by Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)
Over the last 10 years, it could be safe to say that the “biggest” format of video games would be the online based games. And it may also be safe to say that the Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG) is the leader in online gaming, with World of Warcraft leading the way. As with anything popular in society, media will build upon that success through other avenues. In 2013 we were introduced to the anime Sword Art Online, earning rave reviews across the anime world. In late 2013, and just ending recently, was another anime based on the MMORPG formula brought to the United States by Sentai Filmworks: Log Horizon.
The MMORPG game, Elder Tales, has become a global success, with 11 expansions to date. Upon the release of its 12th expansion, 30,000 Japanese gamers logged in at the time of the games update suddenly find themselves transported into the game and donning their own personal avatars. Among the gamers trapped is graduate student Shiroe. Shiroe, a high level player, tends to keep to himself, having never joined a guild in the past, but his reputation as a great strategist and gamer precedes him. He meets up with in game friends Naotsugu , a tank class job, and Akatsuki, a ninja / assassin class job. Together they decide to make the most of the world they are trapped in, as they have no idea how long they’ll be there, and create the guild, Log Horizon, to make the gaming world a better place for all inhabitants.
Many people will compare Log Horizon to Sword Art Online (SAO), and rightfully so. They came out close together (same year) and deal with the same subject material (trapped inside a MMORPG). But that’s pretty much where the similarities end. While in Sword Art Online, should you die in game, you would die in real life; with Log Horizon, dying means just returning to life at a safe zone and continuing on. Where the protagonist in SAO strived to complete the game so everyone could return to life in the real world, Shiroe in Log Horizon plays as it is the only thing he can do, to make a living and comfortable world for himself as no one knows how long they will be there. And where much of the focus of SAO was battling to the top of the game, Log Horizon focuses more on the strategy of MMORPGs and the use of guilds and doing quests which assist the non-playable characters (NPCs).
It would seem that one would either really enjoy Log Horizon or they would hate it. In terms of a MMORPG, it appears to be really slow, but that is by design. The focus here is to show a different side of MMORPGs, the side other than the fighting aspect. Don’t get me wrong, there are fights to be had, but they are not the focus. It’s more on character growth, developing skills, the inner workings of a guild and the daily functioning of life within a MMORPG. For anyone who has spent some significant time playing games like World of Warcraft or Final Fantasy 11, you will feel right at home being able to relate to many of the experiences had by the characters (learning the intricacies of your job and how to function in a party out in the field). For those not so familiar with MMORPG play, it may be a little boring for you.
Log Horizon is something different in this genre of newer anime. And while it has great aspects in terms of relationships and comedy, as well as some deeper emotional scenes, it can be a little on the slow side at times, even for fans of MMORPGs. But just like in games, not everything is always fast paced and hectic. You need to take your time to set up your strategies, build relationships with other players for aid and assistance throughout the game, complete quests and really learn the inner working of the world of the game to be successful. This is what Log Horizon is all about and they are successful in their endeavor.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars