By Kathleen Townsend
Log Horizon: Destruction of the Round Table has officially begun…but what if you haven’t started the series yet?
Well, with 50 episodes spanning two seasons and a debut almost a decade ago, we figured we’d get you started or help you catch up. Plus, the full first season of Log Horizon is now streaming subbed and dubbed on Funimation!
As always, we’ve got you covered. You might remember it as the series that started the isekai boom with Sword Art Online. Welcome to your beginner’s guide to the database, to Elder Tales and to the hit Log Horizon.
What is Elder Tales?
Like many isekai series, Log Horizon begins with humans (thousands, in this case) getting trapped inside a video game they’re playing.
The game in question is Elder Tales—a game that’s been around for over 10 years and was in the middle of an update for its 12th expansion pack when everyone who was logged in found themselves physically transported to Theldesia, the world of Elder Tales.
Theldesia is populated with the hallmarks of fantasy—Goblins, Griffons, Half-Alv and Demi-Humans. The map is also based off of Earth, albeit with some differently named continents. For those trapped, that might seem like an advantage!
What is the Apocalypse?
When the latest expansion of Elder Tales released, the 30,000 people on the server now found themselves trapped. Players (known also as Adventurers) refer to this situation as “the Apocalypse.”
Not only did these players get trapped in Theldesia, but other mainstays of the game began changing, too. Flavor text attached to items now had a very real effect on the world, and physically performing skills is a bit more taxing than just hitting buttons in a menu.
Oh, and characters mentioned in the lore now exist. Yeah, they’re basically real at this point, and the changes continue to snowball from there.
Who are the characters of Log Horizon?
With plenty of guilds, Adventurers and People of the Land, Log Horizon has a stacked cast of players (now stuck in the bodies of their avatars), NPCs and more.
Our protagonist is Shiroe, an Enchanter and Scribe who’s determined to remain guildless, though he later forms the Log Horizon guild with a few of his old raiding buddies.
Shiroe is a master strategist, both on the battlefield and in inter-political matters. His Overskill allows him to form contracts that break the laws of the original game. Now that’s helpful.
But Shiroe’s friends are also key players in the series. There’s Nyan-ta, a Cat-Man Swashbuckler and Chef, who figures out that those with the cooking skill can make some fantastic dishes, basically changing food culture in the game forever.
Then there’s Akatsuki, an Assassin who has dedicated herself to protecting Shiroe as his ninja; Naotsugu, a Guardian and one of Shiroe’s oldest friends who happened to log in just before the Apocalypse; and siblings Toya and Minori, lower-level players who look up to Shiroe.
And there are other guilds outside of Log Horizon that play prominent roles as well. The Elf, Marielle, runs the Crescent Moon Alliance, and provides invaluable assistance to Shiroe and friends. Her second-in-command is Henrietta, a master negotiator trained by her skills as an accountant in the real world.
Then there are the People of the Land, who have a very important role to play. We’ll dig into them in a second, but we’ve got to cover Princess Rayneshia El Arte Cowen. Though lazy by self-admission, she serves as the liaison between Akiba and Maihama, the region ruled by her grandfather.
Who are the People of the Land?
Most video games have NPCs, or non-player characters, and Elder Tales is no different. Here, they’re known as the People of the Land—the original denizens of Theldesia.
This group is well aware of Adventurers. After all, they’re the ones who fulfill quests that they’re programmed to put out. But unlike players (with some coin and experience), these NPCs cannot resurrect. Once they die, they’re gone for good.
The People of the Land have their own kingdoms, customs and culture. With the addition of so many Adventurers creating their own cities, they now have new issues to handle, too.
Trade and alliances need to be negotiated, and the rapid influx of new foods and technology, as well as different cultures, threatens long-standing norms and stability. Can they trust the immense power of the Adventurers?
How does the guild system work?
If you’ve played an MMO before, chances are you’re well aware of guilds, groups where players band together and work toward common goals. In Elder Tales, things are pretty similar.
Some guilds operate just how they did before the Apocalypse, with players just falling into their roles. But other guilds are newer, formed after everyone was transported. That’s where Log Horizon fits in.
Twelve guilds have also banded together in their own right thanks to Shiroe, forming the Round Table. Their goal? Improve the world and the lives of everyone in it, increasing security in a world full of lawbreaking Adventurers.
Who are the villains of Log Horizon?
It’s not an MMORPG without some bad guys, right? Raid bosses, monsters like Wyverns and Eternal Moths, and plenty of mobs roam the lands of Log Horizon.
In pure fantasy fashion, there are Goblins, of course, who crown a new king every two weeks and trigger an in-game event. But with an influx of real Humans in the game and sociopolitical issues rising up, the People of the Land haven’t been able to put out any quests to quell the event.
Yep, you guessed it, goblin tribes are uniting and storming across the world! Beyond that, there are also plenty of individuals that pose a massive threat to Log Horizon, like player killers. These are players who take out other players outside of the game’s safe zones.
Demicas and his guild Brigandia are one such group, dead set on killing any Adventurers they find outside of city limits, thus trapping the players in one specific area.
And, of course, the People of the Land aren’t always good guys that need saving, either. Take Enbart, for example, a member of the Royal Guard protecting Akiba, who bears a Cursed sword.
When the flavor text starts to impact items in this new, real world, his sword begins to corrupt him, and now there’s a serial killer on the loose. That escalated quickly…
Convince me to watch Log Horizon!
Look, let’s be honest. We know there’s a lot of isekai out there. So what’s so special about this one?
Absolutely nothing captures the gameplay loop of MMOs and video games quite like Log Horizon. Game mechanics and the consequences of being transported to this world play an enormous part in the plot. And have we mentioned the killer music, from Season 1’s “Database” to the battle score and even the latest OP, which you can watch below?
Everything from clashing cultures to server issues to bot players that farm gold, gaming is in full display here, just with the consequences multiplied by a thousand. It’s a deeply adventurous story packed with lovable characters, tight humor and a whole world to explore.