Log Horizon Series 2 Part 2 (Episode 14-25) (Cert 12)
3 Discs DVD/2 Discs Blu-ray (Distributor: MVM) Running time: 312 minutes approx.
The second season of this fantasy series concerning MMORPG players trapped inside a game rumbles along with this concluding volume, and after being held against their will as virtual reality avatars, the cast of hundreds seek to find their way out of the game and back into the real world.
Or not as it may seem. This aspect of the story was never discussed, even in passing, in the first series nor did it ever appear to be a priority in the first volume of this second half but with the end in sight, such a pervasive topic should be high on the agenda. Instead this notion finally arises towards the end of this set, giving our protagonists just four episodes to find a way home.
So why the hold up? For reasons only known to writer Toshizo Nemoto and director Shinji Ishihara the focus instead is placed on mini story arcs that shine the spotlight on lesser characters in what feel like filler episodes (but may be canon, adapted from the light novels of Mamare Touno) before rushing toward the finishing line with what should be a satisfying conclusion to this saga.
This may also require some revision on the part of the viewer prior to continuing with this set unless you have a photographic memory of the expansive cast list as the first episode is set on the Chinese server where a character named Kanami and her green suited swordsman Leonardo – who she calls Froggy – engage in battle against the evil guild Plant Hwyaden.
It would appear that Plant Hwayden were being posited as the central antagonists of this half of the story but instead they slip in and out of view until the conclusion, with only one character, Nureha, making a name for herself. Introduced at the end of the last volume, Nureha is a high-ranking member of Plant Hwayden with an unhealthy obsession towards Shiroe, the nominal hero of this sage.
She is able to change her appearance to that of coy Daniela which is how we see her in the mini arc that covers the next few chapters. Shiroe sends the youngsters of the Log Horizon guild on a mission to obtain materials for a special magic bag but without the guidance of the senior guild members.
Taking centre stage here is Isuzu, a young musician in the real world whose father was a star who enjoyed fleeting fame, whilst in Elder Tales, Isuzu is a lute player without any specific magical powers like the rest. Thus her journey is one of gaining confidence and learning that her music can soothe the mood at times of despair or give encouragement to her friends as they enter into battle.
In this instance the foe is a swarm of creatures called Wyverns, controlled by Plant Hwayden, but they are not alone as a mysterious group called Odyssey Knights are on hand to help. Blessed with a machine that resurrects a dead player, the Knights are basically kamikaze pilots whose deaths are distractions for the People of the Land to flee to safety. The juniors also meet a vampire named Roe2, who claims to be Shiroe’s sister, and gives them a letter to give to him when they return home.
This is where things start to get a bit convoluted as Roe 2’s letter warns Shiroe of a new breed of player called Genius monsters who are relentlessly seeking a resource called “empathions”. The Genius monsters were created on the moon, which Roe2 informs Shiroe could be the answer to facilitating a return to the real world.
And in the middle of all of this we have some political intrigue involving Prince Iselus, the young heir to the Cowen throne of the land of Maihama, who is being tutored by a grumpy guardian named Isaac. Unless I’ve missed something or forgotten about them, this district and these people appear to be late additions to the story, giving little room for any emotional connection or interest in their plight to develop.
Whatever consistency, no matter how modest it was, that once existed in this series has now all but disappeared with the sense of desperation and confusion we see onscreen possibly being a metaphor of what was happening in the Studio Deen production offices. Any semblance of coherence has largely been defenestrated it would seem, and the idea is to grab random story ideas from the light novels and adapt them to fulfil the episode count.
A semi-dramatic climax awaits, hampered by the rushed nature of the final arc and the distraction of the Iselus subplot which ultimately amounts to nothing. Not even the last minute appearance of the “Top Boss” antagonist responsible for this whole debacle is able to heighten interest which by now should be at fever pitch. No explanations are forthcoming and the ambiguous ending suggests either a third series is due or that this is our lot.
Scrappy and unfulfilling endings are rife in anime but with a concept like the one driving Log Horizon, and the maladroit cramming of multiple ideas into the finale is a huge disappointment, especially after a fifty-episode investment. Then again as someone who was ambivalent towards this series it might be my cynicism talking and loyal fans might be more generous and forgiving.
Production values are also noticeably compromised in this set with a greater reliance on still and repeated frames and frugal animation of the characters. The battle sequences – which are sparse in quantity – seem to have survived this economy drive on a visual front but their brevity tells a different story.
Log Horizon Series 2 started off as a well-meaning follow up to the amiable enough first outing but descends into chaos with this final half, offering a muddled narrative via unnecessary independent stories when an overarching narrative towards a definitive conclusion was imperative.
Entertaining and ambitious but lacking the emotional investment and commitment for a final act.
Japanese 2.0 w/ English Subtitles
Disc 1 Only:
Clean Opening Animation
Clean Closing Animation
Rating – ***
Man In Black