Recovery of an MMO Junkie
Episode 7

by Paul Jensen,

How would you rate episode 7 of
Recovery of an MMO Junkie ?

Recovery of an MMO Junkie has run through some pretty big plot points over the last couple weeks, so it shouldn't come as a huge surprise that the series stops to catch its breath in this episode. Yuta in particular could use a break, as he's currently busy second-guessing his decision to conceal his online identity from Moriko. Koiwai, on the other hand, is more than happy to let reality and gaming overlap; he's started playing Fruits de Mer and wants Moriko to help him get up to speed. Moriko creates a female character in order to play with Koiwai, and the design she comes up with brings back some old memories for Yuta. New in-game avatars for everyone!

I wondered last week if Yuta's decision to hide the truth would eventually come back to bite him, and it looks like it already has. Even though he brought most of his current problems on himself, it's hard not to feel a little sympathy for the guy as he agonizes over the situation. The series does something interesting by switching between Yuta and Lily's voices during the monologues, and this has the effect of blurring the line between these two identities. The presentation creates some rough tonal shifts as it bounces from the game to Yuta's apartment and back again, but it's a neat storytelling trick nonetheless. We're given the sense that Yuta is genuinely at a loss, which helps to set the stage for the decision he makes at the end of the episode.

Before we get to that, however, we should take a look at Koiwai's decision to jump into Fruits de Mer. As we've already seen, Koiwai is the king of snap decisions in a story full of people who overthink everything. Once the initial shock of seeing his character for the first time wears off, it actually turns into a clever counterpoint to what Moriko and Yuta have been doing. Koiwai wanted to play as a blonde woman with big boobs and bigger muscles, so that's what he damn well did. He never stopped to worry about what anyone else would think of his in-game appearance. On the other end of the scale we have Moriko, who had to make an entirely new character for the sole purpose of playing with someone she knew in real life. That willingness to charge headlong into new situations makes Koiwai the driving narrative force in this episode. He may not be the show's protagonist, but right now Yuta and Moriko are being forced to react to his decisions.

That list of impulsive moves includes sending Yuta a picture of Moriko's female character, an action that has some major unintended consequences. Recovery of an MMO Junkie has been hinting for a while that Yuta and Moriko played together in a previous game, and now those dots have been officially connected. While it's not exactly a shocking twist, it does provide the necessary push to snap Yuta out of his haze of indecision. We see him sitting at the character creation screen for Fruits de Mer, and it's all but certain he's created a dude who resembles his old avatar. It's an intriguing turn of events, but I worry that this roundabout approach is making Yuta into a less likable character. While a well-rounded protagonist should be flawed enough to have the occasional bad idea, Yuta's plan once again dodges the responsibility of revealing what he knows and puts the burden on Moriko to figure it all out. Call me crazy, but that seems a little too underhanded for a good guy in this kind of series.

All told, there's a lot of narrative groundwork being laid here. Much of what we get in this episode is setup without payoff, which leaves it feeling less cohesive (and perhaps less satisfying) than some of the show's previous efforts. It does have its moments: the Yuta/Lily monologue is a neat touch, and it's fun to watch Koiwai run amok in Fruits de Mer. Still, there's no getting around the fact that Recovery of an MMO Junkie is putting most of its energy into arranging new storylines, and a narrative refresh is rarely the most compelling part of a series. Given another week, it should be back on track.

Rating: B

Recovery of an MMO Junkie is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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