Many say that a show should be judged based only on its own merits and not how it compares with others of its kind. Nothing can be more far away from this concept that Log Horizon, which will forever be compared to Sword Art Online. And rightfully so, since it came out so close to it, just to cash in on its fame and get money out of the starving for more SAOtards who can’t wait for another sequel full of harem, deus ex machinas, and super perfect anti-social gamers who help people because it makes sense.
So yeah, here we are again with a premise where people are trapped in a videogame. Only this time, death is not permanent, since you will just respawn in the nearest temple. You know right away it is not a grave issue, like SAO pretended it was before throwing in tentacle fan service. It is light conflict where the trapped players just try to get along, many of which don’t do that and just loot and pseudo-kill others for fun. Here is where our main heroes come in to save the day because… erm, because they are good people. Yeah, that is the whole conflict, some guys who are bored and do nasty thingies with no real repercussions, and some other guys who try to stop them because they have nothing better to do. That’s all there is to it, really. It is a comical and light fantasy adventure which despite not hyping you to the moon like SAO did, still manages to be better than it, since it is honest at what it promises to be.
By the way, the story is based on light novels by Touno Mamare, the guy who also wrote Maoyuu Maou Yuusa. He never tries to create a serious story, and loves to make parodies of stereotypes. Despite the light approach, he still manages to have better characterization and immersion than SAO, since over there it was just some generic super perfect dude doing everything, while being surrounded by people who can’t do anything without his divine presence. Over here, you get teams of players, each one having a certain role in battles. Nobody can solo armies and big bosses like that asshole Kirito could; over here you need teamwork and coordination to win. Thus it offers a much better feeling of what MMO battles really are like.
Of course lots of things are still quite off in terms of realism. Many of the players don’t seem to know very fundamental powers even if they are at maximum level. Yes, you heard right, the main players are at max level since episode 1 and just raise their secondary classes, which have no real impact in their quest. That takes away a big part of the risks they take in battles, since nobody can be stronger than them and their teamwork is flawless. So all the fancy terminology they use during action scenes is just there to confirm their status as the picture perfect super team. And before any of you say it also matters what spells and equipment they use, it is still not saving face. Nobody seems to wear something that gives him extra durability, or does spells that the others even heard of.
Furthermore, the characters are just ok for the type of this show but are not deep or complicating in any way. They are easily defined by a few quirks and a simple mentality, which is usually there just for laughs. Thus we have the assassin chick acting like a slave to a bookworm mage, who is friends with a pervert paladin (talk about acting out-of-character). Any attempts the setting does in order to present a world where anarchy rules and people do stuff out of boredom is rendered useless when you see how nobody seems to care much about whatever happens. Although they act scared when someone is looting or killing them but that means absolutely nothing if you can’t die. So they are all defined by their fetishes, or how sexy their body is.
The one aspect SAO beats it at, but then again if you are watching a show just for the visuals and music, you really don’t care about what the show is all about. Not that they are bad; they are just ok, nothing fancy, better than most of whatever a small studio like Satelight can offer. It’s enough to get a good feel of a virtual fantasy setting.
It will never have the sales or popularity of SAO, just because it is easy going and with not that awesome production values. It will still be remembered as a better version of SAO but only because it will be constantly compared to it, instead of gaining its fame with its own powers.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 6/10
General Artwork 1/2 (okey-ish)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic)
Backgrounds 2/2 (basic but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 1/2 (basic)
SOUND SECTION: 6/10
Voice Acting 3/5 (corny but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 3/5 (not great but fitting with the feeling of the series)
STORY SECTION: 5/10
Premise 1/2 (easy going)
Pacing 1/2 (easy going)
Complexity 1/2 (not much)
Plausibility 1/2 (some)
Conclusion 1/2 (cheesy)
CHARACTER SECTION: 4/10
Presence 2/2 (funny)
Personality 2/2 (silly but well founded)
Backdrop 0/2 (none)
Development 0/2 (none)
Catharsis 0/2 (none)
VALUE SECTION: 5/10
Historical Value 1/3 (better than SAO but that’s it)
Rewatchability 1/3 (low because of too little context)
Memorability 3/4 (good for what it is but simply too light)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 4/10
Art 0/1 (looks average)
Sound 1/2 (sounds average)
Story 1/3 (feels simple and easy going)
Characters 2/4 (they are funny but not great in any way)