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!

Log Horizon: The Gold of the Kunie

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

Confession to make: I’m an extrovert. It’s actually been difficult for me to accept this, as most of my close friends are introverts, as are most of the people I interact with on Tumblr and the like. But much as I whine “but sometimes I don’t like interacting with others either”, there’s no getting around my extroverted nature. As such, I find Shiroe very frustrating and hard to take at times, and I empathized very much with Naotsugu in this book, who knows there’s not much he can do but be there for Shiroe and let him work things out at his own pace. Of course, Shirou is trying to pull off an even bigger scheme than usual – this is essentially the Log Horizon equivalent of a heist movie, only with the true objective not being piles and piles of money – well, not DIRECTLY. The true goal is freedom and security.

The majority of this book is a raid, and once again I am painfully reminded that I don’t game. More than any other light novel that details game-like aspects of a world, Log Horizon depends on its readers being gamers. This means there’s lots of discussions of balanced parties and of HP and MP and the like, to the point where we need extended appendixes just to discuss MORE of it. Thankfully, it’s not completely incomprehensible, and enough of it is written in standard action movie terms that I was never lost. But we’re not allowed to forget that the people trapped in this world are all hardcore gamers. This goes double for William Massachusetts (I will never get used to that name) and his guild Silver Sword, whose close bonds are a reflection of a group of people who found real-life interaction difficult but were able to find true bonds online – and also learn more about how to interact offline. His speech of anguished frustration is a highlight of the book.

There’s a new regular introduced here, and I’m not sure how I feel about them. Tetora is a self-proclaimed “idol” who also happens to be a Level 93 cleric, and for a while you suspect has been added to the book in order to replace Akatsuki as someone to bounce off Naotsugu properly. The gender reveal – that Tetora is actually a boy, though it’s not clear if they just dress as a girl or have a female game body – seems rather odd and last-minute, and I assume that we will get a bit more of this later beyond “I just like acting overly cutesy and annoying”. Interestingly, Taylor Engel uses female pronouns the entire book till the reveal, then has Shiroe switch to male ones. How does Tetora see her/his gender? To be honest, I found Tetora a bit grating, but that’s possibly as I’m a massive Naotsugu/Marielle shipper, and don’t want someone horning in on their slowly developing couplehood. Luckily, we see a bit of that relationship here as well.

There’s a bit more going on here that will impact future books – Krusty has vanished, and his lieutenant seems to have permanently lost her right arm. This likely ties into the “flavor text” from the previous volumes. But the majority of this volume had the same goal as the 6th did for Akatsuki – get Shiroe to open up, explain things, and stop trying to take the entire world on his shoulders. Whether that will stick is something we’ll have to see about in future books. In the meantime, next book we’ll focus on the younger members of Log Horizon again. This is a good, solid light novel series that may appeal to the reader who finds Sword Art Online a bit too outgoing.

Log Horizon: Lost Child of the Dawn

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

While Log Horizon is well known for its large cast, and has featured chunks showing us the viewpoint of other characters, there’s no doubt about the fact that Shiroe is the star of the series. He’s the planner, the blackmailer, the one who achieves things for the best. And yes, he also dithers and frets, mostly due to his non-outgoing nature. Still, we’ve become fairly comfortable that a new volume will have us getting inside his head again. But this volume shakes things up a bit, as Shiroe (along with Naotsugu, I assume) is away for the entire volume, off on a secret mission. And with Krusty and his group also away on a mission, Akihibara is, with the exception of the harem leader Soujiro, almost entirely female this time around. And that’s definitely a good thing.


The lost child in the title is Akatsuki, who gets the bulk of the narrative this volume. She’s still reeling from the revelations from the last volume, and the absence of Shiroe is not helping matters. Akatsuki is naturally shy and introverted, and even though gaming is, as she’s said, a way to be something that isn’t yourself, now that they’re actually IN the game, it’s still hard for her to interact with others. And that’s actually affecting her growth as an adventurer as well – she’s never done raids, and so hasn’t gotten any of the elite weapons and other loot that drop only during those group activities. She knows this, but can’t move past that wall she’s achieved, and it’s coming out as a giant pile of self-hatred. Fortunately, Shiroe has asked her to watch over Reynesia, as have several other guilds, which leads her to be forced to interact with others. Less fortunately, a murderer has come along to force her to change or die.

Of course, Log Horizon doesn’t have permanent death, but they do lose memories. And death also hurts. And, well, the idea of an unstoppable killer walking around at night is just scary. The climax is the best part of this book, as we get to see a lot of the characters we’ve come to know over the last few books (as well as some new ones, like Rieze, one of the subcommanders of Krusty’s group showing off their strengths and also showing off the character development for Akatsuki: you need to be able to ask for help, and you need to be able to accept that help from others. Akatsuki learns that, and is rewarded by being the one who gets to deliver the final blow (as well as a really cool new sword, which is nice as well.) Meanwhile, Reynesia is busy learning the opposite message: sometimes you can’t push things off onto others, but you have to take responsibility yourself. She’s maturing into an excellent leader.

Those who watch the anime of this series may be a little startled. Not only is it only the Akatsuki plot, with Shiroe absent, but the anime added a lot of comedy and a lot of extra scenes (the book ends very abruptly with the end of the murderer – the anime expands on the mentioned pajama party afterwards). But that’s the benefit of different mediums. Those who enjoy Log Horizon’s action and drama but feel that sometimes it’s a bit TOO light-hearted can revel in the angst-ridden monologues many of the characters have here, most of which didn’t make it to the screen. I think next time we’ll find out what’s up with Shiroe and have a book from his perspective, minus the Akihibara crew. But for now let’s rejoice with Akatsuki.