Log Horizon – 01
OP: 「database」by MAN WITH A MISSION feat. TAKUMA of 10 Feet
「大災害」 (Dai Saigai)
A sword-and-sorcery adventure in an MMORPG world. This feels exactly like what stepping into an MMO would be like, complete with a lightness of tone and an adorable roleplaying ninja.
The World of Log Horizon – The MMORPG Elder Tale
Since comparisons with a certain other show are flippin’ inevitable, let’s discuss the main premise and how this is different (and hopefully, better). The game our characters are trapped in is called Elder Tale, and it’s an established MMORPG with other 20 million subscribers worldwide, which is something like double the best numbers of subscribers I’ve heard World of Warcraft boasting. The story takes place after the launch of The Novasphere Pioneers expansion, and all of the characters are at the level cap (Lvl 90), so there’s none of that leveling up junk. Oh, and Elder Tale was not a virtual reality MMORPG, which you can tell because the characters didn’t initially have a clue how to fight from inside the game, because Shiroe (Terashima Takuma) talked about how different it was to fight monsters in front of you and keep an eye on the overall situation like this, and because they were surprised that they could actually touch the world. Oh, and apparently several hundred thousand players around the world were trapped in this game, though Log Horizon only concerns the 30,000 ones on the Japanese server.
This setup is a lot more conducive to enjoying the story for me. Why? Because humans are weird in that if you say “they’re brains are trapped in the virtual world, but their bodies are still alive”, we think up the countless ways they could safely disconnect them without clearing the game. SAO slipped into uncanny valley, where it was realistic enough that it could happen (make the game, trap them in) but not realistic enough to lead to the story that was told – they all probably would have been sprung in a month tops. This skirts the whole problem by making the reason their trapped A) unknown and B) probably akin to – or literally – magic. Humans are funny like that…give us a detailed and semi-plausible reason and we’ll poke holes in it, but say “it’s magic” and we’ll go along for the ride.
I also appreciate that they’re skipping the leveling up junk (leveling up doesn’t provide nearly as interesting story material as high-level raiding and group interactions do) and that “The Apocalypse” happened at the release of an expansion. That adds an unknown element to a familiar (to the characters) world, it means they can get the story up and running quickly, and it gives a good reason why people who have been away from the game for two years like Naotsugu (Maeno Tomoaki) would suddenly come back for a look. Also, that’s when I would suck people into a strange world if I were the mastermind behind all this.
A bonus: I like how they kept in game-like attributes like the guild hall full of doors and the food that all tasted the same (also, HAH! That was hilarious!). Without that we might go around thinking this world is real, but no, probably not. Some kind of magic or mass delusion or something else might have gotten them there, but it’s still an MMO world in the end.
Tone & Characters
Compared to other stories of its type, the tone of Log Horizon is noticeably light. Yes, they’re trapped in this game world, but while plenty of other players are sitting around in despair, it’s not played for drama, and the main characters – and all named characters, for that matter – immediately go about trying to understand the situation and figure out the rules of their new world. They’re proactive instead of angsty and scared, which I like. Drama is fine, don’t get me wrong, and they’re certainly taking this seriously, but I prefer a story that can lighten up amid a dire overarching situation rather than be all serious business all the time. More than a drama, this is an adventure, which is the kind of story I enjoy.
That said, I’ll understand it if the tone strikes you as odd at points. While I appreciate them minimizing the drama and angst, it does seem like they might have gone a little too far, to the point that many of the characters don’t really seem scared at all. It doesn’t personally bother me too much, and it’s a hard balance to make because angst is almost always annoying, but I’ll understand if it doesn’t work as well for you.
As for the characters, I immediately liked them. As I mentioned in the preview, I’m predisposed to like Shiroe because my go-to MMORPG class is caster/nuker, but I also like that he’s using his head and experimenting rather than sitting around and whining. Though then again, I also used to play leader/strategist when I was a younger MMORPG player (i.e. when I had far more free time), so maybe that’s just bias speaking again. I do count points off for him being weirdly wrapped up in not being a guild after this Debauchery Tea Party (what a name! I beat they’d kick Houkago Teatime’s butts) business, though I may withdraw that later on if it is justified. Naotsugu has the old open pervert thing going for him, and I always love seeing characters who are open with feelings. Ohandbytheway, I forgot to mention earlier but I like how the first person Shiroe contacted was a guy. Far more realistic than him suddenly swimming in the ladies.
And then there’s Akatsuki (Kato Emiri), who is marvelous. Another point for keeping this world consistent with the MMOs we know – she started out rolling a male character, and only converted to a female model once she suddenly faced with living in a radically different body than she was used to. If Shiroe is tripping because he’s a little taller (note: I’d be totally screwed, since you can hardly ever make a character model as tall as I really am! Orz), I can’t imagine how awkward that would be. Also liked that she met them because she and Shiroe had grouped together before, and she remembered that he still had one of those potions. A good job avoiding overly convenient storytelling (them just bumping into each other, etc) there!
Also, Akatsuki is both adorable, hilarious, and adorable. Her continuing to roleplay her ninja-class marks her as a bit weird but certainly endearing, and let’s face it, you can’t hate a girl so cute that even the girls love her. SHIPPING AKATSUKI X SHIROE, GO!
A Sword-and-Sorcery Adventure
I love sword-and-sorcery stories, and I think it’s a shame that we don’t see as many stories playing this genre straight anymore. Calling out spells and attacks has become passé, and while that’s largely fine with me, I like to see it sometimes. This one of those times I think realism in fiction is overrated. It’s just fun! The funny thing is that this is one of the better settings to play sword-and-sorcery straight, because the reason why spells and attacks work like they do is easy to explain – the programmers coded it that way. Like magic this would be a cheap tactic if it weren’t baked into the very essence of the story. That makes it work.
Looking Ahead – Rescue Time!
I like how they’re not moping around and immediately getting on with their first adventure. What I am most looking forward to in this show is the adventure vibe and the group dynamics inside an MMO world I’m familiar with, and to really get that we’re going to need to collect more of the party. Fortunately it looks like another member is about to join the fray. Should be fun!
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – A sword-and-sorcery adventure begins. Good attention to detail, plays off MMO tropes, & Akatsuki is ADORABLE. A good start #loghorizon 01
- By the way, I really like this OP. All the characters flying around, the action, the scale of events, the upbeat music…it all just gets me pumped up for some adventure, huzzah!
- “There are two types of men in this world: open perverts who admit it, and closet perverts who won’t.” Confirmed. Naotsugu, you sage you!
- That form changing does not sound fun. O.O is right, guys.
- By the way, I didn’t talk about the animation because it’s good. Not great, but good. I do think the art style and color palette really suit the tone of the story though. It’s not giving me an eyegasm, but as long as the story is good then I won’t care a whit.
- Wait, girls can’t be perverts? How sexist! Also, factually inaccurate.
- Asking after she knees him in the face, HAH! Akatsuki-chwaaan, you’re the best.
- Yes, apparently all shows with the word Horizon in their titles belong to me. I’m sure there’s a dirty joke in there somewhere, I just don’t see it.
- NOTE: I’ll be out of town when this show releases next week, so expect the post Sunday night or Monday (more likely the latter). I’ll be back to the usual the week after. Thank you for your understanding.
ED: 「Your song*」by Yun*chi