The second season of Log Horizon is a caricature of the first.
Characters have been flanderized to a significant degree, the dialogue is suitably wacky™ enough for your regular trash animes, and they introduce an incredibly stereotypical and annoying character that everyone wishes would just go away, but persists in being in the show to contribute to the aforementioned wacky factor.
The small crush Serara has in the first season returns only to annoy you with extremely overblown animation and dialogue whenever she thinks of Nyanta. Akatsuki is treated like a complete child for an entire arc, and again has over-dramatic dialogue every time Shiroe is mentioned. Shiroe himself is also reduced to a simple stoic badass type, occasionally pushing his glasses up with none of the sense of irony of the first season. The plans and plots which make you like or admire Shiroe from the first season are nearly gone, with only one central plan being the draw for the first half of the season, which brings me to another problem this season has that is directly different from the first.
It takes forever for anything to happen in this season. Unlike the first season, where it was a blitz of plots, move and countermove, this season languishes in dialogue. So much dialogue, all of it so terribly written. Entire episodes are devoted to senseless monologuing and pointless fluff, you will end up asking yourself why you even bother watching this when nothing at all happens.
This season is so full to bursting with pointless dialogue and plot "points" that it can't even get what it does have straight. They make a big deal over flavor-text on items becoming real and applicable, but all this amounts to is a device to allow them to seemingly kill off a character and not even mention him again in the next dozen episodes, as well as an entire filler episode. That's right, they "kill" off a character, don't even give you any closure about it, and have forgotten about that arc since. Everyone treats Akatsuki like an absolute child for no reason for half a dozen episodes, when they're fighting a super-powered person of the land. How do they take down this person? Akatsuki uses a equipment-breaking sword to break his weapon, then everyone else does something incredibly dumb, with horrible long-lasting effects for the entire city, in order to power down his super armor. Hang about, if Akatsuki can hit him and break his weapon, why can't she just break his armor? The answer is they needed to squeeze some more episodes of deliberation over whether or not to do the extremely stupid thing.
I should actually note that in writing this review, I called Akatsuki Tsubaki for most of it, because that's how much this show made me care about her as a character. Re: Not in the slightest bit.
The issue is, this season takes the characters you enjoyed from the first season, and takes their most annoying single aspect and twists that into their central character trait. Even if the season weren't about 90% filler and horrible, horrible dialogue, they've sucked away any life or likeability from their main characters. Good job, guys, good fucking job.
Log Horizon had a huge amount of potential. It had moments of greatness alongside plenty of slice of life moments. There was playing around with cliches and using them in surprising ways. The second season shows just how much the staff actually hate the viewers.
The second season of Log Horizon is an exercise in masochism. Like many viewers, I have this obsessive streak which makes me want to finish what I started vieweing. Boy do I regret it. It caused me not only to despise every moment of the second season, but to also retroactively start loathing the first. It is like they used every single trick to make the show less appealing and fun.
A common complaint about the first season is that things move too slow and that there is too much fluff in Log Horizon. Of course, the second season slows the pace down to a crawl and manages to be far more fluffy. But no, it isn't even the good kind of fluff where it is light hearted fun, or cheerfully romantic, or philosophically deep. Any of those would be fine, and in the first season we had a surprising amount of that. The fluff of the second season is the type where the characters are dumbed down in order for their interactions to fit the emotional range of twelve year olds.
Log Horizon manages to be insulting to the viewer on many levels. From an intellectual perspective, the first season had the whole "integrating off-line and on-line personas" theme, which no longer exists. From a philosophical perspective the first season had "where is the border between real and virutal if you cannot escape the virtual", so naturally the second season ignores that. From an emotional perspective the first season had characters learning to cope with a strange world whose rules changed, and in the second season that is replaced with the cheapest form of interpersonal drama. The writing staff thinks so lowly of the viewers that I cannot help but feel insulted not only on my behalf, but on that of the people surrounding those arrogant bastards.
