Tuesday, August 2, 2016

And You Thought There is Never a Girl Online?

 Hello everybody! I hope you've all been having a fantastic day, because today, I'm going to talk about what is probably one of the cutest anime you'll ever see. A show about MMOs and the girls who play them. A show who's name is so long I do not feel like saying it, but will anyway. Yes, I'm going to talk to about netoge no yome wa onnanoko ja nai to omotta, or And You Thought There is Never a Girl Online? God that was a mouthful.

We begin our story with a young woman confessing her love to the man of her dreams, only to get shot down. Don't worry. This is all happening online. Fortunately for us, our young heroine isn't quite ready to give up. When her confession is rejected, she decides to go for broke. (Add video audio). That's right, Ladies and gentlemen, she figures that if he's going to reject her confession, then they should just get married.

I really have to hand it to Project No. 9. When they first created this series, I didn't think it was going to amount to much. My thoughts were along the lines of, “oh, this is just gonna be another Sword Art Online or Log Horizon.” Don't get me wrong. I don't dislike either of those anime, but I didn't think this series was going to contain anything original. I have never been so glad to be wrong. While I wouldn't say And You Thought There is Never a Girl Online? Brings anything new to the table, I feel like there are enough original twists on used tropes that I didn't get bored with the series. In fact, I enjoyed myself far more than I thought I would.

The story follows Hideki Nishimura, an open otaku who spends a lot of time playing the net game, Legendary Age. He, along with three other people, have formed a guild within the game called Alley Cats. His other companions are Schwein, a confident swordsman with a weird catchphrase; Apricot, a mage who spends a lot of money buffing his items and weapons, and also the leader of the Alley Cats; and finally, Ako, his loving in-game waifu.

One day, Apricot decides that they should meet each other IRL. When Nishimura goes to the meeting place, he is shocked to discover that not only are all of the people in his guild women, but they all go to his school. Coincidence? Of course not. The plot devicing is strong in this one.

Despite my joke, I really enjoyed this series. I don't think there was a single episode that I watched where I wasn't smiling. I was greatly impressed by the humor. All of their jokes were not only well timed, but they were also funny. I'm not lying when I say that the humor found in here was probably some of the best I've seen in a while. The only anime that was funnier was KonoSuba, but it would be exceedingly difficult to beat that series when it comes to RPG gamer jokes.

There were two jokes that I found particularly outstanding. The first was when Ako decided to quite school due to a misunderstanding. Hideki goes to her house to talk to her, but he ends up meeting her mom first. He's then given a key to Ako's room. He goes up to Ako's room and they talk for a bit. We hear some bumping noises in the background, followed by Hideki telling Ako that he's coming in. Ako tries to stop him, but he doesn't listen, and then unlocks and opens the door. Ako is practically naked.

Now, walking in on a girl while she's naked is an anime trope that's been done to death. In fact, having this trope is almost like a right of passage for generic harem anime. What made this scene funny was how they subvert the trope by putting an original twist on it. First, the door is locked. In anime, whenever the main character walks in on a girl when she's either changing or taking a shower, the door is always unlocked. I'm not sure why this is. Maybe the girl's just don't think the main character is capable of opening doors, or maybe it's just a poorly disguised plot device to show some censored boobies. Whatever the case may be, I like how the door is locked here, and the main character unlocks it and enters anyway. The second subversion of the trope is Ako's reason for being naked in the first place. She likes to feel free and uninhabited when she's in her own room. What makes this interesting is that there are actually people who are like this. In fact, when I'm at home, I generally don't wear much, and sometimes I don't wear anything.

The last subversion of the trope is when Ako tells Nishimura that she's ready, and he opens the door again, only to discover that, rather than putting her clothes back on, she has taken what little she was wearing off. While this has been done before, what made me laugh was how Ako feels like it's a perfectly normal response because they're married in-game.

The other joke that I liked was the pee joke, and I don't think I need an explanation as to why I found that funny.

While the comedy in this anime is often hilarious, this series is not without its more touching moments. There are many instances where the characters deal with real life issues, and while some of these problems are exaggerated or overemphasized, I think a lot of people, gamers especially, can relate to the quandaries these characters face.

I was particularly interested in Ako's problem. Ako is a person who has trouble separating reality from the video game. In fact, the entire premise for this anime is that Ako is so absorbed by the game world that she assumes what applies in the game also applies in real life. A good example of this is how she thinks Nishimura is her husband IRL. Not only does she think they're married in both reality and the game, but she even calls him by his in-game name of Rusian when they aren't playing, thereby informing everyone that when she looks at Nishimura, she doesn't see Nishimura but Rusian instead.

Outside of Ako and her reality issues, my next favorite character is Akane Segawa. I'll admit that a part of me likes her just because her voice actress is Jad Saxton. I've loved her voice overs since she played Suzuka Dairenji from Tokyo Ravens. However, I also feel like Segawa's character is the strongest personality wise. Unlike the other members of her guild, Segawa is a hardcore gamer who wants to have a reputation in school as a normal high school girl. It's like she wants to deny the part of herself that loves net games, but she can't give them up, which is why she turns down every boy who confesses to her. Having a boyfriend would mean less time to game.

Aside from Akane and Ako, the other four characters to note are Nishimura Hideki, Kyo Goshoin, and the two supporting characters Nanako and Yui. While none of these characters are bad, I felt like they didn't have as strong of a personality as either Akane and Ako. That said, I still had loads of fun watching them. Kyo, who plays Apricot in the game, is the daughter of a wealthy family. She spends crap loads of real money buffing her in-game weapons and armor. She's also the spearhead for the get together, and the one who forms the net game club so they can hang out at school. Meanwhile, Hideki is technically the main character. I say technically because he gets the most screen time, but in truth, Kyo, Ako, and Akane also play pivotal roles in the series.

Aside from the cute story, the anime isn't anything especially spectacular. I do appreciate the artwork, and the animations were good enough that I certainly won't complain. That said, while the artwork was lovely, this series isn't going to win any awards for it's animation. It was just okay, and honestly, I don't think it needs to be anything other than okay. Where this anime really shines isn't with its animation and artwork, but with its characters. For people who enjoy playing video games, and especially online games, it's easy for you to feel a sense of kinship with these characters. Aside from all of them being very likable, they also make me think of myself when I went to high school.

For those of you who love video games, I would highly recommend giving this series a watch. You can watch it in either subtitles or dubbed. While I usually prefer subtitles to dubbing, I honestly prefer the dubs for this anime. I believe the VAs had a really strong showing here, and the jokes made more sense to me dubbed than when I had to read subtitles.