Recovery of an MMO Junkie has been a wild ride, but it's finally time for Moriko and Sakurai to start a new chapter together. This week in anime, Michelle and Steve speculate what lies on the horizon for this nerdy couple.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network. Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.
You can read our weekly coverage of Recovery of an MMO Junkie here!
Happy holidays, Micchy! Christmas is approaching fast, so don't forget to spend your money on presents and, more importantly, fantasy MMO lootboxes.
Truly the spirit of Christmas! Not the spirit of Christmas: never getting to see these dorks ever again.
Well, thanks to a literal Christmas miracle, we ARE getting a bonus OVA episode next week, so rejoice and be glad! But my, have these nerds come a long way in the past few months. (By which I mean holy shit they're holding hands now.)
Can you believe this show got so dang LEWD. It's ridiculous! The manga didn't even get that far!
The FIRST time they touch hands, it's over a computer mouse, and if that isn't the most perfectly, infuriatingly dorky thing, I don't know what is.
Gotta say, that finale was a solid 20 minutes of nerds being too god-dang adorable about personal space. I am thoroughly DEAD.
it was SO MUCH
OH SO MUCH
Truly the most relatable characters of the season.
Half me dying of cuteness, half me screaming "JUST F*** ALREADY"
Koiwai very much agrees
God bless these disaster children who are also grown-ass adults.
Okay, now that we've gotten the excited yelling out of the way, time to actually talk in full sentences.
MMO Junkie ended up being a touching, compassionate anime about online relationships and navigating IRL ones through the pitfalls of social anxiety and self-loathing. It's funny and relatable, but also just a great story.
It's so rare that we get shows about adult geek women, much less shows this dang cute about it.
But for me, the most important thing about MMO Junkie was watching Moriko grow out of relying on games as a crutch.
Yeah! The "recovery" part isn't about her giving up MMOs (which would have been trite and shitty), but about her beginning to feel comfortable in her own skin as her own person.
The show never looks down on Sakurai and Moriko for making friends through gaming—it fully recognizes that online relationships can be real—but it also recognizes that bumming around doing nothing because you're afraid to put yourself out there isn't the greatest idea.
I've certainly been there, and I can concur.
Rather than having her give up MMOs entirely, the show sees her starting to reach out and form social connections both online and off. It's a tough road to recovery from what could possibly be depression, but what matters is that first step.
the first, very adorable, very clumsy step
Sakurai makes a wonderful observation when he says that he enjoyed being alone but hated being lonely, and that MMOs were a place where he could be alone, but not feel lonely. That really spoke to me and how I've made my own relationships online.
Just Introvert Things
The internet can be a wonderful place for people with all forms of social anxiety! And it can further lead to those relationships continuing outside in the Real World. It's happened many times in my life, and it finally happened in MMO Junkie. It's the kind of story that couldn't have happened without very recent technology, but it's no less relatable for that.
Online: where nerds can find other nerds
And then meet up at anime cons, get really friggin' wasted, and overshare their life stories.
I mean that's DEFINITELY never happened to ANYBODY in this chat, but I'm sure it's happened somewhere!!!
But yeah, both Moriko and Sakurai are such sympathetic portrayals of awkward nerdy introverts.
Moriko is one of my favorite protagonists ever
R E L A T A B L E
just a neverending stream of relatable content from one anime character
Meanwhile, Sakurai's an all-around good guy. One of my favorite scenes in the entire show is when the two of them are doing the dishes and Moriko starts putting herself down again. He cuts her off like "stop that, people like you a lot more than you realize." Moriko might think she's an embarrassing freak, but Sakurai and all the other guild members like her for who she is: a sweet, earnest, fun person, and most importantly, a cry-typer.
Sakurai's more outgoing than Moriko, so it makes sense that he'd be more proactive in helping her realize her own worth. But he's got his own issues too, and I'd love to see Moriko help Sakurai more as well.
It's such an important moment. Sakurai of course doesn't know everything about Moriko's life, but he does know she's a good person. If nothing else, he can be honest about that, even if Moriko doesn't see it yet.
They both have a lot of growing to do together, and I can tell it's going to be unbearably cute.
Sakurai is also great because he has a pink keyboard to match his pink phone case.
And Moriko's reaction is "holy shit that's Lily's computer CAN I SEE HER NOW???" Girl is thirsty for her virtual anime gf.
I also appreciate that Sakurai's not a perfect fantasy boyfriend either. He's a lot like Moriko, just slightly less of a disaster.
but possibly even MORE of a dork
He is PRECIOUS. The most fanservicey the show gets is Sakurai losing his shit over how good Moriko looks in his big hoodie. That is some Culture.
