Anime Review | Log Horizon: Season 2 - Part 1 (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Drew Hurley 01.09.2016

Image for Anime Review | Log Horizon: Season 2 - Part 1 (Lights, Camera, Action!)

Log Horizon: Season 2 - Part 1 (UK Rating: 12)

The premise of being stuck inside a game is certainly not new. Without a doubt, the most well known and popular in recent memory is the superb Sword Art Online. Kirito and crew somewhat overshadowed the first season of Log Horizon, with it being released so soon after the first season of SAO. It wasn't just the overshadowing that negatively affected Log Horizon, though, as it started strong but had a boring second half filled with overbearing exposition and political manoeuvring. Can this second season live up to the promise glimpsed during the highpoints of the first series? This first part of Season 2 contains 13 episodes in dual audio, along with clean opening/closing and is out for release from MVM on 5th September.

The story is familiar: a massively popular MMO called Elder Tale has become a global phenomenon, with millions of players worldwide and eleven expansion packs. Just as the new twelfth expansion launches, all players logged on are somehow pulled into the world. This isn't VR or deep dive, just a regular keyboard and mouse MMO, so the explanation for how they are pulled in is never really there, relying instead on establishing the rules of the world and exploring how the new residents learn to live there.


 
Log Horizon has plenty of original features to differentiate it from what has come before. Unlike Sword Art Online, death in-game doesn't mean death in real life, but it does come with a cost - it seems to take a memory from the player, a story thread that is expanded upon over the course of the series. Also, the NPCs aren't mindless drones in the world of Elder Tale; instead they are seemingly a sentient race known as The People of the Land, who fear the immortal players known as Adventurers.

The protagonist, Shiroe, is - of course - one of the best players to ever take on the game. A genius Enchanter and famous player from a group of legendary players, with a reputation as a devious evil mastermind, something that couldn't be further from the truth as he is a genuinely nice guy. Like most online games, though, it's not about the solo player, it's about the party. Shiroe is joined by two other characters to make up the primary cast in the form of Naotsugu and Akatsuki. Naotsugu is a "Guardian," a tank type warrior in heavy armour with a sword; he's also a panty loving pervert, and a punching bag for diminutive assassin, Akatsuki. She is a fitting ninja - quiet and deadly. She is also completely dedicated to, and totally infatuated with, Shiro. The cast quickly expanded from this trio in the first season to include a wide variety of characters, even a cat-headed cook.

By the end of the first season, Shiroe and friends - now having created their own guild, titled Log Horizon - had accomplished a great deal. Shiroe, the master manipulator, managed to establish an allied nations (of sorts) in the Round Table, established a safe and thriving home for players in Akihabara, and set up alliances between Adventurers and The People of the Land. This first part of the second season sees the new guild heavily strapped for gold as they realise running a city isn't cheap.

Image for Anime Review | Log Horizon: Season 2 - Part 1 (Lights, Camera, Action!)

What gave Log Horizon the edge for some viewers over Sword Art Online was how it embraced its inspiration. Perfectly capturing the world of an MMO, it filled the series with terminology and mechanics familiar to any MMO players in the audience. This carries over to the second season, as the first arc of the series focuses on taking on a raid dungeon, with Shiroe's narration explaining the mechanics of raiding and the raid bosses.

This arc builds up to a fantastic pace as the team progresses through the raid and begins to take on raid bosses, but the action and excitement are stopped short a few episodes in, with everything jumping back to the city of Akihabara, to begin the second arc. This seems to be another promising plotline at first, as a serial killer manages to get its hands on a "Royal Guard Armour," a suit of invincible armour from the peacekeeping soldiers, and a hugely powerful sword. Then, he somehow manages to go around killing adventurers inside the supposed safe haven of Akihabara.

The first season lost a lot of its momentum and popularity by focusing far too much on political machinations and diplomacy between the adventurers and the NPCs. It made for decent enough story progression at first, but it quickly took over the majority of the season. This second season seems to suffer from the same issues. The serial killer arc spends a great deal of time on pointless interactions, something even more noticeable due to the disjointed nature of the storytelling. Suddenly cutting away from Shiroe and his team midway into their raid to spend a third of the season focusing on a slower story, instead of interlacing the two running plot threads, really negatively impacts the final product.

It picks back up towards the end, at least, as the serial killer arc hits its climax and the action returns to the raid. There are also plenty of things set in motion for the upcoming second half of the season. A shadowy organisation sets its eyes on Akihabara, and the very world of Elder Tale begins to change, with the flavour text of items actually affecting the items.


 
Anyone who has played an MMO will enjoy Log Horizon even more, as it's able to dredge up feelings of nostalgia. One of the best moments in this season is during a rousing speech by a player who explains how MMOs defined his life for a while, how he made friends there, how he learned more about himself and grew through it. People may scoff if they never experienced it themselves, but for the gamers out there, they will appreciate the sentiment and understand.

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10
Log Horizon: Season 2 - Part 1 is a highly enjoyable start to the second season, but one that once again falls victim to the same flaws as the first season. There is so much time wasted on pointless conversations in town and the schizophrenic storytelling that it really damages the build-up and excitement. That being said, when Log Horizon is good, it's great, and there are enough plot threads set up here to give a lot of promise for the second part of the season.

Comment on this article

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Comments

There are no replies to this article yet. Why not be the first?

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
K-Pop Korner - The Best of Korean Music
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
Adam Riley, hinchjoie, Renan

There are 3 members online at the moment.