The Winter 2021 Preview Guide
Log Horizon: Destruction of the Round Table
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Log Horizon: Destruction of the Round Table ?
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What is this?
It's been a year since Shiroe and his friends were trapped in Akiba due to the Catastrophe. Their forging of the Round Table has brought order and prosperity to its people. But fracturing political alliances and the constant menace of the Genius monsters threaten to destabilize all they've fought for and built. Can faith be restored and they persevere, or is its destruction truly inevitable?
How was the first episode?
All good things must come to an end. Fortunately, that's no longer the case for Log Horizon as a whole; five years after season two aired, season three is back to pick up the story. But, as the subtitle of this season indicates, it is the end of the Round Table Conference, the group Shiroe put together out of the leaders of major Akiba guilds back when everyone was first trapped in what had previously been a game. That was, in game time, a little under a year ago, and as things have evolved in Akiba and the surrounding world, different people and guilds have begun to move in differing directions.
It's the disappearance of Krusty that seems to have really pushed things over the edge. As D.D.D.'s leader, his absence reshaped people's perceptions of the guild, if not the actual guild itself, and no one is feeling that more keenly than Honesty's leader Eins. He's the one who begins the dissolution of the Round Table, first with his frustration, and later at the end of the episode by making what looks like a change of allegiance, from the Adventurers to the People of the Land. Those two groups don't have to be mutually exclusive (and in fact Shiroe has been working for them not to be), but Eins' decision to become more firmly affiliated with the Cowen family could have major consequences for the Adventurers anyway.
Not that it's easy to just blame Eins for what he's done. His anger and frustration are actually really understandable: Honesty was in charge of figuring out the Fairy Rings (a teleportation device) and they've made exactly zero progress. Eins feels like he was dealt a losing hand, and he's also focused on that almost to the exclusion of all else, so while other guilds were building up their savings and leveling their lower members, Honesty has been more or less left in the same position they started from. Eins thought that the Round Table would function as a governing body that could provide more assistance to his guild, a miscommunication that is only rectified in this episode, when Shiroe tells (reminds?) him that that was never the intention and that the missing Krusty was never the absolute leader of the Table. Too many things have piled up on Eins' shoulders, and that pushes him into making a decision that makes sense in the moment.
The counter-balance here may become Reyneshia (yep, another spelling of her name), whose mother Sarariya pays her a visit to tell her that her marriage has been arranged – and will take place very soon. Of all of the People of the Land, Reyneshia is one of the two whose lives have changed the most from meeting the Adventurers (Rudy, absent this episode, is the other), and for her that means that she's no longer the apathetic princess she began as. Reyneshia has found purpose and friends in Akiba, and Akatsuki confirms that we weren't reading too much into it if we thought in previous seasons that she had a crush on Krusty. The threat of a looming marriage that she really doesn't want (even if she can't quite admit it) may be enough to shake Reyneshia's loyalty to her family – and if she refuses the marriage and allies more fully with the Adventurers, that could have interesting implications for Akiba as a whole.
It does look like we'll get at least some of what's going on with Krusty (volume eleven of the light novels) based on the opening theme, and that's likely to be very important. It's his absence, which may or may not be the same thing that's happened to thirty-odd other Adventurers, that's driving things more than the whole moon plotline right now. I just hope that when we get there the martenfolk are as cute as they sound in the book.
Count this as the second sequel anime I never thought I'd see. Between this and World Trigger, I'm really curious what confluence led to two series last seen in 2015 to suddenly make a comeback after years of silence. And much like that other return, I hope you did your homework because this new season of Log Horizon is only giving you the slightest of training wheels before diving into its next story arc.
And in classic Log Horizon fashion, this is almost a purely political conflict this time around. If the subtitle of this season wasn't a clue, things aren't going well for the Round Table, the autonomous committee formed to help structure Akihabara's Adventurers and Guilds. Specifically Eins, the rarely-relevant leader of “Honesty”, is straining with growing disgruntlement in his own guild and the Round Table's resistance to helping him with it. Meanwhile – and seemingly unrelated at first – is Raynesia's impending marriage to an aristocrat, which she's none too happy about even if she won't admit she's crushing on the still-absent Crusty.
That setup amounts to most of this premiere, unfortunately. Log Horizon was never a mile-a-minute series, but after a six-year absence it's seemingly returning at its most laborious point, with only the promise that the fascinating game-world building and engaging MMO raids will return at some point. That said, it's still pretty nice to see all these characters back, exactly how they were before. Shiroe is still a nervous nerd who's only in his element when planning out RPG encounters. Akatsuki may actually be even shorter than previously believed. Everyone's favorite Looney Toon idol Tetra is still The Best. And by god there's something nostalgic and comforting about that. So even if this season isn't off the to most engrossing start, it's just nice to have this odd, quirky show back in business. Also give Nyanta more screen time, right meow.
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