Starting up another manga series this week, as I take a look at the currently ongoing Log Horizon manga.
Title: Log Horizon – Volume 1
Story by Mamare Touno
Art by Kazuhiro Hara
Supervision by Shoji Masuda
Translation by Taylor Engel
Lettering by Brandn Blakeslee and Lys Blakeslee
Available from Amazon.com
The latest expansion to the MMORPG Elder Tale, titled “Homesteading the Noosphere” has lead to the game’s players being trapped in the game’s world, in their avatars. Among these is Shiroe the Enchanter, Naotsugu the Warrior, and Akatsuki the Assassin, respectively.
When one of the members of the Crescent Moon Alliance, a guild run by one of Shiroe’s friends, ends up trapped in Susukino when the game’s teleports game down during the “Apocalypse”, Shiroe’s party heads on a rescue mission.
The series makes the small but significant twist on the “Trapped in an MMO” concept by eliminating the “Die in the game, you die for real” aspect of the plot. By eliminating this, the narrative focus can shift away from the life-or-death struggle to the social, political, and economic elements of life in the game world. This is exemplified very well by the fact that at this point in the story, food made using the crafting system doesn’t taste like anything, making eating unsatisfying and lowering the morale of everyone in the game world. Additionally, there’s a slight narrative bit with Akatsuki’s player being female, while her character is male, leading to her needing assistance from Shiroe in getting a potion that lets her change her appearance to reflect her actual gender and body type.
This opening bit of the plot, with Akatsuki being the wrong gender has some missed potential in terms of using a Science Fiction framework to discuss transgender issues.
Also, social order degenerates in the game world really goddamn fast after the Apocalypse. I’d like to think that even if social order was going to collapse, it’d take a little more time to happen.
Emotional Response: 4/6
In total, Log Horizon Volume 1 gets 33 out of 42.