Here’s a show that nobody probably paid any attention to this season. Even if you are one of those “try everything” people, you likely clicked the “remove from queue” button as soon as you finished the first episode of Netoge No Yome. I did the same thing actually. Knowing clearly what this show’s intention and what it was going to entail turned me off right away. And yet, here I am, doing a review of Netoge No Yome. What has happened to me? Well I’m gonna tell you. But to preface this article with what you actually probably came here for, no I didn’t enjoy this show. Astonishing I know, but let’s get into it.
So I said before that I dropped Netoge No Yome after the first episode, and sadly after seeing gifs and screens of the shows female lead Ako in super sexy poses and situations, I was caught up in the primitive rational that I needed to watch this show just so I could see this girl do practically anything. Honestly I didn’t care. Luckily I so happened to fall into a rather interesting show. Definitely not good mind you. If this didn’t have my poor heart hooked by the female lead I would have never touched this show again, but I did.
First off lets talk about the male lead, and it should snowball into this shows problems from there. I feel that some of these light novel writers can’t write females that don’t have some kind of love feeling towards the main guy. Because clearly this story is about the main guy Hideki and Ako. Unfortunately that doesn’t really go anywhere. One of the reasons is that Hideki is adverse to girl’s that are into him. A trait definitely not rare in light novel adaptations, but still unforgivable. This time though his rational is pretty relatable. Given that Ako is a social outcast and weird I see the hesitation of him not wanting to get into a relationship with someone who can’t differentiate reality from the online game they play. And for the most part, these first few episodes where he and the rest of the girls in the Net Game club help Ako, are kinda compelling. It gives us a barrier to break that seems obtainable in the shows eyes and Hideki, while unwilling, is pretty proactive in helping Ako. They even get to the point where he acknowledges that he loves her and makes attempts to confess. But the confession is totally lost on Ako because she already considers them married as per the Net Game they play. His confession is now adequate with her feelings and I’m left to wonder, whats the problem? He loves her, she acknowledges it and she loves him back.
But wait, there’s that whole differentiating reality between the game problem she has, that must be the reason right? Well yes, in the shows eye’s it is. But at the point of confession Ako has already started to integrate back into school life and the real world. The disconnect here should be nil, but they keep it up to keep the joke going. And that’s ultimately what’s wrong with this show. Not the way it portrays its female characters, not the way it portrays people who play online games, and not the way it treats social outcasts. It’s the way this show always feels it has to have everything be a freaking punchline even when the mood in the show clearly is pointing in any other direction. It’s a sort of cock tease attitude that doesn’t even fit well with the other jokes that are actually funny. There are plenty of gags about Ako being a nerd/outcast that work in context with the scene. Actually most of the funniest moment are Ako saying something that would make you cringe to even be around her, which her fellow club members do, and is why its hilarious. These are all accompanied by a right time, right place attitude. However any romantic scene or serious moment ends up with the same wacky punchline.
So yeah, the tone screws up at times, but is that alone enough to make this a bad show? Not necessarily, since the humor is the main focus of the show anyway I can forgive its failed romance and drama, only on the fact that I’m watching this show for no other reason than to look at Ako in motion. However this show also has the added bonus of just being so boring at times. Weirdly enough the beach episode where Hideki confesses to Ako sort of felt like the climax of the show. But this happens at episode seven, and the show really doesn’t intend on progressing past this point. So we change the show to focus mainly on things happening with the video game and mostly all of it is presented in a boring and cliché manner, while at the same time halting any progression with any of the characters. They even have the gall to throw in the final conflict being tied to their clubs School Festival project. Oh my god, kill me now. Now while these episodes do have the same type of humor that is funny, the in-between bits aren’t as engaging as the first half of the show. And that first half wasn’t even that engaging, so it literally went from bearable to unbearably boring.
The show even tries its best to incorporate Ako’s themes of being an outcast back into the show, considering that is the only “sort of good” part of the show. They fail though, it’s clearly them retreading things that she has gotten over episodes ago, but if they didn’t retcon it during the show they wouldn’t have a second half, woop-tee-du. Up to the last couple seconds of this show its clear that there was never any romantic intention with this series or genuine mental illness issues being addressed, and I have come to realize that’s the conclusion that a lot of shows like this face. They play with genuine concepts but don’t incorporate them in a genuine way. If anything they use them to take advantage of the viewer, by being relatable. Of course this relateablity is relating to someone’s perception of themselves. And if you have ever known someone with a mental illness or social anxiety, you’ll know that they rarely even are able to identify the real problem. This show doesn’t identify the real problem, period. It has a cool idea, but is bogged by its self-fantasy to actually be able to progress into anything. This ultimately leaves people like me who don’t seek such escapism out in the cold. Netoge No Yome, does have something to offer just like every show, but whats its offering is rather shallow and potentially harmful to the right people. Even if I watched it for the pure pleasure of seeing Ako, I felt kind of bad knowing the reason this kind of stuff is made and who is watching it. For me Netoge No Yome was a wash, but I am glad that I watched it. As a reviewer I find that getting in a rut of preference is ultimately blinding and will lead to cynicism. So while I did get burned by this show, I now understand it and the genre better than if I hadn’t. And there is at least value in that.