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And You Thought There Is Never A Girl Online? Complete Collection Limited Edition Blu-ray Anime Review

9 min read

And You Though there was never a girl onlineWhat happens in the game should stay in the game.

What They Say:
Ako Tamaki has everything she could ever want: a wonderful husband, a cute outfit, and a guild filled with great friends. The problem? It’s not reality. It’s all in the online world of LA—aka Legendary Age! And when her guild meets IRL, her inability to discern between the real and online world becomes a problem. Can she trade magic spells for social skills, or will she forever be an IRL n00b?

The Review:
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language in stereo along with the new English language dub, both of which are done up using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The show is one that largely works a familiar dialogue oriented design but has some moments of action and magic, more so in the final couple of episodes, which gives it a chance to flex a bit. The action won’t stand out in a big way but it’s well handled with some nice impact and directionality as it unfolds. The bulk of it is standard school based dialogue material so it handles the various placement bits as needed during the club room scenes and the like pretty well but it’s not something that requires a ton of strong design. There’s some good ranges to be had with what goes on here but it is, for the most part, a fairly straightforward design that comes through clean and clear with no problems during regular playback.

Originally airing in 2016, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are spread across two discs with nine on the first and three on the second. Animated by Project No. 9, the show has a really good look to it with a bright color palette applied, a good range of detail in character and background material, and some very fluid scenes as needed. It has a good high-quality design about it that gives it a lot of pop that the encoding works very well with. Colors are bright without being oversaturated and the detail holds up well throughout. It’s a visually appealing series to be sure, especially with some of the fanservice elements that get extra attention, and the encoding brings it to life very well in a clean and problem free fashion.

The packaging design for this limited edition is pretty nicely done as we get a heavy chipboard box that holds the two Blu-ray cases wherein we get the two formats in their own cases. The front of the box works the familiar group key visual that puts Ako in her fanservice heavy outfit while the back of the box has just her in her school uniform as it’s being “torn” away into digital costume form, revealing a bit of skin. The cases themselves bring out more of the Japanese cover artwork where the main panels show these character pieces off while the back cover/reverse panels break down the episodes by number and title with the extras included so that you can have your favorite character along the front. No show related inserts are included but we do get a pack-in box spacer box that’s shrink wrapped with it that comes with a really nice and sexy mousepad of Ako as well as a sticker that has her two forms pressed against each other.

The menu design for this release is a fairly busy one with what it wants to do but it sets things nicely in theme. While we get the familiar large navigation solid color block along the bottom, the rest is given over to looking like a computer monitor where we have some of the desktop visible and an open window of video from the series itself. The logo is the awkward part since it’s slapped on it at an angle and with it being a block of its own because of just how awkward the title is it ends up making the whole thing a little rough to work with. The navigation itself is straightforward and easy to use both as the main menu and as a pop-up menu during playback to deal with language setup, episode selection or checking out the extras as available.

The extras for this release are pretty fun with some good things for the fans to enjoy on both sides. For English language fans, we get an audio commentary for one of the early episodes as well as a video commentary that lets the cast have fun messing around while talking about it on camera. We also get a music video from the Japanese side that works well to promote the show as well as a TV commercial collection and the original promo. The rest is rounded out with the familiar but always welcome clean opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the light novel series Netoge no Yome wa Onna no Ko Janai to Omotta? From writer Shibai Kineko and artist Hisasi, And You Thought There Is Never a Girl Online? Is a twele episode series that aired during the spring 2016 season. Animated by Project No. 9 with Shinsuke Yanagi directing, it’s a fun and harmless little piece of fluff overall that at least in a way sort of avoids the whole trapped in a video game world thing. The cast make time to be in both worlds but it’s just us seeing them represented in it rather than transported there, and we do get some cute sprite oriented versions from time to time that made me wish most of their time spent there was done that way. But how else to get the girls into sometimes skimpy fantasy outfits?