Sakurai: low-key thirsty for an older woman in his pink hoodie. I feel ya, my dude.
I mean first of all, Sakurai has a pink hoodie.
Second, women in oversized jackets are A++
The way the sleeves go halfway over her hands is The Look.
Like okay, maybe the camera spends a few seconds too long on her (very loosely clothed) body but also, NICE. These are grown-ass adults, let them be a lil thirsty. (My biases are DEFINITELY not coloring my judgment here.)
Sometimes the hottest thing IS a woman in a big hoodie. That's how real life works.
another MVP of the show is Moriko's stomach
Moriko's empty stomach: the other secret wingman, providing all the excuses for the two of them to interact. Girl, Sakurai's lived alone for years, I 100% guarantee you he was a starving disaster in college, you're completely fine, don't sweat it.
So now that they're (sort of) An Item, what now? Besides awkward not-dates that are totally dates, the whole guild knowing what's up before they do...
Well hopefully they can have a few dates to themselves while Koiwai is distracted by his cheeseburger pillow.
Koiwai, you might have made an extremely tasteless date rape joke and be an all-around sleazeball, but you're good sometimes. Exhibit A: his avatar.
I understand Koiwai's role as the guy who realized these dorks needed somebody to egg them along, but also, the dude needs to learn how to respect boundaries and not act like a total creep. You're right though, he does have excellent taste in fantasy MMO avatars.
Honestly, if I had any bones to pick with the show, it'd be Koiwai's entire personality. He's lovable for the most part, but he crosses the line maybe a few too many times. Like dude, don't even joke about bringing Moriko home dead drunk, that's not remotely funny.
Yeahhhh, for as much as I love the show as a refreshing take on modern romance, Koiwai's character is where MMO Junkie feels the most dated, and consequently the most insensitive.
That said, I very much appreciate how obvious he is as a wingman, setting up Moriko and Sakurai's not-dates: one accidental, one totally deliberate. In the manga, he's the one who brings Moriko over to Sakurai's apartment and promptly ditches her there in the most transparent setup possible.
He tries. Fittingly enough tho, it's the couple's MMO avatars who proved the most effective in spurring their relationship along.
Lily and Hayashi are the actual OTP here, let's be real. The Harth/Yuki coincidence was a bit much, but whatever, I can dig it as a fantasy romance.
Both Moriko and Sakurai lament that they're not as great as the people they pretend to be online, but both Hayashi and Lily are still a part of their personalities. It doesn't matter that they're idealized—they're just another extension of the ways in which we try to project our best selves to other people. They're as much a part of Moriko and Sakurai as their real-life attributes. And lol yeah, the coincidences kinda pile up there at the end, but it's a breezy romcom, and the strength of the characters is infinitely more important than the plausibility of the plot.
They probably also met while playing Runescape.
It was destiny.
The show ends with Hayashi and Lily looking on while Moriko and Sakurai do their thing. Hayashi and Lily are legit part of them, but now they're engaging with each other on another level. It may be performative in another way, but now the Moriko that Sakurai knows is more than just Hayashi, and vice versa.
Yeah! They're still gonna have their adventures as Hayashi and Lily, but now they can also have adventures as Moriko and Sakurai. It's additive, not subtractive.
It's like when I met you and discovered you weren't actually a moe girl, but a John Lennon clone who is also a moe girl.
HEY...damn straight I'm moe. And Micchy, you were...actually pretty much exactly who I expected, sorry not sorry.
This is fair, I think I'm the Lilac of This Week in Anime: almost exactly the same person online as irl.
Speaking of the rest of the guild, I'm a little sad the source material's been on hiatus for years.
I was gonna say! I'd love to learn more about their guild members.
It was just getting into how irl couples might alter the dynamic of their friend group, like Lilac's crush on Kanbe despite knowing nothing about him irl, that kind of stuff. Also, we get Poko and Hime's domestic misadventures. Spoiler: Himeralda's the one who runs things in their household.
But hey, at least we're getting that OVA, which promises to be spicy as hell. They've already gotten to hand-holding! What else could they possibly do? Ask for nudes of each other's characters?
The only thing I know about the OVA is that Sakurai is dressed like a princess, which is the only thing I need to know. Real talk, the chance that they're gonna roleplay as their Fruits de Mer characters in bed is 100%, right?
Oh totally. Moriko accidentally yells "Lily-san!" and Sakurai immediately nuts.
She won't peg him as a gamer, but she'll definitely peg him as Hayashi.