March 09, 2015

Log Horizon: 47 Episodes

...and it's STILL full of win.

Best Kunoichi
First a bit of background,. We have been remiss in blogging on this series due in part to schedule craziness and connectivity issues, but here is a quick Readers Digest rundown of what developed in the previous four episodes, which has been a three ring circus....

Apologies for the wall of text, spoiler tags don't allow for formatting at the moment.

Episode 47 begins with Shiro reading the letter from Roe-2, but then it shifts gears quickly and, despite a somewhat meandering focus, it advances both the characterizations and the plot.Heck, not even the presence of cake could detract from the enjoyability of this story.

Amongst  Akatsuki's new abilities...chibi power.

One thing that was cool in this episode was that after some previous episodes of character focus which involved a lot of angst and neurosis for Akatsuki, she seems much more at ease. She's unlocked several new abilities as well, but Akitsuki is not just odd and awkward...It's clear that she's playfully trolling people at this point and thoroughly enjoying herself.

Shiro and several members of the Round Table spend a good chunk of the episode comparing notes on the Djin/Geniuses...the new monsters that have been ambling into Akihabara. There is a neat flashback to a recent battle that the local Chamber of Commerce had with one of these beings. It is easy to forget that the business owners are also high level adventurers who just like the second life aspects of the game. Nevertheless, it was a difficult fight and they only won because Roderick was able to forge a new magical widget...
"YES! One Ruler to Measure Them All" 

There was a bit silliness in the episode as they bounced around between various characters doing little slice of life vignettes. 

It was particularly nice to see some further confirmation that Nyanta is not, in fact a creeper (despite Serrara's ardent hopes) but has taken it upon himself to be a father figure to the kids.

The young are resilient...It's the adults who are going mad

This episode is a bit of a divergence from the previous episodes in that it  tables the political threats our heroes have been dealing with and eventually focuses on the one big that has been largely handwaved thus far...How did they get here?

There is a discussion where the many aspects of crazy that are involved in their situation are discussed.....
It is confirmed that this was (as seemed to be the case) NOT a VR game but a contemporary MMPORPG. The rules of physics are arbitrarily and inconsistently changed to allow the magic seen in the game. The scenario makes no sense whatsoever...

There is a clue in what some of the monsters said before being defeated. They were trying to get "empathions".

"I think it's like protoculture, but with a more oaky bouquet."  

This leaves our heroes with nothing except the vague notion that there is some intelligence that did this to them...and one other thing...scarcely worth mentioning.

There are three, possibly four episodes left in which to botch this, but at this point I am at the edge of my seat. This show isn't getting a lot of love, but I am enjoying it thoroughly. 

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 10:47 PM | Comments (21) | Add Comment
Post contains 112 words, total size 9 kb.

1 Yes!!! Finally somebody I can talk about the show and not spoil!!!

Everything we've seen about the empathions seems to indicate that they are some kind of mental energy, possibly produced by emotions or having feelings for others (the marriage Genius) and possibly produced by adventurer memories (the Moon thing).

OTOH, in a universe where physical laws are different, it may be something that's only tangentially related. That might explain why it's supposed to be okay to harvest in areas where the intelligences are not particularly high level, but harvesting from high level intelligences (like adventurers) is forbidden by the aliens' law.

I want Akiba to build a magic spaceship! If there's anything that would stir up the adventurers with acedia, spaceship building should be it! Of course, getting it done while still protecting the city and keeping an eye on Plant Hwyaden won't be easy. But it would be pretty darned amusing if an adventurer space race ensued.

The more we see of Nyanta, the more admirable he becomes. And for being such a showy character, he's always a model of both Japanese reserve and Western chivalrous behavior. His discussion with Serara was remarkably well done, as he managed to be encouraging for her future in general without raising any false hopes in particular. But we have seen some new hints that he's missing people back home and just not advertising it. What a guy!

