In the short time that I’ve been watching anime, one thing has become very clear to me: Japan loves the Isekai genre. For those who aren’t aware, Isekai anime (or any other medium) is a sub-genre of Japanese fantasy that simply means a different world, generally revolving around an everyday protagonist who gets transported to some other universe. Recovery of an MMO Junkie (Net-juu no Susume or ネト充のススメ) is not an Isekai strictly speaking, but it deals very closely with a protagonist who generally finds herself more comfortable in an MMO video game, spending most of her time there living a fantasy life as a generated hero named Hayashi. Spoilers Ahead.
The story opens up on the main character, Moriko Morioka, having just quit her job to become a full-time NEET (literally someone Not in Education, Employment, or Training). Morioka is fed up with her work life and decides indefinite unemployment is a better alternative, choosing to bury herself in an MMO. In this MMO, she eventually levels up and joins a guild with the help of a new in-game friend named Lily. Through her time in this MMO, she becomes close friends with all her guild mates, Lily most of all, creating a formal in game partnership with her. Ultimately, Morioka finds out that Lily is not only someone she knows in real life, but also someone she shares a deep distant connection with from years prior.
Morioka is a broken mess from her past life. She feels like she’s an embarrassment to all she meets simply by being there. While she chose to live life as a NEET, she’s acutely aware of the reputation that comes with that status, and carries an inferiority complex with her as a result. She is only comfortable when she can hide behind her online persona. When she does interact with the world around her, it’s through hurried trips to the local convenience store for necessities. For her, that is all the life she can handle.
Lily, an in-game character created by a man named Yuuta Sakurai, has other ideas about Morioka. By accident, he realizes that not only has he met Morioka before in real life, but he also knows her from a previous MMO game where they had played together before. It was a time in his life where Morioka had provided him much needed companionship and help. He wants to return the favor, and sets out to show Morioka how special she is, doing his best to push past her negative self image and show her that the world and those around her value her.
The story itself isn’t exactly groundbreaking. When it comes to love stories, a long string of complicated coincidences seem to drive a lot of the plot. But the heart of the characters, both these two main companions as well as the rest of the cast, gives this anime that special touch. The emotions projected by the cast feel genuine.
Personally, I like the evolution of the relationship between Morioka and Sakurai (if that wasn’t already obvious from the story synopsis). It’s not a love story filled with numerous misunderstandings and simple problems that could be solved if people would just sit down and talk. They are simply people being people, trying their best to survive in a world that sometimes feels cold and unwelcoming. Ultimately, their long lasting bond wins out and brings them together, giving each of them a place to belong both in and out of game.
The animation quality for this one varies from good to great, especially feeling strong in the close-ups of characters. The music doesn’t feel overdone or out of place, always highlighting every scene that it’s in. This 10 episode (plus 1 OVA) season did a good job keeping the story moving without feeling like it was really stagnating or needing filler. There isn’t any heavy conflict, either in-game or out of game. There aren’t any true rivals for love. It’s simply the story of two people finding each other. And to me, that’s OK.