Log Horizon hopes to be regarded in the same vein as shows like Sword Art Online & the .hack series, but does the first episode help establish its own identity? Spoilers Ahead!
Elder Tale, an online MMORPG with thousands of players worldwide, has released its newest expansion pack and with it some new “additions”. In the middle of what looks like to be Akihabara, a player named Shiroe wakes up to find himself in the guise of his in game avatar. Surmising himself to be inside the game Elder Tale, he finds himself unable to log out and tries to find out what happened. He soon comes across Naotsugu & Akatsuki friends of his within the game and the three decide to travel together. Soon they are called on by the leader of the Crescent Moon Alliance, Marielle, who offers Shiroe and his group an invitation to join, respectfully declining her offer they leave and seek to find their own way to live in their new environment.
Following in the footsteps of its popular predecessors, Log Horizon tries to introduce is to its world and the characters that inhabit it but falls a bit short of the mark.
The main characters have some room for growth but nothing really that makes them stand out on the realm of the genre. Shiroe, while level headed and kind, is a bit boring as a main protagonist not really standing out much besides being a good field tactician. Naotsugu is a bit more colorful and adds some humor, but he’s more one note than anything at this point. Akatsuki’s main claim to fame besides being a ninja is that she’s cute (this is evident in the fact that almost everyone wants to tackle her when they see her besides Shiroe). The mains do have a decent dynamic between them so they gel well enough though.
The animation isn’t too bad but the character designs are a little on tje bland side (makes you wonder the budget Elder Tale was made on) the environments are nice to look at though, but that’s mostly in terms of its initial setting in Akihabara). The script is a little on the wooden side but the seiyuus manage to make it work despite the problems.
Log Horizon tells us that thousands of people are trapped withing in the game, but unlike SAO and .hack, it doesn’t really feel like the characters want to do anything about it. nowhere in the episode do the main characters mention anything about the real world or show any real desire to return there. This could be an opportunity to have some character growth later on as to why they don’t seemed too pressed about going home. Another thing is that it hasn’t been established how death works in the game. Usually with these type of stories its “if you die in the game you die for real” but Log Horizon doesn’t really answer that question. There is a scene where the party discusses it and fights some monsters (making for a pretty decent fight scene) but they survive so the question remains unanswered.
“The Apocalypse” is decent opening to the series but it fails to help Log Horizon move out from the shadows of its predecessors. While boasting some nice ideas, the execution falls a bit short. The circumstances surrounding them being trapped aren’t fully explained, making thongs more annoying than ambiguous, and the characters are a bit on the bland side. Log Horizon has potential, but it needs to show a lot more if it wants to stand out from the pack.
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