Written by Bananaowns
Images courtesy of Project No. 9
Every now and then a show comes along that perplexes me, but for a good reason. In the case of the show I am reviewing this week, this confusion had nothing to with any plot details or character decisions. It simply comes from a single thought about the quality of the show. And You Thought There Is Never A Girl Online? had no right be as good as it was. I thought it was just going to be a simple guilty pleasure, a trashy show that would placate the most basic of my anime needs. Instead, I was surprised to find a show that had a lot of heart and an actual romance that was developed. It also was a decent look into the culture of an MMO-RPG without making fun of it. This series was one of my favorites from the spring season. I am Bananaowns and this is an Otaku Youth Anime review.
The story follows the party of Hideki Nishimura, known more commonly by his online tag, Rusian. Rusian and his friends are obsessed with an MMO-RPG known as Legendary Age. A few years prior to the series, Rusian had a negative experience with online love that made him very cynical about the true identity of his online companions. Despite this, another player named Ako managed to convince Rusian to accept her in-game marriage proposal. He finally gets an opportunity to meet his guildmates in the real world and he is shocked to find that they are all actually girls and attend the same high school.
From this initial setup, the series places a larger focus on the group’s attempt to acclimate Ako to the real world, while also exploring Rusian’s very real feelings for his in-game wife. Naturally, the series places these characters in a variety of typical high school situations that can be a bit generic. You have a beach episode and an episode about a culture festival, but these are much more entertaining because of the dynamic between Rusian and Ako. Any anime that pairs up characters right away immediately piques my interest. Rusian and Ako form a relationship early on and the series places a large focus on this aspect. So the generic high school plotlines are enhanced as Rusian and Ako go through these normal high school experiences for the first time. It is important to remember that both of these characters are otakus, so this relatively new territory for them, especially for Ako. The series expertly places a large amount of focus on Rusian and Ako. This makes the story truly adorable and highly enjoyable.
All of the characters possess certain quirks, but the two standouts are the romantic leads. Ako and Rusian give this show that extra amount of charm, so let’s take a look at both of them. Ako initially appears to be absolutely insane. She has a hard time differentiating between the real world and the game world. Ako is a shut-in that lacks a lot of real world interactions. Even her gaming life was characterized by a period of loneliness before she met her current party. Considering how she initially only knew her friends in the game, it was no surprise that she preferred that world. However, once they started hanging out in the real world, this aspect of her character diminished quite a bit. It’s refreshing to see a character with very genuine feelings for another. She loves Rusian for accepting who she was. Despite her clumsy nature, Rusian always remains at her side.
Rusian is one of the most dependable main characters in this genre of anime. He’s a proud otaku and is highly intelligent. I also love how he avoids the dense protagonist trope. Rusian is actually a very self-aware character. He realizes his feelings for Ako relatively early on, despite being initially hesitant. He is actually a very normal character for an otaku archetype. He really shines in his interactions with Ako. When dealing with her more crazy tendencies, he can be very blunt with not putting up with her shenanigans. However, at the same time, he goes out of his way to help her at almost every opportunity. Looking at it this way, Ako and Rusian complement each other quite well in terms of personality. This is one of the more satisfying anime relationships that I have seen. The show puts this relationship at the forefront which was a very smart move. The interactions between these two characters really makes this show special.
Animation & Sound
While this series will certainly not be considered a standout in terms of animation quality, it excels in a stylistic sense. Earlier I mentioned how this show is adorable; the stylistic choices present this tone. Everything about this anime is very bright and peppy. It makes everything pleasurable to look at despite the rather mediocre animation. The 2D representation of the game adds on to this rather cheery tone. It’s rather enjoyable to see the extra detail of a 16-Bit art design and it adds on to just how crazy these characters are about gaming. The show visualizes the characters as their in-game avatars and these scenes typically have a large jump in animation quality. It manages to broaden the overall animation by introducing new environments and even some action sequences that take place in game.
The highlight of the animation though is the character design. These characters are all designed in a way that makes each one standout. For instance, Ako’s rather timid nature is shown by having her bangs cover her eyes. Little details like this add extra depth to the characters. I suppose I also should mention that this show has a lot of fan service. The characters were originally designed by a hentai artist and it can show at times. With the proper context though, I feel like most of these scenes are not too gratuitous and some can be rather hilarious.
The sound design doesn’t have any aspects that really standout besides the voice acting. The voice acting is perfect for this series. Ako’s voice actress manages to capture her highly variable personality. This is also true for the rest of the cast. The foley work for the game is acceptable. It’s not amazing, but it works for the series as the action is not the real focus here. The soundtrack is highly generic and forgettable. I suppose this aspect is perfectly shown through the typical opening song. It pretty much sounds like every other romantic comedy anime opening. However, there is nothing with the sound design that I would consider to be detrimental to the show.
It is very obvious that this show managed to exceed all of my expectations. I expected a guilty pleasure, but the show was so much more than that. It was mostly a romantic comedy with two great leads and most importantly, it actually had heart. The animation was average, but the character design was astounding. The music was generic, but the voice acting was great. I give And You Thought There Is Never A Girl Online? my Bananowns’ stamp of approval. I would say that it was my second favorite show of the season. I’ll be back next week for another review and thanks for checking this one out.