“Student of the Mage”
Day Two of the festival features paperwork, eating, lifting heavy things, disputes, more paperwork, a fashion show, and–an attack!?
The Love Triangle Finds Another Spoke
I have a conflicted history with love triangles and harem situations. Sometimes they’re done really, really well, and make a story more interesting for the conflict – I would point to my beloved Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo as one such example. Frequently though, harem-type situations are tacked onto shows that don’t need them, or are the basis of stories that are really just weak. So the more these elements creep into Log Horizon, the more conflicted I get.
Since I didn’t get to write last week’s post (thanks takkun!), I’ll briefly weigh in on the Akatsuki x Shiroe x Minori love triangle – I like it. It feels like a good love triangle where Minori’s feelings of admiration for Shiroe naturally blossomed into love, and where it’s more about her growth as a character through this life lesson than her being a serious contender for Shiroe’s heart – because let’s face it, Shiroe isn’t going for a literal middle schooler. With Henrietta stepping in as a contender though, I’m not sure.
From Henrietta’s point of view, I still like what I see. The two of them get along very well, they seem to complement each other in ways similar (but totally distinct) to how Shiroe and Akatsuki compliment each other. I also very much appreciate Henrietta’s worry that she’s only considering Shiroe because he’s the best guy she knows, which is not always the same as the best one for her. That’s very believable, and something I myself have confronted in the past. Like Minori’s jealousy and possessiveness of Shiroe last episode, this is a very understandable emotion.
Yet was miring Shiroe in the middle of a harem really necessary? Or past it being necessary, does it enhance the story? So far I’m tentatively on board, because it’s interesting while all the characters retain enough depth for it to Infinite Stratos-level vapidity. I’ll be watching with concern though, because while it’s ruined nothing yet, I prefer my stories to be of the mass OTP type (Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon, Sakurasou, etc.) as opposed to one big mess of a harem.
Speaking of other couples, we had plenty of fun with the other couples-in-the-making this time! Let me run through them quickly:
- Marielle x Naotsugu – I supremely enjoyed how Henrietta manipulated Marie into being good by bringing Naotsugu to help. That’s not really the reason, though – Henrietta’s real goal was obviously to help her friend. Many d’aaawwws were had at Marie’s reactions! Plus Naotsugu looked pretty slick in his casual clothes, so that was nice too.
- Rudy x Isuzu – Rudy is still endearingly useless. I enjoyed how Isuzu called him a wanko (dog) when they had a werecat (Nyanta) sitting at the table. Rudy gets no respect! /rodneydangerfield
- Nyanta x Serara – Their scene was really all about how Nyanta is a gentleman who stands up against bullies, but him taking Serara out was super nice. Truly he is a gentlenyan~ among boys!
- Lenessia x Krusty – It was so predictable that Krusty would be right behind Lenessia when she was badmouthing him (trope!), but it was also reeeeally funny, so I don’t care! The highlight: How Lenessia smoothly scooted closer to Krusty, despite how much she was complaining and calling him a monster. That + the banquet being her idea…she really isn’t honest with herself, ufufu~
- Minori x Paperwork – She’s totally the S in that relationship, just like her teacher. Poor paperwork didn’t know what hit it.
The Cursed Sword of Shiroe
I found Krusty and Isaac’s conversation about Shiroe to be interesting, even if I don’t feel like I grasped it all. (Not the show’s fault – I’m sick at the moment, so I’m not operating at full power. Bear with me here.) They talked about whether he’s a strategist or a gambler, how he’s a cursed sword, how–well, to quote Krusty:
I think Shiroe-kun is at his best when anything goes. I don’t think he’s a strategist at all. When the chips are down, and you have to do whatever it takes, and there’s nothing in it for him, he’s as strong as anyone you’ll ever see.
