(Warning, the following article contains spoilers for Recovery of an MMO Junkie. Read at your own responsibility)

Heading into Recovery of an MMO Junkie, I didn’t know what to expect. This was one of those shows that I didn’t do an ounce of research on as I was gearing up for the Fall season. Needless to say, much like basically everyone else who has checked the show out, I’ve been blown away by what I have seen so far.

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Time and time again I stress how much I appreciate shows with well done adult characters. It goes without saying that the most pleasant surprise with this show is that it’s main character, Moriko Morioka, is a woman in her thirties. Not only is she 30, she’s also a gamer, making this a double dose of surprises.

The setup for this series is that Moriko has had it with her life as just another cog in the meat grinding machine that is the Japanes corporate world. So she decides to quit her job and live off the savings she amassed, becoming a NEET who basically only leaves her home for supply runs to the local convenience store.

Living the dream

To help refocus her life she decides to once again take up her old passion of playing MMOs on her computer(with her PC and its accessories being covered in all the neon lights one expects from an “elite PC gamer”). Much to her misfortune though, the game that used to be her old stomping grounds had shut down in the years between her decisions to stop and start playing again.

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Instead, Moriko moves over to a newer MMO and, in a time honored tradition amongst gamers, she decides to make an avatar that is her complete opposite. The result is that she crafts a handsome male avatar with bright blue hair.

She names her character Hayashi(a move she immediately regrets because she had a long list of corny chuuni-sounding names that she thought were cooler) and begins playing. Predictably, due to both being a new player of the game as well as a lapsed gamer in general, Moriko sucks something fierce at the game. She keeps dying over and over in a cycle of patheticness, until she starts receiving help from another player named Lily whose avatar is that of a beautiful young woman. In a not at all shocking twist, Lily’s player turns out to be a handsome young man named Yuta Sakurai.

Over time Moriko becomes intergrated into the guild Yuta/Lily is a part of, and she begins to become close friends with her fellow guild members. Or at least as close as one could get with other people whom they know of only by a fictional avatar anyways. However, out of all the people in her guild she easily grows the closest to Lily, with her reactions toward Lily shifting back and forth between admiration to sometimes infatuation. Eventually Lily and Moriko agree to become partners in the game, even donning matching clothes.

But that’s what is going on inside the game. Out in the real world, things become surprisingly, if not irritatingly, exciting for Moriko as one day after an all night gaming session with Yuta that results in Yuta being late for work and Moriko catching a cold, Moriko accidentally runs into him in real life. Quite literally, as she walks into his elbow as they were both rounding a corner from opposite sides.

Life comes at you fast...

Yuta decides to take her to the hospital so she could recover, as well as offers to cover her medical bills for the incident. He also wishes to take her out to dinner, first to make up for the accident, then to celebrate her recovery after she turned down the initial offer. She yet again turns his offer down, because she doesn’t think she is capable of handling these kind of things well.

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Needless to say, Yuta is now head over heels in love with Moriko, completely smitten by Moriko’s beauty. If that wasn’t enough, Moriko seems to begin striking up a friendship with one of the clerks at her local convenience store after he begins talking to her about the MMO she plays, as he plays it as well. There’s a strong implication here that he is, unbeknownst to either of them, a member of her guild, if not possibly the guild master.

The cherry on top is that she also reconnects with an old coworker of hers, who happens to be a current coworker and seemingly close friend of Yuta’s. Thanks to this guy’s love of trolling Yuta whenever he can, he manages to get Moriko to cave in and agree to go out for some drinks with him, to which he then rubs in Yuta’s face with much glee.

That’s kind of a dick move, man...

All the while Moriko is sharing all of her experiences from the real world with her friends in the game, but with the genders flipped, to keep her self-made kayfabe of being a male university student and not a 30 year-old woman who happens to be a NEET alive and well. However, as she begins regaling Lily with her stories of whirlwind romantic moments in the real life, Yuta begins piecing together the clues that Hayashi is Moriko. And that’s...well that’s where the series has left us hanging at after these first four episodes.

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So, that’s the show’s story so far, which is just adorable, funny, and so far pretty well paced for a romantic looking series. It isn’t going quite as fast as say something like Tsukigakirei or many of the individual couples in Tsuredure Children, but it is still on a faster track than the usual romance anime. Though this is the point where I temper my expectations a bit as the show, from all the info I can find, is only scheduled for 10 episodes, so unless they really pick up the pace, they don’t really have much more time to advance particularly far in any potential relationship with Yuta and Moriko.

Moving beyond the romance and story aspects of the show, Recovery of an MMO Junkie has quite a bit going for it, which helps the show stand out more than it already was. One of the chief sources of enjoyment I am getting out of the show right now is, through 4 episodes, it has been a constant source of some pretty high grade reaction images, such as the following.

Basically almost every single time they cut back to Moriko in the real world to show us how she is reacting to something happening in the game, we are treated to something worthy of saving for later use.

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However, my favorite aspect of Recovery of an MMO Junkie, by a wide margin, has to be the show’s depiction of adult gamers. Coming hot on the heels of the sometimes funny, sometimes heartfelt, but mostly misguided Gamers!, MMO Junkie is a show focusing on gamers I can actually relate to, myself being a gamer that has to work while finding the time to balance my gaming habits as other passions of mine.

Part of the reason I’m very much in love with my Switch currently is the fact that its flexibility allows me to get in more gaming hours than I normally would get nowadays. So seeing these people who passionately play a game, but have irregular playing hours because they have work, or they attend college, or they are married, or even some combination of the above, just speaks deeply to me because of how relatable it is.

One last thing I would like to talk about is Moriko herself. I’ve said it in other places before, but Moriko is basically my spirit animal. I don’t think I have ever seen an anime character be such an exact reflection of my personality. Her insecurities, her introverted behavior, her general feelings towards work, she’s basically me, except for the fact that she’s a beautiful woman who has enough funds squirreled away that she could just chill at home now. Well, provided she doesn’t waste all her funds on loot boxes, that is...

The struggle is real, Moriko, the struggle is real...

Recovery of an MMO Junkie is a prime example that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel to deliver something that feels new and refreshing. By merely tweaking a few aspects of something that was already done before, in this case the tweaks being the decisions to make the main character a woman and the entire cast adults, the show has been able to storm onto the scene and stolen the hearts of nearly all who watch it. Out of all the shows I am watching this season, the one show I emphatically encourage people to watch is easily this one, and considering how strong this season is in my opinion, that says a lot.

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Recovery of an MMO Junkie can be streamed subbed on the Crunchyroll streaming service, and dubbed on the FUNimation streaming service. Recovery of an MMO Junkie is based on an ongoing web manga by Rin Kokuyo released on the Comico app.