Recently me and my cousin watched the entirety of Log Horizon (we finished the 2nd season in like two days….). This was the second time I’ve seen this show and while I still liked it I came away a little grated at a few things, so I figured I’d jot down some thoughts.
Note: I watched it in a rush with family so I didn’t take any screenshots. I apologize for the lack of contextually useful ones. My posts on Log Horizon feel dated now, but if you are curious, you can find some here.
Note 2: This is very much a rant and I am sure a show with this much ambition doesn’t really deserve it, but I just wanted to get it off my chest.
The First Season is still solid
On MAL I rated the two Log Horizons equally (both an 8), but having rewatched both, I can now say the 1st has aged better. I was rather surprised by how much fun it still is. Learning about the world they find themselves in, the simple politics, the CRUSTY x LAZY PRINCESS SHIP, a lot of it is really good.
The Kids are the least interesting part of the first Season (more on this in a bit). I much preferred seeing the Round Table shenanigans, but the Goblin arc did have some nice bits (especially found of the Rudy resurrection).
The Kids are kind of annoying
Popular wisdom holds that the younger Horizon characters (Serara, Isuzu, Tohya, Minori and Rudy) become far more likable by the end of S1 and during their arc in S2. This is mostly true, but I still feel ambivalent towards them as a group.
Serara isn’t interesting in any way, Minori annoyed me with her Shirou complex (more on this later) and I don’t like Isuzu. Rudy is great in both seasons, but his charm is less bright the second time around. Tohya actually holds pretty well. His development in S2 is pretty good.
I feel a little conflicted though because the kids do have some of the genuinely best moments in the show. The Rudy resurrection in S1 is cool, the Tohya ‘you don’t need to wear a fake smile’ line is still amazing and the tie in between Isuza’s song and the themes of the show is excellent.
On the one hand I want much more of the stuff that makes Log Horizon interesting, e.g. more Round Table stuff (MORE CRUSTY X PRINCESS), but on the other hand the children play a very important role in the narrative. It just takes a lot of screen time for their efforts to come fruition and a lot of that time can feel wasted.
The Shirou Worshiping is exhausting
I love overpowered, chuuni characters. I love ‘overly intelligent’ masterminds and especially those with a slight sadistic twist (*pushes up glasses*). That is to say, I like Shirou and as far as anime protagonists go, he actually gets a lot of good development too. It is just everyone else worshiping him gets really tiring.
I love seeing Shirou’s ‘awesomeness’ being demonstrated. Give the Round Table challenges, have him solve them, have him co-ordinate raids, all of that is rad, but I don’t need everyone praising him every step of the way. That kind of artificial flaunting is unnecessary.
I can see Shirou is good, kind and smart if you just let him do stuff. Having him do one thing before Minori spouts a line about how great he is just wastes time. Even worse is when Minori decides to compliment him without him doing anything. Just out of the blue she’ll start thinking about how great he is or how she admires him and wants to be like him.
Girl, there is more to life than one person. It is fine to admire people, but to be so obsessed with one individual is not so great. Not to mention Minori is in Middle School! MIDDLE SCHOOL! And Shirou is a Grad Student….why would she fall for him oh I do not know. I absolutely do not.
Minori’s growth isn’t bad per say, but her obsession with being mini Shirou or ‘opening paths like Shirou-san’ in her own words is way too overbearing especially in the 2nd season.
The End of the 2nd Season is incredibly rushed
This is an obvious complaint, but darn if the second season doesn’t just rush through the material. I didn’t get lost per say because it was reasonably easy to figure out the progression, but the rapid pace was jarring and the lack of intermediary content hurt Shirou’s development especially since he has ‘depressed and useless but then slapped and recovered’ scene during the final fight.
The rapid pace also hurt the world building. Sure, it was easy enough to follow along, but without spending enough time on it, it felt like nothing was of importance. One of the best parts of Log Horizon is the characters figuring out the world they now inhabit and to have such important reveals about the Genus and what not so haphazardly thrown at us was a disservice. If there is ever a third season (unlikely) I’d like the first few episodes to be a remake of the end of season 2, just so you know we get invested in what’s going on.