Writing (Story and Characters):
Good lord did someone drop the ball here. The writing staff deserves not only to be fired, but to be whipped in the town square. I'm not sure how they managed to take all of the potential of the first season and miss every drop of it. Was it intentional? Did they try to be this bad? Did they take the guy responsible for all the good stuff and chain him in the basement? These questions are really the only ones left that I want answered about Log Horizon.
A story that goes nowhere seems to be the "idea" behind the second season of Log Horizon, and if that was what they wanted, well, misery accomplished. There is literally one main plot that they hint at, and in eighteen episodes there is nothing that manages to actually move it forward. Not one damn thing. The "plot" at this point becomes nothing more than a hindrance. While it is not the worst concept, the attrocious execution, pacing that ranges between a snail's pace and outright going nowhere, and character driven elements that are all but futile make this one of the least enjoyable stories in recent anime.
My main problem with the first season of Log Horizon was that the cast was too big to actually develop in a meaningful way. So naturally, the way to solve that was to dumb down the characters and stop whatever development they had in its tracks. What was an average cast has been turned into a bunch of characters that elicit no empathy from the viewer and manage to drag down whatever character-driven elements there are to the story down. Whatever potential there was in the first season is so carefully taken out of its place and shot in the face, and then peed on.
Very rarely does someone manage to fail as badly as the writing staff of Log Horizon did in the second season. It has the "irrelevant OVA" feel as the centerpiece, and instead of picking up and giving the depth that seemed to be lurking in the first season there is absolutely no redeeming feature to the writing of the second other than the fact that memories remain of when it was better. Fire the staff. Every single one of them. Or whenever someone has a suggestion, do the exact opposite. These are the only solutions I can find for this catastrophe.
Artwork (Animation and Sound):
Not that it was particularly strong in the first season, but the artwork manages to become even worse in the second season of Log Horizon. it isn't so much that the animation changed, nor that the sound changed. It is more of the same. Only we now get one crappy amateur song that is repeatedly shoved down the throats of all viewers.
Usually a second season learns from the mistakes of the first and manages to build an even more compelling visual world. After all, the basic concept art has already been drawn, the character designs are already there, and all that is needed is to sharpen things up. Naturally, none of those things happened in Log Horizon. The animation still remains exactly the same, no more impressive and no less. Some points for style, but others removed for mediocrity.
Sound was perhaps the strongest point of the first season of Log Horizon and the second season does exactly the same. Perhaps I haven't explained how annoying that one song is that they think is supposed to show us how awesome one of the characters is. They managed to take the most generic song ever, and give it uninspired lyrics and bad vocals. This is supposed to wow us. Do they really think the viewers lack any taste?
While the artwork is generally the better part of Log Horizon's second season, it doesn't manage to live up to the modest success of the first. A bump in quality here could have made the world feel more alive, bit instead, it was like the staff didn't even try. Somehow, that is even more insulting than being bad.
Don't watch it. Just don't. If you enjoyed the first season, leave it at that. Do not repeat my mistake and allow Log Horizon to defile what little interesting things existed in the first season.
First of all season 1 was really amazing. The series easily caught people's attention through the creative and realistic gaming world of Elder Tale. If we are to compare season 1 with season 2, it is fair to say that season 2 is lacking in terms of excitement whilst season 1 immediately thrilled us right from its early episodes and maintained it well until the end. Despite its failure to surpass season 1, let us not forget the fact that the series is still ongoing.
