Of all the anime season I was watching the one I was expecting to drop or find barely passable is Netoge. Look at the title, read the synopsis, look at the character designs, this looks like the dumbest thing yet I still watched it (mainly to get the most out of my FUNimation sub) and here we are with it now wrapped up. Why did I decide to review it? Mainly because of two words I saw used to describe this show, including from myself, more than actual ecchi scenes shown in the show, “guilty pleasure”.
In case, for whatever reason, you didn’t take my advice in the last last paragraph and read the synopsis, Netoge follows Hideki “Rusian” Nishimura a tragic backstory of asking a cute cat girl out in an online game and she turns him down by saying she’s a guy in real life. Rusian decides from this one event that girls don’t use the internet (or maybe it’s just play online games, the English title makes it hard to tell) and with a 2 year time-skip we meet Rusian’s new guild. The captain, Apricot is a premium player (spends money for better equipment), Schwein, the group’s sword fighter and Ako, a girl (omg a real one!) who acts as the group’s healer. Ako is obsessed with Rusian marrying her until he eventually decides it’s just a game so what’s it matter if she’s really a guy and says yes. The group decides to have an offline where Hideki finds out not only is Ako a real girl, she looks exactly the same in real life and in game, and her real name is Ako. On top of this Apricot is his school’s student council president, Kyou Goshoin and Schwein is his class’s resident loli tsundere, Akane Segawa. This makes Hideki the only guy in the group.
At this point I (like probably everyone else) was expecting a harem (that was a listed genre) to form but nope, never did. There are slight hints Akane and Kyou might develop feelings for Hideki but this never happens. All either do in the romance department is support Ako and Hideki. Character-wise Ako was the only one I could say I liked. The rest were generic character-types you’d find in any light novel adaptation while Ako’s inability to distinguish real life and games was something I haven’t seen too often, if at all in anime and while her pushy romance isn’t anything new, far from it, I like how not only does it fit her other trait, but without it competing with a bunch of girls it actually works well.
The comedy was done really well. All the jokes had great timing and I didn’t think any fell flat. There was also a surprising lack of panty-shots (I can’t even remember any) for this kind of show. Breasts being show (but tastefully covered) was a common occurrence but still not as often as I expected.
The soundtrack was fine but nothing special, the OP and ED were both generic catchy JPOP which I found myself humming but never cared to listen to the full versions. Voice acting was really well done. M.A.O. is one of my favourite seiyuu currently and I didn’t even realize she was Kyou until I happened to notice her name in the credits and looked up who she had done. Visuals were also nice with a shiny texture on things. The game world also looks different so you can always tell which you’re in (if you think that might ever be an issue). One issue I did have was after the reveal of who Schwein and Apricot were they always looked and sounded like Akane and Kyou which wouldn’t be a big deal (except this included their breasts and Kyou pretty much wore nothing on top) but there’s two other characters revealed later that once the group finds out who they really are don’t get this treatment causing an inconsistency.
Now what was this about guilty pleasures at the beginning? Well after watching and enjoying episode one I Tweeted how it was probably going to be a guilty pleasure for me this season. While reading reactions to different shows (as I tend to do to make sure I’m not missing anything amazing) I noticed many people’s review of the first episode said the same thing. I saw this trend continue (I should have saved Tweets) until I stopped paying attention too. Why would you feel guilty (does anyone actually feel guilty about liking anything they call a guilty pleasure) about watching something the general consensus is that it’s good?