Like Log Horizon Season One, Season Two continues the adventures of a population of gamers who have been trapped within a virtual world.
While there remains an infuriatingly low level of interest amongst the main and supporting characters in actually freeing themselves from the video game that is now their prison, this second season still manages to improve on the first rather significantly by lessening the focus on forced romantic coupling and shifting the show’s attention to the constantly evolving digital world and its now, very real, game mechanics.
Exploring these aspects of the game isn’t new to Log Horizon but the idea has never really been as enticing as it should have been. Sure, seeing the characters learn how to make the digital food taste like real food is a nice nugget of world-building information, but it wasn’t worthy of the half season of episodes it received in Season One. Season Two’s concepts on the other hand are more than exciting enough to be given more attention in future episodes.
Among some of the changes introduced within these first 13 episodes of Log Horizon Season Two are the revelations that the weapons and items within the land are gaining the abilities listed in their in-game descriptions and that the avatars chosen by the players have actually begun to change the personalities of the players themselves. One example given of the digital becoming real is that male players who have chosen female avatars are gradually becoming female. Another is that of an item, whose backstory involves it containing the evil spirit of a villain, which activates, and possesses a non-player character who begins killing players.
Both of these ideas have the potential to move the story and characters in very intriguing and exciting directions and, coupled with the memory-erasing effect that was introduced in Season One, hint at a situation where the human characters could eventually lose their souls completely and become part of the game itself.
There are some new flashbacks of individuals in the real-world that try to add more depth to the main characters in Log Horizon Season Two, but beyond giving the viewer a look at their offline physical appearance, they achieve very little and when all is said and done, it’s the storyline that will keep fans watching this anime series, not the characters.
Blu-ray and Special Features
Log Horizon Season 2 Part 1 contains the first 13 episodes of the second season on two Blu-ray disks. All of the episodes are presented in full 1080p HD with colour balance and sharpness leaving little to complain about. Both the English and Japanese audio tracks are unfortunately limited to 2.0 surround options which is a bit disappointing. Both audio tracks sound fine however and feature an adequate balance between dialogue, action, and music.
The Blu-ray jacket is very well designed with the series, season, volume, and episode information all clearly displayed in several places. Of particular note is the artwork on the flipside of the cover which can be reversed for an alternate design if the owner chooses. It features two separate pieces of series background artwork showcasing the streets of Akihabara. It’s an appreciated design choice as the representation of the Tokyo suburb within the video game world has always been one of the more fascinating aspects of Log Horizon. This same artwork is also used on the disks themselves.
Besides the typical textless opening and closing credits, there are no special features to be found at all on this release. This is a shame, but also expected for a niche series such as this that doesn’t have as large of a following as other anime series like, Fairy Tail, Attack on Titan, and Pokemon.
Did You Know?
Unlike most anime series, which are usually based on a manga (Japanese comic book), Log Horizon was actually a Japanese novel series first. The first Log Horizon book was released in Japan in 2011 and the series has continued to this day with the latest novel (the 10th in the series) coming out in late 2015. The Log Horizon novel series is currently being released in English through Yen Press.
Who Should Watch Log Horizon?
Despite its bright and colourful art style, Log Horizon is best viewed by teenagers and up due to the overly sexualised female characters and the occasional chauvinistic attitude expressed by several of the male characters. There’s no hardcore nudity or sex scenes here (it’s not pornographic by any stretch of the imagination), nor is there anything in the way of drug use or graphic violence, but the portrayal of the female characters in Log Horizon is so unrealistic that it should only be watched by those old enough to understand that not only is the series set within a fantasy world, but the characters themselves, and the way they act, are pure fantasy as well.
Just as unrealistic is the representation of gay people in Log Horizon. While there is only one gay character, who is admittedly relegated to a small supporting role in the series, he’s realised in such an over-the-top stereotypical manner (think, South Park’s Big Gay Al) that it’s hard not to be offended. He’s very much played for laughs and unfortunately this sort of character is quite common in Japanese media, which has a long way to go in regards to the acceptance of gay individuals. What’s particularly disappointing though is that the English-language production team decided to maintain this stereotype in the English dub. On one hand, it is reflective of the source material, but on the other, choosing to go in a different direction with the voice actor would have been a completely understandable and appreciated decision, especially in 2016.
The second season of Log Horizon suffers from many of the same flaws that plagued the first season yet manages to improve overall with a growing sense of consequence and some genuinely fascinating explorations into how certain video game mechanics would work in a living and breathing real-world setting.
Log Horizon won’t go down in history as one of the most-memorable anime series ever made but it’s still thoroughly enjoyable and above all else, fun to watch either by oneself or with friends.
Zone B Blu-ray Available From: FishPond.com.au