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Something About Log Horizon and How it Almost Understands MMOs (Unlike Every Other MMO Anime Ever)

November 19, 2013

Log Horizon - 07So I went and caught up to episode 7 of Log Horizon, here are my thoughts on the series as a whole so far: It’s decent. It’s way better than other “people stuck in the MMO world” anime out there.

Which admittedly, is like comparing Samurai Showdown (Log Horizon) with Mortal Kombat (Sword Art Online) and Fatal Fury (Btooom). The former at least approached the level of Street Fighter 2, while the latter 2 were vastly inferior and never deserved their mainstream attention (based on gameplay).

None of the above were Street Fighter 2 anyways. And incidentally, as for which anime IS Street Fighter 2, I’m thinking, the answer is pretty dang obvious.

Anyway, as for the nitty-gritty of Log Horizon’s episodes. The first couple episodes are okay. It sets up their world and battle system. It shows the quick descent of a society derived from the internet, as people almost immediately adopt their dickish online behaviour, not quite understanding that they’re actually in a reality (of sorts) now. Player killings abound, since it’s the only thing that brings any meaning or amusement to their (players) lives now.

We then get a few episodes where the main guy and his crew go on a rescue mission to save a low-tier player from a city already overrun by dicks. Where the strong have completely dominated the weak. They succeed and returned to Akihabara. These episodes are lame and completely forgettable, especially the return trip ep. Their primary purpose is to allow a time-lapse to happen so that the heroes can return to an Akihabara “subtly” changed. An Akihabara where the big and powerful guilds have brought unwritten order to Akiba. An Akiba where PKing has gone down, but there’s now an unspoken class distinction between the haves and have-nots. In other words, an Akiba taken over by the Elites.

Oh, those episodes also serve to illustrate that while the author does seem to be into MMOs (unlike whoever did SAO, who obviously never played any MMO or video game for that matter), he’s apparently mainly stuck to Eastern MMOs. The thing is, he’s trying to tell a story that has Western MMO elements, but he’s obviously unfamiliar with the topic. Where Eastern MMOs basically expanded on Diablo while focusing on the character, hence having stuff like guild houses and pets and costumes and a slew of sub-classes for characters to branch into; Western MMOs focused more on the player, hence Western games are more about creating hives of scum and villainy.

For instance, in the anime, the main character was once part of a legendary non-guild called Debauchery Tea Party. They’re basically just a fairly big bunch of players who played together despite being from different guilds. In other words, just a bunch of guys on the same friends list. These guys are legendary for having completed several high level raids despite not working as a guild.

See? If you’re a gamer, the above description sounds ludicrous. Not only are raids accessible to most (if not all) players, but it’s hardly uncommon for non-guild affiliated players to enter and complete a raid together. You don’t become legendary from completing raids. You become legendary for fucking up the game. Like defeating a supposedly undefeatable boss or committing genocide in a non-PvP area or intentionally and repeatedly crashing the server. That’s the stuff of legends. Not simply completing a raid during a special event period.

There’s also a bit in the anime where to illustrate that the main guy’s a good guy, he used a Teacher System, which lets him temporarily lower his level so he can help out some noobs. This is apparently a rarely done thing that shows how charitable the main dude is. In contrast, there’s this evil slave driver guy who keeps his levels high, thus he attracts high level mobs and he blames his noobs for not being able to keep up.

Again, see? If you’re a gamer, the above description’s utterly retarded. First off, if there was a game that lets you temporarily lower your levels, you can bet your bottom dollar that everyone would be lowering the hell out of their character levels. Why? Because that sounds so goddamn abusable. Everyone would lower their levels while keeping their high level skills and equipment or area clearances and they’d beat mid-tier enemies for massive gains. Meanwhile, the evil slave driver only needs to solo 1 high tier enemy and his noobs would have instantly jumped 10 levels. In literally just a couple of battles, you’d have a useful bunch of a mid to upper mid tier meatshields on your hands. The idea that he’s holding them back by staying high level is ridunkululous.

Speaking of the evil slave driver… it’s too much of a rant subject with not enough returns, so I won’t go into detail, but basically, we have a bunch of drama because some noobs are literally too stupid to quit his sweatshop guild.

