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Rom-com anime And you thought there is never a girl online? is the story of a small MMORPG guild who discover they are all students at the same school. And while in the game world three of the four are male, in reality, the opposite is true.

The key dilemma of the series is that Ako, the main heroine and love interest, is unable to distinguish between the real world and the online game world–though that’s not quite true even if it’s something that the other main characters state again and again. After all, she wears normal clothes in the real world, doesn’t try to do game actions like cast spells, and even, on occasion, does her homework. Ako is perfectly cognizant of the fact that there are two worlds, the in-game world and the world we all live in. The issue is which one she deems to be the true “real world.”

To Ako, the digital world is far more “real” in that it holds everything she cares about. She is married to Rusian (the man she loves), spends time with her friends every day, goes on adventures, and never has to deal with any of the taxing stuff like school or personal interactions. The only reason she starts coming to school on a more regular basis is because she gets to spend more time with the real world Rusian (whose real name is Hideki) and the others.

However, it’s not until the ninth episode of the series that anyone directly asks Ako about how she sees the world. The other guild members are confused as to why she won’t date Hideki in the real world and instead acts like they are married even outside the game. Her answer cleverly lays her whole thought process bare:

Imagine if you had a newlywed couple and they started to play an MMO together. Then one suggested they get married in the game as well and get the associated bonuses, but the other responded “no” because the real world and game world are separate things.

It’s an answer bordering on the nonsensical. But for Ako, the game world is her preferred reality; so Hideki saying they’re not married in our world but are in the game is likewise baffling to her.

Hideki, on the other hand, tries to keep his online and real world lives separate. To him, he and his character are not truly the same person. The only way to prevent his real world emotions from getting caught up in the game is to segregate them. Therefore Ako isn’t his wife, she’s Rusian’s (the character’s) wife. Though that’s not to say he doesn’t love the real Ako, too.

In fact, Hideki is upset on some level because he believes that Ako isn’t in love with him, but with his avatar. Of course, Ako doesn’t see it that way. To her, the real-life him and the in-game him are still the same person; the only differences are physical ones. This is why she is so quickly able to tell when his account is hacked (though she later berates herself for being fooled by the impostor for even a second).

And you thought there is never a girl online? is at its core a silly, light anime, but the fact that it has some real thought put in to its characters’ mindsets makes it fun to watch.

And you thought there is never a girl online? airs on Tokyo MX, Santerebi, BS-11, and ATX in Japan. It can be viewed for free and with English subtitles in the US on Funimation.

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