People may remember my review of the Overlord light novel . There have been several series that tend to involve people suddenly getting sucked into mmos. While Overlord went a route of making it so the character was intentionally powerful and non human, showing the difference between what he played as and who he is, today’s entry took the mmo setting and did something oddly different with it. Made it so the setting still abides by mmorpg rules. So let’s have a look at the first season of Log Horizon.
Log Horizon is set in the world of elder tales. The main gimmick was it was a re -creation of the Earth ( be it a little smaller) and each server was based on actual land masses. Being an anime they openly mention they were on the Japanese server.
Our lead Shiro wakes up and suddenly finds that on the day of a new expansion being added to the game he and thousands of others have suddenly found themselves in the game world, their avatars’ bodies now their real bodies (sadly this did not happen to me when ver any of my mmos got an expansion… well ok probably wouldn’t want to be in the Warcraft world in real life, wouldn’t mind the ff14 one though). This is the first main change the series has to the more known but similar Sword Art Online. In that series right away their bodies were made to look like their real selves. Not here though and it actually explores in the first episode what that means. Shiro trips up because his avatar is taller than he was. It’s more pronounced with the lead female Akatsuki. At the start of the series although she’s a female character, her in game appearance was that of a male because she played a male character, since their avatars are now their bodies she asks to use an appearance changing potion to get back to her natural gender.
This is one of the reasons I like this show. While other shows in the genera (still amazed there is one) would start to make the game world use rules of the real world, such as people dying they die, or changing their appearance to match their real world selves, Log Horizon takes the game world idea and explores what that means (and thus makes those shows that thought they were being clever show how much they messed up right at the start). That’s right, in this world, like in a mmo, death isn’t permanent, they respawn and the series then explores what suddenly all this means on people. The first arc shows people have little to no motivation to do anything, food is easy to come by but tasteless, death isn’t a problem and life is easy and so people try to find things to fill their lives which begins to show the darker aspects of people in some cases reminiscent of Lord of the Flies.
While as always good characters help push a show, the setting does so in this one aswell. The world is set up as if it was a mmo, with different player races and classes people have. Abilities are explained as to how they worked in the mmo. It really uses the idea of being in one to its strength rather than just an excuse to put someone in a fantasy world.
The series is adapted from the light novels and it does show as the various arcs can be easily discerned from a start and end point, allowing you to be smug seeing where one book ends and another begins. Starting out with the establishing of the setting and world and into the formation of the leads new guild called Log Horizon (title drop). Next is his plans to fix the city they all dwell in and save some young associates from a horrible fate. Leading into an arc dealing with political tension as it’s showing the changes to this elder tales world affected not just them but the npcs who dwelled there. Finally a festival that serves more as a means to lead into events that happen in season 2 but does serve as a good ending for the first season showing how the character of Shiro has grown as well as the town of Akihabara (probably should have mentioned the town’s name earlier).
Thinking about it, the development of Akihabara is a constant running theme through the first half, starting out as run down with people laying on the streets with nothing to do, before being developed into a place with much more hope by the end of the first half. Once that happens it then goes into political negotiations with its neighbours and finally ends with a festival to show it holds its own.
I enjoyed Log Horizon as a fan of world building this really hit me in all the right areas. As a mmo player seeing a setting really explore what being pulled into one was like in this way (and not then just turning it into generic fantasy setting… ooh you die in the game you die in real life… just like what happens in real life you fool it’s not special then). I also enjoy the spin offs that tell the story of what happened from other characters’ perspectives, for example rather than following what Shiro and Log Horizon did, the West Wind Brigade manga follows what that guild was doing during the events of the series.
A good series but be prepared for more talking rather than action, but then Shiro is a strategist.