Intrigue appears to be the name of the game for season 2. Much of the who ha deals with underhanded tactics and dealings with various enemies mostly hidden in shadow or in plain sight but well camoflaged. In some ways, yet the raids and enemies are tougher as they are not fighting the same type of enemy therefore the scale is a bit different. At points it becomes a bit cloudy as to who the enemies are. You do start to wander about what is happening in the real world. If their bodies do not match their real world ones, will those bodies change? Or if they go back, will they have years of being clumsy until they get reacustomed to them? It is said that you change to match your avatar, and yet sometimes I wonder how personalities can be so affected or were some people that quirky before playing the game? That part is unclear. Another thing that is hard to comprehend is, why are the main characters still so low leveled compared to enemies despite the fact that the main characters frequently fight super hard enemies and very high end raids? It does not make much sense to me. At the same time, if laws within game can be changed, does that mean the cocky sorceror who is a native and yet became a player able to then eventually wake up in the real world as if created from nothing? I do not know if this is possible, yet based on how things are going, questions like these come to mind. I just hope we eventually get some answers.
While this series is very strong with a great story, appealing complex characters, stunning events, epic battles, and awesome displays of powers, it is also keeping a bit much in the air and is at risk of doing so for too long. If a series or story leaves certain important questions unanswered or leaves questions unanswered that keep popping up, then that story risks losing the audience's interest. Foreshadowing is not a game to tease your fans with. And if you keep certain important secrets from the audience too long you may anger them. It is unwise to constantly tantalize us with such things only to either drag it on or create more mysteries or one deeper mystery. That is what endangers this series maybe more than anything else. Another somewhat but less overly important issue, is too many characters. If a story creates or has too many characters for which they can maintain a reasonable balance of, then you also assume some great risk of alienating fans. The Xmen movies do that pretty much every time. Or worse, they put one character too much as the important center in a way that never happened and likewise angers at least as many fans as it might please, aka Wolverine. He is not the sole main character despite what the movie series erroneously implies. The villain in glasses himself goes on a sort of covert undercover op reminiscient of navy seals or British commandos. The enemy in some respects is too numerous and powerful. This brings up another word of caution to the makers. Do not do like Fairy Tail and make every enemy they meet the most powerful one so that each story arc you have to keep creating even impossibly, illogical, unreasonably, stronger enemies because you raised the bar too high for the previous enemy and worse, make the heroes somehow weaker again. Fairy Tail does that. It is the only thing I think that really irks me about that other wise great show.
This is all in all, a great follow up to a great show with us, the viewers, being introduced to more of the fantasy world and in greather depth and understanding. For a fairly new show, they do a marvelous job of creating a fairly large, expansive, imaginative, life and death filled world. True however there are a few odd questions that come to mind. Like the so called sister...
Now the villainous in glasses is a bit puzzling. Does that mean all those creatures are secondary accounts of other players or are some players that were not trapped? Can he switch between them like he can in the game? Is she actually him but another part of his personality and perhaps sharing his body or soul? I suppose in a way, she explains why his main character is not even higher or maybe he maxed out his main before the expansion and leveled her up, which is also a tad odd that he might not have lost track of time before the expansion and had been playing her instead because she had more room to grow. This kind of creates a bit of a problem for the story by going in directions that defy what appeared to be the game/series logic up to this time. it would honestly make more sense if he could change his character if he had more than one. Why those creatures need any player avatar at all is also odd sense the thing that makes them, them are in fact the people playing them not the pixels. Since there would essentially be no difference in that sense, why the farce? Or why not play the game themselves and level up fast? They were already fairly strong even at lower levels, it would be pretty easy for them to create their own player characters rather than stealing them. The fact that they are stealing makes them seem far less benevolent, any of them that is.
This sort of thing sort of lacks a rythym that other wise units the story and all elements of the world. It feels out of place and lacks any real clarity as well as make much sense relative to the fantasy world.
Another puzzling aspect is, his former girlfriend. I got the impression she joined the game, AFTER the expansion, and/or, she joined where the expansion either did not take place yet, or did not have the same sucking people into the world effect then traveled east towards him. I am not sure which, but either way, I get the strong impression, she was not in fact trapped or at least originally trapped in the game world like all the others. If that is true, what does that mean? Is she now separate for her real world daughter forever? Why would she forsake her family? Is there ways into the game after the expansion? Does having a way to still join after the expansion mean there is some viable yet simple means to leave? It certainly would seem that way.
