Log Horizon anime review – Spotty quality but enjoyable overall

I finished Sword Art Online and went around looking for something similar. Not that I enjoyed SAO all that much, but the general idea of an overpowered protagonist stuck in another world is one that I still like so I’m still looking out for shows along those lines. Log Horizon came with good recommendations and less of the positive/negative hysteria that accompanies SAO, so I decided to give it a try.

Blurb: Thirty thousand Japanese gamers suddenly find themselves transported into the virtual game world of an MMORPG called Elder Tale. In the midst of the event, a socially awkward gamer named Shiroe, along with his friends, Naotsugu and Akatsuki, decide to team up so that they may face this world, which unfortunately has now become their reality, along with the challenges and obstacles ahead of them.

The good parts of Log Horizon

log-horizon-volume-1-coverThe main character Shiroe and most of his friends and companions are all level 90 by the time the show starts. The way the game world is set up also means they’re essentially immortal, so they’re usually never in any real danger. Shiroe is also portrayed (somewhat falsely IMO) as a super-strategic genius but he can also do his share in battle, making him the right combination of brains and brawn to satisfy any viewer looking for a character who is overpowered either physically or mentally.

Log Horizon also puts more focus on economic issues, quality of life issues and power balances/relations than most “trapped in a game” shows tend to do. This makes it pretty good for people who care about world building and immersion, though I imagine the light novels would be better for this than the show.

The show also spends some time exploring the lives and politics of the non-player characters (NPCs), the guys you would normally ignore in town and villages in videogames, who only exist to sell you stuff/give you quests/die miserably when the bad guys attack. Turns out they’re “human” just like everyone else with families and tastes and complex political relationships, etc etc. It’s an interesting world to explore. The show is actually a good commercial for the light novels, ‘cos I’m slightly curious now.

Shiroe as a super-strategist is more of an informed attribute than anything that really stands out in the show, but he has his impressive moments. His strategy for getting Akihabara under control and establishing law and order was really quite clever. His use of his scribe skills to

The bad parts of Log Horizon
I say No No No

I say No No No

Shiroe stays out of focus in a lot of episodes, especially in the second half of the show. Instead an inordinate amount of time is spent chronicling the escapades of a bunch of level 25 adventurers, which just pisses me off. There are THOUSANDS of shows out there about complete newbies trying to get stronger. I want to watch people who have already gone through the grind and are already strong enough. It’s really, really boring to watch those mewling little brats (especially Minori, she is so annoying) squabbling and scrabbling about. Someone should just put them all in a sack and drown them.

This makes it especially annoying when an entire arc is devoted to watching these kids try to defend an NPC town against a bunch of monsters that the level 90 characters could (and eventually do) take out in a few hits. The level 90 guys are presumably standing by because they’re “out of MP”, even though they could just fly back to Akihabara to buy out their entire stock of potions and return in less than time it takes one weakling to kill a single monster.

log-horizonSpeaking of that arc, it’s also painful to see them ignore perfectly valid strategies that were used earlier in the show in favor of just standing around chatting. You have a huge wave of monsters coming. Why not let Naotsugu (level 90) run into their middle, use Anchor Howl so they can’t target anyone but him, have all the healers just focus their healing spells on him and then pick off all the monsters at leisure with the weaker guys. It’s a strategy that was used twice earlier in the show to devastating effect, yet the one time it would actually make a difference it’s ignored in order to manufacture unnecessary drama with the kids? Sooooo annoying.

Other characters the show spent too much time on: Princess Lenessia and Crusty. Enough already, just get married and get off my show. Naotsugu with his constant perverted remarks was also another big drawback, though he thankfully gets a lot less screentime once the focus of the show shifts away from combat. Thank goodness. The Minori-Shiroe-Akatsuki love triangle wasn’t interesting either. There are lots of other love triangle shows out there if that’s what I wanted.

