When Hideki Nishimura, an avid player of Massively-Multiplayer Online Game ‘Legendary Age’, professes his love to an in-game female character, only to have his advances rebuffed by the character telling him they’re a man in real life, he swears off in-game marriages and heads off in shame to play solo. As time heals the wounds, Hideki as in-game Knight tank Rusian takes on a new mindset and accepts a new guild invite to a small four-man guild Alley Cats and eventually, an in-game proposal from the ultra-persistent female Cleric healer Ako. After all – it’s a game, and the game is different to real life, so it doesn’t matter if Ako is a guy in real life.
We meet the four-man team of Rusian and Ako, along with in-game male characters Schwein the damage dealing knight and Guild Master Apricot, the mage with a penchant for premium real-money items. In a truly shocking twist, the members agree to an IRL meetup and all three of the people on the other sides of their respective keyboards are revealed to be not only all female, but all classmates of Hideki’s – Schwein is the tsundere stereotype Akane, and Apricot the rich and friendless student council president. But the major problem is Ako – a shy girl who misses a lot of school to play the game, who thinks Hideki/Rusian isn’t just her husband in the game, but her husband in real-life, too. And thus the quest to get Ako to realise the difference between the game and real-life begins.
The series moves along at a reasonable pace overall, and hits all the notes you’re going to expect from the premise, balancing in-game shenanigans with slice-of-life comedy on the other side of the keyboard, but plods along in the middle sections where Hideki eventually comes to feel for Ako in real life and tries to make his feelings known, only to continually hit the brick wall of her not distinguishing between their IRL and online relationships, and aspects like Ako missing school and not drawing a line between on and offline is largely explored in ways that felt super unsatisfying and rushed. I feel like this was a bit of a missed opportunity for character and relationship development that was largely eschewed in favor of almost relentless fanservice. I kind of feel like if they cut out all the boob and butt-shots they probably could’ve knocked the series over in 6 episodes instead of twelve. A handful of new characters are introduced along the way, but their offline identities will come as no great shock as they are telegraphed a mile off.
There are a lot of good gags in here, and if you’ve ever put any significant amount of time into an MMORPG you’ll get a chuckle from a lot of the scenarios presented in the world of Legendary Age, such as the healer pulling aggro for bombing heals that are way to big and paying for it with their life.
Being a straight-up re-release of a Funimation produced set, there are all the annoying liberties you’d expect in the subtitle translation. It’s peppered with terms like ‘normies’ and Schwein referring to herself in-game with ‘Ore-sama’ is usually translated as ‘my bad self’. Contextually it kinda fits, but I find that kind of presentation grating. In-game cat-themed character Nekohime ends most of her sentences with ‘nya’, but rather than just tacking that on the end of the subtitle as it was originally spoken they go to great lengths to jam out of place meow-based puns into the translated lines or omit it entirely when they can’t force one in. On top of that, there are long, front-loaded, unskippable (and really really bad) trailers on both of the discs which left a bad taste in my mouth. I thought we’d left that kind of thing in the past? Apparently Funimation didn’t get the memo. Stick your trailers in the extras and leave it at that.
Overall, And You Thought There is Never a Girl Online? does a serviceable job of telling an entertaining story with the hand it deals, but the major premises here have been presented elsewhere in a better way – Love, Chunibyo and Other Delusions did a better job of the delusional highschool romance, and 2017’s Net-ju no Susume/Recovery of an MMO Junkie handled the online/offline relationship and romance theme in a far more interesting and believable way. That’s not to say it’s a bad series, I was pleasantly entertained along the way as a long-time World of Warcraft player, but those without some MMO time under their belts will likely get less from this series.
A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review