At least some new elements in the second season, confused the story a bit more, certainly raised a few more questions, and also in some respects seems to stray direction wise from the prior season. I just hope they do not stray too far or leave too much hanging out in some illogical manner with respect to what we come to expect from the show based on previous episodes.
Every season, story arc, event, or episode does not always need to get grander and grander so that you have to keep placing your pedastal and/or starting point ever higher until even the viewers lose sight of you. Creative is not always just about the next big thing or global crisis. Good stories or rather the good writers behind them, know where to draw limits and how to draw attention without things getting ridiculous or out of hand. This show may not be quite there yet, BUT it is certainly at risk and the creators need to pull in the reins to head down the road of quality not flashy showmanship at the cost of a good story.
I do not intend to sound like a sarcastic critic or anything but, Log Horizon could take a few lessons from its rival show with a very similar concept, just executed slightly differently, Sword Art Online. Now SAO may not be totally clear of risk or may or may not have no examples of going flashy, but they did do something to help settle the story. The players got out. Yet they can return. Now, SAO did risk dragging that on for too long and some of its unanswered questions, but it eventually got to some of those critical points. Log Horizon needs to do the same and stop dragging their feet so much. I know it maybe a big story thing and they drop little hints here and there, but they can not do that forever. They are risking dragging a few things on too long such as the solution. So they can do it in a similar way SAO did it so thus they could keep the story going in a manner of speaking. As usual it closed the series with a bit of a bang. Hmm but at the moment I wonder if the ninja is getting too much attention or too many new traits while, the villain in glasses is stagnating a tad. it was a nice twist with the general too and I am curious to know how that will pan out. The anticipation created by the closing moments of season 2 may well be stronger than at then end of season 1.
Suddenly that whole MPKing thing seems like a good idea.
Story - 6/10
The show picks up a little while after the last season ended, with our characters all leveled up and ready for their next task. Thankfully those tasks are exactly what we should expect from an MMORPG series, large scale battles, but still with the analytical twist Shiroe brings to everything.
The first half pretty much consisted of two fights composed of different parties, and for different reasons. One of those fights is part of Shiroe’s overall plan to bring some balance to the world, and has him joining with twenty three other fighters in order to complete the hardest raid in the game. Here they take the Shiroe we knew from season one, the great tactician, and show us how he would use that intelligence to lead a giant party against the most fearsome monsters. It takes some time for this storyline to resolve itself, and thats the way it should be, because if you’re going to tout this as the hardest battle to date you need to show what that entails, and this time they did.
Back at home the others are left to fight a new threat that is a result of their now corrupted game. An NPC has stolen armor belonging to the game’s police force, the Royal Guard, and he’s now going around killing both players and NPCs alike. This gives the writers a chance to spotlight Akatsuki, as she’s been left back to protect the princess, and they decide the best way to do this is to have her mope around, pining over Shiroe and how she’s never completed a raid dungeon. For many episodes they took this great character and just debased her, turning her from a deadly assassin into a human manifestation of a Cure song.
Eventually Akatsuki and the remaining female members of Brigade of the West Wind and Crescent Moon Alliance form their own raid party, in hopes of being able to defeat this unplanned boss. While the teams did use some expert planning in their battle, what gave them the upper hand was their ability to take down the seal protecting the city, thus making the guard armor lose it’s power. A story that could have been about this group overcoming an impossible task instead became one of characters essentially using a cheat code to win, which I guess is as close to reality in an MMORPG as you can get.
Both of these large battles did give our characters a chance to grow, but also gave them the chance to die, which actually plays a much more important role than one would assume. We finally get to see what happens between the time of death and resurrecting in the church. Shiroe and Akatsuki both die in the same time frame and they end up on the game’s Beta Server, which happens to be the moon, while there they see a glimpse of their real life, but then must give up that memory in order to return to the game world.