Lastly I’m a little bothered that the show didn’t give any thought at all to what was going on in the “real world” while the gamers were trapped in Elder Tale. Unlike in SAO it seems they have been bodily transported so there’s no need to worry about bodies starving to death. But at the same time you’re telling me nobody has any family to worry about or work to go to or bedridden old grandpa they’re caring for? They all get stuck in the new world and they’re like COOOOL and that’s that? In a show as thoughtful as Log Horizon it’s a pretty glaring oversight, but it might be addressed in season two so I’ll give them a pass for now.


As I said in the title, the quality of Log Horizon is a bit spotty. When they let Shiroe do what he’s best at – solving problems, inventing clever solutions and exploring the mysteries of the Elder Tale world – it’s a highly enjoyable and engrossing show. Unfortunately that only takes up about 70% of the show and the rest is devoted to dumb love triangles, boring fights, annoying characters and time-wasting forced drama. I’m interested enough in the world that I’m going to watch Season 2, but honestly it could be a much better show. Still worth a try or a buy, just prepare for a bit of frustration and many filler-like episodes.


Also dropped: Soul Eater, Rokka no Yuusha, Ping Pong

Continuing from the last post, some more things I dropped recently:

Soul Eater: Not my cup of tea. I think I’ve outgrown shounen action shows or something, because the violent action in the first few minutes didn’t thrill me in the least, and then the attempts at… humor? with Maka’s dad or whoever just made me roll my eyes. I turned it off before the halfway mark. I’m not going to bother reading the manga or any summaries either. Tsugi!

Rokka no Yuusha: Meh. Not interested. I made through the whole of episode 1, which is more than I can say for the other two shows in this post, but that’s about it. The fast pace of the first episode was good – demon revives instantly, party starts to come together, all good, but the dense rash main character and the coy (but really strong, honest!) princess didn’t interest me enough to make me want to continue. One episode is enough.

ping-pong-episode-1Ping Pong: The main character’s voice and attitude turned me off completely. I know he’s supposed to sound bored and lifeless, and I’m sure hundred of voice actors were auditioned and several takes were made in order to get him to sound like a dead fish, but he just rubs me the wrong way 100%. I’ve heard good things about Ping Pong so I might read the manga where I don’t have to deal with any annoying voices and the super slow pacing. The anime, though, is not for me.


Dropped: Giant Killing, Joukamachi no Dandelion, Non non Biyori

Regular readers of the AnimeFangirl blog should be used to the system where I try one episode of a series and then drop it like a hot potato. Being an avid anime watcher for over 15 years ensures you develop a nose for shows that won’t work out and can quit without wasting too much time. As a bonus this also frees you up to cope with your ever-growing backlog -_-;; The latest shows on the chopping block:

Giant Killing: I like sports shows/manga about the sport at the professional level, but something about this lazy rogue ‘unconventional’ coach rubbed me the wrong way. The art and the voices were low-tier as well, but I am vaguely interested in this rags-to-riches story so I might read the manga sometime. Things take so long to develop in the anime and so much time is spent just talking and arguing that I’m bailing out now.

non-non-biyori-screenshot2Non non Biyori: Cute show. Lovely environments. Really makes you want to up and move to a village in the Japanese countryside, it’s so beautiful. So much so in fact that it actually feels like pro-countryside propaganda, to be honest. But the bigger problem is that there are tons of “cute girls doing cute stuff” slice of life shows out there and Non non Biyori doesn’t have anything special going for it besides the gorgeous scenery gimmick. It’s also really, really slow even by slice of life show standards. It was a nice watch, but one episode is enough.

Joukamachi no Dandelion: Too many characters. Too much going on. Too many ‘wacky’ incidents. The main character is annoying. The premise is all kinds of messed up and yet not very interesting at the same time. The royal family lives in a normal neighborhood? There’s nothing normal about their lives with all those cameras and magical powers and flying! So why not just let them live in a palace already? And the whole ‘game to decide the next king’ gimmick is stupid. In fact it’s just a dumb show all around. I don’t think I even finished the first episode. Next!


