Log Horzion: The West Wind Brigade Vol. 4 - Manga Review

The town of Akiba is shaken to its core when one small burger shop opens up selling actually tasty food!

The Lowdown

When Soujirou’s old friend Shiroe starts making his move to change the dire straights of Akiba, the West Wind Brigade is caught up in the middle of an explosive societal upheaval as pent up fears and frustrations from the Adventurers and People of the Earth alike are brought to the surface. Can all this emotion be turned to a desire to better their new home, or will Akiba fall into even more chaos?

How Was It?

The Log Horizon: The West Wind Brigade has always been a manga of two minds: The first being a serious retelling of the politically and economically minded Log Horizon series from the perspective of side-characters, and the second being a light harem comedy. This split mood has since the beginning been both its greatest strength and greatest weakness. The strengths of it have been that the WWB manga has had a clear personality difference from the main series, with a heavier dose of the romantic comedy shenanigans that give it a more frivolous and light-hearted feel. The downside of course has been that WWB has been subject to some fairly wild mood swings in the past as it darted back and forth between its two tones. Situations like in volume 2 where a fairly serious end-of-battle interrogation scene is interrupted by a boob grab joke, right before reverting to seriousness as the bad guys escaping the girl’s clutches. It has been scenes like this that have felt especially off putting in the past.

With all of this in mind, I found that volume 4 has the best internal tonal consistency of any volume so far. The wild mood swings are pretty much absent, with some of the harem rom-com humor being more spread throughout the dramatic parts of the story in a way that unfolds naturally from the main plot. This was done through little asides that allowed the plot to remain focused on the social issues while not allowing it to get too serious, while also not ruining deathly serious moments. Problems in earlier volumes usually arose when inappropriate comedy was added to dangerous action scenes, whereas in volume 4 moments of levity are found in less stressful situations like Soujirou’s and Shiroe’s reuniting being peppered with the confused mis-interpretations of the WWB girls, or in the levity of the hectic Crescent Moon burger joint.

In terms of storytelling, the plot of volume 4 also manages to be the most concise and straightforward plot of the released volumes, following pretty much the entire Crescent Moon Burgers arc from beginning to end. The events flow incredibly naturally from one chapter to the next, which makes it different from the last two volumes especially as those volumes juggled a lot more plot points with far more inconsistent time gaps between them. In comparison, this volume feels complete, with the only outlying chapter being the first mini chapter which is just a frivolous “back at the guildhall” harem-comedy scene. However, its placement outside of the main plot actually help in selling its more off-the wall joking tone as a comedy mini-episode that was surprisingly funny.

Of course one of the major aides to this volume is that most of the plot details will be very familiar to anyone following the main series, as most of the developments in this plot are covered in the main series, and so a lot of the groundwork is already covered. I was surprised though with the later chapters as the some of the developments from the earlier WWB Magus arc are followed up on in this manga, which really helped tie the links between the original story and this side-story together into one cohesive story. This book is a real winner in terms of pleasing long term Log Horizon fans because the character roster deals with a lot more of the familiar faces from the main series this time, and this stood out to me as being done in a much more organic fashion than previous WWB volumes attempts which often felt shoehorned into place. Even taking these main series characters only in terms of their WWB appearances, I suspect they feel more “at home” in this volume as the contexts of their appearances (such as the merchant guilds at their investor meeting, or the combat guilds meeting together) help solidify their roles in the world of Log Horizon with minimal extra information required. In all it feels like a proper ensemble piece, with no character feeling out of place in their appearance.

Final Thoughts

Log Horizon: The West Wind Brigade Vol. 4 is my favorite volume yet from this series. It’s a cohesive, well paced volume that utilises the strengths of the author while embracing the lighter side of this side story. Its specific brand of harem comedy mixing much more thoroughly with the social dynamics of this volume than any other before it. The West Wind Brigade continues to be a fun companion series, excellent on shining new lights, and exposing hidden depths of the series. Definitely a great pickup for anyone who has enjoyed Log Horizon before.


Log Horizon: The West Wind Brigade Vol. 3 was published in English by Yen Press, on July 26, 2016, translated by Taylor Engel. The original work was created by Mamare Touno with art by Koyuki, and published in Age Premium. 

Verdict:

B+

Date of Publication: October 25th, 2016

Translator: Taylor Engel

Author: Mamare Touno and Koyuki

Publisher: Yen Press