Recovery of an MMO Junkie Ep. 8: The light at the end of the tunnel

I’m getting soft in my old age. Even though I had been thoroughly frustrated with Yuta over the past few weeks, my heart still melted when he and Moriko finally reconnected as old MMO friends. I especially loved the way she fell back onto her bed as they talked on the phone. That reminded me of better days. I wish MMOs were still that fun for me. It’s never about the games themselves, but the people you meet through them. Without the social aspect, MMOs are generally, well, terrible games. But as much as I’d like to make fun of Yuta’s “Being alone is lonely” statement, he’s not wrong. MMOs are perfect for people like him and me. I’ve always found it easier to make friends in MMOs than in real life. When everyone’s hidden behind anonymous avatars, I guess they just become less judgmental. But anyway, enough about that.

The truth is finally out. Yuta was Harth, and Moriko was Yuki. More importantly, they’ve found each other after all this time. The girl is over the moon to see him again, which I actually find to be a bit odd if you revisit the first episode. Back then, when she learned that NanterSG was defunct, she shed a tear but quickly moved on. Why did she disappear from his life entirely? The last time Harth saw Yuki, she told him she wanted to make sure she got all her work done. Then she proceeded to stop playing any games for the next six months. By the time she became a NEET, NanterSG had already terminated service. Harth meant a lot to her, though: “I think what I felt back then for the person on the other side of that MMO was love.” So if she loved him, why couldn’t she spare even five minutes over those six months to log onto NanterSG and send him a message?

‘Cause we wouldn’t have a story with a dramatic build-up to their inevitable reunion, I suppose. They are clearly star-crossed lovers. Not only does she bump into him again in a completely different MMO, she literally bumps into him in real life. If they go to the same conbini, they must live in the same general neighborhood. But the anime embraces its seemingly impossible series of coincidences, because this is a feelgood show. And even though Yuta is afraid to reveal that he’s been Lily all along, he still manages to confess by the end of the episode. There’s no way Moriko will be angry with him, and I can’t imagine the other characters getting too upset about it either. So I can’t help but wonder how they’re going to pull a conflict out of the hat for the remainder of the series. The preview for next week’s episode has Yuta suggesting that he might quit Fruits de Mer, but I can’t imagine him actually doing it.

And to hell with conflict. Well, for this show anyway. As much as I seem to like it, Recovery of an MMO Junkie isn’t objectively that good. Aside from Moriko and Yuta, every other character is paper-thin. They offer almost nothing to the narrative. We get a glimpse of Yuta’s past this week, but even then, it’s weak and uninteresting. It feels like a last second throw-in just because the primary love interest in any given romance anime is obligated to have some sort of painful upbringing. This is probably an attempt to trigger a sense of protectiveness in the story’s target audience. This particular genre always wants viewers to feel as though we can’t help but root for the canon pairing. Recovery of an MMO Junkie thus tries to stick to the formula, but never fully embraces it. As a result, Yuta gets a flaccid backstory.

Whenever the narrative returns its focus to the two main characters and their relationship in the present, however, the anime gets its energy back. So I really hope the last two episodes can push aside the series’ overall mawkish inclinations and build upon Moriko and Yuta’s relationship instead. It probably won’t happen, but I’d like to see those two become an official couple before the tenth episode. In fact, have their relationship be known to all their friends as well. It’s not like they’re still kids in high school. Moriko’s already 30 and Yuta’s only a few years younger. What is there to be embarrassed about? And if they’re not going to start dating now, then when? After all, even though it looks like the manga is still ongoing, I doubt we’re going to get a follow-up adaptation. But if we do, I’d probably watch it.

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One Reply to “Recovery of an MMO Junkie Ep. 8: The light at the end of the tunnel”

  1. I agree this show isn’t great from a standpoint of avoiding obvious turns of drama or plot points. It’s not innovative or fresh in that respect, and I seriously question why it was necessary to have these two leads know each other in the past and coincidentally run into each other in the present twice. It strikes me that at least one layer of these coincidences should be removed.

    But, I give this show a lot of credit for coming off, in a lot of respects, like a real MMO, at least in terms of the social aspect, as well as little quirks of MMO culture (characters clipping into each other, burying afk people in feasts, crafting something during a conversation). That much at least feels true to life.

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