To open up the winter review session, I’m starting with the two strongest shows of the season, and possibly the year. That of course would be Log Horizon and Noragami. There are so few shows that bother to advance a decent plot alongside some decent characters that actually make sense to each other and don’t just represent tired worn tropes in use by anime since Third Impact, which can either be Lucky Star, or Kugimiya Rie. Historians still argue to this day.
“Now with 50% more glasses”
If you like drinking games, I suggest you play what I call Log Horizon: So Glasses Much Villainy. The rules are simple.
- Take a drink every time Shiroe pushes his glasses up on his face.
- Take another drink every time Crusty pushes his glasses up on his face.
- Take two drinks every time Henrietta pushes her glasses up on her face.
- Take an additional shot when she cute-tortures Akatsuki.
- Drink the entire bottle every time any other character without glasses imitates Shiroe pushing his glasses up on his face.
I’m pretty sure you’ll be out by the third or fourth episode at best.
In the world of MMO-based anime, you have surprisingly few choices. .hack, Ragnarok Online, and SAO are the ones that come to mind, along with others that run down similar lines. .hack was an emo-fest of broken dreams and Evanescence lyrics, despite the fact that I liked the music. RO was all flash and little substance in a poor effort to prop up an aging Korean MMO no one played on its real server. SAO was.. er.. SAO? Wish fulfillment fantasy from what I’m told. I didn’t bother.
Log Horizon actually made me really think about my time spent in MMOs, and when it wasn’t making me feel, it was genuine fun in a world that tried to adhere to a sense of normalcy despite the fact that you knew you were trapped in a game, or at least a world that resembled a game. Instead of spending twenty-five episodes parading around, throwing all sorts of nasty mid-bosses, and piling the praise on to one or two hero characters, LH evenly distributed the richness of the world among a not-too-small but not-too-large cast of characters, all of whom play their parts without trying to play someone else’s part. Shiroe was a likeable main character who calculates every move, but even I began to question his infallibility by the end. It was something they skirted around by simply making him humble about where he came from and where he was going, but you could tell that he was living on the edge of Mary Sue-style. His “sidekicks”, Naotsugu and Akatsuki were a big part of the first third of the show, but were then placed in the back row for the middle. I realize most of the reason was to highlight Touya and Minori and company, almost like you might focus on a sub-party and take your focus away from the main party. By the time the main cast came back up front for the last third of the show, it was mainly to stand as figureheads, and for Akatsuki to highlight her feelings for Shiroe. But the point they made very clear by the end, was that Shiroe might be the main character, but he wasn’t the central character to the story. It placed more emphasis on the universe and not the characters. That’s important to me, because when they make more, and they will, they don’t need to really worry about who these characters are so much as what they can do in this world. It’s the opposite of your .hacks or SAOs, where the world is just there to prop up the characters.
But really, without trying to make this review fancy, I just had plain fun watching this. The glasses, and more glasses, and even more glasses. Akatsuki. Henrietta. It reminded me of all those times I played with other people in MMOs before I threw them away to be a socially broken recluse. Maybe someday I’ll fix that, but for now:
Title: Log Horizon
Sub Group I Watched: Commie
Rating (1-10): 9
Wrestling references aside, Noragami is a show that deserved so much more without being compromised of its current integrity. When you consider the parallels between it and Kyoukai no Kanata, it’s sad that a show with such high production values turns out to be two-dimensional slop where another with lower production values actually shows promise and charm that a couple thousand might make shine brighter, with less of that forced SAVING ANIME feeling. That isn’t to say Noragami was a FUCKING MASTERPIECE or anything like that, but much like Suisei no Gargantia was last year, it did what it needed to do in its half-season span smoothly and efficiently without wasting time on the things KyoAni shows waste time, and money, in order to placate your creamy center.
After posting that, I bought one with my lunch. Religious people celebrate Jesus during Easter. I celebrate glorious chocolate sugar bombs.
Hiyori is the center of this universe, and it’s something they really didn’t go into in the show. I imagine there is more in the manga, which is why I need to pick it up again. There was still some moments in Yato and Yukine that were worth it, but the tale was woven around Hiyori’s tail without making her the main character. I tend to enjoy shows that do this, because it usually leads to better characterization, or in Hiyori’s case, more scarves.
Noragami did not push all of the same buttons for me that Log Horizon or Kill la Kill did, but that isn’t implying those shows were better, it just didn’t branch out character-wise, or go LUDICROUS SPEED liberally to light up the pleasure centers of my brain. That’s perfectly fine. I always enjoy a good show that does what it needs to keep my focused without overstepping its pace. Rather, it tied with Witchcraft Works for being a surprisingly good show when I otherwise dismissed it based on its manga performance. They say don’t judge a book by its cover. I say I’ll do whatever I goddamn please.
Sub Group I Watched: FFF
Rating (1-10): 8
Plenty more coming soon, likely beginning with the end of my favorite riff, Chu2Koi, and whatever else fit to print.