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Log Horizon Season 1 Review: Is the realm of Elder Tale a place worth being trapped in?

Hello all! Railgunfan 75 here with my next anime review. One of the aspects of anime which I enjoy is it’s knack for exploring how we as human beings are capable of handling adverse or unique situations. The medium really does an excellent job in exploring hypothetical situations to discuss who we are not just as individuals but as humans. One series which premiered this past fall is a great example of this.The name of the series is Log Horizon.
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Synopsis
In Log Horizon, the MMO known as Elder Tale has achieved worldwide popularity. When the 13th expansion for the game Novasphere Pioneers is released, all of the players which are online at the time of update are transported to a world which is very much like the game world. Becoming their in game avatars, the players must deal with the reality of a new world. The series follows Shiroe and his friends Akatsuki and Naotsugu as they adjust to life in their new world. Along the way they encounter new allies and foes and are heavily involved in shaping and changing their new world.
There is currently one season of Log Horizon consisting of 25 episodes. A second season for the series has been announced and will air in the fall of 2014. The series is licensed in the U.S. by Sentai Filmworks.
Thoughts
It is pretty easy to write this show off as a clone of shows like Sword Art Online because of the similarity of the premise. However after completing season one, I believe this is a grave mistake. (I will be doing a Sword Art review and a comparison post at a later date.) Sure the concept is not original at first glance. However, once one looks beyond this they will find an excellent anime series with a lot to offer.

One of Log Horizon’s strong points is the story that the series presents.  Log Horizon handles the plot in quite an interesting way. The overall theme for season one is not defeating a villain like with many shows, instead the theme is centered on adjusting to a new world.The series does an excellent job of looking at the scenario of the players stuck in a game with a critical eye. Instead of focusing on how to get out of the game like other series, Log Horizon focuses on the characters actually living in their world. The characters face what would be real problems, from adjusting to their new bodies to living in a world with rules which are different from ours. This fact opens up many possibilities for interesting sc

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The “Round Table”- a governing body of players discussing key issues.

enarios and I’m happy to say that the series addresses this on multiple occasions. An early story arc for example involves a guild taking unwitting players on as slave labor and our main protagonists are tasked with rescuing them. In another instance the series focuses on relations with the npcs or “People of the Land” who are now more than bland people and have personalities and dreams of their own. These scenarios are actually quite entertaining to watch. While not overly preachy or complicated the scenarios do an excellent job of reminding us that while they are in a “game world”, they face many of the problems that we do in the real world. 

Throughout the quests the series does a wonderful job of explaining the mechanics of the world. The viewer is constantly reminded that this is an MMO and details such as the differences between character classes and what certain abilities do are explained in detail. As a gamer, I really enjoyed this aspect of the series because it really established the setting as a game and it allows non gamers to understand and enjoy what is happening. I will also pass a slight word of warning to those who expect an action packed extravaganza like in SAO. You won’t find that with Log Horizon. There are action sequences which are well done, however they take a back seat to the character and plot development.  I personally enjoyed that the series was not dominated by action sequences. While I do enjoy a great action series as much as the next guy, I found it refreshing that they decided to take a more cerebral approach with the series.  Mixed in with the drama and intrigue are a nice amount of comedic moments. A minor critique of the overall plot would be that the end of season one feels more like the end of a chapter instead of the story. Of course there is a season two coming so that makes sense but if you are looking for a conclusive ending, season one really doesn’t have it. 

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Gameplay mechanics are heavily featured in the series.

OK so the story and the setting are excellent, but how about the characters? Do they help or hinder the series? i’m happy to say that there are many great characters in this anime. This is another series with a fairly large cast of characters so I will only touch upon of characters which I really enjoyed.

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The “Villain in Glasses” at work

The first of these characters is the main character Shiroe. Shiroe is not you typical male hero in an anime. While he does possess great power being a long time veteran of the game, he is not a guy who uses his power to garner attention. He skill set is from one of the game’s support classes the Enchanter. He is a master strategist who is a former member of the legendary group, Debauchery Tea Party which completed many high level and nearly impossible quests. He has a gained a respected yet feared reputation throughout the players and has been given the nickname “The Villain in Glasses” for his complex and sometimes diabolical strategies. He is not a villain by any means but he is not afraid to use manipulation to achieve his goals. He is a behind the scenes type guy as usually others are openly enacting his plans while he watches in the shadows. Shiroe is in truth a kind person with a strong sense of justice and loyalty towards his friends. He is not a lone wolf character like many heroes in fact the first thing he does is to seek out friends when he is trapped in the world. I personally enjoy characters which get along using their wits. Because Shiroe does this he is a character I can relate to. He is in fact one of my favorite male characters in an anime series.