I am really glad that the Minori love interest plot has been toned down so much this half of the season, and that the writers have made it fairly clear that Minori has adjusted her expectations somewhat.

Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at Tue Mar 10 09:25:02 2015 (ZJVQ5)

2 So that's 42 songs, plus the pop songs introduced by Isuzu, plus the one she wrote?

A lot of people online seem to have disliked that plot. I disagreed, and thought it was moving and interesting. Possibly there are nuances I wasn't getting, but I thought it was an interesting exploration of being a bard, as well as the way our society tends to denigrate people doing music even at home if they aren't instant virtuosi.

(Witness the nasty remarks about Isuzu's voice actress, who was plainly someone who knew how to sing but was deliberately singing in a breathy, unsupported way to simulate inexperience. I don't even know how she managed to sing ever so slightly off key - not even flat or sharp enough to count, something like a quartertone off in just a few places. Maybe the voice actress sings traditional Japanese tonal music, or maybe she's just a good mimic, but it was a really good simulation of someone with solid instrumentals and not-so-solid vocal skills. Which is a fairly common situation in amateur music.)

There were also some who thought Isuzu was upset out of nowhere, but I think that was just a function of how disturbing it is to have Isuzu go off the rails. She's such a supportive and cheerful girl most of the time that people forgot she might have her own concealed issues. Apparently a passion for music without the skill level she expects of herself is her biggest issue, and now she has had to confront it head on.

The thing is, self-criticism is important, but music is also one of those gifts which are not given primarily for one's own enjoyment and use. Music exists primarily to be heard and enjoyed by other people, and it is more important that they get something out of it than that you feel satisfied with yourself. So sometimes, it's more important to do your best right now than to wait for perfection that may never happen. In a world where people have been deprived of more than just a little slice of music, even a half-baked amateur has an obligation to spread beauty.

I am a bit surprised that we haven't explicitly heard of Isuzu spreading this info to every bard in the city, and everybody who can whistle. The game-style physical laws probably make her kind of stuff difficult to do, but it would be worth some effort.

I also liked the way Rudy got some new respect from Isuzu. You can only do retriever jokes so long, and he's a great guy with hidden depths.

Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at Tue Mar 10 09:46:26 2015 (ZJVQ5)

3 The town may have been larger because of the large number of low-level players who had to pass that way, back in the game days, and the large amount of money they would spend. It sounds like the magic bag quest was usually something you went after at a very low level, because everybody needed to have the expansion slots for equipment. The town may also have featured a lot of side areas for minor quests.

I do think the pacing was off in the town wyvern attack episodes. But they had a lot to put in. I do kinda wish they'd let Tohya just come out and say, "You are freaking amateurs at suffering, and I'll tell you my story straight out, and then I'll tell you when you have a right to despair." I honestly don't think the Odyssey Knights were in any condition to understand his Japanese-style implication speech, or they were deliberately trying not to hear.

The discussion between Minori and Roe-2: Yeah, that could have been better staged, but convincing a high level experienced player to help was a perfectly good use of Minori's support role, at least at the beginning of the battle. I did see some commentary about the questions Roe-2 asked being references to some kind of known philosophical theory about the common good, but I didn't really get it. Obviously something more popular in Japan than here.

Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at Tue Mar 10 10:04:57 2015 (ZJVQ5)

4 I was totally wrong about the intelligences. I was so sure they were just fragments of AI for the game that had come alive, because of the farmbot that had come alive.

Even assuming that the aliens have the power to go from universe to universe, ripping open space/time and possibly causing havoc, I don't see how they inadvertently dragged in the adventurers. I guess we need to stay tuned for that.

Of course, it would be pretty funny if it turns out that going from world to world across universes is just traveling from computer game to computer game, a la Reboot.

Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at Tue Mar 10 10:12:14 2015 (ZJVQ5)

5 The revelation that there have only been 40-odd songs was a pretty startling one. I don't get the rage at Isuzu's reaction, which was completely appropriate, especially given her love of music. I thought it was really neat (and kind of creepy). I suspect that part of that reaction had to do with the realization that the amazing response they were getting was not necessarily a reflection of the band's skill, as it was joy to hear something new("in the kingdom of the blind and all that") which probably stung her pride a addition to the gut punch which that whole revelation entailed. There is just so much in that little side's really just a few lines of flavor text that she sulks over for a bit while the main story is happening,but it adds a ton of depth.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at Tue Mar 10 11:12:53 2015 (ohzj1)

6 That's a good point about the gut punch about her performance skill... although really, the band was pretty good, and fresh entertainment is always welcome in a medieval-level economy. But OTOH, there's no sweeter sound to a songwriter than other people singing your stuff! So it evened out in the end.

I actually thought they were going to have Isuzu creating a bardic teaching/overskill, because logically a brand new song in that milieu might have serious god-level power. But if that's where they're going, they're not there yet.

In the light novel, I think they mentioned that most people who play bard characters just let the computer play for them, and so Isuzu is still one of the few bard adventurers who actually plays her instrument, instead of using bardic powers to do it. I suspect this would change big-time once people knew more.

Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at Tue Mar 10 11:52:12 2015 (ZJVQ5)

7 RE: the marriage genius-it's strongly implied that the women who vanished before Harem Fantasy Inc, West Wind took the beast out are....gone. Where is unclear, were they married off, rendered for their 'empathions'...what? The side story with Kanami's group being referenced in flashback (where the monsters that were eating people were revealed to be djin) indicates that this is a serious threat.
RE: Empathions-I think you're right that this has something to do with the memory fragments lost during the 'resurrection' process. Roe-2 mentioning that she's decided they are all class 3 and therefore 'entitled to their world's resources'  would seem to solve the problem...but it seems that the harvesters did not get the memo. Does this mean that Roe-2 is not being listened to? Is rogue? 
RE: Unfortunate Implications- yeah I'm glad they backed off of that. I agree completely that the conversation with Nyanta really hit it out of the park. 
With regard to Tohya's speech, his personal backstory wouldn't have moved the Odyssey Knights...the thing is that he is freed here, he has regained what he lost in the 'real world'. The guy who is trying to return to his fiance' has received no corresponding perk...just loss. I suspect that many of the less well adjusted were casual gamers who were conventionally successful in Japan. The only appeal to them is one of responsibility, and they were simply too far gone to be moved by that. 

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at Tue Mar 10 11:54:53 2015 (ohzj1)

8 Well, I dunno. I think I'd be shamed to know that a little kid was able to stick out bad stuff for years, with no end in sight, whereas someone who was practically a grown man couldn't stand being a little bit lonesome and got suicidal.

But of course, refusing to feel appropriate shame is a pretty standard way to portray villainy in Japanese shows, and here in the US, it happens in real life a lot these days.

Of course, I think the show would have been a little bit easier on the selfish suicidal mode, if the Odyssey Knights hadn't also decided that even if the People of the Land were real, it was okay to get them killed and destroy their town as part of the suicide quest.

OTOH, I think it's also fair to say that the Knights got so crazy (in part) because they didn't go for any feedback from the larger adventurer community in the cities, or accept/seek any feedback from the People of the Land. I don't blame them for not wanting to do Plant Hwyaden, but they easily could have gone to Akiba for help, recruited more knights, etc.

Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at Tue Mar 10 12:58:44 2015 (ZJVQ5)

9 Man, do I feel sorry for that guy's fiancee. If he gets back, he'll probably have lost himself all memory of her and his family, as well as having transformed himself into a really nasty piece of work with a giant sense of entitlement.

Sorry for the wall o' text. I'm getting my friend to catch up on Log Horizon this week, but she is still more than half a season behind.

Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at Tue Mar 10 13:30:41 2015 (ZJVQ5)

10 In context, Roe2's comment about how the Odyssey Knights "were generously donating empathions" makes quite a bit of sense...

