Chances are if you played an MMORPG, you’ve run into quite a few female characters that weren’t actually females in real life, but what if it was the reverse? The spring anime season has brought us this comedy where gender roles in online games take on the opposite meanings. It’s time to take a look at Netoge no Yome wa Onnanoko ja Nai te Omotta? also known by its English name “And You Never Thought There Was a Girl Online?

Let’s Jam!

The Story

Hideki Nishimura is an online gamer who goes by the name Rusian. One day, he fell in love with a girl character in the fantasy adventure game Legendary Age; however, when he offered an in-game marriage proposal to her, she ended up being a male in real life. This traumatized Hideki and he decided he would never fall in love with another female character again, however, a girl character in his guild, the Alley Cats, named Ako, becomes endeared to Rusian… and by endeared, I mean she’s infatuated with every single facet about him to the point of obsession. Rusian is afraid that if he returns her feelings, she would turn out to be just another guy.

The guild leader decides to have a real life meet up. This is where Hideki discovers that Ako is a girl in real life… and so are his two other male guildmates! Not only are they girls in real life, they’re also the student council president Kyou and his tsundere classmate Akane!

Outside of what I mentioned above, which details the first episode of this series, there really isn’t much overall story to the show. There are two sub-stories which occur over the next eleven episodes, but no real main story that moves forward. The first of the two stories is the one that receives the most attention and that is Ako’s inability to separate real life from the game world. She’s deeply in love with Rusian and pretends that Hideki is Rusian outside of the game. This leads to a lot of misconceptions among Hideki’s peers which adds some rather dull comedy to the show. Sexual or relationship misunderstandings are so run-of-the-mill in anime that it just doesn’t feel fresh anymore. The only thing about Netoge is that they kind of dial back other people’s reactions to the misconceptions. Nobody gets angry at Hideki or beats him up over it… they just kind of seem semi-interested at first and by the time the next scene rolls around, nobody seems to care anymore.

The second story is a lot shorter and is used to close out the anime series. The guild needs to do something for their school’s Cultural Festival so they decide to engage in a PvP battle within Legendary Age and claim a castle, but the top PvP guild in the game, Wallenstein, stands in their way.

While the anime does fall short in a lot of areas, they do accentuate some real world situations into the show such as paying to win in a free to play game as well as account hacking due to phishing scams. Those plot points aimed to add some comedy as well as some drama to the series. When the guild master decides to pay to win; however, she is shunned by her guildmates, which is what you would expect to happen in a real life scenario, but I felt that was a missed opportunity to add some extra comedy to the series. While it could have been a running joke that got old, if used right, it could have been entertaining, but instead they took the real world approach and put the kibosh on that straight away. When it came time for the drama, they made a real big deal out of a typical situation by tying it into Hideki and Ako’s relationship. They tried to play it up as a big moment that could destroy the two of them, but the result was just a small whimper when Ako realized that it wasn’t Rusian in-game. Heck, she didn’t even really seem all that traumatized by it.

If you peel away the gaming aspect, you’re left with your average everyday school comedy show. In these kind of shows, you typically have a great first episode to hook the viewers and then the show will just slide into mediocrity through tropes and typical situations, such as going to the beach resort (in this case, just to play more Legendary Age), or having an all-girls day episode or even having a Cultural Festival at your school!

Nothing you really haven’t seen before.

The Characters

Hideko and Ako got the most character development and then the show added a couple of new characters as the show progressed.

Hideki Nishimura

hideki

Not much can really be said outside of what I outlined in the Story section of this review other than he develops when he comes to terms with the fact that he really does have feelings for Ako outside of the game. He wants to be with her, but he needs to make Ako understand the differences between fantasy and reality first. As far as his character itself goes, he’s about as plain as plain can be. There really isn’t anything about him from his attitude, to his character design, to his voice acting, etc that doesn’t make him special. He is just your typical teen male lead and I, personally, found his character extremely boring.

Ako Tamaki

ako

In real life, any man with a brain would call the padded wagon and have this chick locked up. She was WAY to obsessive over Hideki… or should I say Rusian… for me to care for her. People were calling her best girl in this show, but that’s because the show FORCED her into the best girl role. I don’t care for her character design one bit and she comes across as really annoying. They try to get you to feel for her when she decides to stop coming to school, but that comes to an end thanks to Hideki just having some words with her. The fact that she can’t separate reality from fantasy is an issue some people actually have, but they never really explore this outside of Ako constantly thinking that Hideki is Rusian. They could have gone a lot further with it, but since they just focused that one aspect on Hideki and Hideki alone, it just made her come off as some pathetic girl who wished nothing more than to latch on and cling to the first guy who said hello to her. I couldn’t stand her as a character at all.

