I meant to watch five episodes to decide whether or not to watch more and now I'm sitting here on episode 15 and my fiance asked me to stop so we could watch it together.
Which I do intend to do just as soon as this episode is over but for the moment I'm just going to ramble a little bit about why Log Horizon is superior to Sword Art Online in every conceivable way. Needless to say, spoilers ahead, but only for the first 15 episodes of Log Horizon and like, the first season of Sword Art because I got two episodes into alfheim and just decided 'screw that'.
Anyway. Let me take a moment to start off with the protagonist.
Shiro and Kirito have a lot in common. Both of them are dark haired skinny boys. Girls tend to crush on them both a lot. They are both incredibly capable and revered in game. But Shiro actually works for me as a protagonist and the only circumstances I would ever give Sword Art another shot is if Kirito wasn't in it.
While Kirito is always put into these situations where he has to handle everything himself, and every time something bad happens he manifests a new power to handle it, Shiro is all built around making his companions shine. He is the definition of a support character and his skill lies in his strategy. Any time Shiro succeeds, it is with someone else succeeding. He sets his companions up to be awesome.
Honestly I think the best thing about how Shiro was handled was how little he is actually in the anime. He shows up, he does his chessmaster thing, he walks back off stage and lets the other characters have their moments.
Moving right along to the main female characters. Okay so Akatsuki isn't my favorite character, I'll admit it. She is exponentially better than Asuna, in terms of actually doing things that matter in the plot, but I'm still a little meh on her personality wise.
Like, Akatsuki is not just informed to be a badass. She actually is one. But she's so formal I just don't feel like I know her as a person. Like someone picked up the concept of "ninja follower", and didn't bother to do much else with her than that.
But she's prone to doing the angry chop, and she definitely pulls her weight. You don't see a whole lot of that because when she does it's usually invisible because Akatsuki is a very good ninja. And a lot of the other stuff that goes on with her involves people poking fun at how short she is or talking about how cute she is because she's short.
Asuna is...pretty much just a red-head that follows Kirito around. And she's pretty. And conveniently prepared to be threatened or abducted whenever Kirito needs to look good.
But the thing I'm the most keen on about Log Horizon is the world building. Whenever all that aincrad stuff happened (not going to lie I legitimately almost typed "darknia" because that's basically the world name backwards and the only reason why I remember it at all) I was like "Okay this is pretty but I don't care". But you actually get to see the maps of Elder Tale. It isn't a generic MMORPG, there are moments where you can tell this is actually somebody's fandom.
Places are lovingly rendered, the species in the world are explained well, the NPCs have their own structures and I just love how the way the PCs create things with their skills is reflected in the NPCs culture. The whole concept of player and NPC in a situation like this is gorgeous and I'm so happy to see it being explored like it should be.
It may be at least in part a situation where I love intrigue and am always going to want more of that, and am not so much a fan of random fight scenes. Well, random is somewhat uncharitable. The fight scenes didn't not make sense but you watch Sword Art Online if what you want is beautifully animated sword fights and not to have to think about the plot too much. Seriously don't think about it, you'll just make yourself hate it.
But Log Horizon. Log Horizon has some really legitimate points to make. I recommend it if you want intrigue, if you want to be put into a world building mood, or if you were just super disappointed in SAO and want that, but not done in such a way that makes you want to stab yourself repeatedly with a plastic spork.