Log Horizon Season 2
After an impressive debut, the second season of Log Horizon was released. In case you are not fully aware, Log Horizon is an anime based on a story of people stuck in a virtual world looking for a way back to reality. While they overcome this, they have no choice but to inhabit this world as it becomes their new reality. Coming into season 2, they would have been trapped in this game world for a whole year.
How world building explains the issues we struggle with in society
As the players begin to come to terms with this virtual reality, the story in the first two seasons has focused a lot on world building. This is an insightful thing to watch unravel as I believe it indirectly tells a story of how the real world has been constructed around us. Shiroe (the main protagonist) spends a lot of time trying to implement changes via the Round Table Alliance in order to recreate real life in the Yamato server – and in some cases make improvements. Throughout the story we see Shiroe & co struggle against the same issues found in the world today within the Yamato server.
Anime is for both children and young adults alike. This remains true for Log Horizon. But on top of that, I recommend this anime especially to be watched by young people not only for entertainment purposes. Because the story slowly reveals the foundations of our society, by addressing complex societal issues such as inequality, community, civil conflict and social integration without the jargon associated with business, law and politics. By seeing life through the eyes of Shiroe and his comrades you gain insight into how the big issues in society have come about and how we should deal with it.
I have picked out a few touched on within this season of Log Horizon and how we can relate it back to real life.
The Round Table Discussion
It was this Round Table Discussion that prompted me to write this blog. It was a debate between the guild leaders on how to deal with the rise of inequality. You had merchants, businessmen and other powerful guilds refusing to give away any of the wealth while others were trying to find a way to help the poor. They didn’t come to a conclusion but the debate itself raised very important questions. The same questions we still ask ourselves today.
I recommend you watch it. This will be Season 2 episode 17 where the discussion would happen around – 12:00 – 15:10 mark.
And just in case, here’s the full transcript:
Eins of Honesty: A major gap is quickly developing here in Akihabara. Those who can develop new or go hunting in the fields are getting richer and richer. And those who can’t are spending the small amount of money they make just to live.
Michitaka of Oceanic Systems: That again?
Rodrick of The Rodrick Firm: What are you saying is the cause of this gap?
Eins of Honesty: People learning Teachings and the development of new items by crafters
Soujiro of West Wind Brigade: Why are the Teachings a problem? Anyone can get them if they work hard.
Eins: That isn’t the issue. The large guilds are using their manpower to expand their businesses. We should work to prevent anyone from establishing a monopoly.
Woodstock W: That’s quite the accusation. Honesty’s no different, in terms of scale.
Eins: We don’t do that. And we haven’t gained any Teachings. The Teachings that each guild has learned should be made public. Same with crafting recipes-
Michitaka: Hey! That’s going too far.
Charasin of 8th Shopping District: That’s right. Since the Apocalypse, making items has been a process of trial and error…
Rodrick: The ramen, soup, figures, the custom carriages. Each represents a huge time investment by a craftsman.
Soujiro: The Teachings can only be used by the person who gained them, so even if we make them public, there’s no point.
Eins: I see. Then why don’t we confiscate any bank accounts above 80,000 gold, and redistribute it to adventurers with the fewest assets? That would help the income gap.
Issac of The Black Sword Knights: That’s insane. The money, the Teachings, the recipes… They all belong to the people who worked hard to get them. If we take them, it’d be a huge deal. You know that don’t you?
Eins: But there are people who can’t adapt to this society. Are we just going to abandon them?
Maryelle of the Cresent Moon Alliance: That’s why we’ve been holding all these events, to try and make it easier for people to participate, I thought…
Eins: That arrogance just keeps them further away.
Maryelle: I w-wasn’t trying to be like that. I Just…
Isaac: If we give these people money and recipes, will they start working hard and happily?
Eins: Well… But we cannot just leave them.
Charasin: If you force people to publicise their crafting recipes, that would hurt engineers’ motivation.
Michitaka: Whenever you’re making a recipe, it’s a lot of hard work before it’s done.
Being able to breakdown down the relationship between businesses and society in a short conversation is greater feat than many would appreciate. Another area that caught my attention that becomes more apparent as you watch the series is the poor fortune of those unable to adapt to the game world.
The people that get left behind
A year after the Apocalypse, many adventurers have failed to adapt to this world. This is something that’s happening right now, where science and technological innovations are moving at neck-breaking speeds. It is the elderly who are being left behind as they are disillusioned by the technology gadgets that dominate our lives. In the UK, the welfare state is facing vast cuts putting the poor and unemployed in a difficult situation. Depending on what side of the fence you are, you may say that’s just the way it is, others may be more sympathetic.
This trend of minorities being left behind through the ages will continue which leaves us with a very simple decision to make. To quote Eins of Honesty “Are we just going to abandon them?”
Immigrants in a Virtual World
There was a scene where the People of the Land were disappointed in the Odssedey Knights after a monster invasion and were seen to say “They were useless. Well, they are just adventurers”. Rudy as a former People of the Land knew of this negative perception and tried to shield his comrades from this but was unable to. Discrimination, stereotyping, prejudice and such are common issues in communities where there is high immigration and multiculturalism. The adventurers are and will continue to deal with the fact they are foreigners in a game world, seeing how they address this is one of the many elements the story will delve further into.
I respect the author’s attempt to break down systematic issues subtly for the younger audiences who watch the series. The more the story develops and the characters adapt to the mechanics of this new reality, the more we will realise the main mechanics of society itself. Hopefully by the end of this series, Shiroe will find a way to create a society that fair and prosperous then maybe we can take important lessons from the successes of Log Horizon and apply it to the reality of our own.