But putting all these aside, Log Horizon’s not too bad. So we had the opening eps, the “I don’t know anything about Western style MMOs” mini arc and we’re currently in a fairly interesting arc where the main dude is trying to create an ideal society. To do so, he’s going to need funds. To start with, he’s going to need… five… MILLION gold.

Yes, this is where you LAUGH. It’s like he’s Dr. Evil and game inflation hasn’t caught up with him yet. Let’s face it, nothing short of 500 million is even going to sound like something you can’t scrape out in most games.

But back to non-ranting, it sounds like he’s going to be a dick in order to achieve a civil society. I hope that’s the way they’re going, but even if it’s not, the anime’s decent for what it is. A lil’ angsty and preachy with some moe thrown in (not too much, thank god), but the author’s grasp of SOME MMORPG elements make it a lot less “Are you fucking idiots!?”-inducing than the likes of other shows with the same premise.

If you’re not watching Kill la Kill, Samurai Flamenco, Butt Biting Bug, Adventure Time, Regular Show, China Il, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Teen Titans Go, Teekyu, Yowamushi Pedal, Pretty Cure, Kamen Rider Gaim, Cartoon Hangover shorts and you’re still waiting for the Doctor Who 50th Anniversery Special and the new MLP season, then yeah, give Log Horizon a watch.

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. November 19, 2013 2:10 AM

    It should be added that this post was done by updatedude and not Landon. My thoughts do not reflect his or Mecha Guignol’s, except they do, because we’re all sheeple drones to one another.

  2. adol permalink
    November 19, 2013 4:18 AM

    I really don’t understand what the fuck you’re trying to say? Is the anime good or not?

  3. cr0w permalink
    November 19, 2013 1:13 PM

    I’m pretty sure there are rules for the teacher system. For example, you won’t gain XP in this mode or you can’t bring the enemies’ HP under ‘X’.

    Btw, escaping from Hamelin is not as easy as you think.

    • November 19, 2013 9:33 PM

      The Teacher System doesn’t really make sense, since the episode contradicts the potential explainations for it.

      The show says that the reason Shiro levelled down was so he wouldn’t attract powerful mobs. But this doesn’t make sense as he could have just taken the noobs to an area where only low level mobs spawn (like where they fought those weasel monsters). As a level 90, Shiro could have destroyed those level 27 mobs alone, thereby instantly raising the levels of the noobs.

      So, perhaps the game doesn’t scale? Like, low level guys would still only get a low amount of experience even if they fought high level mobs? But then that doesn’t jive with the whole idea that there are guilds who are trying to reach the new level 100 cap by fighting high level mobs.

      Another possible explanation is if the game doesn’t have experience points and levels, but that’s obviously not the case as that’s the focus of the plot right now. Yet another possible explanation is that Elder Tales is highly unforgiving to noobs, but again, that doesn’t jive with what we’ve seen, as the game developers go so far as to give noobs and lower mid-tiers free experience/stat buffs in the form of EXP Pots.

      And speaking of EXP Pots, that’s totally another abusable system.

      I like the show so far and I don’t really mind the inconsistencies. I just like to nitpick.

  4. December 1, 2013 5:46 AM

    I played with mostly friends list people more than guild people back when Guild Wars was actively played. Guilds tend to not have a great collection of good players and those with a lot of personality. They just sorta know each other from tribe mentality.

  5. December 1, 2013 5:51 AM

    Yeah, Log Horizon put way too much credit on Guilds is what I’m sayin’. People gaming with friends and high levels is common in actual MMOs, whereas Log Horizon tried to make it seem like something super awesome special.

  6. horakris permalink
    February 8, 2014 8:38 PM

    The ting about the teacher system is that you are ignoring the system by which exp is awarded and aggro is pulled. The show pretty much shows several times that in this world that Aggro is a function tied to level and that big levels scare away small mobs. and major attacks attract alot of attention so taking noobs out to a big area doesn’t matter because they cant cause any real damage so they get no real reward.

