Is living in a real fantasy world as fun as it seems?
Art: Kazuhiro Hara
Original Story: Mamare Touno
Translation: Taylor Engel
What They Say:
When thirty thousand Japanese gamers are suddenly trapped in the online game world of “Elder Tale,” a realm of swords and sorcery–that was, up until yesterday, very much a fantasy–is now their cold, hard reality. Severed from their everyday lives, they’re faced with fighting monsters, eating food with no flavor, and being unable to die?! Amid the chaos in “Elder Tale” Akihabara, veteran gamer Shiroe locates his old friend Naotsugu and teams up with the beautiful female assassin Akatsuki. Together they embark on an adventure to change the world as they know it!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Shiroe was playing his favourite online game, Elder Tale until the newest expansion pack changed the parameters of the adventure. Before, he was able to play comfortably from home, and now, he is trapped inside this fantasy – without any means to escape! It’s not bad enough that they have to fight monsters, other players and unknown dangers to survive, but they also have to live on food that tastes like cardboard mush? How much worse can it get in a place where they are also unable to die?
After settling into his fate and finding his friends Naotsugu and Akatsuki, they start to explore the world upon the request of his friend Mari, a local guild master, who wishes them to retrieve one of her young adventurers. Her name is Serara and she is trapped in the city Susukino, almost 500 kilometres away. The city gates are closed so there is no fast way to travel; therefore, the only possible way is to travel by foot. But, the path is treacherous and laden with monsters and traps they have only seen from the safety of a computer monitor. How will they be able to make it to her while trying to re-learn all of their characters’ skills and techniques in this new land? This was so much easier with hotkeys and a mouse!
Maybe I’m a little biased in reading this manga since I saw the anime when it was simulcast almost two years ago, but it seems that we are missing something within his book. True, the manga is originally based on the light novels which came out in Japan in 2011, and then the animation came out, however, these two media seem to present the same material in different manners. And while the manga is an entertaining read, the anime fleshed out more background information and details about Elder Tales and the people behind the characters themselves in a more organic, fluid manner. So, keep that in mind while reading this book – which covers episodes one to four.
If you try to separate this fact while enjoying the manga, it in itself is a fun romp into the realm of impossibilities of being able to go from IRL into your favourite role-playing game. But as this book shows, sometimes what you wished for is not always for the best. True, while you may not die and you can feel and smell this new world in your own hands, how can you live if one the great pleasures of life – being able to eat, has been reduced to eating cardboard flavourless baby food? As we see in Naotsugu’s comical portrayal, that would be worse than death, wouldn’t it?
But, with all that aside, the concept opened within the book is a great escape. While it may be compared to other similar manga like Sword Art Online or .hack, this idea expands both into realms which neither really touched on: the possibility of being imprisoned within this world for the rest of their natural and/or unnatural lives. This series is the first to ponder that definite fate, that the characters may have to consider that they may never leave and will have to consider this their new home. It suddenly grinds the concept of having fun in this land to a complete and jarring stop. Scary to say the least.
This first book is a great stepping stone into the world of Log Horizon, but the method in which the publishers try to present auxiliary information falls flat. Due to the difficulty of printing white letters on a black screen, unless a bold enough font is used, the text will be muddy and difficult to read. This occurs on the intermission pages between the chapters; since it is so hard to decipher, you might be tempted to skip over it, which is a shame since they do have useful information on the world and the character classes. A shame since they such a great job on the artwork, but a lousy one in the pertinent knowledge you need to understand the world!
While it may be hard to separate this manga from the anime, this depiction is sound to the original source and can be enjoyed without seeing the animation. In fact, it is a better primer for the world since you are not exposed to the future problems which are foreshadowed in the episodes. Either way, if you have seen them or not, this book will help to widen your scope and appreciate even more, the world of Log Horizon.
Content Grade: A
Art Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A
Text/Translation Grade: B+
Age Rating: Teen
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: April 21st, 2015