With a story revolving around an MMORPG and particularly one where the players are trapped inside the game, it's going to be pretty hard to not address the elephant in the room. Yes, this is an awfully similar setup to Sword Art Online.
For the number nerds, SAO began publishing online in 2002 then was eventually adapted in to a light novel in 2009 followed by its anime in July 2012.
Log Horizon began serialization in 2010 and its anime debuted in October 2013. So the written works were widely divided but their respective anime's less so which is why I remember the internet feuding back in those sweet summer nights between Minecraft sessions, what a time!
In the first episode, upon realizing the reality of their fake reality, Naotsugu makes a (I think, self aware) reference to this scenario only occurring in 'fantasy novels'. Whether it's referring to its own source material or other popular ones is unclear but it made me chuckle regardless!
As similar as their core concepts are there are some big distinctions that allow LH to stand alone as its own story as well as cater to a slightly more hardcore gaming audience, the types that might actually play MMOs.
Firstly, this isn't a Harem show.... Yet. I'm only 2 episodes in, maybe'll it'll fan service later.
You know the ones though, where every female character the protagonist meets falls head over heels for them but displays it in their own love language whether that's being loud, thoughtful or protective. Akatsuki has a blush moment towards the end of Episode 2 but that seems to be more a social awkwardness than specific feelings to Shiroe (as far as we know), her behavior contrasts SAO as she's acting out of compensation and fulfilling that by acting as a personal Samurai.
Secondly, nobody who dies in the game, dies in real life.... Yet.
This detail isn't confirmed until the opening of episode 2 but that fact throws my opinions of this show in to total disarray because as Shiroe eloquently challenges, what's the point?
If food all tastes the same, liquids taste of water and PVP has no dramatic consequence other than a few lost items, gold and hurt pride, what kind of existence is that to live? What consequences will ever make me worry for the characters I'm watching?
As they journey up a digitized overgrown replica of Japan (or at least, a 50% scale one) the only downside to them dying at the moment is having to respawn in the last major city they visited, that being Akiba. That'd be a nuisance in their rescue mission but not detrimental. Maybe this show is more about the journey than the destination though..
Thirdly, we've absolutely no idea how or why these players are trapped in the game. Any narration by Shiroe is down in the past tense but we've no idea how far in the future he's reminiscing on these events. All we know is 30k are trapped in Japan and hundreds of thousands the world over. There's yet to be any external communication as of EP2's end and some context might bring more drama to the story that I feel is currently missing.
CLASS IS IN SESSION
A cheeky little double pun here as the show goes a little deeper than most in to the nitty gritty of classes and sub-classes covering the positive as well as negative attributes of each before expanding on what kind of role they play in a party situation, Tanks being one example. This show doesn't shy away from geeking out about MMORPGS!
Smaller details like the lack of a mini map outside of towns or an inability to contact a GM are passive mentions but are noteworthy mentions to knowledgable gamers who would understand the disadvantage these things put you at.
I mean c'mon, they even talk about Raids and two of our party having FLYING GRIFFIN MOUNTS because they were early risers in the game's inception, that's some wonderfully nerdy shit!!
Marking enemies, debuffs, snaring and even Naotsugu's aggro move Howling Anchor having a counter attack for those who choose to ignore him are usually effects overlooked in other RPG related shows. Most tend to lob a poison effect in there for drama, maybe some paralyses and sleep if you're really lucky. I'm excited to see how min-max this show goes with its mechanical inclusions.
Story wise, it's interesting seeing them touch on the politics and etiquette of a world where a video game has become people's realities. Some play a game by numbers, others prioritize individual power and some are simply bored so they're out for blood. The level of realism throws me back to the accidental Blood Plague Of Azeroth in Wow's past 😅
It feels as though these concepts will be elaborated on in further episodes which I hope will be the real meat to sink my teeth in to. As it stands there's no big bad, no even an external god like figure like SAO's Kayaba to aim your distaste towards.
NEW FRIEND REQUEST?
Visually the show is nothing too mind blowing but it certainly didn't make me wince either. The dramatic sheen on Shiroe's glasses is used for some great comedic gags. The death animation with its cosmos fill and rainbow bubbles might look a liiiiittle too happy for such a tragedy befalling an adventurer or mob but hey ho.
On the topic of comedy, as long as it dies out in the next few episodes, the "Can I knee him in the face?" gag is doing its job well enough for me. Naotsugu's panty pervert persona isn't uncommon in anime and whilst I grew tired of it a while back, I'm now just numb to it and won't let it ruin a decent show, it's just white noise now. Here's hoping he humbles or matures as the story progresses. He's already had a slight shock to the system with Marie being so grabby within the guild hall.
Beyond that, there isn't a whole lot to be said. It's done its job of discerning itself from SAO but feels a little lackluster from a drive or ambition stand point for our characters. I'll give it a few more episodes soon to see if it 'pops' but if not, it might be left in the starting town.. Noob!
Cheers for reading as always and I'll see you all tomorrow.
Full list for AniMAY can be found here: