This is the first anime in a while that I’ve decided to keep on my hard drive for a re-watch, that alone gave it enough credit to write a review for it. In a book shop near where I live was copy of the light novel. I brought it, read it and nodded in satisfaction. With it’s style, pacing and content this was the first story I’ve read since Across the Nightingale Floor that I wish that I had written myself. Characters, setting and plot tools, it had almost everything I enjoyed in a light science fiction story.
Unlike many anime out there, there isn’t really much at stake in this plot. It’s all just a fighting game, just a competition with different levels where multiple characters go PVP in groups or alone. That said, in a story where ‘teamwork’ is a big theme, it’s only natural that many of these fights pit one group against another, the risk of losing your gained points the cost of losing such matches. Therefore (in multiple ways) the more you win the more you have to lose. Of course the plot grows thicker later on but for the sake of a non-spoiler review I’ll stick to the premise.
From the view of the main character on the other hand, where the game and his friends are pretty much all he believes he has, it definitely convinces you there is a lot more at stake than just the points. The first thing I liked was the underdog story, or underpig in this case, where Haruyuki Arita is a short chubby student with very little self-confidence. That said he has the luck of another shorter (greener) character with the skill of a self-discovering Peggy-Sue as well as a loyalty to people he has just met that comes so easily that most of the time his naivety is enough to end up winning those people over anyway.
It’s when I think about his relationships to other characters that pigeon-holes begin to form. For someone who is a fat nervous wreck Arita gets some pretty damn popular people to be his friends with an ease that’s unnatural, along with some attractive (and slightly loli) chubby-chasers trying to fondle his junk. This gets me to what nearly put me off the anime to begin with; it’s design. I have prejudice against any anime that looks too moe-soft-fan-service-y and without the sharp edges of gamebots it could have been enough to put me off.
Another problem I had was the episode layout. Just as one of the characters made a dramatic turn and a fight was about break out the director felt there needed to be a two episode filler arc where Kuroyukihime had to help out some kids and reveal to her friend just how little of shit she gave about anyone who didn’t play the same video game as her (this message spoke to me clearer than any other theme). If someone had warned me of this before hand I probably would have enjoyed the anime more at least with the flow of the story.
All up I came away enjoying it and hoping for a sequel, but to be honest I’ll probably just end up reading the next light novel. It was just as enjoyable and for those who haven’t read it but watched the anime I suggest giving it a read, especially if you don’t want to wait a few years to see if there’ll be a second season.