I recently had a conversation where I bemoaned the inevitability of filler episodes in popular anime. After a while, it was clear that not everyone in the conversation knew what filler was and why they were often a necessary part of any long-running anime series. More importantly, most people didn’t realize there are easy ways to avoid watching filler for the most popular shows…
Iwatani Naofumi was summoned into a parallel world along with three other people to become the world’s heroes and save the kingdom from the Calamity. Each of the heroes were respectively equipped with their own legendary equipment when summoned. Naofumi coincidentally received the Legendary Shield as his weapon, the only defensive weapon of the lot. Scorned by everyone for his uselessness, Naofumi’s destiny in a parallel world begins…
Hands down, Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari takes one of the most unique approaches to the virtual video game genre I’ve ever read / seen. And that is, the light novel incorporates a very real emotional element in its storytelling. Having read many tales in this emerging genre, I am definitely not over-generalizing when I say that most virtual MMORPG stories are lacking in “dramatic complexity.” And that’s perfectly fine because audiences are buying into these stories for the vicarious experience of living a video game, becoming heroes / villains, and conquering the world. Even Log Horizon, which takes a more “slice of life” approach to the genre and explores the psychological difficulties of suddenly living a video game, has mostly one dimensional characterization in a mostly happy-go-lucky atmosphere. Well, Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari is definitely not happy-go-lucky, and characters are certainly far from one dimensional.
Overall. First of all, what an amazing episode!!! After all that buildup in the first few episodes (and an especially action-less Episode 4), Episode 5 has delivered on everything and more. All my regrets and doubt have been washed away. The People of the Land (well one guy) has really stepped up to present a legit challenge to the all-powerful adventurers. Some light is finally peeking out beneath the Akatsuki dark cloud. Soujirou has a MASSIVE episode as he finally shows us why he’s cool enough to have a harem. We finally see an offensive style “Teaching” / “Overskill” and it looks awesome. Shiroe’s entire party got wiped out by Boss X but whatever, at least they found a boss when they were just crawling around complaining last episode. MOST IMPORTANTLY, that ominous foreshadowing in Episode 1 when Akatsuki and Shiroe meet in death on Christmas Eve just happened, which means that this is the depth of their failure — all that’s left to do is go up!! I can’t wait until Shiroe comes back with a vengeance and Akatsuki just destroys that creep. So, so satisfied right now XD
The Legendary Moonlight Sculptor is a Korean light novel about a virtual reality massively multiplayer online role playing game (VRMMORPG) called Royal Road and the efforts of a poor but hard-working guy to become number 1 in the game and make real-life money in the process. The RPG aspects of this series very much resemble those of Sword Art Online, .hack, or Log Horizon, but unlike many of the other MMORPG stories out there, The Legendary Moonlight Sculptor (LMS) is more humorous and light-hearted. It’s a subtle difference, but it significantly changes the way you experience the story…
Episode 4 is a couple days late due to weekend traveling, sorry folks…
Overall. While Episode 3 was about getting stuff done, Episode 4 was an exhibit of horrors: the horrors of what can happen when too many girls are together for too long, the horrors of too many characters musing about romance, the horrors of Studio Deen’s truly atrocious art, etc. I am not sure how I feel about this episode because there are just too many mixed messages flung around, and the only thing flowing continuously through Episode 3 seems to be Akatsuki’s depression, which is just sad [pathetic]. I supposed I should be excited that Shiroe has some deep plot to take over the world through flavor text or that stereotypical big bad wolf villain finally did something other than appear dramatically for two seconds…buuut, I think watching Akatsuki has eroded my own self-esteem and I need a few seconds. Pardon me.
Overall. Episode 3 is pretty much a continuation of the plot setup in Episode 2 (read Episode 2 review). Shiroe & co. begin on the raid, while festivities still continue in Akihabara as the adventurers prepare for Christmas. Since Season 2 has begun, I don’t think festivities have ever stopped in Akihabara. The lone party pooper is Akatsuki, whose angst cloud just balloons even more with each episode. What happens when it pops?
Annnd, with this post, I’ll be back on track with the anime episodes! *whew* Writing 5 posts in the past 5 days (all on Log Horizon) is not quite something I would care to experience again…
Read last episode’s review here.
But on to reactions for Episode Two:
Overall. Very happy to report that Episode 2 is so much smoother and coherent than Episode 1. Additionally, Season 2 is shaping up to be a faster pace, more action-packed storyline than Season 1, which is great. I feel that Season 1 would have taken at least 5 episodes to cover the content shown in Season 2’s first two episodes.
I took the term “cyborg consciousness” from Ted Friedman’s essay on Sid Meier’s Civilization and how the game (and computer games in general) teaches us new ways of perceiving the world. He puts his argument succinctly:
“The way computer games teach structures of thought – the way they reorganize perception – is by getting you to internalize the logic of the program. To win, you can’t just do whatever you want. You have to figure out what will work within the rules of the game. You must learn to predict the consequences of each move, and anticipate the computer’s response. Eventually, your decisions become intuitive, as smooth and rapid-fire as the computer’s own machinations.”
Man = Machine
I decided to split up my episode review (because it’s too long otherwise) into the episode reactions (Part A) and my theme discussions (Part B).
Most Random Screenshot:
First Minute Preview. The first minute of the episode was chock full of spoilers for the rest of the season, but that’s fine because I have no idea what the pictures mean anyways besides a sense that things will get awesome.
Here begins my thematic episode by episode review of Log Horizon season 2.
I’m a little behind on doing this coverage (I missed the first week) but I’ll make it up by covering the rest of the season faithfully.
A Little Background
This thematic review of Log Horizon 2 might not make much sense to anyone who hasn’t watched the first season as I will periodically reference events from those episodes (I think). I view Season One as a setup season — the pace was relatively slow for a “shounen” anime, especially compared to action-packed virtual reality anime Sword Art Online, and many viewers blogged about how Log Horizon could’ve functioned perfectly smoothly without 5-8 “useless” episodes. There are many explanations (excuses, if one is feeling particularly vindictive) for this: