Log Horizon is a popular Light Novel series, which has a manga and anime adaptation, written by Mamare Touno. Currently there are nine volumes in Japan, and two volumes out in the States. Thanks to Yen Press creating the Yen On property we have a lot of Light Novels being published lately, and Log Horizon was one of my most anticipated ones I had for their new wave.
The story starts off with Shiroe waking up in his favorite MMO game, Elder Tales. From there he contacts Naotsugu, one of his trust worthy friends, who teams up and tries to figure out exactly what happened and how they can live in this new world. Along the way they meet Akatsuki, go on a rescue mission, and reunite with Nyanta.
What makes this series different from other “Trapped in a game” series is the fact that there is no future tech aiding them. Elder Tales is a regular MMO that you get to see on your 2D screen. The game allowed you to see everything; monsters coming at you, players across the screen behind trees, etc. This presents the problem that Shiroe now has to deal with in that he experiences Elder Tales as if he were in his physical body, meaning he can’t see the full screen, just what’s in front of his eyes.
Another aspect that Log Horizon tends to focus on that others in the same genre don’t, is the details between game and life. Not everything works like it did when it was just a game. The “players” have to figure out the new mechanics, and use their brain to get past problems. For example; food, no matter what type, whether it’s expensive or the most tasting in all the land, they all tastes the same, dreadful. Water tastes like water, but other liquids such as Juices also taste like water, even though a Juice is more expensive than a water. The details in this world are what captivates me and makes me really excited to see what else comes to light.
Shiroe is a strategist, and he is constantly having problems focusing on battle, watching his party’s HP bars, and coming up with strategies all the while monsters are attacking him. All these minor details add up to real life problems for these characters and how they react/live in Elder Tales.
Series such as Sword Art Online, where the character dies in real life if he dies in the game, is not how Log Horizon operates. If you die in the game you are then revived at the last Cathedral you were in/passed. This way the story doesn’t have to focus on action to present problems for the characters. It also puts in another perspective in that while you are technically immortal, you still have to face and feel death before reviving.
Upon the first Volume, Log Horizon is a very nice read and one of the best written Light Novels that I have read, although I haven’t read many. The biggest draw to this series is definitely the characters, each is nice, but Naotsugu tends to take on the pervert title in this and constantly interrupts moments with “panties are a man’s dream” type of talk that just sounds awkward in written format. Which is something I tend to see in Light Novels, and have problems with all Light Novels, in the fact that the dialogue sounds like it came right out of an anime. It takes me out of the moment and makes it a little harder to visualize because dialogue in anime and in prose are two different styles, from my perspective.
Another thing that may not appeal to people, is the fact that they go over every mechanic in what makes an MMO game. It tells you what a party is, what PK-ing is, what Guilds are, and so forth. People who do play MMO games will probably roll their eyes and think “get on with it” whenever it covers those parts, but for me who hasn’t played MMO games, I found it nice and helpful, and also got me into the story.
While excerpts may be redundant for even the average MMO player, I do think this series does a better job than most in capturing MMO playing and relating everything in an MMO mindset. This is probably the closest thing to an MMO series than most others, certainly better than SAO.
The Light Novel is just over 200 pages, and is a brisk read when you get into it. For an introduction it has certainly set up some really nice questions, and provides great world building as it covers the basics of MMO games, with the actual layout of Elder Tales that should bring in non-MMO fans and MMO fans alike. Allowing action to take a step aside, and focusing on small details that are usually absent in Fantasy/Sci-Fi works, this volume has piqued my interest, and I am most assuredly going to be reading Volume two.
P.S.- For those wondering, this first volume covers the first 4 episodes of Season 1 in the anime.