Recovery of an MMO Junkie
Episode 6

by Paul Jensen,

How would you rate episode 6 of
Recovery of an MMO Junkie ?

Recovery of an MMO Junkie sent Yuta and Moriko hurtling toward one another last week, so what else could this episode contain but a grand confession scene? As it turns out, "some quick backpedaling and a subtle change in the story's direction" is what we get instead. Despite rushing in to play the hero and ending up on an impromptu date with Moriko, Yuta stops short of revealing his online identity. Moriko does eventually go out drinking with Koiwai, who continues to walk a fine line between encouraging Yuta and making his own play for Moriko's affections. Just in case it wasn't already official, we've got ourselves an honest to goodness love triangle.

With the supporting cast largely out of the picture, this episode is essentially a tale of three characters. Out of that trio, Yuta is perhaps the most underwhelming. His decision to keep concealing his online identity is a mild disappointment after all of last week's buildup. On the positive side, there are some moments where his exceedingly earnest personality comes across as charming. Yuta sneaks in a couple of solid lines as he and Moriko talk with Koiwai over the phone, and I love how crushed he is upon learning that Moriko doesn't remember their initial encounter at the convenience store. He also earns some points for rushing to the rescue a second time after getting that suspicious text from Koiwai, but the whole “I'm out of the picture now” routine strikes me as too self-sacrificing even for Yuta. The ups and downs more or less balance out, leaving Yuta neither better nor worse off as a romantic protagonist.

Next we have Koiwai, who is settling into his role as the show's agent of chaos. While I can't say I like the guy, he is perhaps the most interesting of the three by virtue of his unpredictability. While most of his actions up to this point could be explained as impulsive decisions, Koiwai's date with Moriko looks like it may be a turning point. Whether it's a result of her new look or something else entirely, he's clearly taking more of a genuine interest in Moriko. At the same time, Koiwai almost seems to be deliberately setting himself up for a fall. He pushes Morkio to spend time with Yuta, then goes out of his way to speak well of the guy during his own date. Even the text message comes across as an intentional test of Yuta's resolve, though whether it's an attempt to make Yuta confront his feelings or just an ill-conceived prank is up for debate. I'm not entirely sure what's going in Koiwai's head, and I'm starting to wonder if he even knows what he wants himself. Keep an eye on this guy, as he could turn out to be quite a compelling character. The key will be how well the series uses him as Yuta's unreliable ally.

Lastly we have Moriko, who now finds herself caught between two suitors. This episode allows us to see a new side of her: a sociable, charismatic heroine who can totally handle two dates in a row. This doesn't come as a total surprise (we already knew that Moriko held down an office job for years), but it's quite the change of pace from her usual NEET routine. Thankfully, the series manages to blend the old and the new into a coherent whole. Moriko is still ready to talk shop about gaming at a moment's notice, and she's clearly thrilled by the prospect of going home and logging back into Fruits de Mer, so we can rest assured that she's still the protagonist we know and love. We're seeing a more complete picture of who Moriko is, and this character development comes at a good time. Unleashing her “functional adult” side helps to sell the idea of both Yuta and Koiwai falling for Moriko on their dates, making the prospect of romance less of a fantasy and more of a natural outcome.

So yes, it's vexing to see Recovery of an MMO Junkie pump the brakes on what could have been a game-changing confession, but what we get instead is compelling in its own right. With Moriko riding high while both Yuta and Koiwai question their own motivations, the series has set itself up for an intriguing second act. The guys may have to choose between their friendship and their romantic goals, and Yuta's decision to hide the truth could easily come back to bite him. If that all sounds like a complicated blend of mixed emotions and conflicting priorities, it's just reflective of most of adult life. In that respect, this show is right on the mark.

Rating: B+

Recovery of an MMO Junkie is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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