For some reason they decided to dedicate a large chunk of the back half of the show to doing a storyline focusing on the whinny little children who did so much damage to the first series. The writers started off with an interesting story for them, as the group of lower level members of Log Horizon, along with Serara, go on a quest to obtain the magical bag that allows them to hold an infinite number of items. Of course thats all just a rouse to turn the show into an awful “Idol” series where Isuzu plays her terrible music for NPCs as they travel to different cities. It was nice that they tried to do some character building where they talk about their real lives, but it’s somewhat pointless to do it on minor characters with little personality, especially when it adds nothing to the series.
Things start to get a bit disjointed at this point, as they jump around with so many seemingly out of the blue stories, most of which either have little effect on our actual plot or go absolutely no where (presumably they were setting them up for a third season.)
One story follows the leader of old group, The Debauchery Tea Party, as she travels around the china server. The characters over there are an interesting bunch, and this story does lead to some insight about why characters are designed the way they are, i.e. the Leonardo character, but overall it was an entire episode just touch on a little joke with Shiroe having a crush, and considering what happens at the end of the season, might have been a possible backdoor pilot for a spinoff series about that server.
Likewise they bring back the character from the end of season one that Shiroe is now afraid of, but the whole storyline is just out of place. The idea of NPC’s teaming up with players to control entire regions was another one with promise, but it’s written so clunky that half the time it was hard to see what the whole point was.
Back with the band of screeching infants, the show takes a little dark turn, but one that a story like this needs, as to point out that this event is having a real affect on people. We meet a group of players that travel around and defend the NPCs, but whose real goal is death, as that is the only way they can see their loved ones still on Earth. Unfortunatly this very emotional and thought provoking storyline is turned into a heaping pile of garbage, as it becomes more about the children being sanctimonious, as they criticize the adults who have families and obligations at home, all because Tohya has a better life on the server. They also add in a very dumb plot where Isuzu has a tantrum all because the developers decided to only make a certain number of songs for the game.
Honestly this chunk of the second half of the series was awful in almost all ways, as they appeared to just be throwing anything at the wall and hoping it seemed interesting, and then just deciding to burn it all down with these awful characters. The one bright spot was Shiroe and the Round Table seeming to push back against the ideas of socialism, but that ten second speech doesn’t make up for five hours of hell.
As the season wraps up we’re given even more truly dumb scenarios. Yeah I know you need to have an open mind when watching something that can never actually happen, but their attempts at giving some closure to all of this is even sillier and more far fetched than the idea of people being sucked into a game. Seeing as the origin of all these characters is still the real world, there should be a somewhat real world explanation to what’s going on, albeit with a sci-fi twist, but they didn’t even attempt that.
Once again we’re also given a disappointing “impossible” battle that ends quickly and easily, along with worthless scenes to try to sell us on another season. As it appears the series ran while the manga was still being written, so it’s easy to see why the show ended in such a pointless and open ended way, but for that to be a successful way of doing things you need to give the viewer some victories, such as closing one story even if you open two more, but that just never happened here. They also end things in a way where you can see the Round Table members as villains now too, as they decided the fate of tens of thousands of people, all because they selfishly want to stay in the game while also helping sentient computer code build their world (another wacky plot that really gets little explanation.)
Animation - 6/10
Thanks to the shows change of pace we received a huge upgrade in the variety of characters and monsters that appear. What’s fun about some of the characters is they seem to be copies of other characters you might know, and they look that way because the user fashioned them out of entertainment they like, such as the American being a fan of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, so his character is named Leonardo and is somewhat turtle-ish.
One downside is they ramped up the use of CGI a bit, most prominently the floating train that is pictured a number of times during the second half.
Sound - 6/10
For some reason they decided to stay with the same awful opening theme they used for the first season, which was one of the biggest downsides of the original. On the other hand they had a new closing song which is surprisingly catchy, despite being a poppy upbeat dance song that you wouldn’t expect for this series. Even in my pickiness when it comes to theme songs, I would put this on a best of list, well best One Hundred Songs list.
