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Log Horizon 2 Collection 1 Blu-ray Anime Review

9 min read

Log Horizon 2 Collection 1 Blu-ray PackagingA solid story underneath a whole lot of action.

What They Say:
It’s been six months since the event that trapped thousands of players in the online game world of Elder Tales and the situation is far from secure. The People of the Land are engaged in open warfare against the Goblin armies of Zantleaf. Minami spies are infiltrating the populace. And even with the support and guidance of the Round Table Alliance, the cost of sustaining the city of Akihabara is causing the entire infrastructure to teeter on the brink of collapse. With winter coming, Shiroe and his companions are forced to consider their options. Should they stay in Akihabara and attempt to weather the oncoming storm? Or should they gamble on missions to other portions of the world in search of new sources of valuable treasure? The launch of another series of raids will test old alliances while new ones are forged, as the adventure continues in the second season of LOG HORIZON!

Contains episodes 1-13.

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track and the new English language dub in stereo encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The show is one that uses the forward soundstage well enough with its mix of magic, science and dialogue to convey a pretty decent balance of material as the characters interact. There’s a good full feeling when it’s all about the non-spoken dialogue while the placement throughout the rest of the dialogue is certainly well handled and properly set so that multiple characters on the screen feel like they’re where they’re supposed to be. There isn’t a lot of action in the show but we do get a few sequences of it here and it’s definitely a lot of fun with the way it goes in a kind of big way without being overblown or too dramatic. The opening and closing sequences are naturally the bigger areas in terms of music and having the strongest design, but dialogue is well done throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in the fall of 2014, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The thirteen episodes of this half of the series are spread across two discs in an eight/four format. Animated by Studio Deen, the series has a good range of detail about it in both the backgrounds with the world setting and the character designs and the virtual aspects that essentially keeps to the tone and style of what Satelight produced in the first season. There’s a good bit of color to the show in general with a lot of variety, but also a lot of shades of green for all the overgrowth that’s definitely got a lot of appeal. The show isn’t huge with detail when you get down to it, but we do get some good designs for the characters that make them all individual and with more than just simple outfits while the backgrounds are nicely lived in. Colors are strong and solid throughout and it has a very rich look when you get down to it.

Packaging:
The packaging design for this release definitely plays to the world design side of things as we get a pretty busy but also pretty colorful and appealing front cover with a lot of natural aspects in the background, decay and growth, as well as a nod to some of the more primary characters of this set in the foreground lined up. The back cover goes with a different design than the first season where it works the angled approach with darker background colors as we get a solid summary of the premise and a slew of shots from the show in small form. The disc and episode count is clearly listed as are the basic extras that we get here. The bottom has the standard design layout with the production credits and the technical grid that lays it all out cleanly and clearly in an easy enough to read format even with the small font. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
The menu design is another odd choice piece, though one that certainly does work in a very good way. The layout for it goes in a very earth-natural kind of way where the navigation strip along the right is just a slightly curved piece that uses black for the breakout of episodes by title while the left side of it has the numbers in blue/green, the text for all of it in white. It has a very natural feeling to it that works well, especially with the first menu screen that has a larger and expanded background piece from the show itself with the building with the beautiful but creepy overgrowth on the modern builds design. The logo is kept to the left in the middle and there’s no character artwork, which is a little unusual but I really like the backgrounds here so I can’t complain. Navigation is fairly standard overall with no real deviations outside of a little stylistic point here and there so it’s easy to navigate and everything loads quickly and smoothly from the top level and as a pop-up menu.

Extras:
The only extras included in this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the first successful two-cour season that we had back in 2013, it was no surprise that a second two-cour season got the green light. With lots of source material to work with and an audience that was looking for this kind of material, similar to but different than some of the other fantasy/video game works out there, Log Horizon 2 did what I had hoped it would do by just continuing on and expanding things. I really, really, liked the first season as a whole as it dug into the more complex (but not complicated) aspects of being stuck in a virtual world and having to treat it as a real thing. This season expands on that but it also pads it out a whole lot with more action than I think the first season had. So it’s kind of a trade-off, one that reduced the overall value of this season for me so far.