To echo the speech at the end of The Dark Knight, Shiroe is fascinating because he’s not a hero. We expect our protagonists to be the sword-wielding knight with upstanding morals who fights through adversity with the power of friendship and their destined power, or we expect them to be intensely conflicted brooding anti-heroes who will do whatever it takes to do the right thing. Shiroe is neither of these. Shiroe isn’t a brooding anti-hero because he doesn’t brood about his actions – brooding appears to be a default part of his personality, something he did even when Elder Tales was just a game. He’s willing to do whatever it takes, and he’ll use underhanded tactics to win, but he never sacrifices a pawn, or even thinks of people like that. He has so far managed to do the underhanded and the moral thing time and time again, and that’s what makes him fascinating.
As for the cursed sword bit, in that way Shiroe is more of a hero than many of the superheroes that dominate various media. While superheroes always seem to be patrolling, fighting to maintain the status quo, Shiroe is happy to bury himself in paperwork when he’s not needed, and to push society forward in the meantime. He’s proactive, not just reactive. It’s no surprise that he’s mistrusted for the tactics he uses, and it’s admirable that Minori wants to fix this, but perhaps it’s okay. Let Krusty be the face of the Round Table – Shiroe will be the invisible hand that guides them all.
Oh, and as for the question about whether he’s a strategist or a gambler? He’s both. True strategists are always gamblers, they just take such well-considered gambles that they don’t seem like them from the outside. They always are though, when you’re the one in the hot seat deciding whether to roll the dice or not.
Disputes with the People of the Land
Here’s where I have to admit that I was a little lost. The clash of cultures I got – when you mix the highly hierarchical culture of the People of the land with the egalitarian society of the adventurers of Akihabara, it’s not surprise that there would be friction between nobles who think commoners are disrespecting them and adventurers who think all of that is bullshit. Yet there being more of disputes than they expected, and Minori calling attention to all the minor errors in the paperwork…I don’t get it. What’s more, I don’t know how Akihabara can come under attack when it’s impossible for people to fight within the city, as Akatsuki’s spats with Naotsugu showed (though I’m not sure how she got away with kicking him in the end. Plot hole?).
I can think of two ways. First of all, attack can come in forms other than martial – whether economic, through a blockade, by devolving the currency or turning the surrounding countries against them or what, there are more ways to fight than with just sword and spell. The other option is that they could change the rules entirely. Shiroe has already demonstrated that it’s possible to create hitherto impossible spells, and at least one other person has pulled it off in Minami. It could be that this Lord Marves is exactly that person. Or that blonde woman who’s in Akiba now…?
Looking Ahead – The Strategist Fails, Counterattacks
With only two more episodes left (I know, right? It’s ending too soon ;_;), I expect Log Horizon to go out with a bang and make us dearly look forward to a Season 2. Hopefully Touno-sensei is getting plenty of peace and quiet so he can write more books, because I know I’m going to want to see more of this by the time it’s done!
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Paperwork, food, a fashion show, & daitos are the name of the game, but an attack looms that could screw it all up #loghorizon 23
- Poor Akatsuki. I don’t think you’re going to get a compliment out of Shiroe that easily. He’s not dense exactly, but he’s not the type. Another failing of his, alas.
- Henrietta soooo knows she’s contemplating stepping on Akatsuki’s love for Shiroe. Another interesting facet to the whole situation there, and one of the ones that’s liable to make Henrietta never make a move.
- Way to go, meido-san! Nyahaha~
- Is it just me, or is the Apprentice subclass totally abuse-able? Just level up your subclass by apprenticing for someone whose subclass is easy to level, then switch over to one of the harder ones when you’re done. Though knowing this era of MMOs, probably ALL of the subclasses are hard to level. I’ll tell ya, I’ve never been more religious than when I was trying to raise my tradeskills in EQ. Those last few skill points were brutal.
Check out my blog about storytelling and the fantasy novel I’m writing at stiltsoutloud.com. The last four posts: Combat scenes – Blocking & initiative order, Critical flaw, Sometimes, the fluff is everything, and Mental domination.