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Log Horizon Collection 2 Anime DVD Review

6 min read

Log Horizon Collection 2 HeaderLog Horizon is everything I wanted out of a video game anime series.

What They Say:
As Shiroe learns the secrets behind the creation of the World Fraction spell, the origin of the Demi-humans, and how his actions in the Real World have affected the world in which he now dwells, the seeds of thought he’s planted in the minds of others begin to bear fruit. Gaming tactics may have been intended for amusement, but their principles were developed for actual war stratagems; as others begin to implement those tactics, the existing alliance and balance of power begin to shift. And those changes can’t come quickly enough, as the adventurers’ preoccupations have allowed the Goblins to amass an army unlike anything they’ve ever seen. Now the Goblins are on the march, and as the Estal Lords debate their course of action, Minori makes a dangerous gamble and initiates actions on her own. But in the midst of this MMORPG turned real, an unassuming princess may be the key to ultimate victory. Flesh and blood replaces Avatars and Stat Lists as an entire world stands on the brink of apocalypse in Log Horizon – Collection 2!

The Review:
Audio:
I watched the Japanese for the duration and nothing sounded out of the ordinary.

Video:
The video is about as good as you can expect from a DVD. Serviceable and not too terrible.

Packaging:
Flimsy and Sentai-y as always, but a curious lack of fanservice shots in the back. M…maybe there isn’t any in the second half of the show?? I’m still really digging the background art on the discs though.

Menu:
Menus same as the last one, except this time is has the really weird opening playing over it instead of the ending. That’s actually a curious choice to use the ending first, but who am I to judge. The opening’s really weird after all. DATABASE!

Extras:
Same as the first set, nothing but the clean opening and closing.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first half of this set wraps up the events of the former; we’re still deep into the newly formed alliance between Akihabara and the League of Freedom Cities. It’s steeped in the mythology of the game and gives a peek into the world in which they inhabit. The Adventurers are all the players, free to do what they wish, but the People of the Land are trapped in a caste system just as the fantasy aesthetic suggests.

But Log Horizon understands that with that fantasy aesthetic comes big battles. There’s a quest in which the Goblin King is crowned twice a year and, if the Adventurers do not defeat it within a week, he will gather the Demi-humans and begin a takeover of Yamato. This is exactly what happens with the Adventurers too busy trying to make their own lives manageable to take basically any quest from the People of the Land. The goblins and sahuagin start amassing in hoards and attacking in droves. It’s only the combined efforts of the already formed Council and the alliance with the League of Freedom Cities, the Adventurers would likely be doomed.

That’s not to say that they would die, but something much more sinister lies beneath their reincarnations at the Cathedral. They lose some of their memories, usually from the Real World. This has huge implications, obviously. They could forget they ever were real person and, while this is never stated, it is the huge fear from every Adventurer who knows.

The heart of this storyline lies in five of the newcomers: Tohya, Minori, Serara, Isuzu, and Rundelhaus Code. They’re learning the game and while it has been nice following Adventurers already familiar with the game’s inner workings, it’s also nice to see that learning play out in front of my eyes. It’s Minori who keeps them together and strategizes for them; she truly takes after her mentor / love interest Shiroe. A group of five can take a dungeon if they’re high enough level or individually skilled enough to do so. These five are neither and it’s Minori’s direction and strategems that allow them to get through a dungeon safely. It’s Minori that allows them to live while sahuagin and goblins are coming out of the woodworks.

This is the kind of stuff that really gets you excited. Not only playing through this scenario yourself, but watching these characters you’ve seen grow and do it in front of your eyes. Games are built to be wish fulfillment, in a way. They can beat you down and you finally get past that really hard part or you can research and research and breeze through the entire thing; there’s no wrong way to play a game. But either way you do (this group did the former), it feels good to get past it. It feels good when you see your friends do the same. It felt good when Minori happily calls Shiroe and says they breezed through a dungeon with tactics and teamwork.

This is a self-empowerment that games can make you feel. Log Horizon knows that and captures it perfectly. Even through its dialogue it does this: the negotiations to get 1.5 million gold from three merchant guilds, the formation of the Round Table Council, the convincing of the League of Freedom Cities for an alliance, the talking off of Malves, the…well, you get it and I’m running out of examples off the top of my head.

Dialogue not only drives anime or TV or movies, but it drives games too. Game dialogue is how you get quests, it’s how you can learn about the world or the people that inhabit it, it’s how you communicate with your friends in MMORPGs—though the last is not strictly speaking dialogue. It feels just as good to talk down a guy from suicide in Deus Ex as it does to coordinate a giant battle in Dragon Age. That’s the power of games and Log Horizon captures that.

It’s final arc is where the show is at its weakest. It’s clearly meandering and, rather than start a new arc and leave it incomplete, it chooses to spend its time with an extra-long setup. There’s a war a-brewin’ against the Adventurers and the People of the Land and Shiroe’s faceoff with Malves was just the beginning. The fact he talked him down for now is only stalling the inevitable. The best outcome that can happen, if human history is any indication, is a shaky alliance; it would certainly be nothing like the Round Table or the League of Freedom Cities.

It is a little frustrating to see such a great show fizzle in its final arc. I hear the second season continues the trend of it being amazing though, so I’m looking forward to that. It leaves us with intrigue rather than conclusion. The introduction of Nureha and the reveal that Shiroe is leaving Akihabara only raises questions that need not be.

In Summary:
I loved Log Horizon, but I’m left with a sour taste in my mouth over the ending. If I knew this was how it ended completely, I’d be a lot more angry; it’d go on the pile of “really good shows that got an anime ending.” Thank god for second seasons! But Log Horizon captured what both .hack//SIGN and Sword Art Online failed and that’s the joy of actually playing the game. Learning to live in Yamato is learning to enjoy the game as a first person experience rather than a third person one. .hack was too focused on its escapism and Sword Art Online too focused on escaping the game. Log Horizon makes it feel manageable and fun, yet terrifying, to be caught in a game, which is exactly what you need.

Features:
English 2.0, Japanese 2.0, Clean Opening & Closing Animation, Sentai Trailers

Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B-
Video Grade: B-
Packaging Grade: B-
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: N/A

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: January 27th, 2015
MSRP: $59.98
Running Time: 300 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen

Review Equipment:
PS3, LG 47LB5800 47” 1080p LED TV, LG NB3530A Sound Bar

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