Sword Art Online vs. Log Horizon

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At my recent adventure to AMKE, I was able to check out a new anime called Log Horizon. Many people in the viewing room kept saying how much it is like Sword Art Online which was the big hit anime of 2013. Some people would even walk in, look at a few minutes of the episode airing and say, “oh, dude…its exactly like SAO” and then leave as if it was not worth their time to watch. At the viewing, I was only able to catch about three episodes total, but upon coming home from the convention I started watching more. While there are certain similarities between the two anime, they are both very different mosters. Below, I am going to run through some of their similarites and differences and simply compare the two.

Premise and the Main Characters
The premise of both shows are very similar. Just like in SAO, people in Log Horizon find themselves trapped in what used to be just a game. This is, I think, where most people blow log horizon off as an SAO copycat. They would be, in my opinion, foolish to do so. The structure and style of both shows are completely different. The main character of SAO, Kirito, is a bit of a loner, and is even considered the strongest “solo-player” in SAO. He is also mainly surrounded by chicks which all….ALL have a crush on him….seriously…like almost every chick introduced in the series falls for this guy.

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SAO ladies be hatin’

In contrast, the main character, Shiroe, does not paint himself as a loner and the very first thing he does in his new world is contact a long time friend and meets up with him.

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Kirito sacrificing safety and friendship for the sake of others

Kirito of SAO is not particular smart. However, he was a beta-tester for the game prior to be trapped in it. This gives him a competitive advantage and allows him to level up rather quickly. You also get the feeling that, while he does want to go back to the real world, he prefers the gaming world around him and even considers it “home”. Kirito has strong resolve, solid morales, and a since of duty that he displays when he paints himself as a villain so that his party members can maintain order.

Its very clear, throughout the series that, if anyone is going to save the people trapped in SAO, it will be Kirito.

Shiroe, on the other hand is not a particularly strong player by himself, but is a world-class strategist. He was part of a legendary part, the Debauchery Tea Party, that beat many unbeatable quests with him as their master planner. As such, much of the plot revolves around Shiroe making moves and plans that are pretty amazing. He has nonisses using underhanded tactics and even gets the nickname “the villain with glasses”.

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Shiroe, the “villain in glasses” acting as puppet master to many
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Kirito putting on the NerveGear

The major distinction, I think, between Log Horizon and SAO is the very nature of their perspective worlds. In SAO they use helmets, called NerveGear, that basically uploads their minds into the virtual game.

When they are logged in they are told by the game master that they cannot log out of SAO and any attempt to remove the nervegear in the real world results in the death of the person in real life. Additionally, if you die in the game you also die in real life. The only way to leave the game safely is to beat the game itself. As such, the people within SAO are constantly trying to level up and beat the game.

In Log Horizon, however, it is not immediately clear how they got trapped in the game and there is no way to get out, at least not yet. Additionally, if players die, they simple respawn at their hometown’s cathedral. Within the game then, they are immortal-ish. In contrast to SAO, players aren’t trying to leave the game,they’re simply trying to find a way to live in it. The game, then, becomes their actual reality. In fact, it is unclear whether or not if the game in Log Horizon is actually a game. This is because the game is actually changing… Lifeless NPC’s now have personalities, dreams, aspirations, a past and more. They even have their own society and are known as “people of the land”.

If you were to describe both anime’s in short, I would simply say that Log Horizon is an MMORPG anime for people who have played a solid amount of MMORPG’s while SAO is an MMORPG anime made for anime lovers. I like both anime’s personally, and I see them as very different. Both are enjoyable in their own way so long as you give them a chance!!!

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Log Horizon
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Sword Art Online

14 thoughts on “Sword Art Online vs. Log Horizon

  1. I haven’t watched any of Log Horizon, but from the trailer alone I got the distinct impression that, apart from the obvious similarities in terms of premise, it’s nothing at all like Sword Art Online. I really enjoyed the latter title regardless of its flaws though, so I actually got kind of annoyed when I noticed a ton of people saying stuff like, “oh, you’ll enjoy Log Horizon because it’s totally different from that lame SAO series.” It made me not want to watch Log Horizon at all, to be honest. (Of course, I may give it a go someday, but as yet I just haven’t made the time to do so.)

  2. Artemis,
    I agree with you there. I really don’t get all the hate for SAO…it was a great show. Log Horizon might find a rut simply because those who love SAO will think that it just a cheap ripoff while those who hated SAO will think that its going to be just like the show that they already hated, so why bother? I think the nature of the two shows is very different but I enjoy each for what they are. I honestly hate the “choosing sides”-mentality that so many people have… its like if you are a fan of something you have to be an elitist-prick about other things and worship your “thing” for life. Why not be flexible? rather than picking on over the other just shut up and enjoy both, right?

    Anyways, I hope you get to enjoy Log Horizon sometime, it is definitely a great show with lots of likable characters.