Hai to Gensou no Grimgar anime review – Pretty nice

I’ve watched my fair share of “hero taken to a fantasy world” kind of shows and generally enjoy the genre, but it does tend to get kind of stale after the 10th “Hero of the World” iteration. I heard Hai to Gensou no Grimgar was a different, grittier take on the trope, all about what would really happen if a bunch of regular people were thrown into another world and had to survive without all the modern amenities and protections we’re used to, so I gave it a try. And you know, it was actually pretty good.

BlurbGrimgar of Fantasy and Ash (灰と幻想のグリムガル Hai to Gensō no Gurimugaru?) is a Japanese light novel series written by Ao Jūmonji and illustrated by Eiri Shirai. The story follows a group of people who suddenly find themselves in a fantasy world with no memories from before their arrival, and chronicles their struggles to survive and make a life for themselves. (source:Wikipedia)

First, before you get scared off, Grimgar is not that dark a series. The darkest take on the trope I’ve ever seen is Now and Then, Here and There (recommended watching if you’re feeling too happy and just want to be pissed off), and Grimgar never gets quite as unhappy as that. Nevertheless it does chronicle the likely struggles of a bunch of regular teenagers who have never even killed a chicken before and who now have to fend for themselves in the wilds of a new world by killing sentient, highly intelligent monsters and living off the proceeds.


hai to gensou no grimgar volume 1 coverI liked that Grimgar wasn’t that dark and still contained plenty of fantasy staples like magic and skills and a super-talented main character who overcomes great odds etc etc. I’m cool with that kind of thing, especially since nothing comes easy to the party so it feels like they deserve everything they eventually get. The show also ends on a highly positive note and is very well-wrapped up so unlike most light novel adaptations you don’t feel like you have to go out and get the books to get the full experience, even though the show does make you interested enough to want to do so.

Other positives: the watercolor-like backgrounds are lovely and a nice, mellow change from the often-garish colors of other fantasy series. The action sequences are not as good as the better ones from Sword Art Online or even Yes It’s Wrong to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon, but it’s still clear and easy to follow even when things get hectic. The fights keep you on edge a bit because the rookies are so raw that anything can and frequently does happen in that world. It’s also nice that the characters have to deal with everyday stuff like buying food and getting clean underwear. It’s good for people who like slice-of-life and immersion into fantasy worlds.


Now for the stuff that wasn’t so good. The voice-acting isn’t very impressive. It’s a strike against those who insist on how wonderful Japanese VAs always are. The MC’s voice was too deep and too impassive, Manato’s voice was too screechy and piercing, Ranta always sounded like he was trying too hard, the other characters weren’t very memorable. I don’t remember anything about the music either. The fanservice episodes and excessive discussions of bust-sizes and other vulgar topics was also something I could have done without. The long sequences where people just stand around while some annoying high-pitched singer warbles about nothing important weren’t necessary to the show either, IMO.

hai to gensou no grimgar manatoThose minor nitpicks aside, the main negative of Hai to Gensou no Grimgar (for me) is that far too much time is spent talking about stuff that doesn’t really interest the viewer. Especially at inappropriate times like in the middle of dungeons (they pay for that at least once, but they don’t learn their lesson). I’m like “Can’t this wait till you get back home where it’s nice and safe?”

But really, they just like to talk. Talk talk talk about their feelings. Tell me how you feel. I feel this, we feel this, feel feel feel. I get it, I get, but you really don’t need to spend 10 minutes in one episode talking about your depression, then 5 minutes in another episodes going on about the same thing, and then again in another ep, and on and on. It could be faster paced, is what I’m saying.

But there’s no perfect series, and I think Grimgar did pretty well keeping a balance between being upbeat and being realistic. It’s a great watch for anyone who likes fantasy, other worlds, tragedy, slice of life or straight up action. Or a fun combination of all these like Hai to Gensou no Grimgar.

haikara san ga tooru vol 1 cover

Haikara-san ga Tooru manga volume 1 review

I enjoy older shoujo series, but there are so many of them my backlog just grows and grows. Still Haikara-san ga Tooru is one of the more famous and popular old shoujos, so I was going to read it sooner rather than later. The recent announcement of the remake of the anime gave me the impetus to finally get off my butt and actually read it. Or read volume 1 anyway, I’m not sure if I’m going to read much more than that.

