Women in Log Horizon

Anime, anime, why do you make me do this? First it was Parasyte and now this. But you know what, Parasyte handled its women better than Log Horizon which is saying something since the female characters in Parasyte might as well be made of cardboard with one notable exception. Where Parasyte’s problem seemed to be that its creator didn’t know how to write well-rounded female characters, Log Horizon comes across as being capable of presenting women in ways that are only offensive.

Originally, I wasn’t going to make this post because I couldn’t quite pinpoint what bothered me about Log Horizon’s women characters. I was going to mention it in one line or so in the review and leave it at that. But then I read Cain’s article on Log Horizon and SAO. He also mentions Log Horizon’s clumsy portrayal of its girls and some of his comments helped me organize my own thoughts on the matter. Thanks, Cain.

Keep in mind that this looks at only the first season of Log Horizon but what I saw in the first few episodes of season two didn’t change my mind either.

Also keep in mind that the following words are my opinion. This should be obvious enough but what I say is not the ultimate truth. It’s what I felt after watching this anime. There will be plenty of others who feel differently and they’re not any less right or wrong than I am.

There are a lot of girls in Log Horizon, some young, some not-so-young, some healers, some fighters, some princesses. Variety is not the problem. Quality is. In general, Log Horizon’s only remarkable characters are Shiroe and Crusty. Everyone else is pretty meh. But while the other male characters in Log Horizon aren’t the most dynamic people in anime history, they’re harmless, semi-interesting archetypes that play their roles well. Well, the girls are also semi-interesting archetypes that play their roles well but alas, their portrayal is not so harmless.

Before I consider them on an individual basis, let’s have a general look at how Log Horizon’s females act. They cry and worry until some guy (usually Shiroe) shows up to solve their problems or show then the way to lead a fulfilling life. Their thoughts more often than not revolve around one of the men – I’m not saying being interested, romantically or otherwise, in a person is bad but their thoughts and ensuing actions are usually hyperfocused on the object of said interest. There are no women in leadership roles except that one girl who shows up at the end and seems to be an antagonist but she’s got like five minutes of screentime.

And worse of all, every single one of them is either dull or annoying.

This is shaping up well already, isn’t it? Now let’s look at some of them individually.

 

Akatsuki

Akatsuki is the female lead and a grad school student who looks like she’s twelve. She’s a capable Assassin-Tracker and it shows but her most defining trait is her loyalty to her ‘lord’, Shiroe. Every single time she’s in the limelight, her thoughts and actions are focused on Shiroe. It becomes obvious early on that she has a thing for him and that’s fine and dandy but it gets tiring fast when her entire character revolves around this one guy. After twenty-five episodes, I have no idea who Akatsuki is as a person. But I can tell you that she likes it when she’s close to Shiroe, when Shiroe pays attention to her, that she learned dancing to dance with Shiroe, that she gets jealous of other women close to Shiroe…and do you see a pattern here? Akatsuki is Shiroe’s ninja and that’s all she is. Season two separated the two and seemed to be developing her character as being no longer dependant on Shiroe but even then, it circled right back to the guy right before I gave up on the show.

Verdict: Dull

Marielle

I said there are no women in leadership roles in this anime but Marielle is technically the leader of the small guild Crescent Moon Alliance. She’s also utterly useless and wouldn’t get anything done without Shiroe or her accountant Henrietta. Sure, she’s got the ‘undying optimism that warms the hearts of all’ thing going for her but for all that the anime tried to hammer it into my head that she’s charismatic, all I ever saw was a whining mess who didn’t know the meaning of responsibility and was wholly preoccupied with having fun. No, there’s nothing wrong with the latter but when the setting is a game trap where the characters have no idea what’s going on, someone who whines – I’m not using that word without reason since that’s literally what she does, complete with rolling around on the floor – about beach trips and festivals is going to be nothing but grating. My least favorite arcs in the show were a result of Marielle’s direct involvement.

Verdict: Annoying

Serara

I don’t know who voiced this character and I’m not going to check because I don’t want to wish atrocities on some hapless voice actor who was just doing their job. Serara is the only Log Horizon character who was downright painful to watch. I have no words for how irritating she was. Worry not, I’ll tell you why. We first see her as this classic damsel-in-distress but this situation actually makes sense. That’s the only excuse I’m making for her because from that point on, what we see is her fawning over another player called Nyanta, fantasizing about being his wife and generally blushing/mooning in his direction. Oh and she heals others during some low-level raids but who cares about that? Did I mention that Nyanta is an anthropomorphic cat in the game while Serara looks like she’s ten? He may also be a decade or two older than Serara but that’s one can of worms I am not opening.

