OP: 「database」 by MAN WITH A MISSION feat. TAKUMA of 10 Feet
「北の国のシロエ」 (Kita no Kuni no Shiroe)
“Shiroe of the Northern Lands”
Log Horizon is off to a running start as Shiroe tackles a new threat to Akiba—money. Lots of money.
Old OP, New OP, New ED
Part of me was disappointed when the OP played, and it was the same song. The rest of me didn’t care, because the song is just so perfect for this series! DATABASE DATABASE DATABASE! I would advise against careful parsing of the OP sequence, though. There’s a lot to unpack, but last season’s OP was a bit spoilery, and while it didn’t give away the biggest moments—or at least, not in a way that ruined the eventual reveal, since they didn’t unfold in the way we expected. You know the one—it did give plenty away. Log Horizon doesn’t live or die on these kinds of moments, but why risk it? Enjoy the OP says I, just don’t pay too close of attention to what’s on the screen while it’s playing.
As for the ED, I liked what they did. It’s a simple sequence, but it’s full of character, and Akatsuki is undeniably cute when she’s dreaming, especially when it’s about certain things. Fight-o, Akatsuki!
After a certain show, I’ve become
violently suspicious hesitant of spoiler prologues. We got a little taste of that here, with William Massachusetts (Nakamura Yuuichi) appearing at the start of the episode. It got me interested to be sure, but it wasn’t necessary. This is a sequel, I’m going to watch it anyway! It was blunted somewhat by the preview spoiling the same thing, but I still have to question the point. Log Horizon doesn’t live or die on these kind of turns; it lives on the higher order strategic machinations and a fleshed out game world made real, so spoiling that William was going to get back in on the action doesn’t hurt much. I still don’t think it was necessary though.
Hinting at Kanami’s (Inoue Marina) (re)appearance, however, was great. That’s the right kind of bait to dangle. I like her already, so hinting at more Kanami is all good in my book. Plus they didn’t waste a full episode, which is always good.
The Plot Thickens (Already): The Kunie Clan
I appreciate how the audience reminders about what happened last season were confined to the first few minutes, and then they cut that crap and got on with the plot. Almost no time was wasted, which is good because there are plots about! Namely Shiroe’s plot, one eighty trillion gold coins large. That’s an eight, followed by thirteen zeroes! See what I mean about hinting at William Massachusetts being unnecessary? Lead with the 80,000,000,000,000 plot! Just imagining what the Villain in Glasses has in mind for so much money has me clamoring for more. My first instinct is a new level of hydraulic despotism, especially after they talked about the high upkeep cost of the major buildings in Akihabara—could they be planning to buy something even bigger? Countries perhaps, or even the gold generating machine itself? Could they be trying to buy the Kunie Clan’s village, or the entire banking system? (Those are all guesses, people. Use spoiler tags if you actually know the answer. Or better yet, don’t say anything—spoilers really aren’t necessary.)
But even though I just threw out a bunch of guesses, I’m not putting money on any of them. Log Horizon has proven to be unpredictable enough that I don’t much want to try to anticipate where it’s going. I’d much rather enjoy the story as it unfolds, and let it surprise me (or not) as it will. Even if this doesn’t hit me from an unexpected angle, I’m sure something will soon.
Deening It Up
In case you didn’t realize, the first season was animated by Satelight, while this one is being done by Studio Deen. Did you notice the difference? Yeah, me neither. (Okay, there are differences in character design and animation, but they’re minor.) For those who were worried that Studio Deen would Deen the series up, fear not—it has as good of quality as the first season, and maybe better, though since this is the first episode I expect the budget to be higher than normal. Which demonstrates what I’ve been saying for a while now—outside of more the united studios like SHAFT or KyoAni, what matters is not the studio, but the staff. The main staff for Log Horizon 2 are the same as for the first season, so we can safely assume things will proceed as they did before. Studio Deen’s involvement should change little.
