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The internet has become a big part of our lives. Some of us may use it a bit more than others, but you can’t deny that it has become somewhat of a necessity in our day-to-day lives. Some use it for work, some use it for pleasure, some use it to kill time. You can do whatever the hell you want. The internet is what you make it. Regardless of what generation you’re from, we’ve all sat down and watched our favorite streaming service or checked social media once or twice, or at least bugged our children to do it for us.
You can do whatever you want, and it’s so prevalent in our lives that mostly everyone has somewhat of an understanding of it. Hell, my grandmother is probably on the internet more than I am. As I said, it is what you want it to be. And in my case, it was a sense of community.
As a kid, I had a lot going against me socially. I was homeschooled my entire life. I was awkward. I had no friends. I didn’t like or know how to speak to people, and I was the youngest of all my siblings by quite a bit. Add that in with parents pretty strict about having privacy in general, and one of them being fairly antisocial as well, and I felt alone. Very alone. And as most people who felt that way will tell you, you start to believe that you yourself are the problem.
Why don’t people like me? Why am I like this? Why can’t I change myself? It’s insufferable, and it’s a very easy rabbit hole to fall down into. It led to me hating myself and wanting to change everything about myself.
I even distinctly remember almost quitting watching anime just because I felt like if I got seriously into it, it would give people another reason not to like me. That’s how bad I was. That’s the reason I’m so big on being selfish once in a while and taking care of yourself. Nobody deserves to feel the way I used to.
What really pulled me out of that, or at least started to, was the internet. How exactly is a whole other story I might get into another time, but the internet gave me a place I finally felt I belonged. It connected me to the entire world, and I got the chance to talk to so many different people I never would have before. All people who, while different from each other, all liked the same things as me and were part of a community.
My time with the internet over the last almost decade now (yes, I used it later than most) hasn’t all been great. I’ve had my problems with people and communities over the years, but this sense of community I got from these people whose faces I had never even seen were the first time in my life I ever truly felt accepted. I felt like it was ok to be myself. Hell, even though we don’t talk as much anymore, I met who I considered my best friend at the time from it. We even exchanged phone numbers and actually became legit friends, despite never meeting.
Again, the internet is what you make it. It can be a powerful tool for good or evil, or it can just be a place to have a good time. The thing that still amazes me about the internet is that something in which every person in the world, despite how far apart they are or even if they speak the same language, can interact with each other. I wouldn’t be who I am without all of these people that I’ve never met before. It’s insane and really touching. And today, the story I would like to tell you about is one very near and dear to my internet-loving, hopeful, idealistic little heart.
For all the positive things I’m saying about the internet, it’s very easy for people to abuse it. It’s a tool of infinite possibility that essentially everyone has access to. For all the amazing people that have met online, there are just as many that have been harassed or taken advantage of. People have been bullied online, stalked, harassed, in rare cases, this can leak into the real world, not even mentioning the mental toll it takes on someone.
The internet relies on good faith. Almost everything about it is anonymous. You pick your name or handle, a picture to identify with. You choose everything about how you look and are perceived on the internet. Sites that do require details, it’s just as easy to lie about it. There’s often no fact-checking. Everything is anonymous, even if it isn’t supposed to be.
You have no idea whether the person hiding behind their handle is actually who they say they are. You don’t know if their kindness is real. You don’t know if they’re lying about their age, gender, personality, beliefs, anything. There’s no way to tell. You are relying purely on what somebody says being true. Even if you were to see a picture, it could just be fake or not even them in the first place. You really don’t know who you can and can’t trust and who’s just trying to use you for one reason or another. It’s a wasteland. It’s very dangerous.
With that being said, not everyone is like that. Some people are very private online, and some people are very open, and both have their good and bad people. Both have honest people and liars, just like in real life. While it’s potentially harder, you don’t know how people really are in real life too. The mask might be harder to hide behind, but it still happens all the time.
Why am I getting into this big tangent before even talking about an anime? That’s because this is all necessary to understand before going into it. Because, for as complicated as all of these topics seem, in only 10 episodes (11 with the OVA), Recovery of an MMO Junkie manages to showcase all of these things in a very interesting, albeit idealistic way that really touched me a lot when I watched it years ago. I think about the series a lot, and I knew I had to talk about it in some sort of philosophical way as I like to do. Seriously, people who know me know I turn any topic into a discussion about society or something, and yes, I’m sure it’s irritating.
MMO Junkie is a story about coincidences. One coincidence after another that all lead to more coincidences. Those coincidences then lead to, guess what, even more coincidences that lead to even more. It might seem like I’m exaggerating, but I’m not. Just as many of the characters say, coincidences like these just don’t happen in the real world. Good for them they exist in an anime.
