LOG HORIZON features a massive multi-player online role-playing game called ‘Elder Tale’ that has become a global success with millions of players. However, during Elder Tale’s release of its twelfth expansion pack ‘Novasphere Pioneers’, 30,000 Japanese players (who were logged on at the time of the update) suddenly find themselves stuck in the gaming world and donning their in-game avatars.
Believe it or not — we, as the audience, gets thrown straight into the centre-piece of the game as well, making the show rather confusing at first. Log Horizon can be easily regarded as a bland knockoff of Sword Art Online but as the audience sets on a journey with the Elder Tale characters, Log Horizon eventually differentiates its storytelling which is the ultimate key to making the series a hit.
The fantasy world of Elder Tale boasts lush greenery filled with fantastical beasts and characters of different levels and categories. Unfortunately, it’s not the same world that the gamers are used to – players have now been thrown into this ominous world where it lacks a functioning law and justice system. With the boundaries of the gaming world beginning to merge into reality, it is up to the Adventurers to make necessary changes to Elder Tale before it is too late.
At the centre of this chaos stands Log Horizon’s Shiroe who happens to be one of the unlucky players sucked into this phenomenon. Along with his friends Naotsugu and Akatsuki, they decide to team up to find the answers to this world which has now become their reality.
Categorised as a Half-Alv Enchanter-Scribe, Shiroe is a veteran player who is best-known as the former strategist and negotiator of the legendary Debauchery Tea Party. Often used for his knowledge and success rate, Shiroe finds himself ostracised and has reservations of joining guilds due to previous unpleasant experiences.
With Elder Tale’s system crumbling bit by bit, Shiroe decides to take matters into his own hands. True to his fearsome nickname ‘Black Heart Glasses’, Shiroe endeavours on a mission to achieve something that no-one has ever dared: to purchase and own the Guild Building in the hopes of controlling all the guilds – the low class and the mighty – in the world of Elder Tale. And yes, this ultimately makes him the Guild Master of Log Horizon.
This arc initiates the start of many thrilling twists for Log Horizon. Not only does it illustrate the wittiness and deeper concept behind the series but it is one of the arcs that highlight Shiroe’s lethal character. While other gaming series focus on action extravaganza, Log Horizon’s Season 1 Part 1 embarks on a backseat approach where it allows the story to develop at its own pace via dialogue and events. This enables the audience to immerse themselves in Elder Tale’s environment, and form some connection with the characters before the action unfolds.
Unfortunately, Log Horizon’s art direction is rather disappointing as it makes no effort to stand out from the crowd within the gaming/fantasy anime genre.
Overridden in bland backdrops and generic character designs, Log Horizon is visually not as striking as other gaming series. With that being said, we must credit the occasional glorious sunset backdrops and complex architectural designs in the show. Animation seems average but we hope to be proven wrong in the latter part of Season 1 when they (hopefully) engage in more action battles.
Overall: Log Horizon appears to be a knockoff of rivalling gaming series, but surprisingly, this first part of Season 1 has more substance than one would originally predict.
The show may utilize the overdone concept of players being trapped in a game but this series has the potential to expand its storytelling into something greater. We look forward to seeing more adventures from Shiroe and his friends, and Log Horizon’s direction from here on out.
LOG HORIZON PART 1 (Episodes 1-13) is now out on DVD and Blu-Ray. You can view more info on Madman Entertainment’s site [here]