Log Horizon: The West Wind Brigade, Vol. 1

By Mamare Touno and Koyuki. Released in Japan by Fujimi Shobo, serialization ongoing in the magazine Dragon Age. Released in North America by Yen Press.

Given that Log Horizon contains a huge cast with at least a dozen named guilds, set over a wide area, it is not particularly surprising that we’re seeing spinoffs about some of those guilds. This also allows the series to show the same events, such as the moment when everyone realized they were in the game, with different viewpoints, and see how crises are solved when the lead is not Shiroe. Most importantly, it also allows us to try out a different genre, as Shiroe, as a harem protagonist, fails miserably. Soujiro, meanwhile, is not only an excellent oblivious harem protagonist, but he even has a guild that has become famous as a “harem guild”.


In many ways this is played absolutely straight. The guild is almost entirely female, with the one non-Soujiro exception appearing to be a gay man (or is he trans? it’s unclear, and I doubt the manga will bother to get into that sort of thing anyway). The girls all have various feelings of love for Soujiro, none of which he acknowledges in the slightest, at least romantically – he’s the sort to charge in, say he will protect everyone, etc. the polar opposite of someone like Shirou, in fact. When they first discover they’re trapped in the game, we see his reaction, and it’s one of complete and total delight, contrasting with almost everyone else. As for the girls, the two that get the most attention are Isami, who is the cute girl with no confidence type, and Nazuna, who is the cool big sis type.

But I doubt readers are reading this for harem antics – or if they are, they’ll be disappointed. Where the series succeeds is in showing off new aspects of Elder Tales, or in giving us different perspectives on the same events. Sometimes this can be chilling – we see Touya and Minori getting taken into the Hamelin guild, with none of our heroes really seeming to notice the danger yet. There’s also a moment when Soujiro, defending his teammate against a guard who’s trying to dole out justice, is killed, and everyone has to frantically rush to the temple to see if they can be revived like they were before.

Mostly it’s what you’d want to see – a band of adventurers bonding like a family and looking out for each other. One of the maid NPCs, Sara, is fleshed out as well, and we see her perspective on things – these adventurers, who used to barely give them the time of day, are suddenly opening up and being friendly and rescuing them from attempted rape. (I am starting to get weary of the hints that attempted rape is rather common in this world, though I agree that this would be depressingly realistic. Thankfully, it is averted here.) If you enjoy Log Horizon and want to see a simpler, more shonen take on the world, this is a very good place to start.

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