Verdict: Annoying x 100

Minori

Oh look, it’s that can of worms again. Minori is a middle schooler and part of a love triangle with Shiroe and Akatsuki, both of whom are graduate students. Yeah. And where Serara’s crush on Nyanta is kind of a distance thing, Minori opts for a much more hands on approach that at one point involves hand-feeding the guy. Yeahhh. I’ll just leave that here and move on to the other reasons why I dislike this girl. For starters, she’s pathetic from the get go. I think her situation as a child trapped in the game and then tricked by others is meant to elicit sympathy but her inner monologue which involves a lot of self-recrimination backed up with absolutely no attempt to help herself paints a painfully unremarkable picture. But it’s all fine because Shiroe rescues her in a very convoluted manner and now she can devote her thoughts to her hero-worship slash crush on the guy! No, that’s not an improvement. I dislike love triangles in general but this one is way more irritating than usual.

Verdict: Annoying

Lenessia

I actually like Lenessia in a way. A princess who is very much not suited to being a princess, Lenessia was one of Log Horizon’s more interesting characters. She showed a desire to be more than what her station dictated and succeeded in this, pushing past her greatest enemies – her own laziness and cowardice – to do what she believed was right. In that respect, she is admirable. As a character, she’s admirable. The way the story handles her is far less so. To put it bluntly, she’s used by others throughout the show. She goes from becoming a pointless princess to a figurehead princess. Even though it’s her own decisions and heartfelt honesty that opens up a new path for her, both of those is taken advantage of by others, namely Shiroe. It doesn’t help that her later appearances seems to bring her back to square one. So in the end, while Lenessia is a genuinely interesting, she has very little agency within the story itself.

Verdict: Had potential

 

These aren’t the only women in Log Horizon of course, just the ones that stood out to me. And as you can see, my impression of them is less than favorable. Even some of the other notable female characters suffer Lenessia’s fate where their more compelling traits are undermined by something else.

There are stories that won’t have characters of one particular gender. A male sports anime/club won’t have many female characters just like a female sports/club anime won’t have many male characters. That happens and it’s fine. But that’s not the case here. There are plenty of women in Log Horizon but they’re portrayed in less than flattering ways. It’s impossible to ignore that and this nagged at me during the course of the season and also afterwards. Maybe season two rectifies some of these issues but I can’t comment on what I haven’t seen.

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About D

Just another avid anime fan.
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19 Responses to Women in Log Horizon

  1. From what I’ve seen with Log Horizon it seems like they kinda do the same thing as SAO and a whole bunch of other shows which is put every character that’s not the main character down, make them fit tropes, or just under use them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • D says:

      I haven’t seen SAO yet so I don’t know how it treats its characters. And yeah, most of Log Horizon’s characters have little to no depth to them, male or female but the latter ones actually suck.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Rocco B says:

    You haven’t seen SAO yet?. If you have a problem with Shiroe having two girls falling for him. Then you’ll love Kirito. I will say this; if you have any legitimate critisicim towards the two MC or SAO in general. Just prepare.
    The second season does a better job of portraying the girls, as they have their own raid. Where they work together without the boys. What you need to remember is that Shiroe, Naotsu, Nynata know all about composition and teamwork. Akatsuki from the off set isn’t a hard-core raider or player. I suspect she mostly did what we call open-world PvE; player vs enviroment. It differs in that, whilst raid is part of the open-world. A certain amount of knowledge is needed to get through it, and they tend to be more challenging. Open-world pve doesn’t require so much knowledge.

    Krusty and his women who are in charge of his guild, learnt from him. So they do know a thing or two.

    Liked by 1 person

    • D says:

      I don’t have an issue with the girls falling for Shiroe. Harem tropes are fine with me so long as the people involved are interesting. I do like Shiroe himself – it’s Akatsuki and Minori that bore me to death.

      And alright, that’s fair as far as Akatsuki’s capabilities are concerned. Doesn’t really explain away how her entire purpose in s1 seems to be to fall for Shiroe

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Akaluv says:

    I haven’t watched Log Horizon, but from what you wrote here it doesn’t surprise me. I tried to watch SAO, but I just couldn’t do it. I don’t feel like female characters are represented well in less serious animes. Honestly, it’s one reason I stopped watching longer animes and just stick to the 13-27 episode ones. Then again, women don’t get treated much better in Japanese society, and those beliefs port over to the anime.

