When Log Horizon was first announced, many people jumped to the conclusion that the show was a cheap imitation of the “trapped in a video game” genre that aimed to capitalize on the success from last year’s painfully dull Sword Art Online. I’m not going to lie, the trailers and previews of the show really tried to show off the idea that this was going to be the next SAO, and even I thought that the show was just a lazy copy and paste looking for easy money. But while it took me more than 4 months to start the show, once I started, I marathoned all the way to episode 12 in only 2 days. I was surprised of just how entertaining of a show it was.
The show starts with the main character waking up inside the game. There’s no faffing around in the real world explaining how the game is super popular and beating it into the views head that the game’s new expansion has just been released, the show assumes the viewers are smarter than that. The majority of the shows information comes from dialogue, as characters quickly discuss happenings to the real world prior to them becoming part of the game. At least, they think it’s the game. The show hasn’t made it clear if the characters are actually inside the video game, or are in some alternative world where everything is just like the video game. But that doesn’t really matter to the main characters, because unlike SAO, it seems that these characters have no desire to return to the real world.
It’s made clear from the beginning that returning to their original world is a secondary issue for every character in the show, there are the few who are upset about the fact they can’t go home, but the majority of them all agree with the idea of “this is amazing! I’m living in a fantasy world with dragons and magic! Who would want to go back to our world?” This means that our main cast of characters aren’t trying to find an escape route by beating the system, but they are trying to find a way to exist in the new system. The whole show is littered with RPG terminology and MMO traits, and characters don’t treat their new world as a video game, but a living breathing place. It’s not long before political struggles and moral implications come into play, and due to people not being able to die in this new world, brutally murdering people has become common place. This creates a vastly different show to SAO, and frankly, a far more enjoyable one.
The main protagonist Shiroe is set up in the first episode to be much like Kirito (AKA Jesus) from SAO, he’s always quiet, keeps his cool, hates other players, and has ladies swooning over him begging for his love. But within the first few episodes it’s made apparent that Shiroe is in fact vastly different to what he first appears to be. For one, Shiore isn’t a deul wielding warrior who can defy logic, he’s a mage. Just a normal mage. There’s no magic that defies logic, no amazing feat that he overcomes with the power of love, nothing of the sort. Instead, Shiore always stays back during the fights, and is there to support his friends who are the real warriors, Shiore prefers to be sitting behind a desk and having his enemies talk their problems out.its explained why he doesn’t like other guilds and why he’s such a powerful player in vastly more believable logic than SAO’s bland “I am beta tester, I hate everyone who isn’t beta tester”. Shiroe is also aware that he’s powerful and that girls like him, and even uses his wit and good looks to help him rescue children being held hostage. He’s a down to earth main protagonist who’s incredibly humble and respectful of other players, and a vastly more likable lead than any other moody teenage hero.
These first episodes of Log Horizon all seem to slightly shaming other shows in the genre, having the foundations for story lines be copied over from shows like SAO and .Hack, before stepping up and showing what fantastical things Log Horizon can do to make itself even better.
While I’m only half way through the show, every moment has been just an utter joy to watch. The amount of interesting stories going on and the dangers that lurk on the horizon (I tried to avoid puns but they’re just too tempting) make me want to desperately watch the second half as soon as possible. Many people are going to assume that this is a Sword Art Online clone and cry on message board about why it’s terrible, but I plead that people who both enjoy and don’t enjoy Sword Art give this a watch, as I think that you will all be pleasantly surprised.
But all of this is just my opinion. The reasons for these impressions and written pieces are to start conversations. Whether you agree or disagree, let me know in the comments below!
Log Horizon is avaliable to stream now on Crunchyroll