THANK THE GOOD GODS OF ANIME for giving us a video game themed series that has some depth and characters who are actually three-dimensional with individual personalities and their own histories.
From what we can discern from the first two episodes, the players are all trapped in an MMORPG game called Elder Tale. Unlike SAO, which seems to have all the luxuries of life… and gruesome experiences of it, Elder Tale is very much like a video game. You kill monsters for money for the inn, you can stay safe within the towns and away from the violence, the food doesn’t taste like anything because they don’t animate your taste buds and you revive when you die. It really seems like you’re living in a game. But what’s the purpose? What is it all for? You don’t die at all and it doesn’t seem like there’s much to do besides exploring the world before you.
Shiroe (voiced by Takuma, Terashima)- An enchanter who was the strategist of a legendary unofficial guild names The Debauchery Tea Party. Very analytical and perceptive. His most epic moment so far is when his party is attacked by party killers; gets pretty scary (scary good) when he’s in strategist mode.
Naotsugu (voiced by Tomoaki Maeno AKA Natsume from BroCon)– An easy going guardian class tank who openly claims to be a pervert who loves panties (LOL) but still gets pretty badass in battle. He provides much comedic relief injected into dialogue of the script.
Akatsuki (voiced by Emiri, Kato AKA Kyubey from Madoka and Kagami from Lucky Star)- An old party acquaintance of Shiroe’s. He, is actually a she, a chibi girl that seeks out the help of Shiroe for a transformation potion so that she may return to her actual physical form. She’s an assassin that specializes in tracking and calls herself a shinobi, having devoted herself to Shiroe in return for the potion.
Marielle (voiced by Yumi, Hara)- A very well-endowed, enthusiastic and motherly guild master of the Crescent Moon Alliance who enlists Shiroe’s help.
Shiroe raises a very key point in the middle of episode 2 when he points out the differences between your real life in true reality and the appearance of reality in a video game. When food is bland sustenance, death is revival and the quests are just to kill time, what does it all mean? In the absence of purpose in the world, some parties have turned to player killings in order to keep busy (which definitely says something about the mental states of the players, WHO KILLS PEOPLE JUST TO KILL TIME?!? WTF). But since murder isn’t true murder, the victim will simply revive in the cathedral after being mugged and stabbed. Literally, if you get pissed at someone, you can just kill them (granted that you’re not in a town). Player killings may be able to create the illusion of purpose, but sooner or later, all of that will also deteriorate into a meaningless void. There doesn’t seem to be any point to it all. There aren’t serious hardships, nothing to overcome, yet no extreme luxury to be found. It’s just an endless listless purgatory.
Off the get-go, Shiroe himself is nothing like the wish-fulfilling Kirito of SAO. Whereas Kirito is simply content with his life in the game, Shiroe is already able to draw out some of the detrimental psychological and societal effects that life in a video game may pose. If you die, you’ll revive sure enough, but life and death doesn’t weigh much in the lives of Elder Tale. And with every kill, these animalistic natures are slowly but surely to emerge within the players of the game because nothing is really at stake but your items and your money which can be re-acquired through monster hunting or quests.
For now, our new party of three has decided to take up the Crescent Moon Alliance’s mission to rescue their member Serara. They begin their journey north to Susukino AKA Sapporo, 850km from Akihabara but since Elder Tale uses the half-Gaia project, it’s half the distance – 425 km. So Shiroe, Akatsuki and Naotsugu begin their quest…
“So you can survive in this world without doing anything? But is that really living? Or is that just not being dead?”
From what I can discern from the way Shiroe analyzes the world, I see a lot philosophical and socio-political issues that Log Horizon could potentially draw out. Life in a game. What does it amount to and mean? I feel like this anime could really make a serious critique on the way that people in society today live their lives absorbed in the goals and quests of games. Games seem like a great escapist mechanism but when your life is reduced to your character in the game, when you take a stark look at what you’ve amounted to, it doesn’t seem much.
One of the favourite aspects of the show so far, is the focus on the skills and abilities of each of the classes. I wouldn’t be surprised if the anime’s popularity led to the creation of an actual Elder Tale since there are twelve main combat classes and numerous specializations within those classes. This world is clearly more flushed out than the one in SAO to begin with. Shiroe also raises the issue of using and mastering. There’s a clear difference between the pros and the players in this sense and ultimate survival in the world depends on that.
I’ve actually waited for episode 2 just to make sure that Log Horizon is worth a look into and I’m very pleased with the beginning of this series so whether you liked or hated SAO, you should give this series a try. There will be aspects for both sides of the spectrum. Gamers and audiences of action and fantasy will definitely enjoy this too. The reason I’ve decided to do the Log Horizon anime as a series of rants is because of how similar it seems to Sword Art Online on first glance and if that’s really the case, I would like free reign blindly yell at the show rather than review it from a critical standpoint. (Sometimes we reviewers need that too).
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Episode 1 Screenshots
Episode 2 Screenshots
What are you pondering today?