Akane Segawa

akane

She’s a typical, yet, not-so-typical tsundere character. She’s supposed to be this well-respected member of the school that couldn’t possibly be seen playing video games. Then she gets outed to ONE WHOLE PERSON and the world ends for her… then in just a couple of episodes later, this one person ends up joining their club and then the show COMPLETELY FORGETS ABOUT AKANE’S SOCIAL STATUS AT SCHOOL. Like, seriously, it’s not even mentioned again for the rest of the series. Also, nobody else in the show’s supporting cast seemed to even care that Akane played games which makes me wonder why they even made it a big deal to begin with. On top of that, she acts cold towards Hideki at the beginning of the series and POSSIBLY hints at having feelings for him, but once she realizes that he’s pretty much Ako’s bitch, she drops the entire tsundere attitude and just ends up transforming into this spunky little go-getter… at least in the gaming world. I’ve never seen a character just stop developing so much in my life. At least her design was cute.

Kyou Goshouin

kyou from netoge

She is the student council president and the leader of the Alley Cats guild in Legendary Age. She also has a bunch of premium items because she pays to win at the game. Despite the fact that she pays to win, she still needs to party up with Rusian, Ako and Schwein (Akane) to clear dungeons. How does someone who is clearly overpowered need a group to kill stuff when they can just solo it? For the friendship experience because that’s pretty much the only reason. She gets shunned for her pay to win mentality and it ends up getting curbed. Outside of this, she just boils down to a run-of-the-mill character who tries to be the level-headed voice of reason, but just comes off as a joke. In the beginning, she shuns non-gamers, calling them normals, which made me chuckle because there are some gamers out there that see society like that, but much like Akane’s character, that all but disappears as the show goes on and she takes a typical flat and boring supporting role.

One of the new characters introduced was Yui Saitou who is Hideki’s teacher. I can’t say anything more about her because it would spoil one of Netoge’s plot points. When it is revealed, it’s a facepalm moment, but one that makes you realize that they wasted the entire set up of the show.

Art, Animation, and Sound

The character designs were flat and boring as was the OST. The opening was your typical J-pop intro like you would find attached to any other anime in the same realm as this one. The only character designs in Netoge that looked cool were the ones used for Wallenstein at the end of the series. It’s like they actually put effort into their armor, which looked pretty badass.

wallen

Cool armor. We could have used more Bats in this show.

I know this isn’t a real in-depth description, but how am I supposed to describe plain and boring? Nothing stood out and anime has gotten to the point where any and all backgrounds, no matter what show it is, will look great because they’re all computer generated and unless the computer has a flip out moment and renders the BGs like utter garbage, they’ll still end up being the only thing worth looking at in any sub-par anime.

Overall Thoughts

After a very strong first episode, I felt Netoge was going to be a comedic hit aimed towards gaming and gaming culture, but all we got was a generic breakdown of how gamers are depicted. The show couldn’t even have any sort of continuity with their characters and they opted to just create a generic high school comedy anime instead of building off of their interesting traits in the beginning.

If Ako wasn’t such an annoying one-dimensional character who, by the way, still can’t tell the difference between reality and fantasy at the end of the show, completely negating the entire mid-season storyline and efforts of the entire cast, the love story between her and Hideki could have actually been something, but instead, I think Hideki should have his head checked because if that’s what turns him on, then God help him.

There’s much better comedies out there than Netoge, but as much as I disliked it, I can’t say I truly hated this show. It was watchable and there were some parts that did make me laugh, but it did nothing to make me want to see the next episode. In fact, I almost went a full month before I said “Welp.. I better play catch up so I can review this thing.” Who knows? Maybe there is an audience for this show out there, but it certainly isn’t me.

You want something better than Netoge that has drama, romance and comedy with a splash of gaming addiction added in? Go watch Welcome to the NHK. FANTASTIC series that will blow this show out of the water and give you a real look into the life of a guy with real problems.

neto31

Netoge No Yome Wa Onnanoko Ja Nai to Omotta?

Summary

It tries to depict gaming culture and does so strongly in the first episode, but as the series drags on it forgets a lot of what made it great. This show is average at best.

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About The Author

Josh Piedra

Josh (or J.J. as some have come to call him), is a long-time geek culture enthusiast with a deep passion for anime, manga and Japanese culture. Josh also has a Bachelor of Arts in Game Design and is a creative writer who has created original content for over 20 years! He is also the author of the original English light novel Final Hope.