    Also, and I hate to say this, I feel anime has been going downhill lately. There isn’t much good stuff coming out, sadly. Thanks for the article. I’ll most likely skip this anime.

    Liked by 1 person

    • D says:

      I have yet to watch SAO but I’ll give it a go one of these days. It really gets on my nerves when women or men are reduced to outdated stereotypes and the problem seems more prevalent in the case of women. I’ve seen plenty of anime with great female characters but then I come across ones like these…

      I’m sorry you think anime is going downhill. I assume it’s annoying to not have shows that suit your tastes. I have a huge backlog of works from the 90s onwards and am also always adding airing shows to my list so I don’t think I’ll run out of anime to watch any time soon.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This is one that I just haven’t gotten around to as yet. I’ve kinda voided it on the grounds that I really liked /Hack//SIGN and tend to compare all ‘Trapped-in-an-MMO’ stuff to that, often finding that they don’t come up well as a result. I have tried SAO but gave up after about six or seven episodes (the pacing felt off to me and by that point I didn’t particularly like any of the characters, so it seemed pointless continuing). It does seem like Log Horizon has a few issues though. If you’re going to have a large cast I’d rather that they all get some decent time to prove themselves worthwhile watching. That was part of why I enjyoed Durarara as an ensemble piece.

    Liked by 1 person

    • D says:

      I’ve seen that title around and am actually interested in it but as usual, haven’t managed to get around to it. Same with SAO. Log Horizon seems popular with people who don’t like SAO but as you can see, I’m not impressed. At all.

      And yes! Durarara did that so well and it had a ridiculously huge cast. Log Horizon could have put in a little effort to make its cast stand out more

      Liked by 1 person

  5. cainslatrani says:

    Always happy to be of help, but no, the second season doesn’t make anything better. It just makes everything more confusing, and stupider.

    Probably the biggest problem with not just the female characters, but the entire cast, is that after two seasons with them, we know next to nothing about them as people. They begin as rough archetypes, and just stay that way. No one ever develops, or adds depth, or anything. They are little paper dolls that move around as the creator needed, doing nothing, accomplishing nothing, and being nothing.

    Of course, it’d be nice if the creator and studio that adapted it hadn’t just used “female” as a character trait, too. That’s always a quick way to make me dislike something. It’s sloppy writing, and that I can not forgive.

    Liked by 1 person

    • D says:

      You’re making me more and more happy that I gave up on season 2. Saved me a few precious hours of my life.

      I think most of these characters can be described in judt a couple of words and that’s not a good thing. It’s a damn big cast – they could have given us at least a handful of characters who’re well-rounded people rather than empty shells. And your last paragraph sums up the problem perfectly.

      Like

  6. I liked Log Horizon quite a bit. With respect to characters I think the show suffers from having a big cast, so the author has to battle limited screen time with exaggerated traits to make people stand out.

    Although I doubt it will change your opinion, Akatsuki has a small arc in season two were she is forced to grow as a person because she is separated from her lord.

    Liked by 1 person

    • D says:

      I did see a bit of that arc but stopped around the part of her first death. You’re right though – by that point, I was too fed up with the show to care what it did.

      Like

  7. raistlin0903 says:

    Well…I am a massive Sword Art Online fan myself (yes, I know there are a lot of people out there that hate it, but I happened to love it), and I really liked the characters there. Sure there were a few damsel in distress type of characters but also quite a few characters that were very strong willed women, that could more than hold out on their own.
    Reading this post though, I have another reason to be glad I did not buy this one lol. Especially the character of Serara that was annoying x100, sounds like great fun (lol). So yeah pretty much happy to pass on this one, but I do have to say that this was another great post to read 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • D says:

      You love what ya love, buddy. Screw what others say. I don’t have an opinion on SAO yet but I do want to watch it one day.

      Glad to be of service 😀 Characterization in general is pretty thin in this series but the deal with its girls really nagged at me and so I had to make a post out of it. Catharsis, I guess? 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Remy Fool says:

    You hit the nail on the head as far as I’m concerned. Not a wonderful portrayal of female characters in this series. That’s a real shame.

    Liked by 1 person

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