Log Horizon: Homesteading the Noosphere

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

At last, after four volumes that focused separately on various groups and their growth and development, everyone is back together and ready to deal with fresh new problems. Which is good, as there are quite a few fresh new problems. Westlande is about to go to war with Eastal, and the adventurers are caught up in the middle of things. They have to defend the young crown prince, Raynesia’s little brother, from assassination attacks. They’re being attackied by killer moths that put people into a deep sleep. Shiroe is feeling that he’s inadequate for the job (well, OK, that’s more a leitmotif for the entire series, as Akatsuki and Minori both point out). And, perhaps worst of all, due to various screwups in real life, will there ever be a Log Horizon Book 11? Yes, as it turns out, but we were wondering for a while there.

Shiroe’s inadequacies are part of a larger theme in this book of growing up and becoming an adult, and what that means to various people. For Serara, much as I might not like it, that means getting stronger so that Nyanta might notice her in a romantic way. (To Nyanta’s credit, his interest is still zero.) For Minori, it’s realizing that her feelings for Shiroe AREN’T romantic, and that they’re more a function of who she is and how she handles situations. For Isaac, it’s simply living from day to day, not really thinking deeply about things, and watching all the idiots around him. And then there’s Shiroe. He has to deal with Roe2’s letter, which goes into much greater detail about what sort of world they’re trapped in, and that it’s not just a weird “we’re caught in the actual game” thing. He has to think about how to get back home, and whether some people WANT to get back home. Nazuna describes him at one point as a “wimp”, and that’s true, but when he calms down and stops his self-loathing barrage, he can also be brilliant.

Towards the end of the book they find a sort of radio transmitter, which makes contact with Kanami and company, who are still making their way slowly to Japan, and who seem to have a surprise new member in their party. As I noted in the last book, it’s hard to focus on Kanami as a character as she’s designed to be “perfect”. As such, she instinctually comes up with the idea that Shiroe and the rest couldn’t – instead of thinking about how to get back home, think about how to connect the two worlds, so they can come and go as they please. For Kanami, this is simply because she wants to show her three-year-old daughter back on Earth the wonders of this land. For Shiroe and company, it’s a revelation – they can try to have their cake and eat it too.

There’s lots of other things that Log Horizon fans will enjoy in this book – the fights, as usual, are well-written but rely a bit too much on gaming terminology for me to really get deeply into them. At least I get some more Naotsugu/Marielle ship tease, which is nice. There are also a few appendices showing amusing and informative background on several things (Log Horizon is one of the few print-only series left from Yen On – it’s print-only in Japan too – and the appendices would certainly be a pain to convert.) As I indicated above, for various reasons (search Anime News Network for the author’s name if you’re curious), there was a huge gap between Book 10 and 11, which likely means we won’t see 11 for a while. But it’s coming out in Japan soon, and will answer a question many have been wondering: what’s Krusty been up to?

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