Net-juu no Susume Review - Logged In
Yes, glorious, excellent wonderful fall. And after having to endure the sheer shamelessness of the summer season, which proudly touted some of the worst shows to have come out this year, fall season is a breath of fresh, crisp, refreshing air.
And please keep in mind that I’m talking almost exclusively about the anime season. As an actual physical season, I much prefer the warmer stuff. By a wide margin. I do not like cold weather. It takes forever for me to warm back up, and speaking as a guy who walks nearly everywhere he can, you can understand why I’m not exactly fond of the ice and snow.
So as you can imagine, I’d much rather spend my time indoors and chilling out in my cozy 68-degree apartment with a hot drink and enough video games to make GDQ squint their eyes at me and mumble “Dinkleberg…” under their breath. And seeing as how the weather is not gonna change anytime in the near future probably, longer-form games are probably exactly what I’m looking for.
…how about an MMO?
Yeah, with the cold season screaming in and with me having nothing to do apart from a suffocating pile of thesis work, a good massive-multiplayer RPG sounds right up my alley. And wouldn’t you know it, there’s a show airing right now taking that exact premise and having a little bit of romcom fun with- oh come the hell on! How many more adorkable romcom shows with premises regarding things I like can we possibly have??
Actually, I’m not entirely sure how valid my complaints are at the moment. GAMERS! turned out to be way better than I initially thought following the three-episode test, and Tsuredure I found to be an excellent palate cleanser after nearly choking on NTR (God, I hate that abbreviation). And this season’s submission is a little more tightly focused in terms of its premise, but after spending an hour checking out its first three episodes, I think I’m ready to give an opinion on. Net-juu no Susume, or Recovery of an MMO Junkie, is brought to you courtesy of Signal.MD. If you would have heard about them for anything, it probably would’ve been Hirune Hime, a fun little film released back in September for us Americans that I had an enjoyable if forgettable time watching.
Net-juu as I call it, because any English anime title that needs me to actively think about how I say it just doesn’t work for me, tells the story of Moriko Morioka (Mamiko Noto, Clannad, Kuragehime, Maria-sama), an unemployed MMO addict who lives her life almost exclusively in front of her computer screen. After being recently let go by her tech company, she picks up a new game called “Fruits de Mer,” where she lives out her second virtual life through her (male) avatar Hayashi (Ryouta Suzuki, who only did a small role in Dungeon up to now). She quickly meets and becomes close friends with the support character Lily (Reina Ueda, ReLIFE, Tokyo Ghoul) in-game, while also having on and off contact with her ex-coworker Yuuta Sakurai (Takahiro Sakurai, 91 Days, the Berserk remake, Wolf Girl and Black Prince, Psycho-Pass and it’d probably just be easier if I listed shows he hasn’t starred in) in real life.
And if you can see the twist coming here, because it’s telegraphed less subtly than the whodunnit in ERASED, then you can probably piece together what’s going on in roughly the same way I did.
Yeah, unfortunately for Net-juu the plot is not the most unique or surprising one out there. It is markedly generic as far as romcom shows go, and while the fun MMO aesthetic helps to conceal that from the audience a bit, Net-juu just doesn’t have anything special up its sleeves in the storytelling department.
However, with that major complaint stated up front and out of the way, that means I can focus on what I liked about Net-juu, and I’m pleased to say that list is much longer. We can start with the writing, since that’s what I’m a huge sucker for: it is pretty solid across the board. Most of the jokes hit their beats or at the very least are just cute and/or creative. All of the main cast - especially Moriko - are very well fleshed out and deep, and even though she spends 80% of the show’s runtime in front of her computer monitor, watching her react IRL to the events unfolding in Fruits de Mer is unique, witty, and charming.
The premise for Net-juu is, again, nothing flashy. There have been a number of shows that have taken the whole “MMO as a second life” idea and got decent mileage out of it; notable examples in recent history include .hack//SIGN, Overlord, and SAO. That said, the one thing all three of those shows had in common is that there was always some sort of “evil” that our protagonists have to conquer, whether that’s being unable to log out of the server, defeating a pervy old dude hitting on your girlfriend, or just tracing through the worn-out circle that is everyone’s favorite gaming anime trope - if you die in the game, you die in real life!
Net-juu cuts out all pretense of it being any more serious than it absolutely must, and that works to its benefit immensely. By no means is it just a standard love story - remember the person piloting Hayashi the swordsman is actually a girl - but the fact the show’s able to focus squarely on the characters and their relationships with each other, without having to resort to any of the overly dramatic, grave plot devices the aforementioned shows resort to, makes the show itself kinda refreshing in a way.
Net-juu doesn’t really stand out in any special way compared to the rest of the fall lineup, but frankly I don’t really think it’s trying to. If nothing else, its main purpose is to just tell a touching, amusing story about two MMO gamers meeting each other through the game, and the IRL shenanigans they get up to in the margins. It’s a fun, enjoyable, albeit disposable series for what it’s worth, and maybe you have a thing for fun, enjoyable, disposable shows like this.
And if that’s the case, then there is no doubt that Net-juu will take care of you this season. It left a good enough impression on me to stay in my Crunchyroll queue, so if that’s your metric for deciding whether or not a show’s worth your time, then your answer is a very solid “yes.” I’ll just say that you shouldn’t be expected to be completely blown out of the water, as the show is lacking quite a bit of meat as far as its…ugh, I hate using this phrase…“wow” factor is concerned.
But that alone doesn’t turn me off from shows like this, because even stuff that tries to stick to the background can be pretty enjoyable once you discover them. And what a way to sum up the show about the NEET life, huh fellas? The show about an unemployed shut-in who only ever leaves her apartment for sustinence is itself a show that’s trying to avoid any major attention and just simply do something it likes.
Later this season, we find out the third season of Food Wars! is actually edible!
THE VERDICT: B+ Next time: A break, and then…something