Log Horizon Season 1
Life In A Database
Warning: this review does contain a few vague spoilers.
I know, this review is really, really late! I expected to finish both season 1 and 2 by now, but I got caught up in a pile of things that you don't really want to hear about, and... Actually, you probably don't even care about why, so let's just get on with the review for the first season.
Log Horizon (ログ・ホライズン or Rogu Horaizun) is an anime series based off the ongoing Japanese novels by Mamare Touno. The series follows a group of gamers who get trapped inside the MMORPG "Elder Tale" after an update, and are forced to they deal with their new reality.
After the first couple of episodes, I thought this was going to be like the series Sword Art Online, but it quickly changes to something much deeper, complex, and interesting. No, I'm not saying SAO is bad, it just doesn't take the time to explore things like Log Horizon does. Although, this isn't a review for that other anime series, and you may not have even watched that series, so I won't even mention it again in this review.
So, what makes Log Horizon stand out as one of the great anime series? Where should I even begin?
Umm... Let's start with the world of Elder Tale in which this series takes place. The world is normally the weakest part of most anime series, but the world of Elder Tale is explained at levels that even few games dare to provide. At times it even feels like we are told too much. There are many video games that provide the level of information that Log Horizon provides, but even those tend to give us the basics and allow us to optionally learn more through reading books and whatnot. An anime series doesn't give us that option, so Log Horizon gives us so much information that it may leave the viewer struggling to remember it all. Yet, it still feels like this series has barely scratched the surface; it is just that well detailed.
To be honest, what we know of this game world, Elder Tale actually sounds like a fantastic game to play... Well, besides the whole trapped in the world and experiencing the pain and dying and... well, everything else. The freedom the characters have in the world is refreshing, and almost feels like those old-school pen-and-paper RPGs. As the series progresses, I expect that these freedoms will be explored even more thoroughly since a few of the characters seem to be the very curious sort.
Although, with a cast of characters as vast as Log Horizon's, it's only natural to have a bit of everything. Yes, there are still some of those stereotypical roles with highly exaggerated attitudes, but even these characters still feel natural in the way they talk, feel, and act. Of course, all this variety does lead to some inevitable romantic entanglements and very heated arguments.
Typically, Log Horizon has lots of intense action, it takes place in a video game after all. But instead of focusing solely on the action to fuel the story, it's the strategic and social interactions that take the spotlight. How each former player interacts with the world, each other, their guilds, other guilds, the NPCs, love, stress, conflicts... it's all there! Although, all the attention to detail caused the story, which could have easily fit in a standard 13 episode season, to balloon to 25 episodes... But it was so worth it. It is this attention to detail that truly makes Log Horizon stand out amongst the others.
Log Horizon isn't perfect though. Like so many other series, the story suffers from pacing issues at times. Mainly, the sudden pauses during high-tension areas to develop characters, or to explain something, then the quick return to combat. It doesn't happen, too often, but it does hurt the flow. Although, those pauses are done in a way that actually does make sense since the characters are supposed to be people living in the world, not just people smashing away at a keyboard or controller.
Additionally, the story slows down to a crawl at times during major transitions or between conflicts. While these do allow for a deeper look into the lives of the characters, and remind us that they are people, not controlled avatars, it sometimes goes into the "too much information" zone. There's even times when the story ventures out of its genre and looks like it's setting up a harem anime, or something.
So, yeah, Log Horizon isn't perfect, but it is still the best "trapped in a game" anime I've seen. The story, the characters and world make it easy for anyone who enjoys video games to get immersed in it, plus it provides a vast enough experience to draw in non-gamers, too. Based on my experience with the first season, this is series I would absolutely recommend to everyone.
I am planning on watching and reviewing the second season in the future, but I decided to take a short breath from Log Horizon (I have been watching it slowly over a month and a half) and watch a few other series first. Since this series' seasons are essentially 2 regular anime seasons, I am hoping to release my review for season 2 sometime in October.
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