    The teacher system makes alot of sense. it levels everything down and does not allow you to keep your high level skills. you are limited in hp and mana and do not gain exp. You are simply allowed to keep your high level equipment. it was likly implemented as a way fr guilds to help their noobs level up get all the exp and be able to battle with them without taking away the aggro. all so the noobs can learn to handle encounters. There is also the concept that exp is probably awarded by amount of damage caused by the group vrs the mount of damage caused by the individual. This is very common in asian mmorgs Hamlin isnt hunting for levels they are hunting for raw materials. the administrators of hamlin also made the rules of the guild hall so that the kids couldn’t really use any magics to defend themselves or use spells to escape. the world became very literal for them they cant just leave by leavin the guild, they have to physically leave guild house and the door itself isn’t unlocked all the time. and there fore can be restrained paralyzed or killed and physically moved back from the cathedral to the guild house where they cant leave. you also seem to selectively ignore that they can feel real pain. As far as the importance on guilds you seem to gloss over the fact that when it was a game the guild were a way to jus have fun. where as now that everything is ‘real’ the guilds are a power structure. these people have now adapted their frame of mind that this is a new reality and they have a goal. they were trying to reach the next level before anyone else. it gave hem purpose. So now they are abusing low level characters for the exp potions and using them as labor to increase their own standing in the new world they are apart of. Also i guess you don play many asian MMOs cause their raids arent designed to be easy. Most asian MMO raids are just meat grinders. you need dozens of people and with party limits, also common in asian mmos, you usually have to be in a guild just to communicate in game. i remember the first time Onyxia was one manned. it was a big fucking deal in wow. people lost their shit about it. and towards the end of Onyxia popularity it was common for people at high levels to just breeze through it. also you as operating under the assumption that they were all really high level playing as friends on hard raids. Which is understandable in western MMOs most raids are level limited. This world makes it clear that there are no level restrictions and that anyone can go on a raid. and the legendary fact was that they were probably doing it as a pug with barely capable levels with a group of people all behaving in tandem because of shiroes ability to lead a group. its also a little satirical of western mmos. when this was written, the fan based novel log horizon was based on, WOW was the big dog and more or less people were doing the same guild elitism and people were being abused. used as pugs and kicked before the boss was killed so they wouldn’t get any exp or loot drops. denied access to groups because there as no real group finding system. people chose to let you play with them or not.

    • February 8, 2014 9:16 PM

      Hmm, some of what you say makes sense. I would agree with them.

      Bear in mind however, that when I made the original post, I only had the info available at the time. Checking up on my facts, I mentioned in the first sentence that at the time of the post being made, we were only up to episode 7. The kids didn’t make their escape until episode 9. Up to that point, we didn’t know how powerful the owner of a building was. Nor was the idea that causing pain (but not attacking), being a non-violation of PVP rules, confirmed.

      Now, I’m not going to go into the teacher system debate, because while I agree with your opinion on both the intention of the teacher system as well as how aggro/pulling apparently works in Elder Tales, I still think that the characters behaviour/actions were contradictory. But we’ll leave it at that.

      The thing is, Elder Tales is apparently an immensely broken game. We now know that it’s a very old game, so the fact that it’s broken makes sense. But that’s not info we would know at the time this blog post was made. And even then, there are inconsistencies (which, for the sake of entertainment, I’m willing to suspend my disbelief).

      tl;dr, I respect your opinions and some of what you said make sense, but you really should have read the first sentence of the blog post.

  7. Brent Bullock permalink
    February 18, 2014 12:22 AM

    What the author and others don’t seem to understand is this anime, to me at least, appears to adhear to the older mmo generation. If you just started playing an MMO recently (say since WoW) then most of these concepts such as guilds, raids etc won’t seem to “special” to you. However if you played MMOs as it was starting out, even if you started with say Everquest, those concepts were “legendary”. Guilds were looked up too, players made names for themselves that were known throughout the server and some even the game itself. Completing certain Raids, especially doing so with just a group of players was incredible. I’ve watched up to the recent episode 20 now and can’t wait for Saturday to come around! The last few episodes showcasing new players and there dungeon trainings, reminded me of the first dungeon I entered. Not knowing wtf i was doing, how to work in a party, pulling patrols, running back to the zone entrence etc etc. Its been great remembering those days of the early MMO experience.

    Obviously this is just my opinion and how i view this series as it currently stands. Others who don’t know what it was like back in the day will view it quite differently, or those that just see things differently and don’t even make that connection :) Anyway I’m loving it and can’t wait for more!

    • February 18, 2014 1:49 AM

      Man, people really need to start reading the first sentence of this post.

      No offense to you Brent, I appreciate that you’ve taken the time to write out a detailed and generally well thought out comment that shares your personal experiences. Like you, I too enjoy Log Horizon and look forward to it every week. Although personally, the parts I like best are the political bits.