The show revolves around Hideki, your standard high school male character that has little to him outside of the fact that he likes to play video games, notably Legendary Age, and is fairly competent at it. He’s enjoyed his time in the game and works with a pretty good part of other characters in a way that’s familiar as the three guys have a good rapport and he went with the tried and true tradition of marrying one of the female characters of the group as well. Having played these games more from a text based era than the modern one, none of this is new. Nor is it new when we discover that some of the male characters are actually women in real life but play males to avoid harassment or other issues related to how gender is handled in this particular subset of the world. What’s pushing it a bit is that the other guys in the party are all women and that means everyone Hideki knows are women.

It doesn’t take long for him to discover that they’re who they are when they meet up and connections are deeper than expected as they’re all in high school together. The main area of trouble within this group is that of Ako, Hideki’s in-game wife that has a hard time distinguishing the real world from the game world in some ways as she’s avoiding things in the real world. She’s glomming onto Hideki in the real world easily enough and he’s naturally a bit wary of that on several very understandable levels. In addition to her we get the spitfire in Akane who dislikes otaku types and we get Kyo, the student council president that gets to put some wealth into things within the game and has a solid position in the real world too. We do eventually add in another character with Nanako, a friend of Akane’s, and she provides a nice if minor diversion from time to time.

This group ends up forming a school club to play the game so they can take advantage of firming up their bonds as a party. But it also has another side in that they’re all interested in helping Ako shake off some of how she is in regards to fantasy versus reality. This plays out most heavily in regards to how she views the relationship with Hideki simply because she’s so clingy in a lot of ways and doesn’t differentiate between their game relationship and real world one that it does become problematic. They ease some of this early on so it’s not totally creepy but there’s always that undercurrent where you’re thinking Ako needs some real help to deal with this from someone trained in it. The group as a whole does handle it fairly well overall and it’s good to see how they’re all invested in doing the right thing without a lot of grief or frustration about it being a part of their lives, since their bond stems from the game itself and that goes back a little ways at least and continues to grow the more they play together.

The show deals with these issues early on fairly well as they do their best to keep Ako engaged and that makes it easier later on to do sillier things as she begins to make progress. Some of what we get are familiar beats such as school festivals but there are frustrating areas as well, though some of it you can pretend are cultural. When we get the beach episode that obviously gives us a lot of skin fanservice and the expected gags regarding breast size, we also get a sequence where Kyo makes it clear that Hideki needs to take care of his exposure to the sun and all three girls work him over in applying sunscreen. Yes, it’s easy to understand why some guys would be frustrated by this, but the usual reactions we get in shows like this where they’re so uncomfortable just feels hollow. It’d be one thing if he was playing at it but even with his kind of mildly distant ways at times it feels like an overreaction.

A lot of the show works through simple situations but it does allow things to get a bit more serious toward the end. This comes when the group opts for an in-game mission that has them doing a siege mission so they can get a particular picture taken for their club. That has them working with another group known as Wallenstein but it ends up being subverted along the way with a betrayal that puts our cast against their recent allies. It runs over about three episodes or so and is fun for the in-game training sequences and just seeing the club come together to do something that’s been out of their wheelhouse for the most part. This is where the series gets to work the action element more and it has a good design to it even if it is mostly stock and familiar fantasy game material. It works because we know the characters well enough at this stage and enjoy seeing them go through the experience.

In Summary:
And You Thought There Is Never A Girl Online? is a fun little show with a terrible name that’s just one of many awkward ones designed to get you to look at the novels on store shelves. The show keeps things simple and explores an interesting area with a light touch when it comes to separating game lives from real lives, something that some people do have a real problem with. The show is very well animated, handles its fanservice better than expected, and has a good bit of fun over the course of its run. It’s not a series that will make a huge fan out of anyone but it delivers lots of smiles and works the game and real world aspects surprisingly well considering how some shows lean into the game world side of things. It spends more of its time in the real world and that was definitely a good part of the appeal. Funimation’s release is solid and coming with a mousepad as a limited edition bonus is definitely a nice little bit of color and silliness to add to your desk.

Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Episode 03 Commentary, Episode 05 Video Commentary, Promo Video, Luce Twinkle Wink “1st Love Story” Music Video Promo, Commercial Collection, Textless Opening & Closing Songs, Trailers

Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B

Released By: Funimation
Release Date: July 25th, 2017
MSRP: $84.95
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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