Welcome all to my ‘Warmth’ OWLS post for December! I hope you had fun over at Yaoi Playground with Mistress of Yaoi’s great post! I’m going to be discussing Recovery of an MMO Junkie today.
This month our brief was Warmth where we “discuss moments in anime and pop culture media that convey a feeling of happiness in our hearts”. Now I know what you might be thinking, how does Recovery of an MMO Junkie fit the brief? Well, that’s what this post is all about!
A Female Gamer!
Much like Sakura Quest, I found I connected really well with the main character. I have a post on the importance of representation so I don’t want to reiterate my point too much here, but it was definitely one of the drawing factors. I could see myself, a female gamer in her 29th year, in Moriko. That connection to a character is the strongest I’ve experienced in anime, so far.
The most warming aspect of this show that drew me in from the offset was watching Moriko fall in love with her MMO. I don’t think I’ve ever watched an anime series that has legitimately made me laugh out loud as I watched it. Nor have I seen a show and wanted to tweet about how much I related to the content within it. Most of the time when I watch anime, I find myself wanting to talk about what the show is lacking or how the show could improve on it’s portrayal of female characters. This time I got to be happy that such a strong female character was at the helm.
Online Avatar vs Gender
That’s not to say Recovery of an MMO Junkie is flawless. It’s not. There have been many discussions on how it could have explored the relation between online avatar and real life gender more.
I personally like to see “me” in my online character. As I identify as female, I almost always play female characters too. I have cis-female friends that also play female characters and my male friends also mainly play male characters.
One of my cis-female friends, who plays male characters like Moriko created, said part of her decision comes down to how female protagonists are presented. As you don’t get full autonomy over the character, she finds female characters don’t have personalities that match women she admires in real life. When playing as a male character it lets her pick responses to women in a way she would want to be responded to. This is easier for her than trying to excuse the female character acting in gender stereotypical ways.
In addition, her preferred play style is a hack’n’slash approach. She finds that female warrior characters are usually harsh and bitter without any sensitivity while male characters start off cold but are usually sensitive underneath. If given full autonomy over a character and their history – for example The Sims – she’s more inclined to make a female character.
Avatars As Something More
I’ve seen a lot of conversations from the trans community that started with Recovery of an MMO Junkie. I learnt a lot that I wasn’t aware of and I felt it really helped bring conversations about gender identity to the forefront.
While discussing this post with my friends, I asked one of my friends how they felt when they choose a gender for an online avatar. They said playing a female character allows them the opportunity to escape into a place where they can be who they want to be, and not what they are in our world.
I can empathise with the disappointment of viewers that hoped Recovery of an MMO Junkie might use online avatars to tell a story about the trans community. For people who are in a similar situation to my friend, especially, that could have allowed them to find some representation too.
Warmth in Recovery of an MMO Junkie
I loved Recovery of an MMO Junkie for the story it had as well as the conversation that sprung up around it. The way it didn’t make adult gamers look silly or immature, how it treated Moriko and her choices respectfully, and what the show as a whole represented for me were really heart warming elements.
I do wonder what it would have been like if the show had taken a different route. A lot of the conversations within the trans community seemed to appear at the start of the show when no one knew where it was going. How much more would there have been if it had taken a look at gender identity instead?
Here’s to hoping that the winter season brings more diverse shows.