Recovery of an MMO Junkie
Episode 10

by Paul Jensen,

How would you rate episode 10 of
Recovery of an MMO Junkie ?

The plot of Recovery of an MMO Junkie's last episode is easy enough to summarize: Moriko hangs out at Yuta's apartment for a while, they both get a chance to say what's on their minds, and then later they go on a date. It's not exactly a complicated story in terms of structure, but there's still a lot to dig into here. This is the kind of episode where the little details mean a lot, and the presentation matters more than the premise. For a series that's always gotten more out of subtle character interactions than big plot twists, this might just be the ideal way to wrap the story up.

Most of the screen time is dedicated to Moriko's unplanned visit to Yuta's apartment, and most of the humor comes from the core comedic setup. As was the case last week, neither of these characters is prepared to deal with the situation they're in, and their internal monologues are running at a mile a minute. It's a premise that could easily start to feel repetitive after a while, but the delivery is strong and inventive enough to make it work. Little things like Moriko responding to the talking dryer are both entertaining and useful for conveying how nervous the characters are. The awkward process of deciding on a seating arrangement is particularly amusing, and I love the visual of Moriko and Yuta sitting on opposite ends of the couch like two strangers at a bus stop. There's something earnest and relatable behind all these antics, and for the most part they feel like the natural reactions of the characters instead of constructed attempts at humor.

As the apartment sequence plays out, Recovery of an MMO Junkie starts to work its way through some important conversations. Moriko's curiosity about Yuta's computer is presented nicely, and it brings up the interesting notion of seeing the in-game world from another player's perspective. This also gives us a sense of how many important moments these characters have shared in online spaces, giving the computer an emotional significance beyond its practical functionality. The most significant conversation occurs during the dishwashing scene, as it opens the door for Moriko and Yuta to finally let their feelings out. The dialogue is handled well, affirming that Moriko is a better person than she gives herself credit for without getting too preachy. I would have liked to see the series stick with its main art style throughout this scene instead of dipping in and out of comedy chibi mode, but the significance of the emotional release still comes through clearly.

The date scene at the end of the episode wraps the story up on a strong note, and it also features my favorite bit of visual direction in the whole series. Seeing Hayashi and Lily's reflections as Moriko and Yuta walk past shop windows says a lot, and that image arguably does more to sum up their relationship than any of the dialogue. The blending of identities acknowledges the role Hayashi and Lily have played in bringing Moriko and Yuta together, and having the two pairs walk off in different directions drives home the idea that the relationship has irreversibly progressed into a real-life connection. Moriko's own personal epiphany is also handled well; instead of wanting to “take a step forward” out of a sense of shame or social obligation, she's pushing herself because it's what she wants to do. Much like her decision to drop out of the working world in the first episode, it feels like this is a choice that Moriko has made on her own terms. Getting back into the world isn't painted as a better path forward so much as the decision that's right for Moriko at the time, and leaving the choice up to the protagonist instead of using it to drive home a message is a welcome move on the show's part.

This episode concludes the story without any grand romantic gesture or epic in-game showdown, and it honestly works better that way. In a series that's been carried more by its characters than by its narrative, it's better to let those characters have the final word than to upstage them with some artificial drama. As modest as it is in ambition, this episode says everything it needs to and brings the story to a natural stopping point.

While it's had its share of imperfections, I've really enjoyed following Recovery of an MMO Junkie this season. It's been an interesting and refreshing take on a familiar story, and other gaming-themed romances would do well to learn from what it does right. The game provides a useful path for advancing the plot, but the focus is on the people playing it. Without a final boss to beat or a rival guild to fend off, the characters are free to be their own relatable selves and deal with more personal conflicts. This cast has definitely grown on me over the course of the season, and it feels like they still have stories left to tell. Even though Moriko and Yuta have answered the “will they or won't they” question, the rest of their guildmates have enough going on to justify another visit to Fruits de Mer. Bring on the OVA next week!

Rating: A-

Recovery of an MMO Junkie is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.


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