When I think of anime that play with the idea of humans becoming trapped in the world of a video game it’s usually Sword Art Online that springs to mind. However, there is another series I’m fond of that plays with a similar idea and that’s Log Horizon. After warming to the successful first season of the anime, I’ve been given the chance to review Part 1 of Season 2. Here’s hoping it’s just as good as I remember…
This season of Log Horizon opens with a major money crisis plaguing the city of Akihabara. Shiroe and the members of the round table have established that running the town of Akihabara is costing them far more money than they have and can gather, so Shiroe begins to concoct a plan to get his hands on more gold. This plan will see him and Naotsugu leave Akihabara to explore a dungeon that is said to have an endless supply of riches at the bottom.
With Shiroe and Naotsugu out of town, it’s left to Akatsuki and the other members of the Log Horizon guild to keep an eye on things in the city. With Christmas approaching, Akihabara seems peaceful, but suddenly a serial killer appears who somehow manages to get past the system’s rules of no fighting in a town/city. With the system failing to stop the killer, Akatsuki must team up with the West Wind Brigade (led by Soujirou Seta) in an attempt to bring an end to this threat.
The first half of Log Horizon Part 1 is heavily focused on Akatsuki and the serial killer, who seems to have a hatred for adventurers. It’s a solid storyline and explores the concept of what happens when something or someone can bypass those rules and cause havoc in somewhere that is considered a safe zone. Of course, this is without mentioning that we already know from Season 1 that if someone dies the revival cost is the loss of some memories, and no one wants that to happen! I won’t go into great detail about how the rules are being broken, or about the killer, but trust me when I say that the reveal is satisfying to the viewer.
If the serial killer arc isn’t your cup of tea, then have no fear! We also get to spend some time with Shiroe and Naotsugu as they recruit the Silver Sword guild and a new character (and self-proclaimed idol) named Tetra for their expedition into the dungeon. This arc gets more attention toward the end of Part 1 but the glimpses we receive of their journey, between the chaos in Akihabara, are fairly interesting. Involving the Silver Sword guild also brings Demikas back to the front of our attention. You may remember him from nearer the beginning of Season 1, where he was causing trouble for Serara and was defeated by Shiroe and Nyanata. This expedition works for a more traditional showcase of what makes Log Horizon special too, and that’s Shiroe ordering people around while battling loads of enemies.
There isn’t a great deal to say about the other characters because, really, Akatsuki is the one who gets the most meaningful development. It’s nice to spend an arc with Akatsuki on her own without support from Shiroe. She has never been a bad character and the first season does give her a suitable amount of attention, but away from Shiroe, she begins to question herself and her abilities – which is interesting to watch for a character who appears so strong on the surface. If you’re not an Akatsuki fan though, not all is lost because watching Soujirou Seta – perhaps one of the strongest fighters in the show – become ever more vengeful as his guild members are struck down by the killer is also extremely satisfying.
The biggest change in Log Horizon Season 2 is a shift in animation studios. Although all of the staff moved from the previous studio, Satelight, to the project’s new studio, Studio Deen, the animation has taken a noticeable hit in certain regards. Character designs have changed drastically in some cases, the best examples being Nyanata and Crusty, but everyone has been changed slightly in one way or another. This appears to have been in an effort to make them closer to the original light novel designs (which I certainly don’t object to!), which I’m sure some fans may appreciate if they also read the novels. However, it is one of the biggest drawbacks of watching Season 2 off the back of the first. I haven’t gone back to the first season yet but if you’re coming into this straight from Season 1, and maybe haven’t seen the light novel designs, then you’ll definitely be thrown off for a few episodes while you adjust.
Away from character designs, though, Studio Deen have done a good job with the animation. The quality is consistent and very colourful, leaving a warm and cosy feeling when watching scenes involving Akihabara but also suitably striking for the battle scenes. I’m not sure I could say that this is the studio at their best but it’s certainly a better standard of quality than KonoSuba and overall works fine for what Log Horizon demands from it.
Where music is concerned, composer Yasuharu Takanashi, who worked on Season 1, provides a pleasing soundtrack for this season. Takanashi is the mind behind the music for Fairy Tail, the Naruto Shippuden movies, and this season’s The Morose Mononokean. Working on a hit shonen series like Fairy Tail has obviously made Takanashi extremely skilled at composing music for a series like this and that comes through in the scores. They’re never overpowering but always there to back up a scene as is required, and some of the more moving moments in the first part have some wonderful pieces to accompany them. Fans of the first season’s opening “Database” by Man with a Mission will be pleased to hear that it returns as the opening for this season. We do have a new ending however in the form of “Wonderful Wonder World”, performed once again by Yun*chi. Overall good stuff to be heard here!
As far as voice actors go, there is some really solid work here. The cast is too large to point out any examples of who’s done the best work, but I at least want to give a nod to Akatsuki’s voice actor, Emiri Kato (Yayoi Endo in Seraph of the End: Battle in Nagoya, Kyubey in Puella Magi Madoka Magica), who plays the character really well. There is an English dub on offer here but not having watched the first season dubbed (I watched it in Japanese as it aired), I don’t feel right saying a great deal about it. I personally prefer the original Japanese but what I watched of the dubbed version certainly doesn’t seem to be of a bad quality.
This release from MVM is on both Blu-ray (two disc set) and DVD (three disc set). Our review discs are on DVD and the overall video quality seems pretty good considering the format. Splitting the 13 episodes across so many discs has probably helped a lot in the case of the DVD release. The only extras on offer are clean opening and ending animations.
Overall Part 1 of Log Horizon Season 2 is a great watch. It retains the Log Horizon charm I know and love while also introducing new characters and enveloping us in some solid storylines. New character designs will definitely throw you off for a while but once you adjust to them, there aren’t any other problems present. I’m looking forward to revisiting Part 2 as the story begins wandering into some interesting territory. As far as I’m concerned, Log Horizon remains a pleasant and entertaining watch that’s certainly worth your time.
Score: 8 / 10
Anime Quick Information
- Title: Log Horizon Season 2 Part 1
- UK Publisher: MVM Films
- Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
- Studio: Studio Deen
- Type: TV series
- Year: 2014
- Running time: 325 minutes