Log Horizon S1 – Review

Preview week’s done, so we’re back on the review train! I actually watched most of this back over winter break, in a rigorous three-day marathon of Smooth Nyanta and friends. The show remains as compelling in its worldbuilding and lukewarm in its aesthetics as it did the first time around, and is actually about as marathon-able as a show can probably be. This second viewing didn’t really illuminate any themes I missed the first time around, but goddamnit if that was going to keep me from taking a bunch of notes anyway.

Here’s my full ANN review, covering about halfway through the People of the Land conference. Full notes are below!

Log Horizon

The opening hook is strong, of course

Shiroe begins by immediately messing with his menus, seeing what’s available in this world

Naotsugu’s a very slangy, bro-ish dude, which works for his character

Yeah, the overall pacing is nice and slow. The show doesn’t rush through everything – it explores its concepts one at a time at the pace the characters experience them

“So we’re stuck in our favorite MMO? What a bunch of fantasy novel crap.”

“Don’t treat it like a game. We know how to play here, but we don’t know how to live in it.”

“What’s your big plan?”

The show thoughtfully chronicle’s Shiroe’s rise from isolated mastermind to leader of a city

“What the hell is your damage, man?” Alright Naotsugu

Akatsuki seems older, which is probably good

Dumb pervy gags with Naotsugu, cutesy gags with Akatsuki. The show’s sense of humor is pretty obvious, but the show is fairly direct in everything outside of its compelling worldbuilding

Akatsuki sticks to the roleplaying even in this world

Food doesn’t taste like anything – the way things that were originally arbitrary game mechanics translate to real-world dynamics are key to the show’s conflict

Naotsugu – “Best game everrr”

Pretty great faces

None of the transport gates work

The show immediately dives into the politics of a new world – guilds consolidating power, overall panic. This is treated as a world, not one character’s adventure

The Debauchery Tea Party

“What happens if we die?”

The difficulty of using the game systems with your bodies while trying to deal with the world around you

Some occasional nice bursts of animation here – Akatsuki’s attack, etc

You actually just use your body to mimic your old skills

Soundtrack is a lot of electronic beeps and boops for the action scenes, generally unobtrusive stuff. Simple, repetitive electronic strings and chimes to go over the exposition – it’s essentially like videogame music, designed to be acceptable when repeated

The show has a very light and bright visual aesthetic – it’s more based on conveying information cleanly than promoting visual beauty

Usual Sentai Filmworks subs – that garish yellow

The show deals out worldbuilding tidbits piece by piece every episode – how combat works, how death works, synergy in player attacks, building new objects, the economy. It intersperses classic knowledge of MMO gameplay with the unique quirks of its own world, leading to a constant, generally satisfying breadcrumb trail of worldbuilding clues

Some of the visual effects for combat actually look pretty solid

Episode 2

The subs to translate the interface are kinda graceless/intrusive.

Explaining the many subclasses and main classes. Akatsuki is “assassin + tracker”

The show has a ton of exposition to get through, and it splits it between Shiroe monologuing and the various characters all telling each other exposition

“Fortune is favoring the jerkholes.”

Looots of silly physical gags

Fighting with player killers

Demonstrating how crowd control works, how tanks work, etc. The show slowly builds knowledge of MMO mechanics

Thorn Bind Hostage, etc

The visual effect of characters dying is pretty good

“You can survive in this world without doing anything.” The quest to actually find purpose in this world is one of the story’s big questions

The quest to save Serara in Susukino

The support of friends is also a key theme

“This is our answer. This is what we can do.”

Enjoying time with friends is a big part of Log Horizon – all the jokes and many of the small moments rely on this

Episode 3

The show’s music does become repetitive over time

Demihuman creatures introduced

Ingredients still have their original flavors

Shiroe was a loner, of course

Shiroe’s about to get his Masters

This voice makes Akatsuki seem more mature, which actually fits how she’s supposed to be

They repeat the Thorn Bind Hostage thing three times in the first half of the season. Kind of awkward

The joy of exploration is also kind of a thing in this show. THAT’S THE BEST WAY TO FRAME ITS LOVE OF WORLDBUILDING

Episode 4

Brigandia is the guild Serara’s hiding from

“Let’s lay the smackdown on these dummies.”

