- Genre: Romance, comedy, drama, low fantasy
- Episodes: 10 + OVA
- Studio: SIGNAL.MD,Inc.
If you’re going to be a NEET you should really be an Elite NEET. Not just someone who couldn’t cut it in society, someone who actively chose to take a step back. Elite NEETs are smart, capable people who decided the daily grind may not be for them. They can, they simply don’t want to. Like Moriko, who literally wrote the book at the her work and was set to really go places when she realized she rather just stay home and play MMOs all day. Don’t pity her, she knows what she’s doing. The world of Fruit de Mer is simply better, prettier more exciting! It’s full of warm and wonderful people. You can meet some fantastic friends through MMOs, maybe even more! It’s…wait, why am I trying to convince you guys? Like we’re not all dreaming of being able to stay home and play video games all day. So yeah, Moriko Morioka is a super lucky lady.
It’s my own fault right? I say I’m just not a romance fan, then I go out of my way to watch all these romantic comedies. I mean, I know romances bore me. What exactly am I expecting here? In my defense, I was healy officer in a pretty competitive raiding guild for years and relaxed from raids by 5 man tanking on my alt or stunlocking suckers in PvP, so maybe the MMO aspect attracted me?
Production wise, Recovery of an MMO Junkie is perfectly viable. Nothing really impressive but every element is decent and works well for the type of show this is. I personally found Morioka’s slow and halting speech pattern a little annoying but I understand the point they were making with it. It did also really make me appreciate her avatar’s voice actor a lot more since I couldn’t wait for her to get online and speak through her toon.
Visually, it’s a bit of an oddity. Not that it looks special or anything. The designs are exactly what you’d expect and entirely forgettable. It’s more that I’m very used to seeing this particular art style with a lot more detail. The simplified designs created a clash of expectation in my mind and I couldn’t help but find them…cost effective. This said, they did probably help a lot with the impressive consistency of the animation. It’s a bit like those rounded cartoonish, hyper colourful designs favoured by MMOs because they look relatively good no matter how old your system is or how out of date your graphics card.
Storywise, it’s a romantic comedy… Boy and girl meet in a cute way, coincidence, coincidence, they were meant to be all along!!!, a whole lot of blushing: LOVE! Unsurprisingly, my interest started to wane around the second half when the series moved away from silly virtual adventure hijinks and more into traditional romance territory. I mean, it’s fine if that’s what you like.
Personally, I was a lot more interested in what was happening in the background.
First of course, there’s the MMO hook and it did not disappoint. The character creation screen was like coming home. The gamer lexicon was perfect and meshed naturally with the rest of the dialogue. Mechanics such as crafting, levelling and hats (i.e. cosmetic upgrades) were all represented. What’s more, nothing was explained. Unlike other shows which felt the need to explain what an NPC is… Recovery of an MMO junkie really gave the impression of being written by people who have played MMOs and want to share a story with fellow gamers.
We didn’t get into the complicated math of stat building and talent trees, but it felt completely authentic to the online experience and that’s impressive. Most isekais try to incorporate familiar gaming elements into a fantasy narrative and it usually ends up feeling forced or silly. This completely straightforward approach was much more organic and will be impossible not to identify with for any MMO player in the audience.
What really hit me though, and keeps gnawing a little at me, is the very foreboding catalyst on which the entire premise is built. Through a few short scenes in the opening credits, as well as a few flashbacks, it becomes amply clear that Morioka has had some sort of relatively serious breakdown. At the very least a traumatic burnout. We never know exactly what or why. We do know she use to work extremely hard and that she was appreciated and well liked at her job but that something about corporate culture was making her so unhappy that she eventually checked out.
Thankfully, it’s not like her trauma is used for laughs or as a romantic plot device, but we also don’t explore it much at all. When coupled with the fact that she is a single woman in her 30s, something that still holds a lot of stigma in Japanese society, that she seems completely isolated without any friends or family at all, and that she is clearly showing telltale signs of depression, the entire story takes on a disquietig turn.
However, all these things are simply mentioned, or hinted at, and brushed aside to make room for stealing shy glances and giggly unexpected meetings.
I’m not entirely sure how to feel about it. On the one hand I really appreciate that people are not defined by their problems and even in the darkest time we can still find solace and happiness. I also realize that from the outside, depression looks unnervingly normal. And I loved the fact that the Recovery in question is really only an idea and at the end of the show, Morioka is feeling a bit better but still has a long way to go. They resisted the impulse to have love magically cure everything and that is fantastic.
On the other hand, we have a quinjillion cute romantic comedies and very few series honestly dealing with mental stress and trauma on adults trying to survive in a highly competitive society. Sure, we can count NHK but when you push it to that extreme, it becomes a very different story. The closest thing I can think of is ReLife, that’s in fact very similar to Recovery of an MMO Junkie in many ways but also adds pseudo magic to the mix which changes to dynamics of the message.
Basically, I’m not sure if I would have preferred that they concentrate on the mental health and social pressure issues. Those are difficult, and you can end up doing more harm than good when you don’t have the skill to handle the subject matter appropriately. I do realize that I would like to see another show try though….
As far as the considerably more generic love story is concerned, it managed to avoid the more annoying (in my opinion) staples. The pseudo love triangle ends up being not at all a love triangle and no one gets suddenly jealous or brooding without explanation. Misunderstandings are quickly and logically solved. Since there are only 10 episodes and a lot of time is dedicated to online adventuring, both super attractive and popular yet unjustifiably insecure and shy leads don’t have time to become clueless to the point of brain damage. And even the obligatory tripping and falling on your crush trope was handled with a light and pleasant touch.
Character development was decent, and it was easy to see why these people would be attracted to each other and why they would be friends with the rest of the cast. Surprisingly, fanservice was pretty much nonexistent. I had to make that header gif for you guys! Don’t say I never did anything for you!
After reviewing a few of these I realize I’m not suited for it. I don’t know if it’s a good romance anime. The ones people seem to love got on my nerves. This one didn’t but the gooey parts were a bit boring… If you like MMOs and want to see a story with other people who like them – this is a good option.
Fruit de Mer means seafood in French. That’s hilarious to me. This is my level of sophistication folks, be warned.
ED – As usual I had this post scheduled way in advance and in the meantime Mel published her own charming review – please see what she had to say HERE
What this anime taught me: ALL MMOs should have a blushing emote!
Dear Alcohol, We had a deal where you would make me funnier, smarter and a better dancer. I saw the video…we need to talk
Suggested drink: Lucid Frappe
- Every time anyone gets rezed – take a sip
- Every time Morioka gets nervous about being found out – take a sip
- Every time the guild gets mentioned by name – take a sip
- Every time there’s an in game event – raise your glass
- Every time anyone says Elite Neet – take a sip
- Every time Kanbe goes “tch” – take a sip
- Every time Morioka has a drink – join her
- Every time Morioka breaks out the lint roller – take a sip
- Every time we hear a stomach growling – get a snack
- Every time Morioka apologizes – drink some water
- Every time there’s a flashback – take a sip