Anime Review [Spoiler-Free]: Recovery of an MMO Junkie

Genres: GameComedyRomance

Studios: Signal. MD

Aired: Fall 2017 (Oct 10, 2017 to Dec 12, 2017)

Synopsis

30-year old Morioka Moriko has just left her job after 11 years in the corporate life. She now decides to dedicate most of her time to playing MMOs. Since a game she used to play is no more, after surveying for some new titles, she decides to try Fruits de Mer, playing as a male character named Hayashi. During her adventures, Hayashi bumps into another player, Lily, who is a female healer class. The two decide to go questing together, starting a friendship of sorts.

Unbeknownst to Morioka, Lily is played by 28-year old corporate employee Sakurai Yuuta, and fate has some pretty interesting things in store for these two.

Soundtrack

The opening and end themes are pretty alright. Background musics is appropriate, nothing really standing out or out of place.

Soundtrack score: 5.0/10

Animation Quality

For some reason, first few episodes had really bad quality. Some of the backgrounds looked like watercolour paintings, which was pretty odd for a 2017 anime. However, the quality improved over time to a decent acceptable level.

Scenery.png
Really now? The scenery sucked you in? Even that ladder seems out of focus.

Animation Quality score: 5.5/10

Characters

One interesting thing about this anime’s cast lineup is the character Sakurai Yuuta being voiced by the talented Takahiro Sakurai (Makshima Shougo from Psycho Pass, Oshino Meme from the Monogatari series, Lucifer from Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis, McGillis Fareed from Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans). I couldn’t tell it was him till I checked the cast list.

mmo.png
The main characters from left to right: Lily (Sakurai’s character), Morioka Moriko, Sakurai Yuuta, Hayashi (Morioka’s character).

It is revealed early in the story that Lily and Hayashi eventually joined the same guild, @Home Party. The players range from students to working adults, and as the story progresses, some of the player identities are even revealed in real life.

recovery-of-an-mmoj-msrfi.jpg
The involvement of Lily and Hayashi in their guild highlights the feeling of belonging in an online circle, which is very much relatable.

Among the list of characters, Homare Koiwai is the liveliest of the bunch. He’s Sakurai’s senior co-worker, but acts more like a wingman and big brother to him, often trying to set him up with Morioka. The fact that Koiwai genuinely goes out of his way to bring the two closer together is both commendable and heartwarming, albeit a teeny bit intrusive at times. He and a few other characters provide much of the comic relief in the anime.

At times, the anime seems more like and “Awkward MMO interactions Simulator” because the characters are a bit too conscious about things like player gender and even accepting the role of a partner (which pretty much means a dedicated party member to go raiding with).

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Sometimes I think they forget they’re just playing a video game.
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Morioka always being conscious about her hair and makeup when she’s around people is rather cute, especially when Sakurai is around.

A few episodes in, and the thing that got me interested in the show is a possible romance between an older woman and a younger guy. If Sakurai could handle himself well and even take care of Morioka during her moments of distress, that would really showcase his manly qualities, and make him more attractive.

It is here, however, that I felt a major disconnect with the series: lack of maturity. You see, Sakurai is 28, Morioka is 30. They both have a few years behind them, they’re not highschoolers or university students. I expected them to act their age when it comes to socializing and dating. I wanted Sakurai to take the lead more. There were plenty of opportunities for him to take a step forward. I also wanted Morioka to drop subtle hints here and there that he could pick up on.

Instead, both of them were flailing about at every chance of interaction. Now, it’s perfectly human to blush a little when asking someone out, getting a bit too close, or even leaning in for a kiss. These are all heart-racing moments. BUT, getting flustered almost every time you open your mouth to talk with a person of interest really gets in the way.

Even if you say they’re both workaholics who have little time for socializing, the difference in maturity will still show through their feelings and reactions, and that’s what I found sorely lacking in those interactions.

Characters score: 6.0/10

Plot

For an “online game” archetype, the anime is pretty standard. Mechanics of the main game, Fruits der Mer are alright with no glaring weaknesses. There are boss fights,  special in-game events, epic quests, and different player roles (healers, tanks and damage dealers).

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The anime even covers the crippling dilemma of naming your character.

The plot covers some interesting topics about online gaming, namely loot box mechanics, the benefits of having supportive online friends, how much you should share about yourself with someone online, and even keeping online and offline lives separate or secret.

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One of my favourite subjects the anime covered.
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One indirect message the anime highlighted in this scene is if you can’t give someone a material thing, you can still give them your time, which is pretty deep.

During the first few episodes, I noticed the occurrence of far-fetched coincidences which led to characters bumping into each other. Now, this is all well and good. Some happenstance to spice up the plot is fine. As the story progressed pass the midpoint, I noticed the amount of coincidences increased in both frequency and absurdity. This not only cheapens the plot, but the characters as well. If they have a lot of “outside intervention”, there will be little room for characters to develop themselves. Once Sakurai met Moiroka, he had everything he needed to tackle her, but because of his lack of initiative, they somehow drifted apart. Of course, more bizarre coincidences made their paths cross again after.

Towards the climax, the plot introduced a certain event in the past which linked them together, and I felt that wasn’t really necessary. Regardless, the story managed to steer itself towards a decent yet underwhelming ending. The bonus episode was hilarious, though. Decent laughs.

Plot score: 6.50/10

Summary

Soundtrack score: 5.0/10

Animation Quality score: 5.5/10

Characters score: 6.0/10

Plot score: 6.50/10

Conclusion

Recovery of an MMO Junkie starts out with a decent premise with lively characters, capturing the lives of people and their personalities, both online and offline. I just feel they dropped the ball somewhere in the middle. Let characters decide their own course, it really goes a long way to make them memorable.

 

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