Type: Actually, about 50% of Gamers are Female
Synopsis: A group of high schoolers manage to convince their teachers that creating a club for the sole purpose of playing a MMO RPG is a good and worthwhile idea. They do so by exploiting the fact that one of their club members, Ako, suffers from a mental condition wherein she cannot discern the game from reality. They say that the club is an “incentive” for Ako to come to school, but really, there just slacking off. (P.s. I wish I could come up with a tie-in joke to GamerGate, but they’re a joke already).
Pros: This anime is in the online-game anime subgenre. Sort of. Basically, the character interactions in the game are all presented with regular character models. The game itself look’s fairly 2D. No one is stuck in the game. Except probably Ako, the female protagonist. She’s addicted to online gaming, to the point where she’s having difficulties separating games from reality. But luckily she has help in the “Ally Cat” Guild, made up of her classmates and friends who try to help keep a foot in reality. Notably, she has Hideki, or “Rusian,” her online husband, who she love IRL. The depiction and treatment of Ako makes her the most fascinating and complex character, her bouncy character model not withstanding. Ako has low self-esteem, as years of failing in school made her withdraw inwards. Her only solace is the gaming world (even though she’s not that good at that either). To the story’s credit, Ako’s issues aren’t solved quick and neatly, and the first half of the anime revolves around weening Ako from the game, and getting her to attend school (a nice touch of realism). But while Ako represents the old stereotype of the basement dwelling gamer, her club mates break convention. Rusian takes separating games and reality quite seriously. Akane’s a popular girl who want’s her gaming hobby to be a secret, and Kyo’s the pretty student body president. But don’t get me wrong, the anime is not a heavy handed character drama on geek or Otoku life (cough NHK cough). It’s actually a pretty light hearted comedy with subtle fan service (a bounce here, pose there, half the cast has large breasts, etc). And the English Dubb is choke full of game references, from Zelda to WOW quotes.
Cons: OK, here’s the thing, I can’t really think of any negatives that detract from what the show is trying to be. It’s a comedy about online gaming, with pretty girls as the main characters. I mean, from an outsider’s perspective, Ako is a “male-fantasy” character, a curvy anime girl who plays video games and is obsessed with being your wife. And yes, I thought Kyo’s skimpy mage outfit wore out it’s novelty after 2 episodes. But none of these make the show bad. It all works in context and doesn’t betray the spirit of the show. From a structure stand point, Ako’s story arc lasts between ep.1 to ep. 8. Every else doesn’t have the same weight, and feels more like fun filler. As a gamer myself, the show did legitimedly scare me at two points: when Ako was going to meet an online stranger in real life, and when Ako’s game chat was hacked by an online creeper. These types of situations are all too real, so they did make me nervous for the character (which is more of a positive from a story perspective). (P.s. This anime is kinda a harem, but in that there’s one male character and 4 females character. But only 1 real romantic connection exists).
Watch it?: I had a blast! (4/5)
A real rarity: a buxom character with an emotional arc not based on a love interest
Best Episode: Ep.7-8 The Summer Vacation Arc (you made my wife cry!!!)