12 Days of Anime #3: Log Horizon

To be perfectly honest, part of why I am making this post is because I don’t think anyone else will. Honestly, Log Horizon is a good anime that just happened to air at a rather bad time. I have written one 12 Day post on Log Horizon already and everything I said then, still holds true.

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Log Horizon had its share of production, pacing and other problems, but one of the things the anime really deserves credit for is trying to explore the impact the game world has on its residents.  Episodes 18 to 20, where all of this exploration finally gets very serious, are incredibly poignant and emotionally charged.

Tohya

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For almost the entirety of Log Horizon, Tohya was overshadowed by Minori and the other kids. He is sort of there as this rash, adventurous kid, but never really given a chance otherwise.

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In episode 18, he does something that is oh so very satisfying by calling Dariella out on her fake smile. It was pretty obvious to us the viewers that Dariella was just feigning her hospitality, but I did not expect Tohya to notice and tell her she wouldn’t look weird without it.

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At first it was just an indication that he is smarter than we gave him credit for. He was shown reciting school facts relating to river deposits as he walked towards her, so the show even alluded to as much. But then the real reason why he sees her through her fake smile is revealed.

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Tohya faces off against Odyssy Knights and refuses to let them die as they please because to him, that is wrong. In the real world, Tohya came incredibly close to death and had his love for Soccer cruelly crushed and understood all too well the finality of death and the respect it deserves. Tohya’s pleas fall on deaf ears, but in the exchange, we learn that Tohyo too sported a fake smile.

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That is why he is able to call Dariella out on it and tell her that it would be better if she wore her true face. As for why Tohya feels a fake smile is bad, I am still left unsure if it is because he understands the futility and ugliness that comes with masking your true feelings or because unlike him, Dariella has no reason to mask her feelings. I assume it is the former, but am still unsure. Either way, it is as Dariella points out, the kid had a blade hidden in his heart that none of us knew about (and contrary to what Dariella thinks, it had nothing to do with Shiro).

Tohya calling her out like that and the tie in with his real life self really made me feel for the kid. Unlike some of the other Adventurers who are not happy to be here, I am sure Tohya feels he has a better chance of finding a path to follow here. He is a good kid. I hope he ends up happy adventuring with his friends. ;_;

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Reconciling with the world they live in

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Some Adventurers are happy being in the game world. Their real lives might be boring, uninteresting or outright depressing, but here, they are free and they are strong. We saw this best demonstrated by William’s guild in the first half of the season. Other Adventurers are not so happy.

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In the “real world”, they had lives, and people to love and live with it. They can’t be wasting time here. Londark tells Nyanta as much when the two clash and the commander of the Odyssey Knights tells Tohya that as well. Their viewpoints are totally understandable and relatable, but narrow. The commander cares not about the town will soon be ravaged, nor for the mental health of himself or his soldiers and Londark cares not for the People of the Land that will die because of his “Quest”.

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Chief Nyanta struggles with this. He knows Londark’s actions are going to hurt people, but at first, he can’t think of a response. It was unheard to see the normally very cool and collected Nyanta struggle. That alone made this fight memorable, and then he came up with one simple response:

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Children don’t get to decide where they are born. They are simply born, so they have to get up and make do with the world they find themselves in. Just like those children, old grumpy Adventurers, not happy with the world they are now in, must pick themselves up and make the most of it. Nyanta’s emotional plea falls on deaf ears, but throughout the duration of Log Horizon, his words have always carried hidden truths to them, for it is indeed children that reconcile first.

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It is not only the Adventurers that are finding themselves unhappy with the world they inhabit, the People of the Land are not happy either. As Mizufa gleefully tells Nyanta, she is jealous of the Adventurer’s inability to die and to keep fighting and killing as much as they want. But, more generally, Adventurers are envied for their ability to advance their skills and make new things.

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In what has to be one of the strongest gut punches thrown this year, Rudy tells Isuzu that People of the Land only have 42 songs. He continues to talk on about how People of the Land come to Akihabara just so that they can advance their skills under the Adventurers.

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He says all of this without much second thought because to him that is just the way the world is, but Isuzu’s distraught reaction mirrors our own.

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The People of the Land are confined by game laws. They cannot make music beyond that which was included in the soundtrack. They cannot make new food, new weapons nor anything else. It is a terribly limiting truth and Isuzu, who had been prating about her lack of talent, now has to confront the fact that at least she is able to sing and play as she wishes.

Isuzu asks to be left alone and Rudy, confused as he may be, respects that because he is amazing. Isuzu struggles with what he said and as Tohya struggles against the Knights, she decides on her path and sings. But she doesn’t sing a song from her old world. No, it is a song she made in this one.

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It is an incredibly fitting song and one that talks about leaving behind painful pasts and moving forward.

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To the Adventurers her song is proof that even in this world, they can stand and find a path forward. To the People of the Land, it is a start towards making their own music, and towards breaking out of the confines of this world.

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Her song, like Tohya’s words, like Nyanta’s words, falls on mostly deaf ears, but amidst the raging violence, it coats everything in a golden light, highlighting one way forward. And, perhaps most importantly, it is heard by two children.

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  1. #1 by exof954 on December 16, 2015 - 10:36 pm

    A lot of people overlooked the great qualities that Log Horizon had hidden deep down, I think. For me, the biggest parts were William’s speech in the first half of S2 and like you said above, the whole situation with the undying army.
    All in all, nice work on the article! Really liked it.

    • #2 by Reiseng on December 16, 2015 - 11:08 pm

      Thank you!

      And yeah, in many ways Log Horizon is a bit of an overlooked gem.

  2. #3 by Flawfinder on December 18, 2015 - 2:07 pm

    My friends who liked the first season have been telling me that Log Horizon’s second season was not very good because “Deen” and all that.

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