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.