What if, instead of playing an MMORPG, you just watched a cartoon about being inside the world of an MMORPG…?
What is it?
Log Horizon is a two-season anime series which rather faithfully adapts the early installments of a series of light novels. One could consider it a show in the lineage of such trapped-inside-a-video-game fare as .hack//Sign.
What kind of story is it?
Imagine that, somehow, many thousands of players of the world’s biggest online game woke up one morning and found themselves in the world of the game. How do they react at first? (The answers range from “as well as could be expected” to “quite badly.”) How do they adjust, organize, adapt? Log Horizon follows a core group of characters and their friends (and acquaintances and key enemies) as they deal with their bizarre new circumstances.
Why do you like it?
The writing is smart about what it tries to explain away and what gets handwaved. This is a situation where explaining what has actually happened to these people would damage the viewer’s suspension of disbelief too much, so they focus on the effects. For instance, the player characters aren’t proportioned the same as the players’ physical bodies. (Does anyone who plays these games ever create a character who looks exactly like themselves? It seems unlikely.) So because Shiroe, our initial lead point-of-view character, isn’t the same height as his game avatar he ends up tripping over his own feet for a while.
The details can make or break a viewer’s immersion, and the show picks clever details to focus on.
This is also a bit of a found-family story, and boy howdy do I like a good one of those. Shiroe is pretty much on his own at first, by choice. The path from “loner trapped in a video game” to “running a small but prestigious guild” occupies most of the first series.
Log Horizon also finds an interesting way to utilize what are generally referred to as “NPCs,” the storekeepers and other background characters you find in roleplaying games.
Oh, and the characters are entertaining, and the jokes are often quite funny, and the adventuring is exciting. Since you asked.
What might one not like about it?
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that non-gamers won’t get much out of this, but if you do play RPGs of any kind you’ll probably enjoy it more than folks who don’t.
There’s also the question of how you feel about cat-people. Consider yourself warned.
If you’re allergic to love-triangle plots… well, just try to ignore that aspect as best you can. (It may not be easy because this one is really unnecessary and a bit on the squicky side. I just… yeah. Sorry. At least it doesn’t come up too often…?)
Other thoughts about it?
One aspect of the show I want to point out is its dedication toward optimism and positive energy. Shiroe sees the “world” around him devolving into malaise and opportunism. He sees a similar malaise and defeatism inside his own mind. His solution to both problems involves raising the quality of life for everyone around him as best he can.
Of course, one must keep in mind that he’s referred to as “the villain in glasses” for good reason.
Where can I watch it?
Thankfully, I don’t have to send you searching for shiny platters when CrunchyRoll will let you stream Log Horizon right away.