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Ah, the trials, tribulations and triumphs of the adorably awesome assassin Akatsuki[1]. 🙂

Akatsuki

In my final review of Log Horizon S1 I commented that Akatsuki was, in essence, a Broken Bird hiding her damage behind the role playing façade of the loyal ninja. As of episode 8 Akihabara Raid those problems haven’t been fully revealed, let alone fully healed, but Akatsuki has grown immensely.

Starting at around episode 4 Shattered Wings, Log Horizon S2 started beating on Akatsuki’s hidden wounds in about the worst ways imaginable for her: by making her fail.

It is only in the aftermath of that failure that those who cared about Akatsuki could help her. Only then were they able to reach Akatsuki with the help they wanted to give her. Possibly the most important example being Nazuna teaching Akatsuki to use her smaller size[2] to advantage against larger opponents.

It is in accepting that help, and her own weakness, that Akatsuki grows into a much stronger person[3].

I really don’t want to spoil this arc too much, but Akihabara Raid is a fabulous payoff to it, and leaves me wanting more Akatsuki screen time[4].

Speaking of the adorable Akatsuki (the ED starts about 11 seconds in):

The Growth of the World

As with S1, Log Horizon is developing and expanding the world of the Elder Tales.

The world is visibly, and physically expanding. A world that was half the size of Earth may be growing back to full size. At the same time the accepted truths of the world are changing.

Previously the flavour text for magic items, locations, etc was just that: flavour. Now the flavour text is becoming real, and starting to affect the world in measurable ways.

This gave rise to a genuine “OH CRAP” moment at the end of episode 6 A Lost Child at Dawn, and was major influence on the villain in the Akatsuki plot line[5].

This cuts both ways however, and can be manipulated by adventurers to their own advantage… particularly if the flavour text can be rewritten by a talented smith. Fortunately this is a smith willing to give Akatsuki a very shiny new toy right when she needs it, and possibly one that Shiroe will be needing later.

Too many plotlines

Possibly the biggest issue with S2 is the plethora of plotlines that the show has to deal with. Shiroe is off doing [SPOILER DELETED], there’s the [SPOILER DELETED] with Crusty, Minori and the kids have been sent off somewhere, there’s been big trouble in little Akihabara[6], episode one Shiroe of the Northern Lands hinted at the return of the Debauchery Tea Party[7].

Many of these plotlines have been no more than flagged, and tracking all of them at once would be a nightmare.

Fortunately the series has opted to focus on one at a time. This does make it possible for Log Horizon to tell, and finish, each story in turn. For example the last 5 episodes focussed on Akatsuki, and I suspect that the next several episodes will be focussed on Shiroe.

Apart from meaning less screen time for Akatsuki there are a couple of other problems with this approach. First is whether S2 will be able to build an overarching narrative from the component stories.

Second, and more concerning, is whether S2 will be able to fit all of the stories in. It’s taken 8 epsiodes to set up the season, and tell the first story. Is there room in the remaining 18 episodes to deal with the other stories and bind them together?

Maybe, maybe not. We’ll have to see but I do think this is a potential weakness in Log Horizon S2.

The Interim Verdict

I’m still enjoying Log Horizon a lot. The resolution of the Akatsuki storyline was fabulous and despite pacing concerns I’m looking forward to the next episodes. Still recommended, and I’ll probably write more at the next obvious break point.

Oh, and COUNTERACTION RISING!

[1] I have committed alliteration. Deal with it.

[2] This is something that Akatsuki is, or was, clearly sensitive about, and Nazuna handled it brilliantly in the training sequences.

[3] With shiny new toys. More on that later.

[4] Not that I’m going to get much for a while. See below.

[5] To quote Dream Park by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes: “I once had a sword or should I say it once had me”

[6] Yes I just went there. Besides at the rate the Log Horizon world is growing this probably the last time I can use that gag.

[7] Or at least of the former leader Kanami.