Note: Review copy supplied by MVM Entertainment
Title: And You Thought There Is Never A Girl Online?
Anime Studio: Project No. 9
Publisher: MVM Entertainment
Genre: Comedy / Romance
Released: September10th 2018
Language: Japanese / English
Running Time: 300 mins
Extras: None on discs provided
From online wife to real life. Ako Tamaki has everything she could ever want: A wonderful husband, a cute outfit and a guild filled with great friends. The problem? It’s not reality. It’s all in the online world of LA-aka Legendary Age. Unwilling to accept the truth, Ako believes that her beloved Rusian is the same as his real life counterpart, Hideki Nishimura. Which means when the guild meets face to face for the first time, she calls him her husband IRL-even at school. Worried about her inability to escape the fantasy world of LA, Hideki and the rest of the guild decide to help her adjust to reality. But that’s easier said than done! Between making the Net Game Club at school and taking an internet-free summer vacation, Ako struggles to keep up with being a normal girl while aiming to be the perfect wife for Hideki. Can she trade magic spells for social skills or will she forever be an IRL n00b?
The set up of And You Thought There Is Never A Girl Online? sounds like it should be a harem show. Both the individual and perfectly ordinary male lead, and the group of trope styled women around him make it seem like it should be the same story we’ve seen many times before. To my surprise though, it’s actually a very different type of tale.
Despite some hints at the girls being fond of our otaku lead, Hideki, it’s quite clear that the only romance is going to be between him and Ako. This part of the story is handled very well too. Things build pretty quickly, then slow to a natural pace once Hideki’s romantic feelings have been established. There are plenty of sweet moments too, such as when he skips school to check in with Ako. And boy do the interactions between these two make for some compelling viewing at times. Ako’s whole arc was fascinating, as we see the slow realization about how bad she is dawn on those around her. She’s clearly had it really tough, and the way everyone rallies around her to try to help her have a normal school life is heart-warming. While she’s not technically the main lead, how hard she finds it to survive I the real world feels very natural, and it actually makes her fairly endearing.
The comedy was also surprisingly good. Sure, some of it, like Ako’s occasional move into clingy-psycho mode isn’t anything we haven’t seen before, but the laughs are genuine. Scenes like Akane discovering that her in game character name is actually German for pig or the line about freeing society from douches were excellent, and really caught me off guard. On top of that, there are also some pretty good messages about net safety interspersed within the main story. Such as when Hideki’s account gets hacked for example. Even if the middle aged guy roleplaying as a cutesy catgirl online doesn’t turn out the way it could have looked – and you may call the twist with that in advance – the general message about who you may be speaking to online is a good one.
From an art standpoint, And You Thought There Was Never A Girl Online? has some interesting moments too. It’s oddly specific, but I really like how the eyes are coloured. The lips on the female characters also have an interestingly shojou feel to them, which makes them stand out 9in a good way) against the general art style. The switching of online character faces once Hideki discovers that his guildmates are all female was nicely done, and there’s a nice colour effect applied to the MMORPG scenes, which is a really nice way to differentiate between the two settings. In general though, everything has a pleasant shine to it, and I didn’t spot any scenes where things seemed to randomly drop frames, so that’s good.
Of course, it’s not perfect though. For one, Hideki makes a comment about gender not mattering when it came to online gaming romance, and Ako’s reaction was more than a little biphobic. That was a temporary blip that wasn’t picked up again though. Given that the set-up felt very harem, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that some common harem-type things creep in, even if the show itself went a different way in general. The fan service is a little inconsistent, ranging from toned down to full on bounce, shake and strip moments. Some viewers may also be disappointed that we don’t get a full conclusion at the end of the series. Personally, I didn’t mind that as we do get to see a lot of progress made for the main characters. Plus, Hideki’s voice cracking when the insinuation that something inappropriate was going on was just perfect.
In all, I’m glad that this wasn’t what I expected. Had it gone down the harem route, it would have likely been good, but nothing too special. As it is though, And You Thought There Was Never A Girl Online? is a sweet tale about someone coming out of their shell, with a smattering of decent gags thrown in. This gets 4 out of 5 from me.
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