Edit: wtf is with auto fix chaning Sword Art online 'SAO' to 'SOA' everywehre? I just had to waste 1 minute of my life fixing it.
We have more than these 2, but these are the MMO-themed anime I watched recently. I've spoken to a few people who were comparing them, worse defending or arguing how SAO is the superior one, so I decided to write my opinion on it.
Theme is the same: due to some circumstances players get trapped in a game. However, I have to admit I enjoy Log Horizon far more than I did SAO . In fact, I stopped watching SAO after 10 or 11 episodes because of how bored I was since epsisode 1.
SAO makes the cardinal sin of having too much wangst in it. It's about teenagers, predominantly, and while there is nothing bad about that, it also makes it superwangsty through having death being equal to death in the real world (Log Horizon just resucrets players in the Cathedral): teenagers + locked scenario + permadeath = wangst.
I won't sugarcoat it, I didn't enjoy SAO for how angsty and bland it is at the same time. But there is so much more I find tiering: the lead can't carry it, he's frankly really unlikable even if he is meant to be that brooding guy he just comes across as annoying. There is no real intrigue, the whole 'defeat monsters to get out' is an old tired theme and a rather bland and unimaginative way of setting a long-distance goal for this pointless wreck.
What is worse is the 'solution' to some of the intrigues (well, to use the word intrigue generously) is a deus ex machina (worst offender: when the murder thing is resolved by someone having the ability to craft bodies that look stabbed. WOT. Why would you have that ability? Or did I miss something because I watch anime without subs most of the time?)
Before this turns into a rant, imma switch to Log Horizon.
Log Horizon has predominantly mature players with really interesting personalities (the main char being a brilliant but socially awkward MMO player, which is still playing on the sterotype, but it's leagues better than a main character who is a brooding matrial art and computer savvy superkid ugh), and a pletora of REAL LIFE SKILLS that find a use in the game - tech drawings helpign with scribe work; accountant who does the money-thinking, engeneers who actually develop stuff etc. It also has a really unique approach to the whole locked scenario, since players are not constrained by rules (in SAO you had a Hitleroverlord who imposed them; in Log HOrizon the only 'rule' is 'no pvp in cities' which is actually just imposed by difficult guardians spawning when you start a fight. So ther isn't really a rule; just an occurance you have to take into account if you try to kill player in safe zones) and they can actually use their own hands to craft things not available in the game before (like normal food, structures, steam engine etc).
The fact we know nothig abut the outside world doesn't bug me tbh - in fact the show doesn't mention a single thing outside the fact this was NOT a VR game - meaning those people actually played it like any other game. No fancy head devices and other unnecessarily futuristic equipment.
Now I stopped caring for SAO so I don't know if it even ended (this is an oppinion not a review anyway); Log Horizon is currently on episode 10 if I am not mistaken. Will I watch more of it? SAO : nope; Log Horizon: Yep.