Having survived the numerous dangerous situations and established a governing force in the world of the once-MMO Elder Tale that he and the other adventurers have been trapped in, the only way for Shiroe to look is forward. Although there is relative peace in Akihibara, enemies from abroad threaten to break the tranquility with destruction, and even insidious forces seek to destroy the new world order from the inside as well. As Shiroe becomes aware of new enemies, the ‘villain-in-glasses’ prepares to face further trials.
Log Horizon’s premise has always been one that has the potential to end up incredibly derivative, but the primary way the show has been able to differentiate itself has been how it has expands upon its initial ideas. The world of Elder Tale is an incredibly large and complex universe, and it’s one that is explored both physically in terms of land masses and technically in terms of the MMO aspects. The first season did an excellent job of this, and honestly I was unsure if there was enough for the second season to achieve a similar level of exploration.
Thankfully, this is still the area that Log Horizon excels in in this second season; there is still a great amount of detail explored that was previously not considered, from the source of gold to the in-game item descriptions to the continued political drama. This world building remains enjoyable, and continued throughout the entirety of the second season.
The other area that Log Horizon has always impressed me with is the battles, but not for the conventional reasons of many other anime. Instead of focusing on intense action (not something inherently bad, I quite enjoyed this aspect of Sword Art Online for what it was), Log Horizon instead emphasizes the way in which the characters accomplish their feats in combat as they happen, and does so using its MMO context.
The main character Shiroe is a strategist, and employs tactics he used previously when Elder Tale was a game to clear battles even when he is in the game itself. Watching this virtual game of chess is a relatively unique experience given the context it takes place in, and is most definitely a strong point from before that continues and is even amplified at certain times in the second season.
For all that Log Horizon does right in the relatively big picture, it also fails at in individual interactions. A show that does not emphasize character interaction is not inherently bad, but it is frustrating when such a series attempts to do so anyways and doesn’t succeed. This is a fault in Log Horizon that appeared towards the end of the first season (after we had become accustomed to the characters) and perpetuated in the second.
The problem can be broken into two distinct areas: character relationships and regular interactions. The relationships themselves are problematic in the sense that they don’t really progress. In his review of the first season, Dex pointed out the emphasis on the love pentagon formed in the final arc, and it is just one of many examples of unchanging relationships that make zero progression throughout the second season.
This issue is part of what causes the second area of concern, namely the daily interactions. Because relationships aren’t really progressing, the way the characters interact with each other remains proportionally static. The same lame bits are reused over and over again, and it gets a bit annoying. To compound this, newly introduced characters in the second season are also hit-and-miss (frankly, Tetra’s whole bit with Naotsugu wasn’t funny for me the first time and was even less amusing the hundredth). Overall, the character behavior could use some work, but it is worth noting that there are plenty of times where there are new and interesting developments, and the comedy sometimes works out (see the above gif). They just don’t entirely cover the less interesting ones.
The first of the most frustrating issues is one that actually contributes to the next. Throughout the second season, I had a strange feeling that the first season had been handled better. A large portion of this sense is due to the pacing of the series, pacing whose velocity sometimes seems to approach zero. What I mean by this, in essence, is that Log Horizon 2 has an incredibly slow-moving story.
The relatively fast-paced political and social drama of the first season was what made the other positive elements shine, and without the same swiftness the second season suffers. The first half of the season in particular felt incredibly drawn out, and there was even a point where an entire twenty-four minute episode was spent with a raid leader giving what basically amounted to a speech of encouragement. It is worth noting that the show manages to pick itself up a little bit towards the end, and the pacing becomes less of a problem.
The biggest fault of Log Horizon 2 amounts to a pre-school level of analysis: it’s boring. The problem with the failings in the realms of character interactions and pacing is that together combined with other frustrating elements such as long annoying story lines (angsty Akatsuki from the first story arc in particular), they make for a show that is very difficult to finish, especially if being marathoned.
Something that is both slow and stagnant IS inherently difficult to push through, and although there are many interesting elements within the show, I think that even for fans of the original season it can be moderately difficult to watch at times.
Overall, Log Horizon 2 does not quite stand up to the impressive level of the previous season. While some of the earlier strengths, namely the world-building and strategy, are still present, it has quite a few glaring flaws that make it difficult to get through for many potential viewers. However, if you are willing to fight through the tougher parts, Log Horizon 2 can dust itself off and prove to still be an interesting anime.
Log Horizon 2 is available for free and legal streaming on Crunchyroll.
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This is the second in my series of reviews for the Winter 2015 anime season. Here’s the full list (I will link them as they release):
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