Log Horizon: Episode 1 – “The Apocalypse”

Log Horizon is an anime based on a novel series by Mamare Touno. The anime is produced by Satelight, and is directed by Shinji Ishihara. As of this writing, Log Horizon is being simulcast on Crunchyroll on Saturdays.

Log Horizon tells the tale of what happens when players of an MMORPG game mysteriously find themselves actually inside the game. The game in question is called Elder Tale, and the mysterious event takes place when its 12th expansion, “Novasphere Pioneers,” is added.

The main character is Shiroe, who the audience follows from the time he discovers that he’s in the game. Early on in the episode, everyone’s status screen pops up, and Shiroe discovers he can control it; however, when he tries to log out, it won’t allow him to. He finds his friends list and starts scrolling through to see who is online that he knows. He stops on a name and contacts them.

Shiroe meets up with the other player, Naotsugu. After some discussion and determining that they are actually in the game and not dreaming, the two players team up and begin exploring their surroundings. During their travel, they encounter another player Shiroe knows named Akatsuki. Akatsuki asks Shiroe to sell an appearance-changing potion in order to revert back to a female, since unknown to Shiroe, she played the game using a male avatar. After taking the potion, she goes through the transformation; this made me think a bit of the Polyjuice Potion from the Harry Potter series.

During this episode, we also meet Marielle and Henrietta from the Crescent Moon Alliance, one of the guilds in the game. The episode ends with Shiroe, Naotsugu, and Akatsuki conducting an experiment to see what happens if they die in the game.

When I first read the premise for this series, the first thing that popped into my head was a song by The Smiths called, “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before.” Let’s be honest, the whole concept of people being trapped in video games is a plot device that’s become much more common in anime over the past couple of years. During that time, we’ve had Sword Art Online, BTOOOM!, The Ambition of Oda Nobuna, and that’s just off the top of my head. And we can’t forget the .hack series, which of course goes back even further. But the fact remains that this really is no longer a novel or interesting idea.

The pacing of the first episode is a bit on the slow side, but that is to expected, since it has to establish the characters and the world that they inhabit. But for me, by the end of this episode, there really wasn’t much of anything to make Log Horizon stand out from other series with a similar premise. The one thing I can give this series credit for is its animation, especially the backgrounds.

It’s not that Log Horizon is necessarily a bad series, but so far, I’m left with a “been there, done that” feeling with it. At this point, episode two is really going to have to blow me away and somehow stand out compared to the other series that use this plot device for me to continue following Log Horizon on a weekly basis.

Additional posts about Log Horizon:

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