By: Zero Omega
And You Thought There Is Never a Girl Online? (going to refer to it at Netoge from here on out) is a Japanese light novel released on July 2013, it was adapted into a 12-episode anime series that ran from April 7 to June 23, 2016, it animated by studio project No.9 INC. The story follows main character Hideki Nishimura, a first-year high school male otaku who spends most of his free time playing the MMORPG, Legendary Age, as the character Rusian. One day inside of the game he proposed an in-game marriage to a female character, only to be told that the person behind the character is a middle-aged man. Nishimura at that point decides to swear off any online marriages as a result of this deception.
Fast forward two years and he begins running around with a guild named “Alley Cats,” ran by a male mage character named Apricot (real life name: Kyo Goshoin). His two other guild mates are a male knight, Schwein (real life name: Akane Segawa), and female cleric, Ako (real life name: Ako Tamaki). Ako’s repeated proposals to Rusian eventually leads to Nishimura relenting and having an in-game marriage with Ako. Later on, Apricot suggests that the guild have a real life meet up whereupon Nishimura discovers that not only are all his guild mates attractive females in real life, but they also happen to all attend his school. The group also quickly finds that Ako cannot separate the game from reality, and as a result, is obsessed with Nishimura. Netoge follows the guild’s adventures in the game, and real life tribulations of helping Ako disassociate fantasy from real life.
Funimation licensed Netoge and has two releases, a standard edition BluRay/DVD Combo Set, and a limited edition one that comes with a couple extra bonuses along with the combo set.
Where do I even begin with this series… First off, it offers nothing that we really haven’t seen before in the past few years. I was fully expecting this to be an oversexualized harem series that was going to lead to a lot of disappointment and be incredibly difficult to get through.
I wasn’t terribly off the mark with regards to this, though I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it wasn’t really a harem series and that it wasn’t completely overly sexualized. Let’s be clear, the characters in Netoge are very one dimensional; Ako and Nishimura are downright cringe worthy and Ako is borderline creepy. I understand what the series was going for, she can’t tell the difference between the game and reality, and thus, she believes she is married to Nishimura in real life and takes the “love” to extreme levels. It’s not done in any smart way though and leaves a lot to be desired.
The actual story itself isn’t anything that is overly engaging or necessarily had me wanting more, overall it was incredibly predictable. It isn’t all terrible though, scenes involving Legendary Age are actually pretty enjoyable and the game is very reminiscent of Ragnarok Online. As someone who played RO a long while back, it was great seeing all the various references to the game. In fact, where I really started to enjoy the series was the last couple episodes where the group really focuses on engaging in a guild war.
The inherent problem with Netoge is that the entire premise is just ridiculous. Yes, it’s an anime, yes I’m supposed to suspend disbelief and just accept what is thrown at me, however it’s hard to ignore the entire idea behind this. First of all, how would Apricot/Kyo even get the idea that a real life meet up would have worked? Nowhere is it discussed that they all live in the same city, generally real life meet up with friends happen at larger social events like conventions, or friends meet one on one. Ako immediately attaches herself to Nishimura, who otherwise is an absolute stranger.
Even further though, it’s just a massive otaku wet dream, all the guild members you hang out with just happen to be incredibly attractive, mostly absurdly busty, females who also go to the same school as you? After the fact the class president is able to convince the class president to set up a computer gaming club in order to help Ako get over her social anxiety? This just doesn’t happen, if Ako had been continually absent from school because she’s too busy playing the game, then she would have been expelled, the parents would have in trouble, there would be some kind of punishment other than a reward like this.
It’d be one thing if it were supposed to be a parody of anime like this, but it’s not marketed that way and clearly doesn’t come across as one.
There is one moment in the series that I really did enjoy, Nishimura ends up getting his account compromised due to a fake log-in page. The way that this plays out is fairly accurate to how a “hacker” on an MMO would actually act. The “hacker” impersonates Nishimura’s character, Rusian, to try and take advantage of Ako within the game as she tries to have a “couples chat” (i.e., cyber sex), once the hacker’s cover is blown he moves out all of Rusian’s items and sells them off.
This is all done using a proxy IP and a dummy account, so the true account of the hacker isn’t immediately known. That’s about the extent of its accuracy though, the way they go about resolving the situation is not one that would actually happen in an MMO, but I do appreciate the conflict being pretty accurate to normal behavior.
Netoge is ripe with normal fan service tropes, so if that’s something you enjoy you’re certainly going to get it here. Catching a female character in the middle of changing, the school trip/beach episode where at least one character wears a string bikini and the females all laud over the male character; constant teasing shots of the female character’s skirts, knees, the sleep over episode where the female characters all bathe together and compare breasts, it’s all here, and it’s all trashy.
There are times where the series doesn’t know if it’s supposed to be a harem anime, or one where it’s supposed to be a budding romance between two characters. The ending is pretty unfulfilling and left me wanting a more concise ending, but without wanting to sit through what I had just experienced again. If the generic MMO/high school trope anime is your thing, you’re gonna enjoy this. If not, then your time is better off being spent checking out another series.
The box set itself comes with all the usual features, textless opening/ending, episode commentary (episodes 3 and 5), and a music video promo. The limited edition comes with a mouse pad that has Ako printed on it, it’s a nice little bonus, but keep in mind it’s an average sized mouse pad, you won’t be getting one of those extra large gaming ones. Also included is a bathroom wall cling with Ako on it, if you’re into that sort of thing.
I think the best way to really describe Netoge is that it’s the equivalent of American trash TV. It has its audience that is going to enjoy it for its absurdity, and if you need something truly mindless to indulge in as you’re in the middle of something, it’s the perfect background noise. However if you are looking for something a little more quality, stay away from it. The animation and art is definitely pretty and the soundtrack and action scenes within the game are pretty enjoyable, but that alone cannot redeem the series. However, if this is something that you normally indulge in (hey, we all have guilty pleasures, nothing wrong with that) then you can pick up the limited edition BluRay/DVD combo from Funimation here.