Log Horizon Part 2 (Episodes 14-25) (Cert PG)
2 Discs (Distributor: MVM) Running time: 322 minutes approx.
It’s back to the virtual reality world of the fantasy game Elder Tale in which an entire community of intrepid gamers have been trapped. Picking up the story right where we left it and the end of volume one, nominal protagonist Shiroe has formed his own guild Log Horizon and has earned himself a reputation as a skilled and savvy tactician with a loyal following of members from all walks of (fantasy) life.
This set opens with a bit of a mega info dump so action fans may need to be patient here. Shiroe meets with a wizard from the Mirror Lake known as Regan, who explains the truth about deaths within the game. While there weren’t considered fatal as this was a game, it appears there is a debilitating effect on the players in that they lose one of their memories each time the die.
Shiroe also learns of the World Fraction Spell, which was used during the Apocalypse – when the gamers became trapped – but has been written into the Elder Tale’s history. This doesn’t seem to be too important at the moment until an invasion by a group of goblin like creatures lead by a Goblin King who had been overlooked by the players as they concentrated on building their communities.
Another aspect of the game which had hitherto been left unexplored involves the non-playable characters in the game known as the Land People. While there has been interaction between the two the land people have had little significance on the story thus far but this volume sees their participation increase as does our knowledge of them as a result.
The prime mover of this is Lenessia Erhart Cowen, the ambassador League with Akiba whose reputation of being an airhead is put to the test when it comes to pass that she may hold the key to the defeat of the Goblin King. Elsewhere another figure making their up the ranks of the Log Horizon guild has a secret which they are hiding that plays into this, offering a learning curve for our heroes and a chance to subvert the rules of game using a little intelligence.
Summarising the key events for this second part of the season is a little difficult as a plenty happens and while some of it will encouraging spoiling some outcomes, a lot of isn’t particularly interesting to discuss. That is not to say this isn’t a fun and often entertaining watch but by going into detail about Shiroe being buried under a pile of paper work, or him being involved in a cake eating contest for couples and he is invited by two girls does not riveting reading make.
Much of these frivolous activities along with the heavy exposition overload is to be expected when the core of this tale is to explore the characters and their acclimatising to living in a virtual world. Unlike its close and arguably more well known relative Sword Art Online which has an in-game goal to be reached to ensure the release of the players, Log Horizon doesn’t thus it has no choice but often focus on the quotidian rather than the action.
Those who prefer it when the cast get physical are in for a disappointment as the action quotient is reduced in this half of the season in favour of political manoeuvres, verbal confrontations and formal social interactions. When they do arrive however they are short but fun affairs, full of energy, bombast and shouting the names of the finishing power move because anime.
Perhaps a less popular decision was not to devote more screen time to the battle between the players and the Goblin King’s army. The big baddie himself has yet to make a formal appearance but an invasion force on his behalf makes a nuisance of themselves across the land, breaking the action up into fleeting bouts of conflict and magic spells, although one collision is eventful enough for us to experience our first major fatality of the show.
The Goblin King is not the only antagonist to make his debut in this volume – two more late arrivals make their presence known but as yet nothing has been established as to what impact they will have on the story. A ghoulish looking pirate named Lord Malves may only be a temporary distraction for our heroes, while a foxy female named Nureha who Shiroe seems to know but we certainly don’t. She dips a little into her real world backstory so we can assume she’ll be back again in the future.
And that is where we leave things for now. A post credit sequence at the end of episode twenty-five all but guarantees a second series is on its way; I can’t imagine anyone investing in this show only to be left hanging like that but then again, there has been many a precedent set in anime for open endings that have no doubt seen the odd TV screen receive a visit from an angry Mr. Boot!
Earlier the immediate and obvious comparisons to SAO were brought up and this is where Log Horizon finds itself in an awkward position in the wake of viewer expectations. On the one hand if it followed the SAO template and was mostly action and fantasy indulgence it would be dismissed as a shameless clone; on the other hand, by going the other direction and focusing on the actual community building and being a character driven show, they alienate those who want all the sizzle over the steak. A classic case of damned if they do, damned if they don’t.
It’s a rather uneven second half for Log Horizon pacing wise, with bursts of action in between the garrulous interactions and comedy shenanigans but, to its credit, the story is actually heading somewhere. It provides perfectly serviceable entertainment which at least means the wait for the second season will be a largely optimistic one.
English Language 2.0
Japanese Language 2.0
Disc 2 Only:
Rating – ***
Man In Black