Monday, October 19, 2015

Log Horizon Review

Dear god, it's Sword Art Online 2.0

That's probably what a lot of people thought.

While the glaring similarities are obvious in the beginning, Log Horizon deviates quite a lot from other 'stuck in an MMO' shows like Sword Art Online and .hack.

Sword Art Online was all about trying to get out of the game.  Log Horizon is about trying to learn how to live in it.

Let's start at the beginning.  LH opens with hundreds of thousands of gamers suddenly realizing they are unable to log out of the game that they play.  So what do thousands of gamers do when they're stuck in a game, can't die (because upon character death they rez at a cathedral), and they're completely bored?  Well, they start killing each other of course.

PKing and general douchebaggery becomes a big issue.  Soon the players start coming together to try and build a society.  It's not like they're stuck inside a VR system and everything about the game as a game is still intact.  No, it's not a game anymore.  The game world has become real life for them, as real as the real world is for us.  THIS is their new real world.  The thing is, it's changed.  They don't understand it anymore.  Much of the first season centers on the players trying to figure out how to build a society, and how to wrangle a bunch of rowdy gamers and make them follow rules in a world that no longer has any.

The main characters are Shiroe, Naotsugu, and Akatsuki.  Shiroe is the group's tactical genius, Naotsugu is the groups pervy dumbass with a heart of gold, and Akatsuki is the female ninja.

Shiroe does this thing all the time where he is constantly pushing up his glasses on the bridge of his nose.  This seems to be a recurring thing in anime.  I have to say the creators have a good sense of humor because other characters do poke fun at Shiroe for pushing up his glasses all the time.  Naotsugu reminds me of Kuwabara from Yu Yu Hakusho, except Kuwabara wasn't a huge perv.  He's not a bad characters at all, but he's very tropey.

This is exploitation, god damn it!
I'm not a huge fan of Akatsuki.  I really want to like her.  She's adorable and skilled.  I am not a fan, however, of how she pledges herself to Shiroe and calls him 'master'.  My inner feminist is roaring like a wildcat screaming 'HAVE SOME GODDAMN RESPECT FOR YOURSELF!'  BUT I do get that the attractive, subservient woman is the ideal for some people.  It just isn't for me.  Another female character gets her kicks dressing up Akatsuki in cutesy outfits even when Akatsuki clearly doesn't like it, and to me this is kind of bordering on abusive,

Let's talk about Nureha and Maryelle's boobs for a second.  Their boobs tho.  They're like fucking melons strapped to their chests and I just don't get it.  Do they hurt their backs?  Aren't they difficult to sleep with?  My boobs get in the way when I try to sleep on my stomach, so...  I can't even imagine having knockers the size of Maryelle and Nureha's.  ALSO, Nureha's weird obsession with Shiroe.
Those woobages.

Okay, Nureha, Minori, and Akatsuki's weird obsession with Shiroe.  Is this a harem anime?  That's not what it said in the brochure.  I hate harem anime.  And Minori is like maybe 10-12ish years younger than Shiroe, who I'd say is in the realm of 24 years old.  I totally get crushing on the smart older guy.  The sad thing is Minori actually thinks she has a chance.

The anime starts off a bit slowly.  After the introductory couple episodes, we start off right in a rescue mission arc.  Yawn.  This arc was boring and unnecessary.  While I DO get there needed to be a way to introduce the world, they could have done it in a much more interesting way.  Serera, the girl they rescued (because of course it had to be a girl), isn't even that interesting, and she develops this obsession with the cat guy who rescues her.  Who has to be like 40 and there's no way she's older than 15.

After that bit of drudgery though, the series really picks up and gets interesting.  It explores sociopolitical themes, and themes of game-style racism (NPCs aren't real people, except now they are).  I love how it explored this.  The characters discover new ways to do things and how they can make this world work for them instead of feeling trapped in it.

Speaking of, it never explains how they got trapped in the first place.  Which is a bit weird, but I see why.  It's not about how they got where they are, it's about trying to survive and thrive there.

I love the animation and music.  The opening feels really epic, and I don't see a lot of anime with rock opening so I enjoyed this.  It gives a good overview of what the show is and who the characters are.  I didn't like the ending.  It's way too cutesy for me and the singer's voice is so high she sounds like a chipmunk.  Pass.  The animation is pretty good.  The environments and cities are really pretty and the CGI bits are very well done.  Fight scenes are a little boring because they talk a lot and go into game mechanics but it gets better as the series goes on.  The character designs could be better.  The outfits are a little bland.  Since it is a fantasy anime you'd think the clothes would be a bit spiffier, but no.

I watched the dub and most of the cast fit their characters pretty well.  A few of the voices I didn't think fit the characters but I didn't think they were BAD, per se.  Just not completely right.  Like Serera's voice.  I've heard this actress in other dubs and I like her but it didn't seem like such a good fit for Serera.

In conclusion, I really enjoyed this anime despite the niggles.  The sexism and fanservice is kept to a pleasant minimum overall, I just have a talent for picking up on it.  Gamers should like this anime, and people who liked Sword Art Online should like it.  People who enjoy slice of fantasy life and sociopolitical themes should like it too.

The next anime I'll be reviewing is Tamako Market.

All images from Google.