And You Thought There is Never a Girl Online? – Mid Season Review
And You Thought There is Never a Girl Online?:
Original Air Dates: April 7th, 2016 – ???
Synopsis: Hideki Nishimura is your classic young, closet gamer. Well, maybe worse as he’s the type who falls in love easily, proposing to a female character online who turned out to be a dude roleplaying. Nishimura keeps this secret to himself and decides to never trust another girl online again.
But some time later, a girl confesses her love for him, another party member in his new guild. Nishimura is reluctant, but agrees to marry her in game and treat the whole thing as a fantasy online and not get emotionally involved. But when the guild decides to have a real life get together Nishimura discovers that, Ako, his in game wife, is actually a beautiful nerdy gamer girl that’s in his school!
Mid Season (6 episodes) Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: When we started this show, I was highly skeptical thanks to its harem tag. I’ve never been particularly fond of stories where the male lead is a god of gaming and has literally every woman develop a crush on him. So its nice that Netoge is one of the few shows that doesn’t get pushy with its harem angle. Here we have a hero who is devoted to his in game wife and even when the show hints at other girls liking him, it’s still been less male fantasy and more of an innocent joke here and there. In fact, so far it seems like Ako is the only girl who is completely and romantically besotted with Nishimura and vice versa.
Tom: Nishimura, or Rusian, whichever moniker you prefer, is relatable to the crowd of viewers who come from a gaming obsessed background. Someone who maybe doesn’t have the greatest of social skills, but is otherwise a nice person that’s seeking that connection or bond and tends to fall in love easily even if it’s through a computer screen. Unfortunately, Rusian is bound to rub certain viewers the wrong way as he possesses many of the “nice guy” traits so common of Harem protagonists. He feels more real to me though, as Rusian suffers from common flaws amongst teenage guys seeking that first romantic connection. He wants that love, but yet when he gets the girl he doesn’t entirely know how to handle her or entirely understand the woman fawning over him. What helps is that beneath the fan service, harem and ecchi elements is a real heart unlike, for example, Monster Musume. Here Netoge (as it’s often abbreviated to) is less interested in placing our hero in increasingly perverse scenarios, but rather exploring his budding relationship with the unhinged Ako. It’s really quite sweet and perhaps even innocent in its own way.
Linny: Rusian, portrayed as not the smoothest of fellas out there, definitely helps to humanize him and make him likable from even the female point of view. He’s shown to have occasional improper thoughts without being lecherous, something that helps to further sell him as your average teenager (though I’m sure most of us have had worst thoughts irl). He is shown to be a bit awkward and is the kind of protagonist I’ve been dying for after the plethora of gaming based shows that have gaming gods and geniuses for leads. Having said that, Ako is undoubtedly the best part of Netoge with her delusions and combination of popular tropes making for a rather unique personality. Unlike other heroines in similar shows, she is rather terrible at the game and is a lot more innocent and a lot more of a shut in. She has a disturbing attitude towards ‘normies’ but seeing her fawn, fuss and obsess over Rusian make for some of the cutest scenes in the show. And on an honestly shallow note, she looks pretty damn adorable in that pink outfit of hers.
Tom: Ako is easily the highlight of the series. Her unhinged, reality confused persona is wholly enjoyable and the most fun when she’s further losing her connection with reality. It’s this unusual inability to divorce the game from reality that makes her such an attractive character. It’s only aided by Ako’s VA, Rina Hidaka, who provides the sweet, and cheery voice that can quickly switch into an innocently eerie version that sells Ako’s frequent detachment from the real world. The rest of the cast is enjoyable, although not the main draw, with Akane, our resident Tsundere, who keeps her gaming life hidden and the school president, Kyou who represents that premium spending rich kid we kinda all loathe for having the cash to splurge. I have to commend Netoge for keeping these two girls at a platonic stage with Rusian. It reminds me of Ah My Goddess, which, while technically a harem, never devolved far enough to make every girl try to get in Keiichi’s pants. I’m hoping Netoge continues to follow in Ah My Goddess’ footsteps and never feels the need to overtly pander to the hard harem crowd.
Linny: The other girls in the cast do seem to have less one on one airtime and seem restricted to their personal shticks but nonetheless Netoge manages to really milk Akane’s shtick for all its worth. Every time I recall her reaction to being called out on her secret gamer life, I start cracking up. However, if you were hoping for a more balanced cast or wanted more focus on the other girls because you like them more, you might be disappointed.
