Log Horizon: Krusty, Tycoon Lord

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

It’s been a long time since the last volume of Log Horizon – almost a year. It may be even longer till the next volume as well, as there’s no sign of it in Japan. That said, this is a big volume for fans of the series, as it’s the first volume that has not actually been animated. As such, it will prove to be entirely new material. Appropriately, it focuses to a large degree on Kanami’s party, who were the subject of the 9th book (which was adapted the least by the anime), and have now reached the equivalent of Mongolia. But as you may have guessed by the title, the other major participant in this volume is Krusty, who is having memory issues but is not letting that stop him from living the easy life, as he’s essentially in the game equivalent of heaven being waited on by cute animal person servants. The book’s main thrust has a scheming villainess try to pit the two parties against each other.

The book mostly succeeds, but it is worth noting, once again, that there is a truly ridiculous amount of gaming chatter and discussion in these volumes, and that it can quickly get tedious, especially when you’re in the middle of a large battle. Classes, levels, aggro… I don’t really care. But someone cares, and that someone is Elias, who we get to know a lot more about in this book. From the last book, we know that he labors under a curse that means he never gets the last hit in – he can’t be the one to kill the monsters. Of course, since Log Horizon was a game, and he was one of the bigger NPCs, it makes sense. The players make the big kill. But here we see how this weighs heavily on him, and also how his party seems to have been broken, and possibly killed, simply by hinting at their very nature – Elias, throughout the book, seems to be shying away from thinking that he’s just an NPC in a game.

So it’s pretty easy to get him to go all out against Krusty, who’s perfectly happy to have people think he’s a villain if it gets him a good fight. We get a lot of Krusty’s own background from Earth here too, and it fits with his personality to a T. Krusty really can’t stop Elias, especially given he’s dealing with his own curse. Kanami is there to be Haruhi Suzumiya and not much else. I like her, but she’s completely at peace with everything about herself, so is terrible at this sort of thing. And Coppelia is still pretty much monotone. That leaves Leonardo, still a frog and not a turtle, to deliver the big verbal cooldown speech to Elias. I won’t spoil it, as it’s easily the best part of the book, and made me smile quite a bit. When Log Horizon isn’t pouring verbiage into its worldbuilding, it can be pretty heartwarming.

We’re almost entirely in ‘the China server’ this volume, with only one chapter back in Akiba to show us that Raynesia’s noble friends are all getting engaged, which I suspect means that an arranged marriage is in her future. Her noble friends also think she’s in a relationship with Krusty, which she’s not. In the next volume, whenever that may be, I suspect we’ll be headed back to Shiroe and company. Till then, enjoy this look at what it means to be “cursed”, and how to resolve it.

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?

Log Horizon: Go East, Kanami!

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

We continue our tour of the Elder Tales universe, with this volume not even taking place on the Japanese server for the most part. Instead we take a look at a group in Central Asia (Kazakhstan, to be precise) and their attempt to move slowly east so that they can swim to Japan (which seems ludicrous, but remember, adventurers). The reason to swim to Japan is quite a clever one: the whole disaster that caused the players to get caught in this world happened before the expansion pack had actually dropped… except in Japan, where they got it by virtue of the time zone. The group is led – sort of – by Kanami, a name that has come up quite often in previous books. The former de facto leader of the Debauchery Tea Party, she’s more a force of will than a leader. That said, it makes sense that of the main cast of this book, she actually gets the least attention – she has no character arc, being basically perfect.

No, instead, the main character for this book is Leonardo, who dresses like his favorite American hero, silly as it may seem, and says “Cowabunga” during desperate attacks. And is named Leonardo. But it’s OK, because this is a frog, not a turtle. Which makes this OK! Seriously, the mind reels at how much Touno wanted to use Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles here, and the serial numbers aren’t so much filed off as covered over with see-through tape. Leonardo is actually a New Yorker, which is refreshing, and we get a passable idea of what his life was like in the real world before this (he seems to be a computer nerd). Here, he’s a very competent assassin, though he’s still not quite invested in their current situation, and has trouble seeing the People of the Earth as anything but NPCs. A lot of this book is showing him the error of his ways, including a subtle romance with Coppelia, a girl with a mysterious past.

The Log Horizon anime did a good job of steadfastly putting each book on the screen… with the exception of this book, which got short shrift, getting only one episode devoted to it. As such, if anime fans wanted to know which one they had to buy to get more details, this is definitely the one. There is the usual endless discussion of game mechanics, far more than almost any other LN in a game world bothers to do, but there are also some very cool battles. And we get more insight into what exactly is happening, and how the People of the Earth and its denizens are reacting to it. Lastly, I was very amused by the occasional mention of the series’ big bad, Indicus, the smug maid who’s using Nureha as a puppet ruler. Every time she’s mentioned, it’s in a “My friends… and Zoidberg” way, showing that almost nobody can stand her. I expect a confrontation between her and Shiroe soon.

This volume didn’t blow me away like the previous one did, but it’s a rock-solid volume of Log Horizon, and fans of the anime will absolutely have to get it. And remember, this Leonardo likes SUSHI, not pizza.