So, where do these coincidences take us? Our main character, thirty-year-old businesswoman turned elite NEET Morioka Moriko, just happens to quit her job when she just happens to try and play an old MMO she used to like that just happens to be shut down.
She then happens to look up other MMOs to occupy her time which then happens to lead her to Fruits De Mer, an MMO where she meets a girl named Lily who just happens to be super nice and teaches her how to play the game. They eventually just happen to become friends, and our elite NEET just happens to join their guild and has a great time hanging with everyone.
Now, that on its own doesn’t sound like too many coincidences, but that’s because I left out a lot. What if I told you that Moriko liked to play as a male character in the game? Well, what if I told you that Lily was actually a guy in real life, meaning their strange gender-bent situation would lead them to still love each other in real life? Ok, we’re getting there.
How about if they actually knew each other in real life? Ok, now we’re getting a little weird. But what if they also used to be friends in another MMO where they weren’t quite as gender-bent online? Yeah, the coincidences spiral front there.
In simpler terms, MMO Junkie is about a female NEET who plays a guy in an MMO who slowly starts to befriend and fall for a girl who is actually being played by a guy before eventually realizing their feelings for each other in real life because they just happen to know each other. And Moriko also knows another of her guildmates in real life too. It’s a crazy story, to be honest.
Normally, you could make an argument that this is full of bad writing. Coincidences are usually a bad thing when trying to tell a good story. They can show a writer’s inexperience at making a convincing tale or completely kill your suspension of disbelief. They’re something that, while necessary at times, you want to try and avoid relying on.
MMO Junkie says “screw you!” to that and makes a story full of nothing of them, and it actually works pretty well. Not only for the fact that it’s very self-aware of how insane the story is, but also because it could technically work in real life. Is it unlikely? Yes? Is it insanely improbable that anything like this would ever happen? Uh-huh. Is it impossible? Almost, but you can’t tell me it is! You just can’t. It can happen! I want to believe in this, damn it. It’s cute.
Do I think this means that some female NEET has ever played a guy in an MMO and fell in love with a girl played by a guy in real life? No, but, I mean, it could happen. It could. And I think that’s part of the very illogical reason I like the series a lot. It appeals to my heart and makes me really happy.
I have plenty of actual reasons for liking it. One of them is that it’s very sweet, but it’s also frankly hilarious. I’m not even a big MMO guy, but I found myself laughing at all the jokes, whether they be from Moriko’s shenanigans or just the very MMO-centric humor.
I’m pretty sure just about anyone who has played an MMO for more than an hour would laugh at a lot of the humor MMO Junkie has. As I said, it’s very, very self-aware in every aspect, not only on its borderline abuse of coincidences to tell its story.
It’s very much an MMO story made for MMO fans. You don’t have to be a superfan, though. You just need to have somewhat of an understanding of the genre, and the humor expects that.
Jokes about gacha rolls, character creators, quests, different types of characters, it’s all there. Still, the biggest aspect of an MMO will always be the relationships you form playing them. It stands for Massively Multiplayer Online. It’s in the name.
I know that the fun I’ve had from the few MMOs I’ve played has never been from the game themselves. It’s been from finding cool people and chatting and exploring with them for hours. That’s why people like MMOs. They like hanging out and meeting people. They like striving for the same goals together as a team. It’s about more than just the game itself.
MMO Junkie knows this, which is why the actual MMO is just an afterthought. It’s used for humor and a way for these characters to meet. That’s it. I couldn’t tell you anything about the actual way that world works because it isn’t important. We don’t care. MMO Junkie takes that very relatable setting to a lot of people and asks the question of if there’s any way an actual romance could blossom from it. And despite how many coincidences it takes, yes, yes it can, and I love that. It’s so innocent and so beautiful.
As anyone who has ever read my blog would know, I love love—all kinds of it. I love healthy relationships, relationships that look unhealthy, relationships that can be very unhealthy, relationships that make me question life, I love everything about them and I especially love ones that show me something entirely unique, and that’s what MMO Junkie did.
The internet is, above all else, a wasteland. It’s the truth. It’s the most fitting word for it. It’s a wide-open world full of just as many dangers as possibilities, and if you’re not prepared when you venture into it, it could swallow you whole.
There’s a reason we’re always told about the dangers of it. They’re very prevalent. Every person you could be blatantly lying to you. Any friends you think you have could be using you. Everyone you think you like could be entirely different people. It’s a wasteland where all the dangers are invisible, and friend is nearly indistinguishable from foe. That’s the truth of the internet. But it isn’t all bad.
If MMO Junkie were to happen in real life, yeah, it would probably never work out that way. While girls do have a very valid reason to play male characters in-game or not reveal their gender online, namely for the amount of creeps they will inherently get just for being themselves (which is a problem that will sadly never be fixed), a young man playing a cutesy female character is likely a pretty big red flag. It doesn’t have to be. It can be innocent, but In most cases that won’t end up being very pure.
