And You Thought There Is Never a Girl Online?

Just from the title of the show alone, you can probably gather at least the very basics of what this show’s about, but I might as well start by elaborating on the premise. Nishimura, the protagonist, is a high-schooler who spends most all of his free time playing an MMO called Legendary Age with his guild, the Alley Cats. In the game, he’s married to another player known as Ako—if you’re curious by the way, in-game marriages are actually a pretty common mechanic in Japanese MMOs, Elsword being a really good example. Despite their in-game marriage however, neither of them (or any of the other guildmates for that matter) know eachother in real life. Before marrying Ako, Nishimura (who goes by the screen name of Rusian in Legendary Age) tried proposing to another player, but was turned down and learned—much to his horror—that the player was actually an older man in real life and wasn’t interested. That experience eventually led him to the belief that even if he were to end up accidentally marrying another guy in-game, it isn’t to be taken seriously and blissful ignorance wouldn’t be so bad; basically, it’s all just a game, so it doesn’t matter, right? Well, after he ends up recounting that past experience to his current guildmates, they all get to talking about what they’re like in real life until someone suggests that the guild have their first ever offline meeting. The whole group meets up in real life for the first time, and lo and behold, not only are they all students at the same high school, but all of the guild members with the sole exception of Nishimura himself are girls (despite most of them playing guys in-game). Ako also happens to be a complete shut-in who doesn’t have any real-life friends, barely attends school and spends most all of her time just playing video games while ignoring everything else and condemning “normies”. On top of that, she isn’t really able to separate Legendary Age from reality, treating Nishimura as though he’s actually her husband and constantly referring to her newfound friends by their in-game names. So begins Nishimura’s quest to try and help Ako (whose character shares her real life name) acclimate herself to the real world, desperately trying to teach her the difference between fantasy and reality so that she doesn’t keep insisting the two of them are married. First off, there’s a lot to be said about the subject matter of this show and how it’s ultimately portrayed, but from the start it’s pretty clear that this isn’t to be taken seriously. Take, for instance, the show’s mention of “normies”. Remember fucking Gamers? I don’t think I need to explain for a second time why that show’s completely serious and incredibly tone deaf use of the phrase was terrible, but here it actually manages to be funny. In fact, the whole thing is basically a massive slap in the face to Gamers, as though somebody said “Jesus, Gamers sucked, let’s make a gaming anime that’s actually funny”. While we’re going down the bucket list of gripes I had with Gamers, the characters in this show are actually likable, though sometimes Ako can be a little grating. I think the thing that bothered me most about this show is probably the relationship between Ako and Nishimura, with a running theme being that Ako’s problems run way deeper than just her video game addiction. It’s a bit of a Hestia situation, where she’s so overprotective of and obsessed with the protagonist it’s irritating, and she doesn’t have the personality to make up for it. Still, she’s not terrible, and the other characters are generally pretty fun and likable. The show does a good job on focusing in on the “gamer” aspect of who they are and what they do while giving off the impression the writers weren’t just totally winging it, and one especially fun part is the sections where we see the games they play (Legendary Age in particular) represented as though they were actually within them. In keeping with the show’s whole theme of gamers not always fitting into the expected stereotypes, each member of the Alley Cats is distinct from one another, and I particularly liked how the show highlights the way each character acts while trying to maintain their public image versus how they behave with their close friends, video games or not (with the obvious exception of Ako). In general, video games end up being the vehicle that brings the whole friend group together, but it quickly stops being about just the game and starts being about the people themselves. Overall, the show isn’t perfect; sometimes the jokes fall flat, sometimes the characterization is a bit bland, the story isn’t particularly engaging given how a fair chunk of it focuses on the bizarre relationship between the male and female protagonist, etc. But none of that is enough to ruin the show, and in general I found it pretty funny, with likable characters and a silly concept that’s executed fairly competently. As far as the whole concept goes, I think it would have worked better if they had made more of an effort to try and create a female protagonist that was more interesting, but it isn’t like I don’t understand the angle they were going for; trying to toe the line between shut-in NEET and cute, ditsy anime girl who isn’t even good at the games she plays. On top of that, not only is the situation Nishimura finds himself in after meeting all of his guildmates already highly unlikely, but the fact he and Ako are also star-crossed lovers is just pushing it; it’s kind-of hard for the show to make the point of its title when the story it presents you with is absurd. But hey, that’s why I said what I did before; trying to dig too deep for any meaningful social commentary present here is a fruitless effort, and it’s better to appreciate what the show is good at—comedy, characterization, and at least a competent understanding of the gaming world making for a show that is able to appeal to its core audience. The art and animation are decent, the music is passable but unmemorable, etc. At the end of the day, it’s nothing special, but it’s worth a watch if you’re looking for an anime about gaming that isn’t fucking Gamers. If not that, it might be up your alley if you’re into comedy or even romance, though I wouldn’t really recommend it for the latter.

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