Everything else fell in line with the original, voices that were decent but never amazing, and background music that was just right for this series. They did take a huge hit by having Isuzu poison our ears for much of the latter half of the show.
Characters - 5/10
With all the character building in the first season it was expected that there wouldn’t be as much this time around, but on some fronts they took a huge step backwards.
Shiroe is similar to the character we saw in the first season, but this time he’s using his skills for what we want to see, battle. Unlike in the original episodes, we get to see what happens when doubt starts to creep in his mind, and how he works to overcome seemingly impossible tasks.
I really don’t like the route they first took with Akatsuki this season. When they ended the last series she was starting to become more like a jealous girlfriend, but while it was a little annoying, they did try to keep it to a minimum, and it played well with her usually stoic character. This time they basically made her sit around pining for Shiroe, where everything she did was to try and impress him. What was once a great character became nothing more than your average fourth rate high school classmate from every other show. The worst part of it all was how they had her trying to perfect the “oral arts” to “please my lord,” I don’t know if this was a translation error, bad judgement or an intentional double entendre, but between the term being constantly repeated, and the way it was said, it made the show start to feel as if it was written by a pervy teen boy during those episodes.
Other characters that should have played a strong role in the show were almost relegated to background noise, with Naotsugu, Nyanta, Crusty and others having such little impact on anything, outside of being there for fights. The same can be said of the Princess, who’s time was spent just being angry at Crusty and not actually accomplishing anything.
If you thought the children were overly annoying in season one, well wait until they become annoying and self righteous. Between Isuzu getting angry about the limited number of songs and Tohya judging those who actually want to return home, I don’t believe I ever rooted harder for the enemy to just wipe out a group of principal characters. Any points the writers might have been trying to make just didn’t land when coming from those who have been useless for the whole series and just dragged on the storyline when they were there.
Then there’s Tetra, and he’s everywhere. I enjoyed the little joke at the beginning, a character who is a male playing a female, something only Naotsugu doesn’t notice, but by the end it just became so bad, as the character didn’t evolve beyond just jumping into scenes and being poison to your ears.
There was a chance for them to show a little more humor and backstory by including Shiroe’s old guild leader, Kanami, but outside of one episode it went no where. It almost seems as if she was included because one of the creators wanted to add someone who resembled Tifa from Final Fantasy VII.
To sum up the characters in this second half, and almost as a whole, it would be “Missed Opportunity.” Many of them were likable and had the chance to have great lore around them, but the writers didn’t go anywhere with it, instead focusing on minor characters who appealed to no one.
Overall - 6/10
Much like the first part to this show, things started off promising but eventually became almost a chore to watch. While the stories weren’t all bad, the characters used were either diminished so heavily from the first series, or just draining due to their personalities. It also didn’t help that yet again the larger overall plot, as well as some of the smaller stories introduced, tend to go nowhere and never get a conclusion.
While I enjoy videogames, just like many others born in the last forty years, and I’ve spent many late nights exping and monster hunting with guild mates, I think the writers of this show went a bit off the rails when they had to justify their own possible addiction to gaming. While the Toya rant was bad, but justifiable as it connects to how he can once again have freedom in the game world, the earlier speech by William Massachusetts seemed like those making the game were trying to convince themselves that it’s perfectly okay to lock yourself away and play on your computer twenty hours a day, ignoring friends and family in the process. This was reenforced by an ending where so many were willing to give up their lives and loved ones to live in the game world. The thought that people you meet in games can be close friends is a noble one, but they act as if visiting your online friends, who also live in Japan, was an impossibility.
Log Horizon, as a whole, turned into one of those series that had a perfect twenty five episode story to tell, but instead gave us a slightly above average fifty. If they mixed the first part of season one, with the first part of season two, then added a proper ending, I would recommend this show to everyone, but for what it was I’d say it’s only going to appeal to people who are already fans of the MMORPG world, and even then they’ll get a bit annoyed at the things the show got wrong, though it doesn’t compare to what they got right.