Time to answer the question not many are asking. What happened to Log Horizon? Why has this once popular and entertaining anime turned into a boring sideshow? Well, the obvious initial answer would be that it took too long to air. It’s been nearly seven years, what did you expect? ‘Even so’, you might say, ‘that does not mean that it has to be bad’ and you would be right. Besides, Log Horizon has some fans left despite all these years. Yes but having fans does not amount to much if no effort is made into making a compelling show.
Before we get started, a disclaimer is in order. I have been looking forward to the continuation of the story ever since the end of the second season all those years ago. I went into this new season completely aware of the fact that I have a biased opinion. I was honestly rooting for Log Horizon to be just as good as it was seven years ago. I was also prepared to overlook any faults it would have. This may have been nostalgia taking over but either way, the point is that Log Horizon had more than a fair chance to win me over once again. But it didn’t.
The main issue is an obvious one. The last season aired such a long time ago. Let us assume that you are an avid anime enthusiast and that you watch not all but some of the anime that come out each season. By that reasoning, you would have watched a wide variety of different anime in the meantime. Most may have been forgettable, some bad and others may have even become your new favourites. Where has Log Horizon been through all that? Nowhere. An obvious point to make, I know, but still a big one. Of course, if you were like me and found Log Horizon entertaining when it aired, then you might ask: Why complain about the return of an anime that most of us had given up on? Is this not a good thing? Why the nagging? Well, returning does not do it any good if it’s not very… good. On the contrary, it might ruin it. It might be better for an anime to get no extra season than having a mediocre continuation that would hurt its ‘legacy’ so to speak. Hearing its title during heated otaku whining outbursts about long forgotten anime would be less annoying. Moral of the story: better quit while you’re ahead.
The long delay was especially detrimental to an anime like Log Horizon that has many characters, names, places, developments and -let’s face it- not a lot of action. Its main elements are city management, diplomacy, strategy and the like. All of that can be a fair bit more attention demanding than a simple fist fight. It stands to reason then that you need to have some sort of momentum to keep the engines going. When I say ‘engines’ I’m talking about our brains and their ability to retain information. There is no longer any momentum. It stands to reason then that you would have to put in some effort and regain it before starting to lay any new info thick like you’re frosting cake. Unfortunately, that’s not how this season started. We just simply continued from where we left off. No warm up or anything. Might have worked for other anime but in this case it was a bit ambitious to say the least. Perhaps there should have been a disclaimer urging us to rewatch the previous seasons first before this one. Otherwise you might need a little time to get reacquainted with all that is happening. Certainly it does not help that the current arc is not a terribly exciting one to put it mildly. In theory, or at least if we are going by the title of the season, it should not be that bad. The Destruction of the Round Table and what not. However, it has just been a boring start to a season. We are mostly dealing with the insecurities and oh so cliché betrothal of a princess -who let’s face it is at best a side character- and a weird power struggle that is even less exciting than real life politics. After waiting for seven years, it would be an understatement to say that what we are looking forward to are not side characters or even new characters but the characters that made us fans of the series in the first place. All in all, not a good start.
I haven’t watched all the episodes yet despite it getting better after the sixth or seventh one. Truth be told, I lost interest. Can you blame me? Have you noticed what came out this season? Attack on Titan, That Time I got Reincarnated as a Slime 2, Mushoku Tensei, Dr. Stone: Stone Wars, Quintessential Quintaplets 2 and co. With all these great anime why bother with Log Horizon? Nonetheless, I will eventually watch the thing. I am a fan after all, how could I not? I still want to know how the story will unfold but will I look forward to a fourth season? Probably not. It’s not hard to tell that this anime was made with the simple thought process that fans will watch it no matter what. Not a wrong assumption but still not enough to make a good anime.
In the interest of fairness, we have to consider that long awaited sequels rarely -if ever- satisfy any and all expectations. Perhaps it’s not Log Horizon that has changed; it’s us instead or something like that. But I doubt it. Although unreasonable expectations are not a rare occurrence, in this case Log Horizon simply failed to deliver a proper sequel. This season should have been treated as an opportunity to reintroduce the series and recapture our interest, not just continue the story like nothing has happened. It simply did not bother to do that.
What happened to Log Horizon then? Took too long to air, had a boring first arc, underutilized its comeback and opted to highlight characters that are either secondary, tertiary or new while ignoring those we’ve been eagerly expecting to see again. As a fan, there is obviously some joy found in experiencing more of the world that once intrigued me but in the end, being a fan is not enough. Especially during the winter 2021 anime season.