Recovery of an MMO Junkie
Episodes 1-2

by Paul Jensen,

How would you rate episode 1 of
Recovery of an MMO Junkie ?

How would you rate episode 2 of
Recovery of an MMO Junkie ?

Moriko Morioka is, in her own words, an “elite NEET.” Having quit her white-collar job at age thirty, she spends most of her time in her apartment playing an online RPG called Fruits de Mer. Her avatar Hayashi is a handsome male fighter and a member of a small but lively guild. Hayashi gets along particularly well with female healer Lily, and the romantic tension between them is obvious enough that their guild-mates have started to take notice. Unbeknownst to Moriko, Lily is actually a good-looking guy by the name of Yuta Sakurai. When the two of them run into one another in the real world, will the line between game and reality start to blur?

Recovery of an MMO Junkie separates itself from the crowd of game-themed anime through its choice of protagonist. As a thirty year-old woman who chose to turn her back on a stable career, Moriko is a far cry from the pleasantly bland teenage boys who typically occupy this role. That novelty alone makes me curious about her backstory, especially as it relates to her sudden change in lifestyle. She also displays a sense of humor about her circumstances, and her running commentary on events in the game tends to be amusing. Yuta hasn't yet had enough screen time to fully establish his personality, but he's sufficiently charming as a potential love interest for Moriko.

We spend more time with Hayashi and Lily in these opening episodes than we do with their real-world counterparts, so you could almost argue that the two of them are characters in their own right. While we can see elements of Moriko and Yuta's personalities in their avatars, it's clear that they're also using the game as an opportunity to become someone else. The contrast between reality and fantasy naturally leads to some humorous moments, and it also opens the door for some intriguing character development. Moriko's decision to go along with her guild-mates' assumption that she's a male college student seems especially noteworthy, and I can envision that choice coming back around in a variety of ways throughout the series.

The other members of the guild show some promise as a supporting cast, though the focus is clearly on Moriko and Yuta for the time being. Their brief real-world encounter in the first episode is entertaining if inconsequential, while their second run-in manages to be more charming than cheesy. It also sets things up for Moriko and Yuta to get to know one another face-to-face without realizing that they already share a personal connection online. Depending on how things play out, Recovery of an MMO Junkie could be poised to ask some meaningful questions about how we present ourselves in different situations.

The production values in this series aren't exactly stellar, and the character designs are noticeably simplified outside of close-ups. The in-game world of Fruits de Mer is charming enough in its design, but its only memorable characteristic thus far has been the amusingly cute boss monsters. Thankfully, the show makes good use of what it has, and it manages to communicate a lot through its visuals. Moriko's vastly upgraded computer gives us a hint of how committed she's become to the game, and the wardrobe choices of everyone's in-game characters offer the audience useful clues about their personalities.

Recovery of an MMO Junkie shows a fair amount of potential in the early going, even if it hasn't made full use of its strengths just yet. The series has a clever, understated sense of humor adds comedy to its dialogue without going overboard. Its central romance is sweet, and the main characters have plenty of charm on their side. Lily's early interactions of helping Hayashi get used to Fruits de Mer feel relatable, but the script doesn't overwhelm the audience with gaming jargon or in-jokes. Keep an eye on this one, as it could certainly carve out a niche for itself with its solid character writing and direction.

Rating: B

Recovery of an MMO Junkie is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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