Just when I thought that the game-genre was becoming stale, Log Horizon pulls me right back in with great animation, a decent plot and an attention to detail on how MMO’s are played.
Or, well, it did for the first half. I was originally going to review both parts of the UK release separately but, now having watched both parts, I figured it would be better to review the show as a whole. The first twelve or so episodes had me captivated as they accurately portrayed MMO’s from races, NPC’s, class-specific skills and the importance of teamwork to survive and this made the action both exciting and interesting to watch – even watching the cast talk about how they should tackle something was thrilling as it was easy to start thinking what I would do if I were in their position.
Log Horizon follows Shiro and friends as they’re trapped in Elder Tale, an MMO, where they try to make the most of the virtual world as they realise that death won’t actually kill them and all they can do is hope to find a way out and better their lives whilst they remain there. For the first half, the plot and characters were wholly engrossing and I was excited to see what would happen next, how everybody would work together to pull off elaborate plans and how they explore the world to see what’s changed. Sadly, the second half isn’t anywhere near as enjoyable to watch.
The second half mostly focuses on a younger team of heroes as they learn teamwork and hone their skills and abilities, whilst the cast prominent in the first half are delegated to doing taxes, paperwork and strengthening their overall forces; taxes are never fun, and animated taxes aren’t any more enjoyable! It might not be a weak half but it’s certainly nowhere near as exciting or enthralling as the first half’s offering, and it’s one that I struggled to get through whereas I watched the first twelve or so episodes in a couple of days.
There’s a huge amount of names and faces to remember with plenty of characters being introduced all of the time and becoming better integrated into the plot, and each main character gets their time to shine and some decent development all around. The characters make the second half much more bearable, and it does pick up towards the end, but the thrill is lost in exchange for endless exposition and planning which is interesting but is dragged out past its use. I love that the MMO influences are still thick throughout the plot and it’s clear that the author has done their research or is familiar with MMO’s themselves.
Satelight did a good job animating Log Horizon, so it’s a shame that they didn’t return for the second season which we’ll be sure to review in the future. Overall it’s bursting with colour, gives life to the fantastic character design and is incredibly fluid and eye-popping during combat. Whilst the visuals remain the same, the second half is yet again less impressive due to the lesser-scale battles and focuses much more on people sitting around and debating plans, tactics and what’s the best course of action to take whilst they remain in the virtual world – this allows for some long, unchanging frames which become quite noticeable.
I’m a big fan of the English Dub despite only knowing a couple of the voice talent but I wouldn’t be adverse to hearing them show up in a few more shows in future. Like any anime release worth its salt, you can select the original Japanese audio if you’d prefer. The OST is solid and compliments the atmosphere of the world as well as the various events that take place such as the raids, parties, camping and tactical meetings, all of which need differing music for obvious reasons.
The OP, Database, oh boy you can’t help but get pumped up after hearing it! I hated this song when I first heard it but now I’ve listened to it so often and it’s insanely catchy! I catch myself singing, “Database, database, just living in the database!” more times than I care to admit and if you don’t like it now then trust me, you’ll grow to love it. The ED, Your Song, by Yun*Chi is a song I was already familiar with as a big Yun*Chi fan, and I’m happy to see her now performing songs for anime and getting her name out there as she’s a fantastic J-Pop singer and easily one of my favourites.
Log Horizon is hit or miss. It boasts an incredibly strong first half that quickly fizzles out midway and never manages to hit the same height and sure, things do pick up again, but after the extremely dull handful of episodes you have to sit through it feels as if it’s too little too late. I was sold on the light novels but now it’s something that I’ll consider as I can’t imagine a lot of this content would be enjoyable to read. I’ll definitely be checking out the second season but I certainly won’t be rushing to do so. What was shaping up to be a highly recommended show turned out to be only slightly better than average, and it’s a real shame that the pacing completely drops the ball. If you’re a fan of other MMO-focused shows such as Sword Art Online then you’ll likely enjoy Log Horizon, otherwise it won’t change your mind on the genre.
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