Log Horizon 2
Episode 15

by Nick Creamer,

Log Horizon often likes to set pairs of narratives against each other, with one generally involving Shiroe's larger-scale narrative and the other sticking close to the lower-level characters. In keeping with that pattern, this week's episode introduced a quest for minori's group to likely be set against the greater conflict implied last week, with a particular focus on Isuzu's identity problems. We caught up with Isuzu, Rudy and the rest of their friends, learned about their quest go find the Magic Bag, and sent them off on their journey.

I shouldn't have really expected Log Horizon to maintain the energetic pacing of last week's self-contained adventure, but this episode was about as far in the other direction as you could get. It was a “fun with friends” episode, moving the plot only a tiny way forward and instead focusing on lots of character moments and silly gags. Fortunately, those character moments and gags were pretty good, with Isuzu's material in particular being a highlight. Her opening song was a nicely intimate moment, and the internal conflict the rest of the episode laid out fell smartly in line with one of Log Horizon's central themes.

As with Shiroe and Akatsuki before, Isuzu's conflict here is the first time we've seen her reflecting on her life prior to the apocalypse, and what we learn is that though she's from a musically inclined family, she has no real faith in her own gifts. She plays music because she enjoys it and because it makes people happy, not because she's got great natural talent or a strong drive. Her insecurity about her musician identity points back to one of Log Horizon's earliest thematic threads - the need to find a sense of identity and purpose within the world of Elder Tale. Shiroe realized from the very beginning that because life is so “easy” here (in that your base survival needs are simple to fulfill), one of the first issues Elder Tale society will face is finding a reason to live beyond simply surviving. Isuzu's “this instrument gave me the drive to keep going” offers her own answer to that question, and it seems likely that her coming to terms with simply working as a musician because it's fulfilling for her will be one of the larger threads of the story to come.

Beyond Isuzu specifically, the overall thrust of this “find the ingredients for the Magic Bag” quest point to one of Log Horizon's other consistent refrains. The quest itself is a pretty meaningless conflict in the larger scheme, and I get the feeling that further sequences will drag in comparison to the much more exciting Shiroe-Kanami-Nureha plot, but the way Shiroe frames it makes it clear that this is a continuation of the “self-determination” refrain that began with Tohya and minori's initial escape from captivity. I'm not sure if this narrative will actually have anything new to say on the topic, given we've already addressed it both with the Tohya-minori narrative and also with Lenessia's narrative, but it's something to look out for.

But all that thematic analysis kind of overstates the case of an episode that was really about stuff like Rudy making dumb jokes about his hair and Serara hyperventilating over Nyanta (I don't know if it's because of her ridiculous winter outfit or what, but Serara's Nyanta fantasies somehow seem to get better every time). It was essentially default slice-of-life Log Horizon - no missteps, no highlights, just the first step in what looks to be a pretty mellow adventure.

Rating: B

Log Horizon 2 is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Nick writes about anime, storytelling, and the meaning of life at Wrong Every Time.

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