So, question... given the opportunity, which of the main cast would go home? I'd say "Nyanta" but, well... he's kind of a hard-core role-player and he's in his role, so maybe not? The only other main cast member that I think would have any chance of going would be Minori.

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at Tue Mar 10 13:47:17 2015 (a38fD)

11 If you hold the shift key down and hit "enter" twice inside a spoiler tag, that gives you a new paragraph. (In HTML terms it gives you two "breaks" instead of closing a paragraph and starting another, and breaks don't... break the spoiler mechanism.)

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at Tue Mar 10 14:30:43 2015 (+rSRq)

12 Let's try that out with some off topic, but useful information.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at Tue Mar 10 15:03:14 2015 (ohzj1)

W0ot! Thanks Steven!
"Got any fixes for "being stuck in China?"

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at Tue Mar 10 15:13:47 2015 (ohzj1)

14 Sure, you just swim across the Sea of Japan, like Ranma did.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at Tue Mar 10 17:57:17 2015 (+rSRq)

15 (Of course, you have to be a girl or a panda to do that, like Ranma and her father would have been. After all, the Sea of Japan is cold water.)

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at Tue Mar 10 17:59:40 2015 (+rSRq)

16 To take a stab at Avatar's question...I think the obvious one would be

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at Tue Mar 10 20:11:33 2015 (ohzj1)

17 Re: the spoilerific:

All things considered, you could argue that spoilerperson is the most well-balanced adventurer whom we have met, given the exceptional challenge being faced with great cheerfulness.

Naotsugu probably does well wherever he is, although apparently he doesn't get quite as much salary back home as his talents would seem to warrant.

OTOH, people like Shiroe and Akatsuki, or Marie and Henrietta, or the West Wind crew, seem to having much more fun and doing much more good in Akiba. They get to make full use of their talents. Of course, returning to the real world would now mean having a much larger pool of friends and acquaintances and allies. (Henrietta would probably want to get a bunch of people hired, and might start her own business now that she's done it once already.)

Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at Wed Mar 11 12:25:04 2015 (ZJVQ5)

18 The real question is, how does this work out with respect to the Plant folks?

Obviously if you open the door home you'd have to be careful not to have the Odyssey gang trample each other going through it. On top of that, how does that affect people like Londark? It neatly eliminates his moral justification - if you want to get home, then you go home, but if you don't want to, you can't blame the world for subjecting you to it any longer; in essence you have to take responsibility for your morals from the perspective of the world as a real world. (Well, to the extent that you did in the first place; plenty of people go through real life with the thought that they don't owe the world anything to begin with, so it's not beyond the pale that some of them would take the same outlook into the game...)

It's not likely to sap Akihabara's strength much because that moral issue doesn't really exist - the people who are the base of Akihabara's strength are there because they're fully engaging the world on its own terms already.

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at Wed Mar 11 17:59:06 2015 (zJsIy)

19 A lot of the Plant people are apparently out for power, so they probably wouldn't mind much if a large proportion of Adventurer good guys went home without them. OTOH, they might oppose being made to go home and let the People of the Land work things out. Also, it's pretty clear that some of the new magic is pretty bad, yet many of the People of the Land are totally okay with oppressing their fellows with it.

Still, the siren song of the Internet would incessantly haunt even some of the worst villains. Facebook and cat videos are a drug that you can only access on one planet.

Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at Thu Mar 12 15:27:01 2015 (ZJVQ5)

20 I'm just frustrated that they haven't done anything with Crusty this season. Every now and again, someone says, "Oh yeah, Crusty's still gone isn't he? What's up with that?"

And that's it.  

I feel like I'm watching Homer Simpson pitch the character of Poochie:  "When Crusty's off the screen, someone should ask, 'Where's Crusty?'"

Though he'll probably be on the moon, along with So-And-So's arm.

Posted by: wahsatchmo at Thu Mar 19 11:32:18 2015 (r4uXE)

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