Log Horizon: The West Wind Brigade Vol. 2 - Manga Review

A new threat is brewing in the world of Elder Tales. Players have begun turning one another fighting, exploiting and killing each other. Can Souji and the West Wind Brigade do anything to halt Akiba’s decline into social anarchy?

The Lowdown

Souji’s Death and Subsequent respawn has caused a huge ramifications to the players stuck in Elder Tales. New bands of player killers have sprung up, waylaying anyone unfortunate enough to pass by their hiding spots. Elsewhere new guilds are exploiting new players by farming the new player’s EXP pots for personal profit. Souji meanwhile finds himself conflicted, unsure of the best way to try and stem this tide of exploitation and fear. Can he survive, joyful spirit intact against all this?

How Was It?

The West Wind Brigade continues to be a strong accompaniment to the main Log Horizon series, exploring many of the characters that long time series fans will enjoy, while not being too incomprehensible to newcomers. It’s definitely a fine line to walk, serving two wildly different masters, but on the whole it manages fairly well, even if there are a few stumbles.

The strength of this volume lies in how well it fleshes out the power struggles of the Akiba Guilds, specifically Isaac of the Black Sword Guild gets a much larger spotlight shone on his morally grey standings in the new world order than he often gets in his mainline LH appearances. In fact Issac’s moral ambiguity over his use of the EXP pots, and his dislike for the PK’ers makes up some of the more interesting personal dynamics of the book, fleshing him out as a real character and giving him a place to shine.

Some other familiar characters also appear in this volume, with the other significant addition to the cast being a look into the Small and Mid-Size Guild Alliance and their mostly ineffective attempt at diplomacy. It works well as a piece of world building, which has always been the strength of the entire Log Horizon works, and such looks into the social, political and economic problems of the world really help sell the dire straits the characters find themselves in, while also being a good look into the lives of round-table members for those already into the series.

The only character whose brief appearances I found lacking are actually Shiroe’s , perhaps because he and the rest of the soon-to-be Log Horizon crew are the protagonists of the main series, the manga doesn’t feel the need to really to explain all the images that they appear in, which would be extremely confusing to readers not caught up with the main series..

The biggest fault in this volume though is the real lack of devoted character time devoted to the main West Wind Brigade guild. Often their appearance seems partially perfunctory, with little character development for any of the individual members. The book seems content to mostly deal with the WWB as a group for the most part, with the only standouts being those who already had some development in the last volume or the few who get to shine in the action scenes (which are all nicely drawn and detailed). It doesn’t help that the “harem” nature of the guild is often played for what feels like purposefully cliched comedy, which doesn’t really add a lot besides reminding you that WWB is a “harem.”

Final Thoughts

Volume two of The West Wind Brigade is an interesting volume, if one that feels like a world building stop-gap, that while interesting to long-termLog Horizon fans, is less impressive on its own. With solid action, and decent pacing it manages to avoid having any major pitfalls, though a bit more thematic weight being given to the titular guild instead of the side characters would certainly help it improve.


Log Horizon: The West Wind Brigade Vol. 2 was published in English by Yen Press, on April 26th, 2016, translated by Taylor Engel. The original work was created by Mamare Touno with art by Koyuki, and published in Age Premium. Volume 4 releases in English on October 25, 2016. 

Verdict:

B-

Date of Publication: April 26th, 2016

Translator: Taylor Engel

Author: Mamare Touno and Koyuki

Publisher: Yen Press