Log Horizon: The Larks Take Flight

By Mamare Touno and Kazuhiro Hara. Released in Japan by Enterbrain. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Taylor Engel.

After spending the 6th book with Akatsuki and the other women of Akiba, and the 7th book with Shiroe and Naotsugu and their heist movie, this book continues the trend by turning to the rest of Log Horizon, the junior members. And for the most part it succeeds admirably, not only telling a good story and going into greater depth about what it really means to be trapped in a game, but also giving added depth to four out of the five main characters. (Apologies to Serara, but you still haven’t risen much above the level of a moeblob.) This goes doube for Isuzu, who has the biggest picture on the cover and arguably grows the most throughout the book, as she tries to overcome her amazingly huge amounts of self-loathing and realize that she can go past her limits and do something to save the People of the Earth.

Much of this book goes into greater depth about the People of the Earth; how they live their day-to-day lives, what life is like now that the adventurers are inventing so many amazing things (many of which the adventurers regard as commonplace or unimportant), and how they react to a girl going around singing music they’ve never heard before. Isuzu not only thinks that she’s a crappy musician (thanks to something her father told her, which we later learn she may have misinterpreted, and seeing her father’s own skills) but also that what’s she’s doing now isn’t even her skill as she only plays cover songs. It’s up to her not-boyfriend Rundelhaus (who is amazing in this book, and is about ten times more serious than the anime) to tell her the truth: this world only had 42 songs – the 42 pieces of BGM for the Elder Tales game. ‘Music’ and ‘the forty-two’ literally mean the same thing to them. So Isuzu really is changing lives. And when she finally begins to sing a song she composed herself, well, she cam move mountains. Or at least buildings.

Meanwhile, Touya and Minori are not left out. They’re both dealing with growing up as well, Minori trying to be the team strategist and thinking on her feet, and Touya by essentially being the team heart, and being able to see the true feelings behind a faked smile. We also get two new characters… well, sort of new. Roe2 is clearly related to Shiroe in some way, to the point that I was a bit aggravated that no one observed “isn’t that just Shiroe with breasts?” when they first saw her. As for Dariella, the book keeps her identity a secret till the very end (the complete opposite of the anime, which showed who she was from the start), and in retrospect you can see and feel a little bad for who she is and what she’s trying to escape. And for those who like a darker flavor to her Log Horizon books, we get the Odysseia Knights, who seems to have been driven half-mad by being trapped in the game, unlike Akiba’s “welp” sort of player, and Mizufa, a warrior who is a Person of the Earth, but just as terrifying as any adventurer.

It’s rare that I, a spoilerholic, say “I don’t want to spoil more”, but it’s true. This book is a delight, with many passages you’ll want to go back and reread immediately, and has Log Horizon’s usual depth of worldbuilding and characterization. I love Sword Art Online too, but if you’re going to read only one trapped in a game light novel, this should be the one.

Also, Isuzu says she sang a “Snoopy” cover to the People of the Earth, which makes me think it has to be “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron” by the Royal Guardsmen. It even works well with lute, drums and keyboard!

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