While the concept of anime series’ set inside MMO style games is nothing new, the two that everybody tends to debate the supremacy of are usually Sword Art Online and Log Horizon. Both of these shows are based on light novels rather than manga, so have a slightly different feel from standard Shounen anime, and are based around characters who have found themselves playing their favorite MMORPG for real. Both Sword Art Online and Log Horizon have been through two seasons and look likely to be extended with third seasons continuing their adaptations of the novels. However, reception for season 2 of Sword Art Online was lukewarm at best.
Here, we take a look at the reasons why Log Horizon is the better of the two shows and tends to win out in viewers’ hearts and minds as we wait for the next things to get addicted to on our TVs and online.
A Better Cast
The first thing that makes Log Horizon better than Sword Art Online is the depth and quality of the cast. While Sword Art Online is essentially just about the protagonist Kirito and to a lesser degree his love interests (and the growth from this being just Asuna to a more harem style arrangement is something of an annoyance to many fans), Log Horizon has a whole host of characters who all go off and do things independently of main protagonist Shiroe. The characters also seem more well rounded. One of the problems in Sword Art Online is that Kirito seems very much like a generic ‘Mary Sue’ type hero, and Asuna’s character isn’t consistent at all – she begins the show as a mysterious loner then becomes a tough fighter, then a kind of housewife style personality (and all at the age of 15!). Log Horizon has much more consistent and well developed people in its roles.
Some people find Log Horizon’s Nyanta, a person who in real life is a man we know little about but in the world within the game of Elder Tale is a very wise cat person, a bit annoying because he ‘meows’ (or, if you watch it in Japanese, says ‘nyan’) at the end of all his sentences. These people are all wrong and Nyanta is great.
Nobody usually thinks trade agreements are exciting as far as plot goes (which is one of the many reasons why Star Wars Episode II was terrible), but Log Horizon actually makes the political issues that would affect a world like this interesting. In Sword Art Online, little is discussed about how things would go in terms of generally organizing the body of people (because in Sword Art Online we only really see what affects Kirito anyway), but this is an area of the settings that is worth exploring – something Log Horizon does a lot of.
While both shows really do have their plus points, and Sword Art Online certainly wins on art style, Log Horizon feels much more complete as an experience and is the one that the next installment of will probably be most hotly anticipated by anime fans.