Log Horizon First Impression: SAO Just Got Its Ass Handed

I think they're on to something....
I think they’re on to something….

The new lineup of anime is here, and Log Horizon is the anime I was expecting to watch. I just watched the first episode over my morning cup of tea and I have to say, THIS is the online game-based anime I’ve been looking for. Just a note, this is a first impression. I’m not by any means judging the entire anime. The review will come later.

Okay, so we have a plot similar to any MMO-based anime these days: you’re stuck in the game. The game is known as Elder Tale, where 30 thousand Japanese are locked inside the game and can’t log out. Our protagonist, Shiroe, is a level 90 Enchanter. Considering most protagonists carry swords, Shiroe is quite a refresher. He is then joined by Naoetsugu, his pervert, buff male friend who is a level 90 Guardian; and Akatsuki, a level 90 Assassin who refers to Shiroe as “lord”. Yep, they’re the best party that a player could ever have: a high damage spellcaster, a tank, and a lightning-fast DPS. They just lack a healer. Their first mission? Find out information.

The plot, if executed properly, should give us a rather interesting, adventurous story. In the preview for episode 2, our 2 man-1 woman party is going to embark on their very first quest: save a damsel in distress. Regarding the levels of the characters, we shouldn’t question “how the hell are they level 90 already?!” because it’s (implicitly) answered in this first episode.

Knee kick to your face, meathead!
Knee kick to your face, meathead!
Kick first, ask permission later.
Kick first, ask permission later.

The visuals are pretty nice, especially the skill effects. There was an ounce of combat in the first episode and thank God, it wasn’t a montage of freeze shots. The characters actually moved and, like any action anime, shout out their skills. I just hope it stays this way. I also liked how the monsters exploded in an orgasmic array of colored lights when they get killed (hey, they drop potions and money!). The character design, on the other hand, did not stand out much. Shiroe is just an intelligent guy with blue hair and glasses, but Akatsuki’s character design is reminiscent of my Assassin in Emil Chronicle Online (may she rest in peace). If I may say, the character designs are similar to that of AKB0048, especially the females.

This is you when you see a cosplay of your favorite female character.
This is you when you see a cosplay of your favorite female character.
Shouting skills makes them stronger.
Shouting skill names makes them stronger.
I guess they ran out of cool skill names in the very first episode.
I guess they ran out of cool skill names in the very first episode.
Monsters finally drop coin and potions.
Monsters finally drop coin and potions.

Another aspect that I like in Log Horizon is the occasional comedy. Even though they’re trapped, the main characters can still joke around. Speaking about comedy, there’s a moment when we’re introduced to Marie, the Guild Master, She is an elf…. wait for it….. yeah, she has a big rack and is blonde. Please Japan, stop stereotyping elves this way!

In Japan, all female elves are blonde and have big boobs.
In Japan, all female elves are blonde and have big boobs.

The last aspect that really got me going was the music. The OP was very upbeat and with it was 70% English! The ED was also nice too, I think it’s Akatsuki’s theme.

So with all those aspects in mind, I’m going to say that I have high expectations for this particular anime. The first episode just beat SAO, the “best” anime of last year, in every way possible. By the way, did I mention the SAO parodies near the end of the first episode?

Sugou, is that you??
Sugou, is that you??
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9 thoughts on “Log Horizon First Impression: SAO Just Got Its Ass Handed

  1. I agree completely. I’m sure you’ve watched through episode 11 by now, and it’s gone places I had hoped Sword Art Online was going to go for the entire length of the anime. The interactions between the characters, especially during battle, is much closer to what I’ve experienced in playing MMOs than SAO, which is refreshing. It’s also refreshing to receive no “beat the game to escape” scenario in an online game, where there would realistically be no way to really “beat” the game. And, as you said, getting a hero who’s an enchanter rather than whatever maps to “fighter” with a sword is refreshing, in a manner very similar to Lelouch from Code Geass (with whom Shiroe compares in many ways). The characters tend to analyze the world as if it were a game, which it is to them, rather than just roll with the world and start role playing (which I’ve noticed hardly anyone seriously does online). I did find that the world from SAO charmed me more; it seemed to lend itself much better to whimsical adventure. But Log Horizon seems much more focused on the characters, online gaming culture, and implications of a real-world game than the raw adventure, and I find that rather exciting.

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    1. I couldn’t have said it better myself, good sir.

      The thing that failed about SAO was that it tried too hard to adapt to the novel. So you have a world where you’d expect people to go nuts after they knew they couldn’t escape and the “perma-death” thing added to the thrill. That worked for like, 1 episode. Then, the entire story was just a love story between Asuna and Kirito. It seems the devs failed to actually create the intended scenario Kawahara had in mind, despite the Kirito x Asuna romance being a major theme of the novel. Another thing that failed in SAO was Kirito’s character development. He just jumped from a newb to a level 70-ish and they think we won’t be asking questions. He was also ridiculously overpowered, taking the fun out of the anime.
      I also enjoyed SAO’s scenery too, it was the only best aspect of the anime apart from music.

      In Log Horizon, you actually can relate to the characters. I loved how most of the characters picked jobs based on their real-life work, like Henrietta who was an accountant in real life and the various crafters. Shiroe, as a protagonist, doesn’t come off as too overpowered also. You can actually relate to him, to how he feels in-game seeing the messed up world he lives in; not like Kirito.
      It seems the devs of Log Horizon actually got the meaning of the term “multiplayer” and delivered us an anime which focused on the “multiplayer” of an MMORPG; not just the “role-play” and “game”.

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  2. I also liked how they were genre savvy about the possibility of dying in-game. They didn’t assume that dying Kills You For Real, but they knew that’s usually the case when people get sucked into games in fiction, so they were careful until someone accidentally died and proved you’d be revived. There were also characters who noticed the differences in the NPCs and others who didn’t. I think the writer(s) just took note of some very important things. Writing in a VRMMO scenario (or any Virtual Reality scenario) comes with many benefits, but too many people ignore the extra implications that would factor into the plot, but Log Horizon I feel properly addresses these things.

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    1. I haven’t, but I’m currently searching for the ISO to play on the PS2 emulator because I’m poor and can’t enjoy console games lol
      But really though, elves since the days of Zero no Tsukaima have always had blonde hair and big boobs. It’s became like a trademark for elves in the anime industry.

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  3. I absolutely love how you designed this blog! Could you give me a few tips? Im having a few problems with the side bars. Love your blog though. You should give mine a look too, you know, help each other out here and there

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  4. This is an amazing review! I just recently finished the first season. Being a college student and a lover of mmo’s, I just love Log Horizon and the fact that it goes into so much detail about the nature of the mmo genre, and that I can relate to the main protagonists more. I could tell that SAO was targeted towards a more general audience, but LH is definitely for me.
    For those reading the blog, I felt a more generally light hearted (at times serious) tone, and a vibe similar to Fairy Tail. This may be due to the similar animation and the fact that both shows have the same soundtrack composer.
    Log Horizon definitely went in the direction that I wish SAO had gone. Also, the fact that the writer of Log Horizon doesn’t have a fetish for little 12-13 year old girls (unlike SAO), and doesn’t focus so much on relationship drama is an extra bonus.
    Also season 2 is supposed to release in the fall, so that is definitely something to look forward to.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed my First Impression review!
      Wow, Fairy Tail and LH have the same soundtrack composer? I never noticed that; thanks for pointing that out! No wonder the BGM is awesome.
      As for the fetish part, there’s always Akatsuki to fit the bill for adorable (legal) loli, just sayin’.

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