The fight scene, as always, conveys information, but not much beauty

Episode 5

Talking about the changes in the People of the Land – the differences in dynamics between people who’ve always treated this as a world and people who see it as a game is one of the key sources of drama here

Nyanta discovered how to make real food

Little bits of animation here and there – during the fights, when they first experience real food, etc

Just like how fighting works naturally now, so does cooking

Shiroe learning to actually push for his own desires, and connect with others

Shiroe first articulating that the Adventurers are the monsters here – they’re a ticking time bomb, and the world has to adjust around them

Episode 6

Shiroe immediately recognizes that the way they create food is a weapon – this show is all about information, and information is power

And now moving into the politics of a new world

An in-game extortion ring for valuable items

“If you ever stumble on a treasure you didn’t have to work for, throw it back.”

“Stop holding yourself.” Everyone’s waiting on Shiroe

The scene where Shiroe contacts Minori is nicely directed – very tense

“We need to be desperate.” Nice line from Shiroe

“You finally have a home.” Guild – home/friends

Episode 7

And now they introduce commerce to the new world through food

“Now THAT’S a tasty burger.” Ugh, some really bad side character actors here

The material drags a bit throughout – the show’s pacing is definitely pretty languid

Sojiro’s performance is pretty stiff

Episode 8

The negotiations are actually some of the most fun parts

Maryelle and Henrietta negotiating to control food supplies is one of the best parts of the show

Shiroe as the “villain in glasses” is a major appeal of the show, too

Touya and Minori have to develop their own strength, too

This first half has been building well so far

Episode 9

The show gets evocative in its direction so rarely that it kind of draws attention to itself

“Laws are what people create and what others recognize.” A sharp note here in Shiroe convincing people there should be rule of law – this is no longer a game, but people still treat it as such

Shiroe enforces his ideals not through convincing, but through blackmail – he controls them absolutely, and so he’s the dictator. He will force them to embrace civility

Episode 10

An industrial revolution and a rights revolution

It’s not about escaping this world – there is no known escape. It is about building it into a real livable place

Managing and manipulating a happy population is big

Still trying to figure out how their economy works, what various things are worth

Rudy’s voice is way too respectable – he needs to vamp it up way more

Even Shiroe’s voice occasionally just lacks enthusiasm

Episode 11

“Can the Adventurers live as one with the land? They create nothing.”

This might be the first time they mention trying to get home, and it’s just an offhand remark

The show’s idea of humor is “overreaction” and silly faces

Some of the episodes just sort of dance around an idea for a while before moving forward

Eastal’s Emissary has arrived

Time to get down and dirty with local politics

“It’s really cute that they want to make us nobles. Like they’re better than us already.” Nice unintentional poking at their motives

“We need to learn if the People of the Land have changed since the Apocalypse.” It’s nice how the show often uses one thread to explore an issue on a micro level and the other on a macro one – exploring Eastal politics versus Rundel Haus Code, Shiroe establishing the Round Table versus Minori and Tohya taking control of their destiny

Sadly, Rudy losing his ridiculous Engrish interjections isn’t really replaced by much

The Palace of Eternal Ice

Meeting with Duke Cohen, the head of the League of Freedom Cities

Minori’s narrative isn’t nearly as engaging, and likely won’t even take off in the course of this release. Though that might be reflective of me not being part of its target audience? The politics are way more engaging than kids fighting monsters

Episode 12

A nice application of game design here – Henrietta being a bard helps her assist Shiroe in the formal dance

The visual effect of Henrietta teaching Shiroe to dance is pretty nice

Minori managing small in-group drama is not that exciting

Teaching the very very basics of party combat

So I guess they replaced the Engrish with alliteration

Episode 13


Lenessia’s such a great first choice for characterizing the People of the Land

That condescending applause yesss

Lenessia pouting goddamnit

They want to get in on the Adventurers’ tech revolution designs – transport innovation

Krusty trolling Lenessia is the best goddamnit. We need him back in S2