A metric ton of material was established in the first season with everyone getting stuck there and seeing how Shiroe worked things to establish Akihabara as a safe haven for people to try and exist in without having to fear for their lives or struggle too hard. The psychological ramifications of this kind of existence are touched upon from time to time, but for most of them this new life is treated as reality and they’re just going through it rather than truly struggling with it. I loved the exploration of politics, economics, and the social importance issues that we got before as it ranged from buying the important buildings to secure them to establishing relationships with the People of the Land. And it just had fun with some silly events that lifted spirits and helped the Adventurers cope with what they’re going through. All important stuff to be sure.

There are two main tracks for this half of the season that are well covered here, though I think they’re mostly padded out. The first one spreads across the whole of this set as we get Shiroe realizing some of the bigger problems the face as it seems like the game world is expanding and solidifying in various ways. When he reveals to the Round Table that they’re not able to afford the massive cost maintenance of the various buildings they’ve taken on, that has him leading an investigation into where the gold coins actually come from that they get from monsters and dungeons. It’s an interesting bit of behind the scenes mechanics to a degree but it’s given in-world design elements that shows some fun thought into how to manage it. It’s like pulling the curtain away and expecting gears and bolts but instead discovering a new layer of mythology instead that can be worked with.

It’s within this framework that we see Shiroe leaving Akihabara to do this while connecting up with the Silver Sword guild in order to accomplish the goal as he needs their numbers and skill. There are some nice nods here through William of the Silver Word that provides his view of what Shiroe and his loose group was like back in the day and how it inspired him, which in turn has him frustrated with what his guild has accomplished in securing the area that they control. With them working together to go and deal with where the gold comes from, which is an unheard of multi-boss environment, it’s spread throughout the middle of this set and done up as mostly action. It’s got a good spread as we see the back and forth elements to it and Shiroe grappling with his first in-game death since the Apocalypse hit, but it has that whole drawn out and lightly padded aspect to it because of it. The death material itself is similar to the gold in that it expands our behind the scenes mythology and hints at some larger themes to come into play which Shiroe is now finally exposed to.

While Shiroe is gone, Akihabara is not ignored. While a range of players are involved in this, it mostly becomes Akatsuki’s story as she’s struggling to prove herself to both Shiroe and herself by becoming better. She’s a loner but is finally drawn into working with others more as the city is under siege by a serial killer that’s causing a lot of problems there. Nelreth isn’t exactly the most engaging of villains though he does have some strong moments with the action because he has to deal with an array of Adventurers that try to deal with him. The focus being more on Akatsuki and strategy helps as we see her coping with things here but also following a similar path to Shiroe as she goes through her first in-game death as well, which changes her view of things and helps nudge her further along in her own growth. Mixing this in with Shiroe’s storyline provides for some nice parallels but mostly it just has the feeling of a side quest that’s given more prominence than it should.

Naturally, we get a few silly stories along the way to help humanize things a bit more so there are no surprises there. The show opens with a bit of a sports festival in the background to keep some of the supporting cast involved and amid Akatsuki’s storyline we get a Christmas subplot that adds some nice color for everyone so they can do some celebrating and crafty moments. The last episode is all about the Valentine’s Day event though and with everyone back that makes for a lot of awkward moments to be dealt with since some characters are doing their best to be oblivious. It’s not a big and bold piece like a school based version, but we get some of the familiar things that you’d expect – right down to the women learning how to make their own chocolates for their beloveds.

In Summary:
Log Horizon 2 didn’t grab me as strong as the first season did and part of that is because a lot of the heavy lifting has already been done. We see a lot of areas of expansion here that I’m guessing/hoping will be dealt with more in the second half because there are some neat ideas at play about this changing world and what’s going on. This set just felt more action-oriented than story oriented and that kind of slowed my interest a bit as that’s not what drew me to the first season. Sentai’s release is a pretty solid one that mirrors what came before with its expansive dub cast and solid encoding of the materials. Fans of the first season will likely get a lot out of this overall and we’ve got a good bit more to go yet.

Features:
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing

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

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: May 31st, 2016
MSRP: $69.98
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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