Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
And You Thought There Is Never A Girl Online?
BD/DVD - The Complete Series [Limited Edition]
Hideki is an avid player of the MMORPG “Legendary Age,” where he's formed a guild with three other players. Due to a painful experience a few years ago, he's determined not to trust players with female avatars who say they're girls in real life. Despite this, one of his guildmates, Ako, wears him down, so he agrees to an in-game marriage prior to an IRL meetup. Much to Hideki's surprise, all of his guildmates turn out to be girls – and what's more, they all attend his school! Unfortunately, this is a real problem, since Ako can't differentiate between the game and reality, insisting that Hideki is her husband for real. Can the guild band together to help Ako get over her misconceptions?
There are probably many worse problems to have than marring a decent show with one persistently awful character, but I was hard pressed to think of anything worse while watching And you thought there is never a girl online?. Based on a light novel series with the somewhat less convoluted localized title of You Thought Your Online Wife Wasn't a Girl?, this 2015 series follows a group of enthusiastic players of the in-world MMORPG “Legendary Age.” When they discover that protagonist character Hideki distrusts people who claim to be girls in real life, they agree to a real-world meet up – only to discover that everyone but Hideki is a girl. However, one of their guildies, Ako, whom Hideki has married in the game, has a major problem: she thinks that life and the game are essentially interchangeable. This pushes the rest of the group to form a gaming club in order to better help Ako understand that these two areas of her life are not synonymous.
As premises go, this has a good amount of promise. The tacit acknowledgement that women play male avatars in online games isn't one we always see in gamer fiction, and while it might have been nice to get more explanation for why Segawa and Kyo do this (it feels safer, they prefer looking at a male character, etc), that element still works well in the show's context. The more important takeaway for Hideki is that he continues to have a fun and enriching relationship with both Segawa and Kyo, inside the game and out, regardless of gender – his fears were for naught in that regard.
The problem really comes from Ako, the supposed heroine/love interest of the story. Simply put, she's very annoying, but more at issue are the reasons why she's annoying – Ako's character is built on the idea that she cannot tell the difference between real life and the game. She insists on calling Hideki and the others by their game handles in school, persistently believes that she and Hideki are in an exclusive romantic relationship because they are “married” in “Legendary Age,” and she even occasionally attempts to access her game menu in real life. She's clearly intended to come off as socially awkward and isolated, someone who can only find solace in the fictional world of the game where she doesn't have to interact with people face-to-face, which is supported by her closed-off body language and persistent misinterpretation of her classmates' efforts to befriend her. However, she presents more like someone who has a serious mental health problem, parasitically attaching herself to Hideki and ignoring his discomfort while occasionally exhibiting potentially dangerous behavior. And you thought there is never a girl online? could have easily switched tracks and become a horror series given some of Ako's reactions.
Equally troubling is the romance that eventually develops between Ako and Hideki, which honestly feels more like unconscious self-defense on his part. While it is nice that he, Segawa, and Kyo want to help Ako acclimate to normal high school life, it's clearly too big a task for them, and it's difficult to see them being encouraged by their teacher, who at this point really ought to know better. The storyline also sees the characters take actions that are directly contrary to their stated goal, such as during the second camp episode when they take part in a special game event, which indicates that the plot isn't really sure where it's going or perhaps simply doesn't care.
Of course, it's still possible to find this show funny. The ADR director for the English dub clearly does exudes a delightful level of enthusiasm for the series. And there are many humorous moments to be found throughout, from the attempted completion of a PVP event to Ako's total ineptitude as a healer to Kyo's manic purchase of premium items. The difference in student and teacher attitudes towards club camps is spot-on, and there's a great gender reversal with the sunscreen application scene. If you're a fan of tsundere characters, Segawa is a nice take on the trope, and many of the game-specific jokes also hit their marks. If you can ignore Ako's main issues, there's still fun to be had.
Fortunately, both vocal casts are strong, with Monica Rial doing some truly impressive cat noises as Nekohime. The art is bright and attractive, with the sole exception of the lack of upper lips on the girls, which can make their smiles look very odd. Animation ranges from decent to nice, and most of the questionable body physics are saved for the in-game scenes, where it doesn't really matter how unrealistic they look. Extras on this release are fairly basic, with the exception of a brief promo video for the idol group who performs the opening them, Luce Twinkle Wink. If you're a fan of female idols (or this group in particular), this is a particularly fun extra. Physical extras are also fairly humble for a limited edition release: a small decal of Ako in her MMORPG and real-life appearances, and a basic rectangular mousepad also featuring Ako.
Humor is highly subjective. If you have a low tolerance for undiagnosed mental disorders being passed off as funny, there's a good chance that this show will not work for you, because Ako's behavior is aggressively unfunny. However, if that isn't a turnoff and you enjoy goofy harem comedies, it may be worth giving this show a chance to pass the time.
Overall (dub) : C+
Overall (sub) : C+
Story : C
Animation : B
Art : B-
Music : C
+ Some good game humor, good performances from both vocal casts
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