I watched Log Horizon to the end and will probably watch the next season as well, in spite of its problems, the biggest being its structure. The last couple episodes suggested a major battle between the guild and whoever was invading. I expected a formidable enemy and lots of fighting and strategizing. Instead we get a guy in a clown mask and a lot of grumpy people trying to disrupt a festival by grumbling a lot. When Shiroe tells Akatsuki to sheathe her weapons, I was as disappointed as she was, though not as adorable. I suspect (correct me if I’m wrong) that the show is following the manga or novels closely, which would explain why the season finale fell flat in terms of action. It was (and will be) a serious detriment to the series.
Not that the battles were all that thrilling to watch, anyway. The goblin invasion, for all the people and monsters involved, were limited to little moments of individuals waving magic sticks and healing each other as the goblins went poof. The earlier fights, when Log Horizon or Debauchery Tea Party, whoever they were at the time, were better, maybe because we felt more was at stake. But to condemn the series for its lack of action is a mistake. This was never an action series. It was a series about building a new civilization in a place with different rules. And that’s where the series shines.
I’m sure there is plenty of fiction out there about being stuck in a computer game. SAO is the obvious predecessor here. Maybe they’ve covered some of the same ground that this one does, yet I thought the various problems Shiroe and his buddies encounter were well thought out. First, we had the problem of what to do with your life when you’re stuck in a world and you can’t really die. People kill others out of boredom, because they know no real harm is done. Then there will be the cruel and greedy people who try to put you in slavery, or seize control of what they can. They have to be nullified. I especially liked what they did with the People of the Land, who, it turns out, have their own history of events in which the “Adventurers” (gamers) are only the latest part. They try to use the adventurers for their own ends, and the more decent of the adventurers try to help them without becoming guilted into becoming nothing more than a militia. The shifting relationship between the PoL and the adventurers was one of the better-handled areas of the series.
At the center of all this, of course, is Shiroe, a scheming, bespectacled villain, or benign, decent, slightly nerdish thinker who you might say brought order to the fictional Akihabara. Both are partly true. He’s a first-class schemer, to be sure, and the show delighted in showing him nudge his glasses up his nose and grin like any villain would, but he might be the first such schemer whose motives were altruistic. Yes, he seizes the bank and forces other guilds to work with him, but only because he wants not only order, but compassion in his city. Other people might have found him boring because he was always “thirty seconds ahead,” as he says, but I enjoyed watching this gifted strategist defeat foes by guile above violence, though he wasn’t above the latter. And I enjoyed his flaws, especially his awkward social sense, which often drove Akatsuki and Minori nuts, and his disregard for his own reputation among the Akihabarans. Even though, he is surrounded by people who respect and love him for both his strengths and flaws. As for the side characters, they were given just enough to make them interesting. Minori’s growing maturity was handled particularly well. Akatsuki, on the other hand, stayed pretty much the same. All she had was her devotion to Shiroe and her fighting skills, and we didn’t see her fight enough for my money.
So, yeah, a surprisingly watchable series, and I’m glad it’s getting more episodes in the fall.