Tom: The cast has gradually expanded over this season, introducing new girls to the team. Again though, none of these women take to Rusian in any significant form and when the show has a chance to throw a love triangle element in, Netoge chooses to ignore that trope ridden drama in favor of focusing solely on Ako and Rusian’s odd, yet budding romance.
Linny: The show has several unrealistic developments, (such as the easy creation of their computer game club), though one could potentially overlook them in favour of the parts that the show keeps grounded such as having a more average protagonist, realistic adherence in regards to gaming, etc. but also the sheer comedy that those unrealistic parts bring about. For a show that described itself as being about the group’s attempt to rid Ako of her delusions, they seem to be making very few actual attempts or progress in that matter. We do see them making much more of an active effort to help her function better in real life in the most recent episodes though, so for people who start developing that complaint, it does get addressed.
Tom: Netoge’s humor is generally on point, providing comedy largely built around the cast’s interactions and, most of the time, avoids more exploitative humor. There’s a lot of online gaming references and jokes peppered throughout the series, which is liable to limit the audience that’ll appreciate Netoge to the fullest. For people well versed in MMOs or Online gaming there’s plenty of references and humor to appreciate here. The series primarily focuses on MMO Gaming, but has dabbled in other game types. I’m hoping as the season continues we try a few more genres outside of the LA MMO they’re always playing (particularly because we got to see a surprisingly violent side of Ako when they ducked into a FPS.)
Linny: Every single member of the gaming club is shown to be average in gaming skill with a few quirks thrown in, which is pretty unique for a show that features gaming so heavily as part of its story telling device. My biggest personal disappointment with Netoge is its decision to have the girls appear as themselves even in their male gendered online avatar’s costume. It’s played either for humour or fan service with the President and her amble breasts displayed in one of its skimpiest outfits, but either way, as a female viewer, it feels exploitative and uncomfortable to watch. Thankfully, the show doesn’t do that with every single character, though it does take advantage of fan service heavy angles regularly. So unless you dislike even the slightest of fan service, the amount and type that’s presented in this show is tolerable for a harem, and is even tame by some standards. It’s sad though because I was genuinely excited to have a show that showed not only male but female players crossdressing in game and have them portrayed as the gender they had chosen to be in the game.
Tom: The color palette changes between the real world and game worlds, offering a more neon palette with a varied tint from the usual real world color scheme. Both are eye catching enough that I find the show visually appealing and enjoyable to watch no matter which world our characters are appearing in. When it comes to Fan service I agree with Linny that the costumes are quite exploitative, but rarely does the show fully capitalize on that, refraining from sexually suggestive sequences that would exploit these costumes even further. the show does indeed ogle its characters with revealing/suggestive camera angles that feed the viewer’s pervy gaze, but compared to many other harem, ecchi Netoge still comes in quite tame by comparison.
Linny: There’s definitely a bit of fan service for those who were wondering or worried but it avoids being the extremely gratuitous kind that usually involves a lot of obscene moaning or super slow and elongated focusing on certain zones and flashing. The gif above should help you get a clue of what to expect. The show did seem to stumble a bit when depicting some of the flashier combat scenes but generally, thanks to its bright colours and character designs, it makes for an overall visually pleasing experience.
Tom: Netoge is based on a long running Light Novel series, over nine volumes at this point so it’s quite likely Netoge the anime will only be a tease to entice in new readers (Western readers that’ll have to wait for a localization announcement!) I’d already been surprised at how much I enjoyed Netoge’s first episode, something I went into fully expecting to come out loathing. As it’s continued I’ve only become more impressed with how dedicated it is to focusing on the romance between Ako and Rusian without throwing in the need for distractions. It’s honestly something I look forward to every week. It’s not particularly deep, or well-written enough to draw in those adverse to harem anime in general, but by keeping its fan service less blatant, and wearing its heart on its shoulder, Netoge feels like a sweet, if vague, romance tale between two young lovers. It’s something I think more ecchi/harem should aspire too, rather than keeping it all about tits and ass. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I do like tits and ass.)
Linny: Like Tom, I too went into the show expecting to drop it after the first episode thanks to its harem tag and its gaming premise. I am averse to most harem thanks to the excessive exploitative fan service and needless love hexagons and gaming based stories have made me jaded with their protagonists always being all mighty and all powerful. Thankfully, Netoge avoids both of these to a good degree and thus should potentially be a solid watch for those who aren’t completely averse to the genres, but would enjoy a change of pace. It still has issues with fan service and its story can feel a bit weak every now and then, but if you’re in the mood for a fun and silly romance, Netoge is one of the best this season has to offer.
And You Thought There is Never a Girl Online? is available for streaming via Funimation.com.