OP: 「1st Love Story」 by Luce Twinke Wink☆
「ネトゲの嫁は女の子じゃないと思った？」 (Netoge no Yome wa Onnanoko ja Nai to Omotta?)
“And You Thought There is Never a Girl Online?”
The source for this was really funny, so all that remains is to adapt it well. So far? They’re doing very well indeed. This was really funny!
Crazy Characters = Tons of Fun
When I previewed this show, the first comparison that came to mind was KonoSuba. I realize that’s a loaded statement, but it’s the character dynamics that bring it to mind. The characters here are all to some degree bonkers, as this episode showed. Nishimura “Rusian” Hideki (Toyonaga Toshiyuki) is the most sensible, but his “dark past” has given him some progressive ideas about in-game marriages, i.e. that an online girl’s real life gender doesn’t matter. Which, you know, is how it should be. It shouldn’t matter! Though it springing from his intense cynicism is perhaps not the healthiest attitude.
From there, they just get goofier. This only scratched the surface, but Segawa “Schwein” Akane (Minase Inori) (male version) being a self-hating otaku who didn’t realize what her avatar name meant was hilarious, Goshouin “Apricot” Kyou’s (Ichimichi Mao) (male version) confident attitude (despite having no friends at school) showed her level of disconnect with reality, and Ako. Oh, Ako! Tamaki “Ako” Ako (Hidaka Rina) is ditzy, clumsy, shy, overly-clingy, has a loose grasp on reality at best, and has yandere tendencies (as does Kyou). She’s so baka-cute. And her adorable quasi-romance with Hideki is so cute, hng~!
I guess the best thing I can say is that, even though I knew what was going to happen from reading the source, I still laughed out loud several times. The jokes are good, the delivery is good, and Toyonaga Toshiyuki is already making himself felt. If you liked the group dynamic you saw here, it only gets better. This was all introduction. The real fun starts now. Speaking of…
An Episode of Introductions
The setup for this series is a touch unwieldy. They have to introduce the main characters, show how they interact together, and sell us on their camaraderie. They also need to introduce Hideki’s dark secret of having proposed to a GIRL (“guy in real life”). Then they had to get through the reveal that three of the four guild members are actually girls, and show how their dynamic changes (and doesn’t change) in person. All in one episode! That’s a tall order. This is as opposed to KonoSuba, which took three episodes to introduce its main four.
Fortunately, I think director Yanagi Shinsuke and his team at Project No.9 did a pretty good job. Getting rid of the ED and moving the OP to the end was a good decision, because they needed the extra time. It did result in a rather odd feeling when the episode ended, though, because they didn’t do the one other item on the docket: introduce the central conflict.
We still don’t know what this series is about! It isn’t necessary that this be done in the first episode—Itsuwari no Kamen didn’t do it until twenty episodes in, though that’s not a series you want to emulate—but it’s nice to have. This episode felt like an OVA, where we got a nice resolution to the “Rusian doesn’t believe Ako is a girl” conflict, and now it’s done. Only it’s not done! It just feels like it could be, because they haven’t brought up what will drive future comedy. It’s not an entirely bad feeling, but it is an odd one. I’d think the studio would want us leaving the episode hungry, not satiated.
Rule #32: Enjoy the Little Things
Project No.9 is a noted fanservice studio, which is to say that they like their boobs large and jiggling. The male gaze (trope!) was certainly in effect, though since I went in expecting it, it didn’t come as a shock. I’m just saying, this is Project No.9. Expect the jiggle.
What I really liked was how they showed the game they play, Legendary Age. When the characters are playing, they portray them as in the game, even though it’s a normal desktop computer game. It’s not realistic, but it looks cool, right? Why not! But they also took a moment to show us the login screen, which made me nostalgic for a game I’ve never played. Nice trick.
The character designs are pleasing, the color palette is bright, and even the occasional action is good, though that’s not the focus. Compared to something like Sousei no Onmyouji, this is hewing more to anime norms, but hey, it looks good. I ain’t complaining.
I could go on, but here’s the bottom line: I knew what was going to happen, and I was still laughing. I was a bit hyped going in, and this did nothing to lessen it. I’m looking forward to seeing what this show can do once it really knuckles down and starts splitting some sides.
As we did last season, we won’t be announcing our coverage until 2-3 episodes of most shows have aired. Please comment if you want to see Netoge receive regular coverage. I’m excited to see what happens now that the setup is taken care of, so it’s still on my list. Tell me what you think.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – It turns out that there are girls online, they play MMORPGs, and they’re bonkers. But so’s the guy. Hilarious premiere! #netoge 01
- It’s weird hearing Hidaka Rina as the busty dojikko instead of the tsuntsun loli. Weird at first, but I’m really jiving on her in the role now.
- I forgot to mention, but the “we all go to the same high school” coincidence is the obvious early weakness in the setup. This is the kind of coincidence I’m willing to let slide because it’s foundational, but only if the story is good enough.
- With Asuna it was always weird that she’d use her real name. With Ako, it makes perfect sense.
- I feel like a high school comedy anime needs to have its male characters in ridiculous plaid pants. It helps with not taking them in any way seriously.
My first novel, Wage Slave Rebellion, is available now. (More info—now in paperback!) Sign up for my email list for a FREE sequel novella. Over at stephenwgee.com, the last four posts: Even if you see it coming, it can still work, Batman does not kill. Superman does not kill., Inside Out: What Emotion Drives You?, and Superhot: Storytelling through gameplay.