to the characters. In my opinion, the characters in the show are similar to its animation and general quality of the show itself. None of them truly sweep you off your feet but they also aren’t a sore spot either. They’re better than average, but definitely not anything amazing. And regardless of the fact that it had a confirmed second season, I have to agree with Tom that Season 1’s finale felt rather disappointing and it would have been nice if the show runners had managed to pack in at least a bit more drama and energy to make it feel like a solid way to end season 1 rather than a hohum continuation point for the next season.
Tom: Log Horizon remains the less action focused between itself and SAO. It grounds itself in the methodical, political thrilleresque drama. While not without its flaws, the deep thought put into the mechanics of its world and concepts, coupled with well constructed characters makes Log Horizon feel like a fully realized world, with plenty of avenue for greater world building and limitless exploration. If you’re looking for another “trapped in a video game” anime, and you’re interested in the technical and political aspects of such an event, Log Horizon is then a perfect watch for you.
Linny: Log Horizon is the show for those who were/are intrigued by the (at this point overdone) concept of trapped in a game but found SAO too shallow and flashy. Log Horizon features a well balanced ensemble cast for those seeking one, and a lot of methodical examination and execution of the trapped in game trope. It has a more technical and hands on approach to establishing real life and real people in the context of an MMORPG come to life and should please anyone seeking a show that makes the MMORPG factor feel realistic.