Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Log Horizon 2

I remember when I watched the first season of Log Horizon last year and thought, "Man, I shouldn't have watched this right after Sword Art Online." So why I chose to watch Log Horizon 2 right after finishing Sword Art Online II (well, actually I watched Log Horizon again as a refresher in between, but that's just if I want to be nitpicky) proves that I am more than likely a dumbass. But I knew what to expect from Log Horizon 2 (more or less) so I adjusted my mindset accordingly as I began.

This was going to be a slow-burn type of anime. I just can't binge-watch anime that are so incredibly dialog-heavy. So I'd have to do it watching only a certain number of episodes a day. I know that's how normal people do it, but I'm an otaku. I'm a different breed. My motto is, "If you can't watch at least six episodes a day you aren't trying hard enough." And yes, I have a job and I leave my house. I'm in management, actually. 

Try as I might, even taking into account that I was pacing myself, this anime could only hold my attention for so long. It wasn't too bad or anything like that. It's just...

So what failed to grab me? Well, I admit the first season wasn't really a favorite of mine when I watched it the first time around. Since blogging I haven't watched a lot of anime for repeat viewings, but I made an exception for Log Horizon and I liked it a bit more after I watched it a second time. So I'd certainly be able to properly appreciate the second season now, correct?

With the first season fresh in my mind I started the second season... and immediately I noticed a distinct transition for the worse as far as the animation was concerned. 

This isn't how I wanted things to start.

Studios sometimes change between seasons for certain anime. It happened with My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU and My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Too. Only in that case the animation actually improved. In this case it felt like someone had taken an ugly stick to every single one of the characters. There were these weird lines drawn under Shiroe's eyes that hadn't been there before and when those lines weren't there I could swear Shiroe's eyes just looked deformed. But, hey, I've watched worse animation before so I was willing to let this slide.

This series actually started out pretty strong. There were two arcs woven simultaneously together in two different locations and I thought that was done rather well. One features Akatsuki as she takes on a player killer on the loose in Akihabara while the other features Shiroe leading an impossible raid in the Depths of Palm. During their struggles, both Akatsuki and Shiroe get killed and understand what it means to die in the game. While I could have done without some of the more metaphysical stuff, I thought that moment was done rather well. There's also a really cool speech from the leader of the Silver Sword guild that's probably the highlight of this season.

Once those arcs resolve we get a Valentine's Day episode that feels like it was made up on the spot. It was okay, but nothing special. Just the plot of this anime going into neutral again.

Then we get an arc where some of the children of the Log Horizon world get to go on a quest by themselves. This happened in the first season and that was kind of good then, but this time the shine has worn off a bit. Hell, one of the characters plays an instrument and manages to crank out all of the theme songs during the journey so the quest becomes like a tour of a anime cover band. What's the real point of this? I mean, if they didn't bond during the first season when one of them actually almost died then I imagine this quest wouldn't effect them that much.

During their journey the kids come across some new characters. There's also the introduction of Kanami and a few other characters during this time period. Which is cool, I guess. It's nice to meet new characters and stuff.

But with only nine episodes left in the season it feels like none of the cliffhangers from the previous season will be even close to resolved. In fact, they've barely been touched them at all by the time the end comes in sight.

Then when the end actually arrives...

The last three episodes alone serve as a huge info dump that suggests that (maybe) the invention of this bizarre world has something to do with aliens that are also trapped there for reasons they also don't know. So who put these aliens there as well? Who created this world and why? Well, those answers aren't here. The importance of characters like Kanami that are introduced in a single standalone episode halfway through this series aren't touched on at all after that episode until a little snippet in the last episode and that makes their first introduction seem pointless. The whole thing is to set up a situation where we say, "Hey, I remember these guys" and pretty much nothing else. There're no eureka moments. The standalone episode where we are introduced to Kanami and her gang could have been summed up in a few minutes just like the last scene of the final episode.

The flavor text coming to life was a great idea, but there was no follow up on it. Crusty's sudden disappearance should have left people terrified of their weapons. In a game where all kinds of weapons exist you would think that most of them would have been possessed or created by bad guys at some point. So shouldn't there have been a plague of people becoming possessed by their weapons or disappearing? Hell, that could have been an entire arc on its own. Instead, it's briefly mentioned and then kind of forgotten about. Sure, it's mentioned about here and there, but with no real consequences. It's a plot device to move Crusty from the Japan server to the China server for reasons we don't find out about. Obviously, a season three was planned to follow up on that but with some anime it's tough to say if that will come to fruition. It never happened for The Big O or Darker Than Black or The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. The reasons for all of those anime not receiving a season three have a lot to do with how poorly the second seasons were executed. I think there will be a third season for Log Horizon, but if it does come I hope it cuts the BS and just solves all of its subplots. If it doesn't then I'll feel like I wasted my time.

At least, the episodes where the kids went on their quest kind of built up to something, but then that was also thrown out. The idea of there only being a certain number of songs in the world was a neat one. But the song the adventurers introduced into the world was a generic-sounding anime song. At least, introduce a Bach-sounding piece or something. Something that actually sounds moving and grand. I mean, shit, the musician character is playing a lute, for god's sake. You mean to tell me people with an interest in playing the lute can only play generic-sounding J-pop?

Now lemme get back to the final three episodes.

There was an impressive raid arc to start this season and it lasted for about ten episodes or so. So how the hell could a raid against the biggest threat against the people of the land and the adventurers possibly be resolved in less than three episodes when an ordinary raid took ten? How? It just... It makes no sense. It was so rushed through I don't even understand or care what really happened. Shiroe defeated somebody somehow with teamwork and Crusty is in China and Kanami is someone important with a daughter and boom the show is over. Oh, and Lenessia has a brother that hangs out with Isaac.

Yup, that's how it ended.

What a mess this season two was. What a mess.

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