      That said, the first sentence of the post states that the post was written after having only watched up to episode 7 of the show. That’s still a long way from when the kids went on their training mission. At that point, a lot of information was not yet revealed. At the time, the direction of the show was more akin to a post-Zombie Apocalypse situation, where the characters needed to learn how to survive in a new world and establish a functional society.

      It’s not because we’re not gamers or MMOers. In fact, the inconsistencies became notable BECAUSE we’ve got a gaming background. After all, we didn’t know Elder Tales is a super old game till far into the series. So waaaay back in episode 7, it seemed like it was a new game (due to it’s myriad of features) that was trying to be “old school” at the same time. It actually makes more sense now that we know it’s an old game. Because now it can be argued that it’s an “old school” game that had a lot of updates tagged on, and a bunch of the new features were simply not well balanced.

      But again, unlike the Doctor, we’re relegated to experiencing time in the right order. So at the time of the original post going up, none of this was known.

      • Brent Bullock permalink
        February 18, 2014 3:56 AM

        Hmm, seems you missed my point a bit there. My main point was that unless you played MMOs in the early days, you would not understand the feeling of the series from the get go. Meaning for me personally, because I started playing MMOs during that begining period, from the very first episode i understood exactly what they were going for. I knew that Elder Tales was an older game, and that they were going for that feeling.

        I read your first sentence, and yes I understand that you wrote this review or opinion from your experience thru ep 1-7. However if you read thru my post again, you’ll notice that i touched on a few aspects that, in your post, you called “ludicrous” and “retarded” I probably should have made my opinion of the “training” session episodes a seperate paragraph and not bundled with the rest. So I’ll go over it again just quickly tho:

        Let me refer you to the section ragarding the Debauchery Tea Party. You said “See? If you’re a gamer, the above description sounds ludicrous.” Now as i tried to relay and apparently failed to do so on my part lol was that if your viewing that party as a gamer who did not play mmos during that period, i gave Everquest as one example, then yes it would appear ludicrous. But if you have been playing MMOs for say 15yrs or so, you would understand how epic and legendary the accomplishment of that party was. Even more so because they were NOT part of a guild.

        Now lets look at the second comment that i tried to refer too, regarding the “teacher system.” Again you said “Again, see? If you’re a gamer, the above description’s utterly retarded.” So again for me because i understood that this was an old game the anime was portraying, i also understood, and I’m sure others did as well, that what he did was charitable and was rarely done. Again lets take Everquest as an example, it was one of the first games to implement that system, and if you played EQ you would know just how rarely it was used. When you lowered your level to help out friends or just random players, yes you kept the gear you were wearing, but your stats reduced and the exp gained was garbage as well as any potential loot when taking your actual lvl into account. Also you touched on the “evil slave driver” and stated that he should have just killed everything at his current level or takein the noobs to higher lvl mobs and killed those would have “jumped” the noobs in levels. That again is not the case, having a higher level player in your party greatly reduced your exp gained, to the point where it was almost non existent. Which is why we used the teacher system even tho for the higher lvl player there was no gain for it. Since stats were reduced to that level and spells that are above the level you lowered yourself too were also unusable, it was rarely used :)

        And then of course there’s your comment regarding the 5million gold. Not gonna go into that too much, just again in those days 1000g was an incredible amount of money for one person to have. 5million?? no way lol

        But again this is all considering, you were both a player who was into MMOs 15+ years ago, and understood that, that is exactly what the auther was portraying. And i was mearly pointing out that if your of the newer generation, like i believe the OP is, then you would not understand the anime very well, at least until things were explained a bit more. Even then you wouldn’t understand some aspects, like how certain guilds were revered, and veteran players etc etc etc.

        Anyway, for me it’s an amazing anime because i played during that period and it brings up great memories :) And even so, if your a newer gamer, it’s still a great anime lol

  8. February 18, 2014 6:57 AM

    I wouldn’t be surprised if I used the word “retarded” and whatnot. That’s the cool thing about Mecha Guignol, we can be intentionally offensive and revel in hyperbole. I generally try to be civil in comments, using passive aggression rather than outright aggression, but all bets are off for posts.

    Bottom line is, I’m glad you enjoy the show. I do too. But duuude, relaaax. There’s no need to dissect every word or phrase. I mean, we’re not 4chan here.

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