The romance is more dull than I remember
Akatsuki x Shirou
I used to ship Akatsuki with Shirou pretty hard back when I first watched this and it is probably still the best ship involving Shirou but it is not very interesting on the rewatch. It may just be because I knew it won’t end up anywhere, but the cute little moments between the two felt sorely lacking.
Akatsuki has a pretty good development arc where she feels like she isn’t of much use and improves herself and gains some independence away from Shirou. That’s great and all but it feels like scenes after with her and Shirou are mostly her bragging about her ‘feminine power’ (for comical reasons) or doing regular romcom things like figuring out which girl he likes.
Minori x Shirou
Henrietta x Shirou
This is a surprisingly solid ship, if only because Henrietta doesn’t spend much time gushing over Shirou unnecessarily.
Serera x Nyanta
No. There is nothing here. When around Nyanta Serera ceases to be an interesting character and just becomes well nothing but a blushing anime ball. Heck, even when she’s not with him she isn’t terribly interesting.
Oh and of course Nyanta is a nice old man, and she’s probably a little kid, so yeah I don’t know why the show tries to push this ship.
Isuzu x Rudy
I didn’t like this ship the first time I watched Log Horizon and I still don’t like it now. I am not sure exactly why, but there’s just something unappealing about Rudy being treated like a dog. It is supposed to be funny, but I just don’t like it.
The Rudy telling Isuzu about the world’s limited songs moment loses some of its impact on the second watch, but it is still an important moment that is done well. I just didn’t care much for Isuzu so her development didn’t strike much of a chord with me (heh).
Marie x Naotsugu
Now, this is the good stuff. This ship might have been better than I recall it being which is a bit of a miracle given the rest of this post. I think what makes this a pretty great ship is that both Naotsugu and Marie are their own characters who just happen to like one another. That is to say, their characters are not defined by their love of one another.
Naotsugu is a slightly crass big guy with a good heart and Marie is this ball of energy. The two exist without one another, but happen to fall for each other pretty hard. The daily phone calls during the raid is one of the cutest things present in this show as a result.
By contrast both Akatsuki and Minori are at least in part defined by their love of Shirou. This makes those ships much more boring than they should have been.
Tetra x Naotsugu
The dark horse ship that I’d ship really hard if Marie x Naotsugu wasn’t a thing. Tetra is amazing. Genki as heck, but wrapping themself around Naotsugu and emerging from the strangest of places never gets old.
Crusty x Lazy Princess
Ah, the ship of legends. There was a little less interaction than I recalled, but this still holds strong and again a good part of it is because both Crusty and Lenessia are characters not solely defined by their love of one one another. Sure, both meet one another very early on and their best moments are together, but it at least feels like Lenessia doesn’t spend all her time with Crusty thinking about how to bone him.
More importantly, their interactions are just so cute with Crusty always knowing what she’s thinking and her being very wary but also fascinated by his insight. It is lovely and aaaaah I need more. I had forgotten that they show Crusty at the end of Season 2 and now I want Lenessia to be part of the party that goes to China to retrieve him. PLEASE.
The Setting and the Powerful Moments are still great
Log Horizon is at its best when it is asking how these Adventurers are going to adapt to this new world and what this new world even is. It is at its best when Londark, unable to go home, confronts Nyanta on the train. Nyanta sympathizes but emphasizes how often things are beyond our control and how the Adventurers are like children.
Log Horizon is at its best when an otherwise barely known character (William) looks back on his time in the previous world and this one and concludes that even if the challenge is silly and the effort futile he’ll continue on because he wants to beat this raid with his friends.
I legit get misty-eyed when I think of Tohya’s story. I am not sure why but I do.
Moments like Tohya standing up to the never dying knights, or telling Nureha off for wearing a fake smile or the contrast between Isuzu’s song and the war carnage are great and very much make the show worth watching.
All in all I did enjoy my rewatch of Log Horizon. A lot of its flaws are more apparent the second time, the comedy weaker and some of the plot reveals lack punch because you know they are coming, but still, it is a good work and I really would like more someday (never happening, but I can pray).