Let’s take a trip back in time to see how Shiroe ends up dying for the first time ever.
— At the start of this week’s episode, we get one big infodump on what raids are like in an MMO. Most decent raids, i.e. not the LFR nonsense in World of Warcraft, are designed such that your group will die a lot before they learn the fight. Sometimes, they are made far too difficult to prevent players from clearing the content too quickly. The most recent example of this might be found in Wildstar. I don’t expect the raids in Elder Tale to be any different, but who knows? Maybe they are. But let’s say they’re not. Let’s say these raids truly are difficult. After all, Shiroe supposedly died at the end of last week’s episode, and he’s kind of a Gary Stu. If a raid is hard enough to kick his ass, then it’s probably really, really hard. In any case, what makes raids particularly problematic for our heroes is that they risk losing their memories of the real world if they keep dying. So how do you learn these raid encounters? Like I’ve said, by design, you’re supposed to die a lot before you learn these fights.
— Shiroe: “The most important element is your willingness to trust your companions with your lives.” He makes it sound rather poetic, but from experience, it’s really not that dramatic. Tanks have to trust their healers and vice versa, I guess. But most DPS don’t really have to trust anyone, per se. You just gotta be able to do your rotation while dodging all the damage being thrown your way. You could argue that a DPS has to trust his or her tank to hold aggro, but these days, your tank would have to be pretty fucking shitty to lose aggro to a DPS. Either that or the DPS outgears the raid, but if that’s the case, then he shouldn’t be in the fight anyway. But I’m really going off-topic now…
— I truly hate the thing he does with his glasses. It is so dumb how often he does it.
— In any case, our hero travels all the way out to Susukino to look for people to join his raid. This includes the likes of Silver Sword and Brigandia, two guilds that haven’t exactly been Shiroe’s biggest fans. But apparently, Silver Sword has been keeping Brigandia in check, so Susukino is not so dangerous anymore.
— Oddly enough, William Massachusetts says he’s in without even giving Shiroe a chance to explain what he wants. They must be bored.
— Wasn’t Naotsugu a member of that Tea Party group? Shouldn’t he know what raids are all about? And yet, we see him here, marveling at the fact that the raid zone is full of high level monsters. Most of the raids are like that, man.
— I like how Shiroe even says how large the slimes are in diameter. Five meters long, bro! Five!
— Unfortunately, even Silver Sword has fallen on hard times. In the past six months, some people just weren’t good enough to raid, and the others flat-out retired. But what is there to do in this game if you retire?
— Is it the memory loss that has scared people off? No, apparently not. Rather, this is why people have quit raiding: “When you die, you learn a lot… That you suck, that you’re petty, that you’re lame.” Geez, seriously? I’ve raided before, and it’s never felt that way. This is one of my problems with a lot of these MMO-based anime. They tend to have rose-tinted glasses on, so they play every little thing up to make MMOs sound super amazing or important. In practice, however, it’s just not that big of a deal. Plus, I don’t see why it would suddenly become a big deal just because you’re stuck in the game. In fact, if I’m stuck in the game with nothing better to do, I feel like I’d be even more inclined to raid. I don’t raid right now because between work and Moe Sucks, I don’t have the time. But you bet your ass I would if I was literally trapped in an MMO.
— Before Shiroe can say anything, however, Demikas crashes the party. He and his giant shoulders look as ridiculous as ever.
— Those look like shorts…
— In any case, we meet Tetra, a self-proclaimed idol. If anything, one could say she’s trying too hard. That upside-down heart on her cheek is pretty tacky. But anyway, I guess this scene is important because not only is she a new character, Naotsugu recruits Tetra to be a part of the upcoming raid. Nevertheless, Log Horizon‘s comedy isn’t its strength.
— Back in the tavern, Demikas tries to give Shiroe shit, but William flexes his muscles and that pretty much put an end to that. But truth be told, this scene is pretty lame. It’s also a pretty good example of where Log Horizon often falters. The anime would have you believe that Shiroe is really getting under Demikas’s skin by deliberately messing up the guy’s name. But c’mon, nothing he says here is particularly clever. So instead, they make Demikas incredibly dumb just to make Shiroe look good. Still, what you essentially have are a bunch of shitty jokes and one roided out freakshow grunting over and over for minutes on end.
— Apparently, Demikas has a wife now or something. But uh, he kidnapped her so…
— Needless to say, they also recruit Demikas for the raid. Maybe that’s why Shiroe keeps harping on that trust thing at the start of the episode.
— So with the group of twenty-four assembled, everyone’s finally on their way to the raid encounter. Unfortunately, Tetra continues to dominate much of the screen time as she flirts with Naotsugu over and over. It’s getting kind of old. For some reason, however, Shiroe can’t help but giggle as he overhears their conversation. What’s up with that?
— We then have more talking as Naotsugu talks to Marielle. He just tells her stuff like who’s in the group, what they’re eating, how he hopes to be back in town by Christmas, and all that bullshit. Then I see Marielle assuring Henrietta that she isn’t goofing around! Ahhhh, man. I seriously thought I’d see a bit of that raid encounter this week. So much for that. Pacing problems continue to plague Log Horizon.
— Then just so we don’t forget she still exists, we cut to Akatsuki, whose current job is to act as Lenessia’s bodyguard. Even so, the two girls discuss the intricacies of pairing red bean buns with roasted green tea. ‘Cause y’see, the roasted green tea’s earthiness really complements the inherent sweetness of the red bean–… my god, the infodumping at the start of the episode wasn’t golden, but it was at least a hell of a lot better than the last couple of scenes. Please, I’m bored out of my fucking mind here.
— For some damn reason, Lenessia acts as though adventurers are a complete mystery to her just because Akatsuki prefers to drink roasted green tea. C’mon…
— After walking by a shady-looking dude, Akatsuki proceeds to tell us all about “powerful phantasm-level items,” how she has never raided so she has to buy her equipment, and how she can’t afford anything she wants. Riveting. I guess this is how the world ends…
— Finally, when we return to the raid group, they’ve finally reached the raid zone. Unfortunately, we’ve also reached the end of the episode, so we’ll just put an end to everything with Demikas swearing to fuck with Shiroe’s goals. Sweet!
— Log Horizon continues to be a complete hit-or-miss anime series. More often than not, it feels like a miss. Oh well.