Saturday, November 22, 2014

Log Horizon

Log Horizon is another one of those MMO anime where the characters have suddenly found themselves stuck inside of a video game known as Elder Tale following a game update... Or so it seems. This is one of those anime that has many good points, but also a number of bad points. Much like SAO is loved and hated in almost equal measure, Log Horizon is one of those shows where you have to really love and understand MMO concepts in order to really get into it.

Before I get into the bad, I think I'll get into the good first. One of the best aspects of Log Horizon is its characters. The cast is honestly incredible. There are a lot of characters in here, and each one has their own unique personality complete with flaws that make them seem believable. Let's take the main character as an example. Shiroe is a ridiculously intelligent strategist whose ability to predict the outcome of any battle borders on omniscient. Some would say this makes him a Gary-stu, but I don't think so. Shiroe has many faults that make this more of a saving grace than an aspect of stu-ness: he doesn't do well with people, he's kinda manipulative and was even given the nickname of "the villain with glasses." He also has this annoying habit of unnecessarily pushing his glasses up his nose. There are at least three females after him but he's completely oblivious to their affection, and he's a work-a-holic. This makes him a much more down to earth and relatable hero than, let's say, Kirito of Sword Art Online, who is more of a Wish Fulfillment character.

Something else I also like about the anime is the intrigue. There's a lot going on in this anime, and it tends to get philosophical at times. It even takes the concept of "what happens to the NPCs when a video game becomes reality?" by giving the NPC characters their own society and individual NPCs their own unique personality. This is very much unlike other video game anime, where the focus is on just the players, and I feel it adds something to the overall story.

The romance is also kind of cute. It's more of a subplot than an actual plot of the story. It also follows along what I call the typical Shounen vein for romances, where it never really seems to go anywhere. This is as much a good point as it is a bad point. While it's very cute and adds more depth to the characters, it's also very annoying when you see romances develop and not go anywhere.

However, while there is a lot about Log Horizon that I like, there are also a number of things that I don't like.

The biggest issue with Log Horizon is it's plot... or to be more precise, it's seemingly lack of plot. While there are a lot of subplots happening all at the same time, this anime doesn't seem to have a major, overarching storyline. It's almost like a slice-of-life anime--except everyone's stuck in a video game. This has, at times, frustrated me a good deal and is one of the areas where I actually feel SAO beat them in. At the beginning of Sword Art Online, we learn that the players of SAO are trapped in the video game world and that players who die in the game also die in real life. We also learn that if they want to escape the game, they must defeat all 100 floors. While there is a lot about SAO that's bad, in this aspect, the story was excellent. We had a major problem, we knew what that problem was and how to solve it, however, the problem itself was so daunting that some people actually chose to commit suicide over attempting to beat all 100 floors. In Log Horizon there is nothing like that. There's no great enemy to defeat, no great goal that needs to be accomplished; all we get are a bunch of subplots mashed together with what almost feels like an attempt to make up for its lack of plot.

Now, for those of you are curious Log Horizon DOES, in fact, have a plot. I've read the light novels, so I know this. The problem is the plot itself isn't given to you right off the bat, but slowly revealed over time. In some ways this is actually kind of interesting, and in others it's just annoying--at least when it comes to the anime. Fortunately, the colorful characters and intriguing subplots make up for the incredibly slow pace. And if nothing else, I can say with all honesty that this story is nowhere near as bad as Game of Thrones, which I'm not even sure has a plot anymore.

Overall, I would rate this 8/10 with a suggestion to anyone who's a fan of MMOs to give it a shot. You won't be disappointed.