(Note: Episodic notes are still mostly to be found on the Episodics Notes’ page, but 0-2 episodes per week will have their write-up appear on the main page, when I think they warrant it. For those who don’t know, I take the notes as I watch the episode, and merely re-order them afterwards.)
Welp, this is the final episode, right? First things first, while this show had fights, it always purported to be more about community, about society. In this show fights had always been to make a point – that Nyanta, Shiroe and Naotsogu understand one another, that their control of the game is good enough to leave an enemy with just one hitpoint, that Crusty and the other adventurers are crazy berserkers… right?
So, it doesn’t matter if the fight is physical or strategic, it’s all there to make a point. Shiroe is the main character in this show, and this is his fight (sorry, senpai!), so we’re at the final episode, and we’re going to have a show-down! And yet, I don’t really think this story will be concluded here. This is about people’s lives, and they keep on going, and the wheels of diplomacy keep on turning.
Finally, last episode’s preview, they’re really going to finish on a cliff-hanger, it feels like. Evil! Well, the Light Novels await, almost done with Mahouka.
Thoughts and Notes:
1) Dealing with Others:
1) Three leaders of Log Horizon, one standing for the small guilds, one for the mercantile guilds, and one for the combat guilds. The decision-think tank is here. Time to get serious.
2) The villain lurks in the background. He’s a max-level Scribe, he can forge a signature he’d never before seen? Heh. Damn, Malves, you’re even worse than we thought, you don’t just stand on decorum to humiliate others, but you lie? Tsk, tsk. I am sure Shiroe and Crusty will not stand for it.
3) Silly Malves. Just as I’ve said. You can only bluff so much. Shiroe manipulated you from the shadows, and now after your armour is gone, Crusty is delivering the coup de grace.
4) Gloating Halloween Shiroe. Well, we all need our amusements, now and then :P
5) A festival, everyone is having fun. They come from the real world, this reminds them of home, this shows them they’ve done good work in repairing Akihabara and the spirit of its inhabitants, that is to say, their own spirit, in recent months. And yet, Shiroe is still elsewhere. Shiroe is the Tolkien elf who stands aloof from humanity. And so, people shake their heads at him.
2) The World Shiroe Wants to Create:
1) “I’ve already done my job.” – Shiroe sees his job as something he does. But when your job is to also be a leader, and a symbol, your job isn’t only something you do, but something you are. You need to be seen. That’s also one of your goals. You need the people to trust you, even if they do not like you.
2) “Good cop and bad cop,” What I’d be bothered by isn’t that Shiroe is willing to be the “bad cop”, but that he so readily admits to manipulating Lenessia :P
3) Shiroe just made a speech for MMORPGs, but one that could also be ascribed to the real world. Shiroe had just made a speech to working to make the world a better place, even!
“Strength is meaningless when you are alone, because strength only exists in relation to others. More than that, strength is there for others to rely on. You can only be all that you can be when you’re supported by others, and support them in turn. And to be fully supportive, you must all do your best, in a world that accomodates it.”
A world where we can all be our best versions. A world which we have used our strength to build, and which in turn allows us to be these grand selves. He’s talking about Akihabara. He’s talking about vanquishing fear and nastiness between people. He’s talking about the symbiotic relationship between helping and being helped in turn.
3) The Devil Plays with Mortals:
1) A soul-sucking Kitsune? I won’t be surprised if this is the World-Class Spell, “Overlay”. To overwrite data within the game, to actively change the parameters of the game, and thus the world. To cheat what the other player would have seen, and thus the information the world think exists. Now I wonder who this “Nureha” is, because Shiroe had to know her.
2) So, in the west it’s a single guild that rules, rather than a round-table here. Makes you wonder what sort of personality their leader has. No, it doesn’t mean too much, necessarily, because as Shiroe had just told Minori, he’d do what is necessary. Had it been necessary, he’d have subjugated Akihabara for the sake of its players. Some would say he had, when he purchased the Guild Building.
3) To follow up on my last paragraph, Nureha wants Shiroe as a companion. Why? Because she had taken on the role of the tyrant, in part to help the players. That puts her in a position of solitude, so she would like to walk alongside the other person in the same position as hers, and also the other user (and inventor!) of World-Class Magic.
4) She doesn’t seem too trustworthy, eh? Though she might remind one of the Queen of Sheba, giving Solomon tests to check whether he is worthy of being her companion. Myself? Assuming she doesn’t have a truly twisted personality, she might just be bored. After all, they’re players, of a game. They came here to have fun. All municipal duties makes the foxy-lady bored! Just look at Marie.
5) Ooooh, truth! I like these bits! :D
6) Ah, coming to Elder Tale to assuage her loneliness, to feed her ego. She might indeed be a dangerous person. Loneliness and hurt can lead to bad things. A dark mirror to Shiroe who wanted to escape the attention.
“No matter where it goes, air is still air.” – She’s referring to herself here. No matter how far away you run, you can’t run away from yourself, whom you always carry along.
And then she says it’s all a lie anyway. What is true of this woman? That she likes playing games. Whatelse is true? I don’t think we know.
