Hideki Nishimura loves playing the MMORPG Legendary Age (LA). He’s wary about getting too close to his fellow gamers though, after an online marriage proposal by him led to the proposed telling him she was actually a male in real life. When he gets back into a new guild, he ends up accepting an online marriage offer from a persistent girl called Ako. Hideki soon learns that not only does Ako attend his school, but everyone else in his guild does too, and they’re all girl gamers.
And You Thought There Is Never A Girl Online? aired with 12 episodes between April and June 2016. Produced by Project No. 9 (Ro-Kyu-Bu!, Recently My Sister Is Unusual) and directed by Shinsuke Yanagi (Momo Kyun Sword, Ro-Kyu-Bu! SS), And You Thought There Is Never A Girl Online? is an adaptation of the light novel and manga of the same name by Shibai Kaneko. Given the length of the title of this show, you could get the impression that this is just another one of those silly harem shows with moe girls and a questionable plot. Well, yes…and no. The animation studio behind this, Project No. 9, already has a history of making some bizarre moeblob shows; Ro-Kyu-Bu! was about an all-girl elementary school basketball team, while Recently My Sister Is Unusual concerns a young girl who has to fall in love with her new step-brother to lift a bizarre curse given to her by a mischievous angel. This one, though, has a much more sensible story to it. However, just because it has a more grounded story, that doesn’t necessarily make it any better than the other works by Project No. 9.
Hideki’s guild, Alley Cats, all get along with each other extremely well online in Legendary Age, with Apricot (aka Kyo) taking charge of the guild as a male mage, who the others have already labelled Master. Schwein (aka Akane) enjoys the role as male knight, but Akane values the real world far more than the world in LA, which is something that bothers Ako greatly (more on her later), and as for Hideki himself, he is another male knight who goes by the name of Rusian. The stark difference between the guild members’ usernames and their real names is something that becomes a topic in And You Thought There Is Never A Girl Online?, and I think it’s a very good one to have, for a show that is otherwise a bit of a harem show in disguise. With Kyo being the student council president and coming from a wealthy family, she feels almost entitled to be the leader; it also kind of helps that she is the most willing to invest in premium products in the game, from legendary weapons to novelty mounts. Even though Akane plays the role of token tsundere in the show, her position as the ‘casual normie’ in the guild is also a notable one to have, as even though ‘casual normies’ have every right to be part of the game, the difference between them and the more hardcore players is huge, and is something that divides gaming communities. Akane doesn’t want her love of Legendary Age to get out, as she feels she has a reputation to protect at school. Compared to the others, who really don’t care about their love of MMOs getting out, this is actually very understandable, especially considering how MMO gaming, in particular, is seen by people as something that can hinder a person’s life and future.
But what about the cover girl of the show? Well, it is Ako who the others in the guild decide to ‘educate’ into becoming someone normal offline, in the real world. Ako remains extremely clingy to Hideki offline, which is something that actually bothers him, as he knows that she cannot seem to separate herself from LA. She carries on calling Hideki, Akane and Kyo by their usernames (Rusian, Schwein and Master) and also seems very willing to trust strangers, which interestingly brings up another topic: internet safety. But aside from these good topics about MMO gaming and the difference between the internet and the real world, And You Thought There Is Never A Girl Online? is a low-budget comedy show that doesn’t really take itself that seriously.
I was initially attracted to this show due to my love of playing MMOs. I was an early closed beta tester for the revamped Final Fantasy XIV, and had to report to Square Enix regularly how much I loved how much everything had changed for the better. Even though I’m usually a solo gamer, the guild I was a part of was enjoyable to chat with. The reason I no longer play the game is because I can no longer afford to pay for the subscription. I will return to the game eventually; I think other games have just taken up time and priority. Anyway, the vocabulary these kids use is all very familiar to me, and I totally understand why hardcore gamers have this mysterious disliking of casual normies who, they see, don’t devote as much time and effort into dungeon raiding, quests, PvP modes, grinding for items, etc. This is actually one of the few things I like about Ako, despite otherwise being an extremely annoying and ditzy girl: how she is totally devoted to the world inside Legendary Age, and how, in her eyes, it is a much better place than the real world.
Even with my love of MMOs possibly influencing my decision on this, as well as the topics I mentioned earlier, what exactly makes And You Thought There Is Never A Girl Online? stand out from any other moe harem shows? Well…not much, to be fair. Hideki is, unsurprisingly, extremely dull, boring and forgettable, Akane is predictably tsundere, Kyo’s noblesse oblige attitude both on and offline is rather grating to watch, and…umm…that’s about it. The show’s low-budget animation shouldn’t stand out compared to the topics raised in the story itself, but it sadly does, thereby affecting the rest of the show. Even the voice acting (both Japanese and English) doesn’t really sound that great, with characters sounding almost forced. As for the English dub, voice actors like Dallas Reid (Hideki), Trina Nishimura (Ako) and Jad Saxton (Akane) are all brought in, and despite the huge resumes, they all have, their voices don’t really match the characters they are meant to portray very well. The rest of the show doesn’t actually have anything else that stands out, aside from the gimmick of Hideki being surrounded by girl gamers who are all far more knowledgeable of the game than he is.
The opening theme is “1st Love Story” by Luce Twinke Wink☆, and the ending theme is “Zero Ichi Kiseki” by Yoshino Nanjo.
Just as Bakuon! was, Universal Pictures initially had plans to release this And You Thought There Is Never A Girl Online? in the UK, however, MVM Entertainment stepped in at the 11th hour to release it instead. The show reminds me of a more recent show which might get a UK home video release soon: Recovery of an MMO Junkie. In that, a thirty-something office lady quits her job to live online as a NEET. Developing a male character in the game Fruits de Mer, she meets a more experienced female player, Lily, who she later learns is a male in real life. It becomes a very sweet and grown-up romantic comedy where each character must learn by themselves to separate the world inside the game from the real world. So I really did like how And You Thought There Is Never A Girl Online? tackled the topics of MMO gamers in real life, and how the more devoted and obsessive among them should learn this internet/real world difference (which are two very different and contrasting things). Aside from that though, this show is not a very remarkable one. I suppose if one pays more attention to the script and the topics raised more than the low-budget animation, then this would be a bit of a more enjoyable watch.
Even with the fascinating topics that are brought up frequently, there is no mistaking the fact that this is a bit of a harem show with character designs that we see coming from far away. But the more you watch, the more you find yourself okay with that. This is an enjoyable show to watch, albeit a bit predictable at times.