One of Shiroe’s companions, Akatsuki is another great character and a personal favorite. Akatsuki is an assassin class character who is also a veteran of the game. Because of a favor Shiroe did for her, Akatsuki loyally follows him in his travels. Akatsuki adapts well to the new world and relishes her role as a “ninja”. Akatsuki always addresses Shiroe as my lord even when he asks her not to. She is quite soft spoken and as one would expect from an assassin type tries not to draw attention to herself. Because nof the her absorption into her role, it is unclear as to her true personality. While the other characters really show glimpses of their reals selves, Akatsuki’s true self is really a mystery. That is really part of her appeal. Despite being an adult, her avatar has a small stature and she is often mistaken for a child even by other children. This is the source of many of the shows comedic moments is her dealing the consequences of her appearance.  She also has great interactions with Naotsugu, the third member of their party by attacking him when he says something stupid and perverted. Despite this, she is quite the skilled warrior and is responsible for many of the shows awesome moments during battle. Akatsuki is really multidimensional and a character I really enjoyed. Certainly my favorite character of the series, she is also one of my favorites in any anime series.

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One of Akatsuki’s best moments

There are many other characters in the series and they all have an important role to play and are awesome. The cast builds up slowly giving the viewer time to get familiar with each one. This is a nice touch for sure. There was not a character that I did not like. One final note on the characters is that there really isn’t a central villain despite them being in a game world. An interesting choice which does not hinder the show at all. Image  
The plot and characters are certainly noteworthy, but how about the aesthetics of the series? Well the animation looks nice but it is nothing special. The animation style certainly fits an MMO type setting. It definitely reminded of a video game which I suppose had to be the intent. The character designs and action sequences were well done. Overall there is no complaints about the animation style, I was just not blown away by it. The music for the series however is really quite awesome. The opening theme of “database” by MAN WITH A MISSION is really catchy and sets a nice theme for the series. I find myself humming the tune often as it one of my top theme songs.The closing theme  of “Your Song” by Yun-chi which is basically Akatsuki’s theme song is also a pleasure to listen to. The soundtrack to the series really sets the mood quite well and has some memorable tracks. I really felt like I was in a game type setting with the music. As for the voice acting, I quite enjoyed it. The series has only been recorded in Japanese at the time of this review but the voice actors/actresses really do a good job on conveying emotion. There isn’t a characters voice which I found annoying. 
 

Log Horizon is a great series for those who game and for those who don’t. The characters are quite enjoyable and memorable and the plot appeals to both gamers and non gamers. The pacing may be slow for some and the ending not conclusive but the fact that there will be a season doesn’t make this a huge problem. The series is quite intelligent and addresses some real world problems. There is action,drama, comedy, and political intrigue all rolled into one. I highly recommend this series as it is one of my favorites. 

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Akatsuki demands you watch this series

 
So concludes my review for Log Horizon. As usual I would like to hear your thoughts on this review or the series below. I also would like to point out that if you have any recommendations for anime series, I am certainly open to them. For future reviews I plan on exploring Kill la Kill, Sword Art Online, and others. I will also be attending C2E2 in Chicago this weekend and will post my thoughts after. Until next time, this is railgunfan75 saying stay geeky my friends!
Log Horizon season 1 consists of 25 episodes. It is available for viewing on Crunchyroll. Season 2 is also complete and can be viewed on Crunchyroll and Hulu. The 1st season of Log Horizon is available on DVD and Blu-ray in 2 volumes. A review of season 2 will come soon. 
 
 
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2 comments on “Log Horizon Season 1 Review: Is the realm of Elder Tale a place worth being trapped in?

  1. gottyj
    April 25, 2014

    I think it an interesting note that, in this series, the players have the ability and opportunity to reshape the world where as SAO people either chose to try to escape or accept their surroundings as they are.

  2. railgunfan75
    April 26, 2014

    Yeah, that is an interesting point. The difference is because of the differences in the way the death scenario was handled. I think it really changes the story dynamics. While it takes away the desperation of the characters, it also allows for more deep explorations of other aspects of the scenario such as adapting to new surroundings (politics and what not) something that because of the nature of the story SAO couldn’t really touch on.

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This entry was posted on April 23, 2014 by in Anime and Manga, Anime reviews and tagged , , , , , .

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