7) “I know of a way to make someone disappear.” – You sly dog, Shiroe. You’re the main character and you still managed to sneak things past us? Tsk, tsk ;-)
4) The Devil’s Offer of a New World – Shiroe’s Rejection of the Narcissist:
1) Ah, the devil’s bargain. “Come with me, and you’ll get the tools and information you need to achieve your goal.” This truly is the dilemma at the core of Shiro’s character. As he had told Minori, he’s willing to be the bad cop in order to achieve his goals. Achieving the goals, is what is important – not just any goals, but goals aimed at the betterment of others, and for that one should be willing to become the Demon in Glasses (I picked “Demon” over “Villain” on purpose here). But, is it true? No. Shiroe wants to buoy others’ spirits, he believes in teamwork. He’s willing to be the target of focused hatred, he will not take part in grand scale subjugation and actions that will bring everyone down. Not even for their sake. Or will he? As I’ve said, this is Shiroe’s dilemma.
2) “You don’t have a reason, all you have is a vague sense of ethics, don’t you?” – I don’t think you understand how morals work, Nureha. Ethics are all about their normative power, about motivating you to action. Ethics are the reason. To more or less quote Wittgenstein about Ethics: If you see someone and tell them they’re playing tennis badly, and they answer with, “I know, I’m playing badly but I don’t want to play any better,” then all you can say is “Oh, alright then.” But should you see someone telling a lie or kicking a dog and you tell them they’re acting like an animal and they answer with, “I know I behave badly, but I don’t want to play any better,” then “Oh, alright then,” isn’t an acceptable answer on our part. Morals are what drives you to action. Silly girl.
Then again, this silly girl is very inward-focused, so of course she’d reject a categorical and universal imperative such as ethics (see Kant). Her invitation to “use” her as Shiroe’s reason, as his excuse to do anything. She truly comes off as narcissistic. Whether one needs to be that sort of person to become the ruler of thousands of people, or that being such a ruler is what led to such personality? Dunno.
4) Rejection hurts and seems impossible, when one is a narcissist. “I’ll be your enemy, when you need a reason.” – Shiroe realizes that the one without a reason, the one living an empty existence whom they try to fill in with others is Nureha. He’ll be her reason, he’ll be the obstacle whom Nureha tries to overcome. A reason to change, a reason to explore. Just as he had given these to the people of Akihabara. Though it seems her goal now is to defeat him and show her supremacy over him.
5) Something bigger than going back to our own world?! :O
Wait, so what is Shiroe’s goal? To change this world? Why not go back to the old world? Maybe it brings us back to what he said. His personal goal is to create a world where his friends and allies get to be all they can be, and that is this world, rather than the real world. So rather than go back to the real world and try to modify it, why not create the world anew here?
Shorter Notes / Asides:
- That fashion show was adorable. Full of cute moments. I’ll let other people grab all the screenshots :)
- Forlorn schoolgirl Akatsuki. Had this been a number of other shows, she’d go on a murder-spree right about now, heh.
- Whole gang midcard, how can you not like these guys?
- A gag to show Akatsuki had regained her spirit after not reacting when Naotsogu had called her “shrimp”, which was only there to show just how down she is.
Post Episode Thoughts:
Oh, cool, next season is coming this Fall, not in some unknown future! And rather than hang on a cliffhanger (we didn’t), we ended on, “We’ll change the world!” – a declaration of intent.
First, I dislike talking about a show in my episodic notes after it ends, because the final episode is still an episode, and needs to be discussed as such. This episode continued Akatsuki’s mini-arc, her first real arc, about feeling unnecessary to Shiroe, something that was also present when we first met with Nyanta, and when she had tried to think of how to repay him. Yes, Akatsuki’s arc is one that has her attached to Shiroe, and trying to find ways to be useful to him. We still hadn’t seen the notion of being useful to herself come out of her.
Shiroe tries for others. Helping others helps him feel good. It’s like watching “FeelGood” shows, or at least avoiding depression on the part of his friends. I can get behind that. As such, Nureha is an interesting character. Not only is she interesting because we can’t tell truth from lies within her, but because she is Shiroe’s foil. Nureha puts herself at the center, and others are but tools to obtain her goals, her goals of fun. For Shiroe, it’s the opposite – he will use himself as a tool, he will debase himself, for the sake of others. But should he cause them tear and heartache, then it will not truly be necessary.
So, Nureha is Shiroe’s foil, she is the darkness to his light. She is the self-focus to his self-denial. Shiroe said he will be her enemy, but they already are. That’s exactly what supporting characters are for, to showcase more aspects of the main characters’ personality, and in that sense, Nureha is a great success.
Ok, so what do I think of the show as a whole? I might just do a write-up about it, but I’m unsure. The show began very well with its introduction of the world, and how the rules of the game affect the world. But then it hit upon the “Shingeki no Kyojin phenomenon”, where episodes 5-12 or so were just too slow, and every episode ended with “Wait till you see the true plan, next episode!” but then next episode wasn’t all too exciting either, with the show rarely delving into the true depths of politics or negotiations (which I understand is still there in the LNs, so I’ll check them out), and rather served more as an atmospherically enjoyable show, because the cast had been very likeable. Later episodes though returned us to progress, and to showing how the rules of the game define people and affect society, and the game-world felt real, with the goblin invasion which resulted from player oversight.
I give this show 7.3/10. It had a good plot, it had good characters and at times felt like a RomCom or “Feel-Good” show, but I can’t ignore the fact that the pacing was all sorts of off here and there, and episodes 1-5, and certainly 6-12 could’ve probably been cut to about half their number, just to actually have things happening, whether they be plot, or character progression, or world-building. But the show was still a worthwhile experience, and some interesting ideas had been raised.