Just like a lapsed World of Warcraft player, who only plays Blizzard’s MMO when an annual expansion comes out, I have returned to Log Horizon after a yearlong hiatus. Based on Mamare Touno’s novels, Log Horizon is yet another anime following the exploits of players who are trapped within the confines of an online RPG. Unlike Sword Art Online, were Kirito inexplicably wishes to flee a game were every female lusts after him, the player base of Elder Tales has accepted their new fantasy way of life. Season one chronicled how protagonist Shiore “the villain in Glasses” opened up diplomatic relations with the world’s NPC populace (called People of the Land) and how he secured control of Akihabara City… because even when dealing with magic and goblins it is good to live in a place where stores peddling Otaku products are plentiful.
Despite purchasing the Akiba Bank, in the last series, it has become apparent to Shiroe that his guild and allies are ill equipped to afford the expenditure associated with running a city. Christmas is fast approaching so funds are desperately needed to buy gifts and settle any outstanding bills. To alleviate Akiba’s financial woes, the bespectacled enchanter sets off on a pilgrimage for monies. His destination is the ominously named Abyssal Shaft, which houses an infinite supply of gold. Protecting said treasure are numerous traps and high-level creatures, which will require a raid group to clear. With this in mind Shiroe recruits the services of Silver Sword’s warriors and an ill-tempered monk named Demiquas. Viewers who recall the events of season one will remember that Shiroe and Demiquas aren’t the best of pals, so it will be interesting to see if they can bury the hatchet long enough to best the dungeon’s many challenges.
Back in Akihabara, the diminutive ninja known as Akatsuki is feeling glum because her beloved Shiroe has skipped town to go on the abovementioned spelunking fundraiser. In his absence she begins to suffer from low confidence. Unfortunately for Akatsuki her morale gets even worse when she suffers defeat at the hands of a serial killer who is presently targeting Akiba’s citizenry. The identity of the murderer is quite a mystery, as Elder Tales’ rules forbid combat within a settlement’s walls. Normally when a malefactor runs amok inside a safe zone they get dispatched by the town guard, but for some reason the authorities are turning a blind eye to this assassin’s activities. Are the police scoffing doughnuts rather than patrolling the streets or is there another explanation? Either way, if Akatsuki intends to restore order she will have to learn some new fighting skills and for the first time in her life accept the aid of others.
My rating for Log Horizon (Season Two) Part One is four stars. Prior to watching this collection I was worried that the show’s quality would dip, as Satelight are no longer animating the series. Thankfully, based on these thirteen episodes, I am pleased to report that this second chapter in the Log Horizon saga mirrors its predecessor when it comes to entertainment value. In terms of visuals I recall the original series having higher production values, but I can’t say that the less polished aesthetics affected my enjoyment of the anime. After a few episodes I adjusted to Studio Deen’s artwork and became absorbed in the storylines/characters. It’s good stuff, although perhaps a bit too wordy. There’s plenty of humour and debates about inter-kingdom politics, but when it comes to battles the action is mostly limited to Shiroe using his smarts to determine how best to conquer the giant guardians standing in his party’s way.
I liked that the script delved more deeply into the memory loss penalty slain heroes have to pay. The mechanic is explored during a sequence were Shiroe and Akatsuki converse in limbo whilst awaiting resurrection. The scenes reveal how emotionally fragile both characters are, even if they appear to be unflappable adventurers in Elder Tales. It’s something many MMO junkies can relate to. Success in those games demands questing for hundreds of hours in front of a PC. No surprise then that elite players often comprise of people who use digital worlds to escape real life troubles and social interactions. William (the guild master of Silver Sword) alludes to as much when rallying his comrades for battle. In real life, he exclaims, people may call his guildies losers but in Elder Tales they are legends. I hope Chris Patton got a bonus for dubbing that particular speech, because it ran for twenty minutes! See, I told you Log Horizon is a bit wordy.