That weird gender-bent MMO turned real-life relationship would likely end up very different in the real world even if the stars did align several dozen times, allowing that stuff to happen in the first place. While the internet is potentially a wasteland of awfulness, like the cheesy quotes about the lotus flowers say (though it would be better if it was a lily), “The most beautiful lotus flower blooms from the thickest mud.” “A light shines twice as bright in the darkness.” You know what I’m trying to get at. A kind traveler in a wasteland of super sucky people will always mean that much more. For some, that won’t be worth it, but I believe that makes all the difference.
Maybe it’s just because I found my sense of community online for the first time, but there are so many people I would have never known existed if it wasn’t for this beautifully ugly wasteland that is the internet.
While you can never truly know how people are behind the screen, I do feel like you can come to trust certain things. If you’ve seen someone’s character and personality for long enough, and they haven’t set off any red flags, I feel like you can trust someone, at least in some way. In my mind, if you fail to trust people who have never given you a reason not to, who can you actually ever trust? And just because someone has broken your trust before doesn’t mean you should stop giving it. That’s a sad existence.
What I think people fail to understand is that’s there are different layers to everyone. There’s no such thing as someone’s “real” self. We are a combination of many things and traits that make up our “real” selves. Just because someone might act slightly differently online than they do in real life doesn’t mean they’re lying to you, or they’re even necessarily different. It just means that different traits of their personality come out more in different environments.
Moriko tries to be a hardworking optimist online because she wants to be that but can’t be one in real life. But eventually, through that, her online self starts to meld into her actual self to create a similar person. She’s different but similar. The internet lets you be whoever you want to be, whether that’s the same or a whole different person, and slowly, the two start to intertwine.
I know I’m different. While my beliefs and general personality are similar, I’m nowhere near the type of person to talk like this in real life. I’m an incredibly quiet, very reserved person. I barely speak a word in most real-life interactions, unless with someone I know well, let alone speak 3000 of them in a video (well, this was a video too.) Does that make me a liar online? Not at all. This me, the me you are hearing (or reading) now, is just another part that makes the person that I am. It’s the me I wanted to be, the me I still want to be, and the me that has slowly started to become the other me.
We are not simple creatures. We are incredibly complex in every aspect. Those incredibly private online, never sharing anything about their personal life, I understand. Those who share everything, I understand. Those scared of doing either, I understand. But I also know that just because people seem different than you imagine doesn’t mean they’re a bad person or are out to get you.
Don’t reduce people to less than they are, please. While it’s true that MMO Junkie relies on a lot of good faith and coincidences to make its story believable, it is a very realistic look at the complexities of anonymity online and how that isn’t always a bad thing.
While a guy playing a girl and a girl playing a guy looks odd on paper, it’s done for very realistic reasons and builds a relationship of the two that isn’t only sweet but complex and believable. It’s the quintessential online MMO complex character study look at strangers in an online relationship anime, really, for what that’s worth. I don’t know what exactly the core audience is for that type of thing, but I give it my seal of approval!
While not all of us take it as far to build a separate back story or play the other gender online, many of us are not the same person on and off the internet. That’s just a natural occurrence. It happens, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Different people take online relationships differently. Some will never allow them to be any more than that, and some treat them with the same priority as normal ones. Some people can find love online, and some find friendships, while some would never dream of letting either happen. That doesn’t mean there’s a correct or wrong way to feel. It’s up to you.
I just know that not every person who seems to have different sides of them or is private online is a bad person. I think it’s in our nature to want to learn more about the people we like. Even if it’s online, we want to know personal things about them as we would a normal friendship. But don’t hold it against people if they choose not to openly share that, and don’t just assume they’re a liar for not telling you.
People have all sorts of reasons for acting the way they do, and a lot of the time, it has nothing to do with outright being malicious. While the internet can be dangerous, there are a lot of kind people and happiness to find in it. Hell, this video wouldn’t exist without it. I wouldn’t have made the blog, and I wouldn’t have learned half of what I’ve learned. The channel wouldn’t look as good as it does without all the artists I’ve met, nor ever been a thing in the first place. None of this would have existed. I wouldn’t have existed, at least this version of me.
I wouldn’t have begun writing if not for people I’ve met online. None of this would exist without these strangers online who have motivated me. And while I may not know many of them personally, and I’m sure they’re different in real life, that doesn’t mean I value my relationships with them any less. From the bottom of my heart, thank you, internet, and thank you to all the wonderful strangers I’ve met because of it. Because for as hard as it can be to remember sometime, regardless of who’s behind that screen, they’re still another human being nonetheless.
Thank you very much for reading
Also, yes. Thank you, MMO Junkie. We were talking about an anime. I think I forgot that briefly.