Recovery of an MMO Junkie – Mid Season Anime Review
Synopsis: Morioka Moriko (♀) is 30, single, and a NEET. She has dropped out of the real world. Searching for a safe place, the place she ended up… is the online world!! In this online game, Moriko starts a new life as a handsome young man with silky hair named Hayashi. However, she’s an obvious noob and ends up dying numerous times when a lovely girl named “Lily” lends her a helping hand. Meanwhile IRL, she ends up having a shocking encounter with a mysterious handsome salaryman named Sakurai Yuta. After meeting him, the real world starts to change and starts affecting her online world as well?! (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
Mid Season (5 Episodes) Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Recovery of an MMO Junkie is one of those anime that straddles the line between maintaining a laid back, slice of life, easygoing atmosphere and becoming a boring snooze fest. MMO Junkie manages to keep itself on the right side of that line, offering a low key, but decently engaging narrative, coupled with a washed out, yet comforting color style and animation that gives the whole thing a very quaint, easy going feel. Even when things get stressful for Moriko, they still feel light-hearted for the audience.
Linny: Laid back atmosphere or not I have a minor heads up for those of you picking up MMO Junkie expecting to see our self destructive, closeted heroine forced to abandon her NEET lifestyle as the show’s title would imply. You may be in for a surprise as the Western title is actually rather misleading. We’re halfway through the show’s run and so far there’s been zero direct effort by anyone to get Moriko to abandon her NEET gaming lifestyle and become a ‘regular’ member of society again. The show instead spends a lot of time actually showcasing the ‘wondrous’ side of forming bonds and friendships online, with a bit of the potential drama that arises from trying to hide your true identity. The original Japanese title of the show translates to “Recommendation of the Wonderful Virtual Life” which invokes a very different set of expectations. The original title is a perfect encapsulation for the show thus far, and makes me wonder why the Western title is so different and misleading.
Tom: It’s definitely true that the English translation of the series’ title has proven insanely misleading. Half way through Junkie’s 10 episode run we haven’t seen any real condemnation of Moriko’s lifestyle. Instead, we’ve met characters that bolster the acceptance of her reclusive tendencies. While Moriko herself remains our primary focus, we’ve introduced and occasionally shifted to her burgeoning harem of male characters. From Sakurai Yuuta, the attractive businessman and primary love interest, to Fujimoto the gaming store clerk or even Koiwai Homare, the manipulative playboy and Moriko’s former co-worker. While this faux-harem adds a number of twists and turns to Moriko’s reclusive existence, it hasn’t offered much of a deeper understanding to her character. Outside of an occasional hint or two, Moriko’s reason for living life as a NEET remains a mystery. This, coupled with a lack of exploration for other characters leaves the series with only two avenues of entertainment: Life inside an MMO, and Moriko’s gradually expanding harem.
Linny: Another minor hiccup comes in the form of revealing the true identity of one of Moriko’s guild mates. There’s an extreme contrast between his real life persona and his online persona. Now it’s a well known fact that people can often exhibit very different personalities when they’re online and semi anonymous versus face to face. But in the case of this character, it’s such a flip that it almost feels unbelievable and disjointed. But that’s a minor hiccup, one that most people enjoying the show so far won’t bat an eyelid at.
Tom: More frustrating is that many of the series’ twists and turns can be seen coming a mile away. MMO Junkie does a bad job of surprising its audience, and while that’s maybe not a requirement, it’s another way in how narrow in focus MMO Junkie’s content is, continually stripping away various ways the show could produce additional enjoyment until you’re left with a near singular appreciation for the love triangle/harem. As if that wasn’t enough, many of these twists are not only obvious but are built upon an ever compounding level of impossible, or at the very least improbable, coincidences. By Mid Season, Moriko has met two people in real life that she first met and played with in game. Anyone who’s played an MMO seriously will tell you that the chances of such an occurrence are already astronomical for just one chance meeting, if not utterly impossible for it happening twice. Suspension of disbelief is at a high asking price, that only increases as we get further and further in.
Linny: What Recovery of an MMO Junkie does do well is presenting an enjoyable, and even realistic, take on the world of MMO gaming. There’s lots of nods to the life of an MMO player, such as characters controlled/used by different people, spawning in game right on top of other players, etc. However, at times the show almost feels a bit too pro-MMO gaming, especially when it won’t stop extolling the wonders of loot boxes and gacha game mechanics. At other times, in an attempt to tell its story in game, the characters do things that feel hard to swallow such as Moriko ‘accidentally’ typing out a personal question to someone in lieu of accidentally vocally blurting out a random thought.
Tom: I want to make it clear that despite the issues, MMO Junkie isn’t a bad series. It offers an easy going laid back atmosphere that stays on the right side of the line, perfect for people to unwind with. Its comedy is never rip-roaring, but amusing enough to bring a smile to a tired face. There’s a calm, fairy tale like feel to the show, even when things get stressful for Moriko, keeping the series a decent source of light-hearted entertainment. The issue is simply that MMO Junkie is increasingly laser focused for that crowd, making its greater appeal shrink away as potential for additional entertainment is negated, and barriers to one’s enjoyment, like compounding coincidences, become higher and higher.
Linny: For all the complaints we may have listed, I still strongly and truly believe that Recovery of an MMO Junkie is a fun show, one that’s sure to appeal to and please the right audience. The interactions between Moriko and her friends online can be adorable, heartwarming and you might even find yourself completely enraptured by the building tension of wondering when her true identity will be revealed to her fellow guild members, especially the ones she bumps into out in the real world. And for those who are fans/players of MMORPGs, you might enjoy how often the show pulls off a gag or scene illustrating the actual joys or drama that comes along with playing them. As long as you go in knowing what to expect, Recovery of an MMO Junkie may end up being one of your favourite shows to unwind with this chilly season.