「変わりゆく戦場」 (Kawari Yuku Senjou)
“The Changing Battlefield”
An action-packed first half leads into a contemplative second half that delves into what makes Shiroe tick.
Don’t Tell Me The Odds
There’s a small line early on where Shiroe gives the odds of them beating Luseat of the Seventh Garden as 50-50. There are two things I like about this. First of all, odds of 50%, 30%, 20%, 10% (& etc) always sound more intimidating than the million-to-one chance, since we know those crop up nine times out of ten (trope!). The human mind isn’t equipped to deal with numbers as big as a million, but we can wrap our mind around one-in-ten, or in this case, a coin toss. That makes it feel more real.
Secondly, they’re decent odds going in are going to make them even more depressed next episode. As we all know from trying to pick the good anime when a season starts, expectations factor heavily into reaction—a highly sought after show that flops is much more disappointing than a low-expectation flop. Here they went in with relatively good expectations, and after two more raid bosses showed up, it’s looking bleak. Their original optimism will be a poison to them now.
Raid Tactics Done Right
The one thing I miss about MMORPGs is raid strategizing, though I don’t miss the timesink required. Allow me to indulge myself though. It’s impressive how quickly the Silver Swords adapted to the 90-second CD sword sweep attack, going from two insta-kills the first time to none the second. What I liked was how believable it was that they’d be able to do that, because they’ve proven their prowess in previous episodes, and even then, they didn’t get it right the first time.
That Evil Poison Root and the following spinning blade throw of doom was rough. I’m guessing it needs to be hidden from or out-of-ranged? Or possibly interrupted. Either way, it appears the poison makes Luseat temporarily ignore aggro, so that’s going to be an interesting one to see how they best. I don’t know the best plan without getting to test things out though.
Shiroe damn near stole the show when he realized the number of Shadow Vanguards that spawned from the armor fragments were equal to the number of people who had attacked Luseat in Black Knight mode. His solution was correct—have the highest DPSers do the damage while everyone else either buffs or handles the Shadow Vanguards. I did give thought to whether I would offtank or kite the Shadow Vanguards instead of killing them, because that would potentially let them burn down Luseat without him constantly healing. I don’t disagree with their plan as they did it, though … offtanking or kiting them could end in a rout if the offtank or kiter went down, whereas letting Luseat heal a little bit and then just burning that health away again is safer. They might want to revisit my plan if the arrival of Taltaulgar of the Fourth Garden and Ibrahabra of the Third Garden is on a specific time limit as opposed to another trigger, though.
Speaking of the raid boss adds (hax!), I have two hypotheses, one of which is the time limit one I mentioned above. The other is that any raid boss who was not defeated elsewhere (assuming Luseat is the final one) would join in on the Luseat battle … kind of a “Finish the whole damn dungeon!” tax. Or the encounter could be unwinnable, but I don’t believe that. Personally, I would have already probably already brought a Legion Raid (96 people) and zerged the fucker down, but I’m less clever than Shiroe, so I’m sure he’s got something up his sleeve to beat them. After they get over how terribly owned they got.
The Introvert’s Dilemma
Shiroe’s backstory was a little too much tell instead of show, though I don’t know how they could get around that with a character like Shiroe, who plays his cards so close to his chest. I was struck by how well he embodies the introvert’s dilemma. Shiroe clearly needs significant time alone, and it’s the more gregarious characters around by far. In his guildmates at Log Horizon and his other friends, he has found people who understand that, and are there when he needs people. When he was a little kid though, he was lonely without his parents alone, despite his introversion. I don’t think he would have been sitting at the dinner table chatting about his day. Likely he would have watched TV quietly or played in his room. Yet having them there would have abolished much of his loneliness. And that’s the dilemma—introverts need people, but we don’t always need them right here. We just need to be able to get to them when we’re rested up and ready for social time.
Not Good At Being A Child
Shiroe also struck me as someone who wasn’t very good at being a kid, though maybe I’m projecting. Now being an adult? He seems fairly good at that. But being unusually intelligent and withdrawn can be rough as a child, especially when you’re dealing with absent parents. It reminded me of a line from Ted in How I Met Your Mother:
You know what? I’m done being single, I’m not good at it. Look, obviously you can’t tell a woman you just met that you love her, but it sucks that you can’t. I’ll tell you something though, if a woman, not you, just some hypothetical woman, were to bear with me through all this, I think I’d make a damn good husband, because that’s the stuff I’d be good at. Stuff like making her laugh and being a good father and walking her five hypothetical dogs. Being a good kisser…
Maybe I am projecting, but the young Shiroe who became used to feeling like he wanted to die doesn’t feel like a soul well-suited for childhood. He feels like the type who would have loved to skip all that childhood stuff, but wasn’t able to. Now that he’s here though, he has to deal with the baggage from that childhood he wasn’t good at, and all those small failures he couldn’t avoid.
Lies and the Third Party
I’m not sure how I feel about Shiroe’s lies during his search for the third party. Look, Shiroe is effectively a politician, and no matter how much we howl about how politicians should be honest, that’s poppycock. Lies and half-truths are useful tools in the political game. They need to bring benefit with them, though, otherwise you’re just being a liar. Here, I don’t see the benefit aside from reducing the possibility of a leak, but what’s the damn point if Shiroe can’t even trust those closest to him? And they might see something that he’s missing. He accurately realized that he wasn’t worried about Minami, he was just running away, pushing them away for no benefit. I hope he comes clean with them, for it will make him an even better leader.
As for the third party that brought them there … well, that’s the central question of the series, eh? I’ll just leave that one as is and let the answer come in time.
To The Moon (Test Server) Again
When Shiroe first said the test server was on the moon, I thought he mean the servers themselves were actually located on the moon. If that’s the case, that’s @#%&*$ing stupid, though even if it’s just that the test zones were based on the moon, that’s a bit silly as a testing environment. Wouldn’t they want to test the zones players are actually going to play in? But I digress.
As for the scene itself, wasn’t there a part on the front we missed again? It would almost feel like a waste of time, save now we know what Shiroe was thinking about, and that he was drawing strength from Akatsuki in much the same way Akatsuki drew strength from him. I still feel like something is missing, but it was better the second time around.
Looking Ahead – Never Give Up, Never Surrender
You’re crazy if you think the Silver Swords and Shiroe are going to give up. Totally crazy. They’re going to whoop that boss and come how with all the gold. Believe it!
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Action explode-y raid time leads to character introspection, with Shiroe as the subject this time #loghorizon s2e9
- “One raid boss at a time. That’s the rule.” But this isn’t a game anymore, sir. I still think the Silver Swords will triumph, but there’s no guarantee anymore. Reality is under no obligation to give you a path to victory.
Check out my blog about storytelling and the novel I’m writing at stiltsoutloud.com. The last four posts: The allure of magic, Import, don’t recycle, Impostor syndrome, and Save it for your daydreams. For book updates, sign up for my mailing list.