(This review may contain spoilers for the following series. If you have not seen the series before, please exercise caution before viewing this post. You have been warned.)
If you know me, you probably understand my distaste towards a particular anime series called Sword Art Online. In short, I feel that series is given too much praise for the terrible plot progression and the complete destruction of elements defined in the very beginning of the series. However, that discussion is for a later time.
Log Horizon is a series that takes the classic concept of relocating a mass number of people and forcing them to adjust to a new setting. In this case, the world comes from a popular online game “Elder Tale” and the story begins with our protagonist Shiroe as he comes to terms with this sudden development. After wandering around for a bit, he meets with Naotsugu, an online friend who joined many expeditions with Shiroe as a part of the Debauchery Tea Party, and Akatsuki, a college-aged female assassin who considers herself in-debt to Shiroe after he gives her a potion to change her avatar to better suit her real life counterpart.
After learning the basics and rules of this world, Shiroe, Naotsugu, and Akatsuki all work together to understand what happened during the “Apocalypse,” the event that transported 30,000 people over to this world, and if there’s any possibility to going back. The true essence of Log Horizon lies in two big missions: find a way back to the real world, if possible, and to create rules and stability between “Players,” those who came from the other world, and “People of the Land,” or those who were Non-Player Characters back when this world was a game.
The few events that take place during this first season set the stage for what’s to come in the future. It establishes the history behind Shiroe’s popularity, the ties he has with other guilds, including a particular guild known as Crescent Moon Alliance. While characterizing Shiroe, it also establishes the connection between him and Naotsugu, and other members of the Debauchery Tea Party, such as Nyanta, a person Shiroe respects and calls “Chief,” from their adventures in the past.
While adapting and creating order in this new world, our protagonists, now members of a guild known as Log Horizon, take on tasks to help others find a place in the world and create peace between them and the “People of the Land.” This leads to diplomatic parties and city festivals in Akihabara, and meetings in the guild hall to establish peace and order with the main guilds as the running power in the city.
However, the series doesn’t stop with the organization of these events and the development of these two groups. This world contains events and sights not known to even veteran players, and both the “Players” and the “People of the Land” have to come together and stop ruin and destruction from landing in this world. Even though the series shines with its development of a new world, there are still monster, players, and other “People of the Land” who oppose this union and will fight to their final breath to stop this peace.
Log Horizon is definitely the best execution of this particular scenario. While the anime isn’t primarily focused on action, there are plenty of action and battle scenes sprinkled throughout the series to make a point. However, this series truly shines with its take on building a new society that can co-exist between two separate races. The series raises a lot of questions threading from the “Apocalypse,” such as the creation of a new society and order, and uses the allure of mystery to push the viewer along.
Unfortunately, there are a few areas in which Log Horizon falls short. The anime takes quite a bit of time talking about Shiroe’s past, but never goes into the events of how he became the person he is today. Understandably, there is a second season that may put closure to these mysteries, but the ending of the series as it stands leaves a lot open not just in Shiroe’s past, but also in the world itself.
The series isn’t perfect, nor is it my favorite series. However, Log Horizon’s writing proves itself to be one of the best for this particular setting. It creates a setting and rules, and bounds itself to those rules quite nicely. There are, unfortunately, a few asspulls here and there, but definitely miles ahead of the atrocity that is SAO. If you are a fan of series with scenarios to make you think, with a side of action and a sprinkle of romance, this series is definitely for you.