Recovery of an MMO Junkie is a charming anime about a romance that develops between two MMORPG players, only without the need to trap them in the game. It’s a refreshing series in many ways, with one notable reason being its portrayal of its NEET main heroine.
NEET (“Not in Education, Employment, or Training”) is originally an English term that migrated over to Japan and is one of the many terms used to describe Japanese youths as a way to admonish their lack of drive. In response to this negative image, many anime, manga, and light novels have NEET protagonists rise to the occasion, get the girl, and save the day. However, even when they’re portrayed as lovable losers who become winners in a new world, they still have that aura of initial failure about them.
However, Recovery of an MMO Junkie‘s main character, Morioka Moriko, is not portrayed as being a sad sack who never went anywhere. Prior to her becoming a NEET, she actually had a lucrative office career. While they never explicitly say why she quit, it’s implied that something about the job wore her down over time, and that she left it for her own sanity. Where other series’ NEETS are often presented as people who never even try to enter adult society, Moriko is someone who could have walked down that path but didn’t.
The reason Moriko being a former working adult is important is that NEETs, hikikomori, freeters, etc., are viewed as irresponsible and lazy, as if their lack of employment and romantic success falls squarely on their shoulders. MMO Junkie suggests that maybe there’s something wrong with the corporate and societal culture that grinds people down. It’s similar to the arguments we see about millennials, except it’s been going on in Japan for even longer.
The English title, Recovery of an MMO Junkie, can sound misleading. It’s not about an MMO player getting over her online addiction, it’s about an MMO player using an MMO for self-therapy to help her recover her life. When she worked, it was her nightly reprieve. When the job became too much for her, she needed more extensive healing. Even adults need time to recuperate mentally and emotionally.