  3. I think you covered all of the distinct differences between the series. They are both fine series for different reasons and that is the key there. Sword Art’s strength is action sequences done well with gorgeous animation. There are likable characters in the series as well. It is meant to be an action show while Log Horizon is clearly intended for those who prefer a slower paced more methodic series which focuses more on the character development than Sword Art. Because of this difference it’s impossible to say which is better. They are both excellent series with pros and cons for each. I agree that both need to be viewed and are worth the time to watch.

  4. What if … LH was created before SAO?
    How would that affect SAO? Granted I like both series and would consider myself a fan of both. But SAO for all its potential is incredibly flawed, while Log Horizon succeeded in almost every aspect. Maybe SAO would have been actually more gaming-heavy than in canon had LH came out earlier.

      1. Let’s see, absurd timeskips, little to no character development, incest (yes I know they’re cousins but Westermark Effect), abandoning the MMORPG aspects for romance instead of making a romance a side thing, character inconsistencies (Asuna being a commander one moment, a scared girl who needs her BF the next), shallow villains (why I made SAO? i forgot lol) and I could go on and on.
        When I fisrt started with SAO, I did thought it was the best show eva. Now, I’m just a cynic being in a fandom that didn’t live up to its potential.

        1. In Japan cousin on cousin action is not considered incest. So there love interest is not that big of a deal (within jap culture anyways… I still think it’s weird.)

          I do agree with the lack of character development but I disagree with the idea that they abandoned the mmo aspect for love. As I said I. My post I think SAO is an MMORPG anime for anime lovers while LH is an MMORPG anime for MMO lovers I think SAO focused on the right aspects for wanting to produce an awesome ANIME. Kirito is akin to other protagonists like Goku, Ichigo or Naruto. They may get stronger but the core character remains the same because they were perfect already. They’re like the jesus of their universe in a way. That kind of character, though, is definitely not for everyone and can rub the people the wrong way.

          1. Oh, I’ve no problem with cousin/cousin relations. It’s the Westermark Effect that makes it uncomfortable. Had Kirito been adopted at an older age, I’d be fine with it.

            I think the problem with SAO is false expectations. I and many others went into the series expecting lots about gaming and action but what I got was teen romance and incest (Westermark Effect).

            Naruto (unfamiliar with Bleach) worked his ASS off to become what he is today. Kirito is a Gary Sue who’s awesome because he’s the main character. And Asuna is a bigger Mary Sue than him. Also almost every side girl falls in love with him, like Lisbeth who’s incredibly irrational to fall in love with a guy who she barely knows.

            (And speaking as a religious person, Jesus also worked hard to achieve what he did. Kirito doesn’t)

            LH, LH is just better in almost every aspect.

      2. I don’t mind cousin x cousin romance, but again, Westermark Effect.

        The thing with SAO is false expectations. I and many others came in to find an anime about gaming, adventure and teamwork. What I got instead was romance. Now I don’t have a problem with that, it’s just it overtook the MMORPG part of the anime way too much.

        Here’s the thing, we DON’T see Kirito working his ass off like Naruto. He’s badass because he’s the main character. He’s a Gary Stu and Asuna’s a worst Mary Sue. All the girls including his sister falls for him, he deus ex machina’s his way out of problems and everything works due to circumstances that revolves him being the protagonist.

        LH works because it knows its audience and what it expects. LH is just leagues better than SAO in so many ways because it knows what it wants to be. I think Froggy-kun of Fantastic Memes describes it best when he said “SAO is Kawahara’s fairy tale”. Thus why SAO is flawed.

        1. I think it all depends on how you choose to look at the anime as a whole. Of course Naruto worked his ass off as did other characters however my argument is: that the hardwork was part of the characters nature. He never really changed other than getting stronger because he, as a person, did not need to change. Kirito does get stronger throughout the series, you just don’t get to see it directly… he has an implied struggle of being a solo player on the front lines. Meaning that he faces danger most people would face in parties and(or) guilds. Additionally, he did this for the sake of having a true frontline fighting to clear the game and sacrificed his own livelyhood by doing so.

          As far as the harem-based part of the anime i totally agree. They did it with very little rhyme or reason and it was pretty unneccasary.

          1. Apologise for the double post there. Sent the latest one from my phone …. 8 hours ago.

            AND THAT’S THE PROBLEM! We never see him laying down his life directly for strangers (save very few scenes), never see him grind his ass off, never see him get armor B and sword X, everything was implied. And there’s the problem of lacking boss fights (four is very little, not including the last one), lacking more gameplay explanation, lacking character depth, lacking so on and so forth.

            I actually would disagree this is a harem (save that one non-canon chapter where Kirito marries everyone), everyone falls in love with him because he’s like the only dude around. Klein’s in his 20s, Agil is married, we barely see any other male characters.

            I know I might sound like hating SAO but I don’t. I like it for what it is, I love it for its potential. I even wrote a fic just because I’m that dissatisfied with it. Just goes to show how even something so lackluster at times can invoke the greatest emotion.

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