And you thought there is never a girl online?
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 7 of
And you thought there is never a girl online? ?
Prior to viewing the new episode, I checked out the first episode of Funimation's broadcast dub, which became available last week. For the most part I think it's a very suiting dub. Jad Saxton is a perfect fit as Akane, Trina Nishimura hits the right marks as Ako, and who else could be Nekohime but Monica Rial? All of the male parts work just fine, too. The one quibble I have is that Mallorie Rodak doesn't sound quite right at Kyo; for a girl prone to grandiose actions and gestures, she comes across too mild, especially compared to the Japanese performance. Hopefully this will improve with time.
The current episode is unexpectedly interesting for being a fairly standard beach/summer camp adventure at heart. Part of that is due to its funny twists on standard gags, some inventive ideas, and one scene that you almost never see actually happen in such episodes but often want to see happen. The game-changing factor is the possibly sinister turn it takes at the very end, which was only slightly hinted at earlier. What actually happens is fairly evident, but where the series might go with it (and how far the writing might take it) is more intriguing. This is a potentially drastic tonal shift for a series that has always dabbled in being serious but has rarely taken itself too seriously. It's pulled back before by throwing out a suicide flag and then not pursuing it, but will it do so here?
Until that point though, it is still a light-hearted affair. Despite have a no-Net rule for the first 24 hours of summer camp, the guild still approaches real life activities in gaming fashion, much to the consternation of (former wrestler) Yui, who has a very idealized picture of enjoying one's youth. That doesn't stop them from hitting classics like swimming, beach volleyball, a barbecue, and fireworks, but most importantly, Hideki doesn't flinch when the perfect moment to confess to Ako arrives. Even though the scene gets used to fuel further issues with the perception of reality (Ako still cannot separate being Hideki's game wife from real marriage), it's still nice to actually see a confession this early for a change, and with the other two girls helping rather than needlessly getting in the way.
The way it handles fanservice is also amusing. To be sure, the series still has its regular doses of (clothed) butt and boob shots, and the swimsuit fanservice is entirely conventional, but it plays around in other areas. The normally sensual shot of Ako being rubbed down with suntan lotion turns into a giggle fest instead (she's apparently quite ticklish), while Hideki is the one who actually gets the erotically-tinged treatment. (See the screenshot above.) Later, the classic scene of a boy walking in on a girl in the bath gets reversed, with Ako catching Hideki starkers and being so thrown by it that she runs off – Hideki, of course, is the one who's mortified about being exposed.
Let's not forget about the hotel doing the cross-promotion with Legendary Age, either. That's such a cool concept that I have to wonder if it's been attempted in real life. The snide bit about how the hotel is getting people to buy stuff at the restaurant and gift shop by connecting them to in-game benefits (which I have seen done) – as the kids get sucked into them with an exasperated “this is all part of the adult world” comment from Yui – is a great touch, too.
In general though, it's good to see that the guild isn't abandoning its efforts to try and socially readjust Ako. We get some further faint hints that something happened to drive Ako so completely into the online world; in real life this often results from some kind of bullying, which would fit with her demeanor. The whole episode also raised a thought that I've had before while watching this series: for all that it's playing to specific circumstances, could this also be faint social commentary on an entire generation being raised on too much Net dependence? While I think that may be giving the writing too much credit for ambition, I can't entirely rule it out either.
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