Look guys, they did it! Moriko and Yuta never kiss nor do they ever manage to confess their true feelings for each other in explicit terms, but y’know what? I’ll take it. Yuta finally musters up just enough courage to tell the girl of his dreams that he wants to spend more time with her not just in game but in real life as well. In a vacuum, his proclamation feels all too vague; nothing he’s saying can’t also be applied to friends. But that’s why context is everything. To her, there’s no doubt that he likes her. She might even be too embarrassed to admit that truth to herself, but she can definitely feel it. Otherwise, she would never agree to meet him again in public; she wouldn’t have wanted to be a bother. We all remember the last time he tried to ask her out. She didn’t believe he thought anything of her back then, so she declined.
Most of all, love requires action. Anyone can bravely and poetically declare their love. They can even give into their lust and make out like mad. But what good is any of that if they can’t back it up? So from a certain point of view, holding hands in public is about as good as it could get. They’re signaling to the whole world that they’re together, and well, that’s okay. Words aren’t necessary.
Do I nevertheless wish that anime romances aren’t always so… clean and innocent? Of course. As I’ve said before, I find it very, very hard to believe that a 26-year-old and a 30-year-old would act like these two. There is, however, a small glimmer of hope in this week’s episode. For the first time all series, Yuta doesn’t just see Moriko as someone who is cute and adorable. When she puts on his clothes, a pair of hoodie and pants that are obviously too big for her, he takes his time to drink in the view. After all, her bra is in the dryer. As long as he isn’t creepy about it, that’s fine. They’re both grown-ass adults, and I hope they both have healthy sex drives. But admiring her is as far as Yuta ever goes, because Recovery of an MMO Junkie is the sort of anime where everyone is just too innocent for their damn good.
Speaking of which, it’s too bad the middle ground practically doesn’t exist in anime. Characters are either super virginal or super pushy. You know what I’m talking about… those trashy shows where there’s a power imbalance between the canon couple, and one person always finds him or herself pinned up against a wall. There’s almost never a healthy balance where two characters flirt and express their mutual sexual desires for each other.
Anyway, I guess I should get back to discussing Recovery of an MMO Junkie. For much of this final episode, Moriko and Yuta are pretty much on their first date. They spend their first evening together, they share their first meal together, and she even gets to see and approve of his nice, spacious apartment. If you love these two characters, then you’ll likely love this episode. You’ll be able overlook all their blushing and stammering. Their interactions will seem cute and adorable. For me, I think they went a little too far with the social awkwardness angle. It’s cute to see Moriko and Yuta bow and apologize profusely the first time. It gets old when they keep doing it over and over. But that’s only because I wish one of them would step up to the plate. The best you’re going to get is Yuta wiping away Moriko’s tears with his sleeve. I would’ve just hugged her, but maybe someone as socially inept as Moriko would’ve seen that as being too pushy and forward.
In the final minutes of the episode, Moriko looks at their reflections in a window and appreciates the fact that Yuta accepts her despite all her flaws. After all, she’s still a NEET. She admits that she doesn’t take great care of herself. She’s awkward in public. She spends her entire day playing video games. When was the last time she tried to better herself? When was the last time she tried to master a new skill, pick up a hobby, or enrich her knowledge? Most of all, the show never really addresses her financial situation. She has some savings, but how long can it really last? She’s only 30, after all. She lives in one of the most expensive cities in the world so she’ll eventually have to find a new way to bankroll her lifestyle. After this brief bout of self-reflection, however, Moriko casts away her low self-esteem and resolves to make herself someone who is truly worthy of Yuta’s love. Too bad we just don’t get to see what that entails. Her character arc comes to a close, and so does the series.
As a whole, however, Recovery of an MMO Junkie falls just short of being a good character-driven anime series because it never really touches on all those issues I just mentioned about Moriko. It hints at them, sure, but the show is content to dilly-dally with an all-too-pure romance between the heroine and her blond prince. And with just ten episodes under its belt, Recovery of an MMO Junkie is a bit too shallow. Side characters are introduced but never properly developed. Moriko undergoes a change by the end of the series, but the journey to her life-changing epiphany doesn’t feel wholly satisfying. As such, I can’t really recommend the show. If you want a romance anime that is low on drama and easy to digest, go for it. If you’ve played a lot of MMORPGs or just online games in general, you might find these characters’ social interactions charming. I know I did. But beyond that, Recovery of an MMO Junkie is all too short and unambitious to elevate itself above the sea of mediocrity. Despite having an adorable heroine, the anime is sadly forgettable.
Final grade: C+