SummaryBenio Hanamura lost her mother when she was very young and has been raised by her father, a high-ranking official in the Japanese army. As a result, she has grown into a tomboy — contrary to traditional Japanese notions of femininity, she studies kendo, drinks sake, dresses in often outlandish-looking Western fashions instead of the traditional kimono, and isn’t as interested in housework as she is in literature. She also rejects the idea of arranged marriages and believes in a woman’s right to a career and to marry for love. Benio’s best friends are the beautiful Tamaki, who is much more feminine than Benio but equally interested in women’s rights, and Ranmaru, a young man who was raised to play female roles in the kabuki theater and as a result has acquired very effeminate mannerisms.

haikara san ga tooru shinobu benioThe tomboy Benio is forced to marry the lieutenant Shinobu, who is from a wealthy family. At first Benio doesn’t get along with the distinguished way of life at all. When Shinobu is sent to fight in Russia, Benio makes her own way… as an emancipated woman in Tokyo of the 1920s!

Well first off, most summaries claim that Benio marries Shinobu, but actually she just moves into his house as his fiancee to undergo training so that she becomes a more suitable bride. So they’re merely engaged as of volume 1 anyway.

Furthermore, Benio isn’t as much of a feminist icon as people make her out to be. Again, at least in volume 1 anyway she’s not particularly interested in doing girly stuff like sewing, but neither is she all that into pursuits like kendo (also the sake drinking incident was just a one-off). It’s just the only thing she knows how to do because of the way she was brought up, and she’s painfully self-conscious of her lack of femininity, especially compared to her friends.

Additionally it’s her friend Tamaki who has the strong convictions about only marrying for love (but surely the fact that Tamaki is in love with Shinobu has nooothing to do with it, oh no sirree). Benio is more confused and conflicted about it than adamantly opposed.

01_053That’s why she doesn’t run away and try to make it on her own when the topic of marriage comes up but rather goes along with it in the silly hope of being so difficult to work with that Shinobu’s family will cancel the engagement from their end. Instead she ends up winning everyone over and being won over in turn by Shinobu (even though she’s supposed to be trying to get him together with Tamaki. It’s complicated) and everything goes on as normal for a shoujo manga.

In short, Benio comes across as a regular teenage girl who just wants to have fun and do her own thing and isn’t quite ready to grow up yet. I thought I’d like her more than I ended up doing, but she’s so immature, naive and impulsive that I got annoyed at her more often than not. Going to Shinobu’s house and being difficult was a bad, childish idea to begin with, and she doesn’t go ahead with it anyway because deep down she really does want to be cultured and feminine so what’s the point of the childish rebellion? Teenagers!

And she insists she doesn’t like Shinobu one little bit (me neither) and yet her heart pains her at the thought of being parted from him… urgghhh, typical shoujo heroine, urrghhh. She’s cute, but nothing extraordinary. I was hoping for something more unusual from Haikara-san ga Tooru, but it’s just the usual “tomboy falls in love and softens up” story. At least in volume 1.

Will I continue to read the other volumes? I don’t know. It’s not as interesting as I was hoping for. I’m not that interested in Benio or her wacky hijinks. And I hate smug, suave leads like Shinobu. He’s basically Mr. Perfect so of course all the ladies can’t help falling in love with him but he’s slowly gaining feelings for wild, unconventional Benio (who as I’ve said is not that wild or that unconventional) blah blah blah.

I dunno… Okay, most likely volume 2 is where things will get more interesting when Shinobu is conveniently removed from the scene and Benio is free to “make her own way as an emancipated woman” as the blurbs say. Let’s give it one more volume and see.

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