Shiroe’s Bad Habits
Shiroe (Terashima Takuma) is an excellent character. He’s highly competent and a lot of fun to watch, but still flawed, imperfect; he has bad habits, and they’re not even manufactured ones. He really seems incapable of getting over them, because they’re a part of who he is. It’s up for debate what bad habits Naotsugu (Maeno Tomoaki) was talking about this episode, but my money is on Shiroe working too hard, taking things too seriously, and indulging in his loner tendencies. He also appears to not trust his guildmates enough, though Minori (Tamura Nao) rightly realizes that’s not it—it’s spies from the South he worries about. But these flaws, though they can make me cringe, make me appreciate Shiroe all the more. He’s not a perfect character, and even if he has even more power than he does, he will never be perfect unless his personality radically changes or matures, because these bad habits (social phobias and/or quirks, mostly) will remain. It’s just damn nice to see the flaws to intricately tied to the character, and without it hobbling him—he’s still awesome, he’s just undeniably Shiroe when he’s doing it.
Shiroe Doesn’t Understand Women
There’s definitely something between Akatsuki (Kato Emiri) and Minori, at least from Akatsuki’s side. It’s not hard to guess what; Akatsuki feels like Minori gets Shiroe way better than she does, and has a better chance with him. If we ignore Minori’s age—though I doubt Shiroe would. He doesn’t strike me as one to go for the jailbait—I can see why that would have Akatsuki worried. About all (she probably thinks) she has going for her is her loyalty, in being next to her “lord’s” side … which was why I cringed when Shiroe let Naotsugu come along, but wouldn’t let Akatsuki. I’m sure he does have some important quest for her, but gah! You don’t understand women, Shiro-bou. Akatsuki wants to be by your side. Also, stop making it so hard for me to find you x Akatsuki shipping scenes!
Looking Ahead – The Raid Quest For All the Money
“Then let us meet there. The meandering river and the forgotten underground garden, where gold that appears from the void disappears into the void. But you will need the company of many in order to get there. How will you reach the spring in the deepest depths? The Kunie Clan’s answer will depend upon the result of your challenge.”
When Kinjou (Yonaga Tsubasa) said that, my first instinct was “raid quest!” And it looks like I was correct, because Shiroe is thinking the same thing. They’re going to need someone’s help, but the Round Table is being watched … and we already know where this is going, because the intro and preview spoiled it. It’s the mention of Demikas (Imaruoka Atsushi) that has me interested. I wonder if he’s been tamed by William, or if he will yet be a thorn in Shiroe’s side, and that’s something the first few minutes left inconclusive. So I guess the spoiler intro wasn’t all bad. Well played.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Off to a running start as Shiroe tackles a challenge: How to get eighty trillion gold. Glad to see we’re not starting slow #loghorizon s2e1
- Marielle (Hara Yumi) got in the first glasses adjust. Air megane!
- Rudy (Kakihara Tetsuya) is still so sparkly! Maybe I should upgrade my avatar … to another picture of Rudy, of course.
- It’s still crazy to think of how Shiroe is a legend in this world. And Regan (Fujiwara Keiji) too. Related: he’s the best kind of insane! (Much like Shiroe himself.)
- I find it fascinating that moneylenders don’t exist in this world, and it’s Shiroe’s mention of those that makes me think he’s going to try to take over the banks. If he did that and started lending money out, he’d be able to make a killing … though if he already had access to unlimited gold, what’s the point? Hmmm…
- My first instinct when Shiroe mentioned the money generating device: “Is Shiroe going to rob a magical currency mint/money-giving soul Santa Claus?” Which still would have been great. You just had to try to befriend the Kunie boy, didn’t you? Bah.
- It’s interesting that Naotsugu says Shiroe prefers to divulge all his secrets and have others divulge theirs as well, in light of all the secrets Shiroe has and continues to keep. Though it makes sense—Shiroe is an idealist (and/or naive) in odd ways, with him not joining a guild until he formed Log Horizon being one example. He doesn’t want to keep secrets, but he knows he needs to in order to achieve his goals, and we all know he’ll do anything to do that.
- A heck of a Christmas Eve. What? Dammit, why isn’t it next week already! (Expect to hear me say that a lot for the next half a year.)
- Disclaimer: Watch the spoilers. When in doubt, use spoiler tags, and label them appropriately. Or just don’t post spoilers at all. That goes for hints as well. Thank you.
Check out my blog about storytelling and the novel I’m writing at stiltsoutloud.com. The last four posts: Five movies on a plane, Remarkably lost, What comes first: world, narrative, or characters?, and Comments re-enabled.
ED: 「Wonderful Wonder World*」 by Yun*chi