It has sadly gotten to the point where I am tired of NEETs or hihikimoris or shut-ins or whatever you want to call those people who willingly shut themselves off from the real world to pursue a virtual one. However, this offering, “Netojū no Susume”, (subtitled “Recommendation of the Wonderful Virtual Life” or “Recovery of an MMO Junkie”) does something a bit different than just locking us inside a darkened room, the glow of the monitor giving us companionship.
Moriko Morioka is a 30-year-old successful career woman who decides to quit her taxing corporate job and become an elite NEET (Wow! I did not know there was a hieratical structure to them) and find a more fulfilling life. She joins an online MMORPG, ‘Fruits de Mer’, and creates a male character named Hayashi as her avatar. In the game, Hayashi meets another character, Lily, a high-level player who helps him learn the game. Hayashi and Lily become close friends and he joins her guild, @HomeParty. Meanwhile, in the real world, Moriko has a chance encounter with a handsome elite company employee, Yuta Sakurai, who may have ties with her online life. Got it? Good, as it gets more involved from here on out.
Moriko comes to learn that becoming a NEET is a lot more work than she realized and when real life intrudes on her island of solitude, it gets more complicated than trying to take down a Final Level Boss. She has kind of let herself go, potentially washing her clothing once a month, as far as I could tell.
Also, since she is an ‘older’ NEET, I wonder how she is able to make ends meet. I mean, Tokyo is not the cheapest city to live in and since it is her own apartment, when does the money come from? She discovers that she is, in fact, not ‘free’ from things but possibly more tightly tethered to things than she imagined.
I wondered if she was having second thoughts. Perhaps this ‘life’ is not as great and grand as she thought it might be and she actually craves companionship. I also wonder how good of a player she is. We see snippets of the game play, but it’s not like “Sword Art Online”, where we really see people put through their paces. She’s competent, but, hell, I’M competent in video games and I still spend too much time respawning.
I felt they could have played up the reality/fantasy shift better, making it more jarring and have her delve deeper into her decision, but it is a comedy, so things are to be kept fun and frothy, with nary a concern about the next day. I guess she really did think this through, but that feels like a gaping plot hole for me. Still, it is enjoyable seeing an older anime character going on with their life, rather than someone half her age.
I have mixed feeling about binging, just because it does not seem necessary to do so. I mean, in one sense, this is her new day-to-day life, so it makes sense to address things in one fell swoop. However, there is a kind of sameness that might wear on you fairly quickly, as it is the new normal. You can split the difference and see if it works for you; I like to change things up. And one might argue that 11 episodes is close enough to a ‘regular’ series, but my stance is if it ain’t 12, it ain’t full and #11 is even billed as an OVA.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 8 (Nice art, especially for game play)
Plot 8 (A different approach to thing)
Pacing 7 (Moves along in fits and starts)
Effectiveness 8 (Good use of flashbacks)
Conclusion 7 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 2 (A similar show would be “Okamisan”)
Bingeability 7 (Too much of the same thing)
Overall 7 (Got a bit too soap opera for me)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. Let’s continue playing together.