by 橙乃 ままれ (Mamare Touno)
Author: 橙乃 ままれ (Mamare Touno)
Genre: light novel, isekai, video game, fantasy
Great for: Advanced (JLPT N2~N1+)
Length: 343 pages
Amazon Japan (Kindle): ログ・ホライズン
Bookwalker Japan: ログ・ホライズン
あらすじ ・ Japanese Synopsis (from Bookwalker)
English Synopsis (from Amazon)
Thirty thousand Japanese gamers awake one day to discover that the fantasy world of Elder Tales, an MMORPG that was formerly their collective hobby, has become their cold hard reality. Severed from their everyday lives, they confront a new horizon filled with ravenous monsters, flavorless food, and the inability to die! Amid the chaos, veteran gamer Shiroe gathers his friends, the guardian Naotsugu and the assassin Akatsuki, and together they embark on an adventure to change the world as they know it!
Why You Should Read ログ・ホライズン
I really like (author)’s take on fantasy novels. He uses them as tools to discuss complex systems and how humans interact with them. In Log Horizon the theme is all about how to build a functioning society in a fantasy world. (He also wrote まおゆう魔王勇者 (Maou to Yuusha), which is all about bring peace to demons and humans through improving the economy. It’s one discussion on macroeconomics in a fantasy world.)
Log Horizon is an isekai/stuck in a video game fantasy light novel that came out during the early era of the modern isekai/stuck in a video game fantasy light novels. This makes it troupe-ee but not too troupe-ee.
If you’ve never seen the anime, Log Horizon is about a large population of players of an online MMORPG getting stuck in the game. Or possibly transported to another world. They’re not sure. I really liked the fact that no one’s sure what happened or whether they’re in a game or another world. Too often in light novels the explanation is given right away, thereby removing all mystery from the story.
The story (in the first volume at least) delves into the characters getting used to the new world they’re in. As well as getting used to their new bodies and e-learning how to fight without when not staring at a screen.
The main character is likeable (of course everyone likes him) but he has his faults. He’s incredibly smart but not all powerful like most light novel protagonists. As a support character he needs other people while also having social anxiety, which creates an interesting dynamic.
If you’ve seen the anime then you already know all this. Which is actually a huge detriment to the novel. If you’ve seen the anime there’s not much point reading the first volume of Log Horizon because you know everything already. (Actually there might not be much point reading the first few volumes.)
Episodes 1 to 4 of the anime summarizes everything from the novel nicely. Chapters 1-2 are episode 1 of the anime, with each other chapter getting its own episode.
If you’ve never seen the anime before and want a new fantasy light novel, then I would suggest trying Log Horizon.
As an exercise in practicing your Japanese however…
Why Japanese Learners Should Read ログ・ホライズン
Log Horizon is both an easy and challenging read for Japanese language learners.
On the one hand the overall story is not complicated at all. Even if there are complex system in the world (e.g the different player classes) this information is also repeated numerous times throughout the story. This is great for practicing reading about the same complicated ideas. If you’ve seen the anime then you already easily imagine the story happening on the pages.
On the other hand, (author) likes to use fancy fantasy terminology, making the vocabulary level suitable for roughly JLPT N1+ learners. (Or people who really want to learn fancy fantasy words!) This is not a light novel I was recommend for people just starting to read Japanese novels.
Log Horizon has a great overall story that I was excited to get stuck into. But the first volume is, I admit, very slow. The first 225 pages are world building and info dumps, making it a very dull read at times. An affliction most fantasy light novels suffer from.
Unlike most fantasy light novels, however, it actually seems like (author) has a plan for the plot. Hints for future plot points and foreshadowing is sprinkled throughout this novel. And although not much of it is addressed in the first volume, it might be enough to keep you interested in future volumes.
I’m honestly torn about whether I want to continue this series. On the one hand I want to find out what happens beyond the anime. On the other hand, it feels like it might be long grind.
But with the advanced vocabulary and kanji, Log Horizon is a good for N2~N1+ vocabulary/kanji. And it’s a great challenge for people who are interested in reading fantasy novels in Japanese.
You can test read the novel on Bookwalker here!
Other Japanese Light Novels
5 Japanese Light Novels for JLPT N3 Level Learners
Light Novel Comedy「はめふら」(Bakarina)