「円卓会議」 (Entaku Kaigi)
“Round Table Conference”
Shiroe is one of the greatest villains I have ever seen. He has become a tyrant for the good of everybody. Muad’dib would be proud.
“He who controls the spice controls the universe.” – Frank Herbert, Dune
One of my favorite books is Frank Herbert’s Dune, and it contains for me what is the quintessential example of hydraulic despotism. Just as ancient empires wielded power by controlling the supply of water, the rulers in Dune dominated the universe by controlling the spice melange, a drug that gives users a longer life span, great vitality, heightened awareness, and can unlock the prescience that makes interstellar travel possible. If you haven’t read the book (though you absolutely should), take it from me – the spice is very, very important. Without it their entire economy implodes in an instant, and all of the richest and most powerful people would die from withdrawal within days. To control the spice is to control the universe.
Shiroe just did the same thing. He found a linchpin, something that each and every player needs from time to time, and he took control of it. Five million gold bought him the entire Akihabara guild building, which lets him set permissions for the entire building. Not within the individual guild halls, it seems – Minori, Tohya, and the others still had to make it out of Hamelin’s guild hall on their own – but he can prevent people on his blacklist from creating new guilds, leaving their current one or joining a new one. Any guild that doesn’t play ball could be slowly bled dry of members (provided those who wish to leave get Shiroe’s leave first), and either locked in their guild halls or never allowed back in once they leave. Better yet, the bank is in the guild building too! Since every player wants to use that, Shiroe has power over every adventurer in Akihabara. Law requires the threat of punishment, and now Shiroe has the ability to dole that out.
Threat For Threat
I liked how Black Sword Knight’s Isaac threatened war against Shiroe for daring to endanger his supply of EXP pots – and also because Isaac seems like the kind of guy who doesn’t like anyone telling him what to do – and Shiroe answered right back with news of his real estate purchase. Actually, that’s not right – it was Shiroe pointing out that his own blackmail was no different than Isaac’s threat, save that Shiroe didn’t even make a threat, he only answered a question. Shiroe’s control of the guild building has an alternate use, enforcement of the laws they are to decide upon, but Isaac’s threat was openly only that. You threaten war, and Shiroe will threaten starvation. Sit down Guardian boy, you’re no match for the Villain in Glasses.
Escape From Hamelin
The escape from Hamelin wasn’t the most pulse-pounding thing ever, but a few points shined. First of all, how it made Isaac react (thanks to Shiroe’s laughter) was highly amusing to me, though perhaps not wise for Shiroe. He can be the villain, but laughing while being evil is a step away from cackling, and once you go down that road, you’re lost. I would know, I cackle all the time.
Better still was the flashes of what looks like Minori pushing Tohya in a wheelchair. Though not possessing the terror of a certain other MMORPG-based anime, to most of the players being trapped in Elder Tales is probably not an ideal situation, but to Tohya, who appears to have been wheelchair-bound… Well, he seems like an affable lad, he probably didn’t mind. For his sister though, to see her brother finally able to stand and run on his own two feet, that has to be a beautiful thing. This world isn’t so bad sometimes.
As for the other thing, I highly enjoyed seeing Akatsuki, Naotsugu, and the others give the Hamelin bastards some comeuppance. Though in fact, Tohya and Minori didn’t do so bad either! Even just making it out when they’re Lv 15 and they’re being attacked by a Lv 46 is impressive enough. Seeing him pay for his crimes was even better.
A Benevolent Tyrant
Shiroe is now officially a tyrant. What makes him an interesting one is that he’s trying to be a benevolent one. Like Muad’dib and Vetinari before him – and I’m sure some actual anime examples, though for the life of me I can’t think of any, or at least any operating on Shiroe’s level – Shiroe is trying to wield his power to better people’s lives instead of selfishly enriching himself. What fascinates me is Henrietta’s comments about how though the devil knows he’s evil, Shiroe doesn’t, no matter how very evil he is. This could be dangerous, because we all can do ill if we’re not on the look out for it, and the consequences for Shiroe making a misstep will soon be much, much higher.
But for now at least, benevolent he remains, and it’s hard to argue with his goals. To spring everyone free from the fantasy they find themselves in, and to establish laws to make life better for everyone. Some might not like the idea of laws, but I think they’re a good idea, and as evidence I’m going to keep pointing to Susukino until all argument goes away.
Shiroe Would Be A Great Lawyer
I have some friends involved in both politics and law, so I can say it’s not whether you’re right or wrong that determines whether you win, it’s how adeptly you guide the conversation to topics and answers where your victory is assured. Shiroe had power behind him in the form of his real estate purchase, but he made the little moves that have put him on equal footing. Here are a few:
- Shiroe has the reputation to pull people in, and he exploited Soujirou’s reputation and general affability by having him take care of the invites. That got everyone around the table where they could talk.
- He invited Silver Sword in full knowledge that they would probably walk out, and when they did he let them go. Good. It’s better to deal with those who care rather than try to convince those who do not.
- By inviting the biggest badasses around and getting them in the same room, Shiroe made himself and Log Horizon a big name merely by being associated with them. Though of course by the time Krusty pointed that out Shiroe was about to reveal his new power, so that was quickly unnecessary. Now they’re a big name no matter what anyone wants.
- He asked leading questions. Those two goals of his are hard to argue against, at least unless you want to look like a terrible person. He set it up so they’re predisposed to agree with him.
- Even how Shiroe kept pissing off Isaac may qualify, though I’m still waiting to see if he goads him into doing something (good) he wouldn’t have otherwise. Somewhat unlikely, since anger isn’t conducive to rational thought.
There may be more, and I’m sure there will be next episode. The fact remains that Shiroe isn’t just making the big moves, he’s smoothly guiding the round table in the direction he wants it. Beautiful.
Looking Ahead – Shiroe’s Vision
With the kids of Hamelin free, next week we’ll get to focus on Shiroe being badass until he has no more badass left to give. I have my guesses as to what he’ll do next (spoiler tags people, use em), but I won’t muse aloud. I’ll just wait to see what goes down.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Hydraulic despotism with the guild building gives Shiroe de facto control of Akihabara. Now will the council play ball? #loghorizon 09
- I’m not surprised that the leaders of the two most powerful combat guilds are Guardians. Main tank is a linchpin role that’s at the center of everything…yeah, probably better to lock that down yourself. One less thing to worry about.
- Serara is frightened by the monster she helped to create. Don’t worry Serara, he’s a good monster! Probably.
- Author’s Note: I’m going to be out of town next weekend, so expect the post for Episode 10 to come out Monday or early Tuesday. Normally I would get someone else to cover for me, but please forgive me, I’m being selfish. This is the kind of stuff that I love blogging more than anything else, so I just can’t give up on writing about Shiroe’s glorious victory! Thank you for your understanding.
Check out my blog about storytelling and the fantasy novel I’m writing at stiltsoutloud.com. The last four posts: What I’m thankful for, On writing fast, writing well, One short story, one week – buzzer beater, and Writing challenge – one short story, one week.