Title: Recovery of an MMO Junkie
Genre: Slice of life, comedy, romance
Episodes: 11 (including OVA)
Recovery of an MMO Junkie is a 10 episode series accompanied by a serialized manga of the same name. The manga originally published in 2013 and was soon followed by an anime that I wish had more episodes! Streaming in Japan and the United States began in 2017 and finished by December of that year. It’s a fun and heart warming series that reminds us that even 30 year old female NEETs can quit their jobs, play video games, and find a cute guy.
Moriko Morioka is a 30-year-old corporate dropout and NEET. Instead of this series taking place in the workplace, everything happens after Moriko leaves her job and devotes herself to an MMO called, Fruits de Mer. Poor Moriko, who has been stressed and disillusioned by the real world, is where many 30-year-olds find themselves – tired and fed up with office life. She is burnt out and ready to spend time enjoying the things she loved before work got into the way. Since her old favorite MMO went offline while work consumed her, she creates a new account in Fruits de Mer and designs what she calls, a ‘hot guy character.’
Moriko doesn’t consider herself just any NEET. She picked the NEET life and she sees herself as an elite NEET. After having spent too much time in the office, she takes much needed time to find herself… in video games.
The first episode immediately makes Moriko relatable to anyone who has experienced any sort of job loss, whether from quitting or being laid off or otherwise. If you’ve been unemployed, the scene I’m about to describe will sound familiar to you. The episode starts off with Moriko returning home from her last day at work. She only half undresses, getting as far as removing her stockings, suit jacket before throwing herself into bed and passing out until the next day. Her alarm goes off and she hops out of bed to remember that she doesn’t have to go to work anymore. Remembering this, she’s now free to savor the day as she wishes and goddamnit I’m jealous. She drags herself out of bed and turns on her computer to discover the game she hasn’t played in six months is offline. Looking for an instant solution like any millennial, she searches for popular MMO games and settles on Fruits de Mer because the character design is cute. Looking for a fresh start in the MMO world, she creates a male character that she calls a ‘hot guy character.’ After losing to a cute low-level hamster creature, Moriko respawns and runs into an experienced player named Lily. She’s overjoyed because Lily’s character is super cute. You have to wonder for a moment if Moriko is a little jealous she didn’t create a female character.
Lily and Hayashi become fast friends, deciding that their encounter was meant to be. With Lily’s help, Hayashi levels up and gets familiar with his new world. Hayashi is eager and willing to take on any adventure as long as Lily is at his side.
As the series progresses, Lily and Hayashi become online best friends. Moriko becomes comfortable enough to share real-life details with Lily, hoping to get advice to use IRL. Little does she know, she’s played with Lily before in a different series and the character’s player, Yuuta, realizes there are too many coincidences to be ignored as he learns more about Hayashi. Both characters refuse to confess to each other that they’re not who they say they are online because they’re both playing as opposite sexes in the game.
Eventually, Moriko and Yuuta cross paths IRL in the most unpleasant of ways. Yuuta tries to make it up to Moriko but fails partly because Moriko rejected his advances. Wearing the disappointment on his face, Yuuta becomes a drag at work and his older colleague, Koiwai takes notice. Eager to get involved, a colleague, Koiwai sets himself up on a date with Moriko and brags to Yuuta about it.
Frightened of going on a date after weeks of slobbing around, Moriko seeks out Lily for advice but swaps the sexes in her sentences as she asks about fashion advice for a date. Lily, who is actually a man, gives the best advice he can while trying to shake the feeling that this is about the date between Moriko and Koiwai.
Lily/Yuuta’s feelings are correct, obviously, and he confirms this by encountering Moriko in public as she waits for Koiwai.
Eventually, Koiwai gets his date with Moriko and does his best to make it look like he took advantage of her just so he can tease Yuuta. He is actually a perfect gentleman and takes good care of an intoxicated Moriko but uses the opportunity to snap a picture for Yuuta. From here the series gets more interesting as Moriko and Yuuta begin to see each other more going forward. Koiwai backs off, feeling that his work is done while the two become friends.
They all decide to play online together, with Moriko and Yuuta making new characters to hide their real identities from each other. As time goes on, the lines between IRL and the game start to blur and Moriko and Yuuta can no longer hide their real identities from each other…
Moriko Morioka is the protagonist of the series. She has a lot of IRL quirks ranging from using a lint roller on her carpet(I do this too!), not combing her hair for days, and being extremely awkward around men. Online she plays Hayashi, a blue haired Knight who has become close to a female character, Lily.
Yuuta Sakurai is an attractive half-British employee at Moriko’s former company. He is younger and looks up to his senior colleague, Koiwai Homare. Yuuta is socially awkward and often gets pushed into uncomfortable situations by his colleague. Online, he plays a female character, Lily.
Koiwai Homare is an older employee at Moriko’s former employer. He knows her through phone conversations they had shortly before she left the company. He pretends to like Moriko so he can get back at Yuuta for being too timid.
Kazuomi Fujimoto is a college student who works part-time and the convenience store near Moriko’s apartment. He’s actually the master of Moriko’s guild and knows who plays the game because he is often the cashier ringing up customers when they purchase cards to reload their MMO games. Despite being the most senior in the game, he is the youngest IRL.
Art, Animation, and Sound
The animation in this series is really fun to watch – I especially enjoyed the character designs and the background details. They went to great lengths to achieve an obvious difference between the real world and the MMO world. The MMO world of Fruits de Mer is a rich rainbow of pastels and primary colors. Fans of Sword Art Online will enjoy the MMO aspects of the game, particularly because there are many similarities between the two MMO words…. minus being trapped in the game. Fortunately, Moriko is free to log out whenever she wishes, although she definitely doesn’t turn off the computer as often as she should.
The real world is drawn in a range of colors that are appropriate for the various environments depicted. The backdrops are detailed enough feel immersed in the real world of the series. Whether you’re in Japan or America, it is easy to recognize locations and understand them for what they are – restaurants, convenience stores, and train stations. Without labels or verbal cues, viewers can figure out what foods the characters are eating and what items they’re purchasing. Moriko regularly makes trips to the store for snacks and MMO cards. Aside from a few dates and meandering walks outside, the majority of time in the series is spent in the MMO or in Moriko’s room.
I rarely enjoy the soundtracks of newer shows, but I did enjoy the music in this series. I usually skip the opening theme when I watch, but I didn’t always jump over the intro for this show. Out of ten episodes, I probably watched the introduction five times, which is a pretty good considering how often I skip over the opening credits of any show. I just wish we had a few more seasons to watch, so I could get further excited about everything in the series.
I’m a little horrified at how much I relate to this anime in ways I maybe shouldn’t. I understand Moriko’s desire to use games to escape reality and I totally get why she picked the NEET life over being a salary woman. I don’t judge her for it, especially if she has the money saved up to sustain herself while she farts around in her one room apartment. Of course not everyone quits their jobs and ends up running into a handsome blonde haired guy but we can all dream!
Recovery of an MMO Junkie is a slice-of-life manga series by Rin Kokuyō released as a web manga on the Comico app. This is a review of the anime series of the same name directed by Kazuyoshi Yaginuma. This series will appeal to older fans of slice-of-life as we begin to age out(or way way out) of the high school slice of life genre. It’s nice to have another series that older fans of anime and manga can feel closer to the characters. Fans of Idol Dreams and Servant x Service will find Recovery of an MMO Junkie enjoyable.