Final Impressions: Recovery of an MMO Junkie

Season aired: Fall 2017

Number of episodes: 10+OVA

Genres: Romance, Comedy

Thoughts: Recovery of an MMO Junkie (Net-juu no Susume) is, unfortunately, and fortunately, an anime I severely misjudged. When I first saw that the anime was only 10 episodes long, I immediately classified it as an anime that had a lot of potential but would ultimately lay flat. An anime series with 12 episodes can sometimes struggle with pacing compared to a 24 episode series, so I had no doubt at the time that the 10 episode pacing would bring down the series.

I am, however, happily mistaken. Recovery of an MMO Junkie is a very enjoyable anime, and one I suggest to others. It focuses on Moriko Morioka, an adult woman NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training). After feeling continuously stressed and unhappy with her work life, she saved up enough money to completely dedicate herself to playing RPGs and drinking beer all day. The premise sounds absolutely ridiculous, but it is a premise that works and gives the audience lots of joy.

For one, the comedy is very successful. The jokes never get old because the humor is attributed to anime tropes that the anime itself makes fun of. Examples include the pink-haired sweet girl, the good looking awkward adventurer, the wise leader, and the teasing trio of friends. However, instead of having the IRL characters perpetuate the tropes, MMO Junkie has the RPG characters that the players created perpetuate them instead.

In fact, the characters “outside” of the game break  the very stereotypes the anime makes fun of through RPGs. NEETs tend to be portrayed as male characters, so to actually see Morioka as the NEET protagonist is not only a breath of fresh air but also a stereotype breaker. But perhaps the biggest stereotype breaker is the romantic relationship between Morioka and Sakurai. To this day, relationships between younger men and older women are stigmatized, particularly in literature and media. While negative names such as “cougars” bring a bad connotation to the very idea of older women being with younger men, the media also tends  to perpetuate the idea that women are only interested in older men. Through the natural and sincere interactions between Morioka and Sakurai, the anime somewhat normalizes the “taboo” and make them seem like a normal couple.

The stereotype breaker

While some people have complained about the convenient use of “coincidences” as the driving force of the series, I find it hardly annoying. Stories have always used romance plotlines where couples meet by “fate” or are “destined” to be together, so aren’t those circumstances also considered to be coincidences? I certainly see it that way, so it only adds to the excitement for me. I was at the edge of my seat when Morioka finally called Sakurai to ask him the truth about his RPG past, and I would have not been as excited if not for those “coincidences” in the anime.

One of the minor complaints I have is the supporting characters’ lack of involvement. When the IRL identities of the supporting characters were being introduced, I thought they would play more into the storyline, such as the college girl student. Yet, they continued to stay on the sidelines with no real influence on Morioka and Sakurai’s relationship.

A shot from the opening sequence

My other complaint is the lack of a backstory for Morioka. We learn from Koiwai that her job was unfair—to the point that she broke down and cried during a phone conversation— but I feel like there is still so much more we are missing. For example, the opening sequence portrays her collapsing in a bathroom at work in gray tones. It seems to hint that there is more going on aside from just overwork and stress, possibly depression and/or anxiety. I think if I could’ve seen that, I would’ve not only liked Morioka more as a character but also sympathized with her.

Overall, this was a very well adapted anime that I enjoyed. Anyone who’s looking for a good laugh with some romance thrown in should definitely give this series a try. It’s cute, it’s funny, and it’s just something to make you happy during the day.

Rating

I am planning to rate all my anime based on the anime rating system that Japanese anime critics use. I will have 5 categories, each with the top score of 10, and then a final multiplier of 2.

Plot: 8

Characters: 8

Voice acting: 8

Art/Animation: 8

Soundtrack: 7

Total: 39

Multiplier: 2

FINAL SCORE: 78/100

 

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