There's many anime out there about being stuck in a video game, like Log Horizon, and there's also a few about playing video games, Quanzi Gaoshou comes to mind here, but none of them really explore what happens when you fall in love with an online personality, a character. Net-juu no Susume tells the story of Morioka Moriko and Sakurai Yuuta who fall in love with each other through the power of MMOs.
Going into the show the first thing you're going to notice is how bright and colourful and welcoming everything is. The visuals immediately should tip you off that this isn't going to be a very heavy romance with a lot of drama.
The backgrounds look really good and that the character designs are quite unique and creative and give the show a sense of personality that pulled me in from the first second. The animation on the other hand is nothing to write home about, it works and there's no moments that it's bad, but it never shines either.
At its core Net-juu no Susume is a love story; a love story which is told in two different “worlds”, so to speak: the world of the MMO and the real world.
While both characters eventually meet and fall for each other in the real world, we first get to see Moriko's perspective and how she progressively falls more and more for Sakurai's character. And as the pieces start falling into place for Sakurai he eventually develops feelings for Moriko in real life.
It's a sweet story that doesn't try to insert needless drama though it has heavy amounts of coincidences to make everything possible. Should you be able to look over those coincidences the show will reward you with one of purest love stories I can think of in anime.
While the love story is pure and very sweet there's some faults that I can point out and the most glaring one is the fact that neither Sakurai nor Moriko really act like adults at any point in the show. It doesn't make a difference that they're both around their thirties, they still act as if this was a high school romance. So if a mature love story is what you came here for then I am sorry to disappoint.
Another fault would be the way the show writes in side-characters only to have them do absolutely nothing. Out of all the side-characters introduced, and there's plenty, only two really have any actual purpose while the others are mostly window-dressing to make the world feel more populated.
I've mentioned before how the show uses a lot of conveniences and coincidences to move itself along at a reasonable pace and here comes another one of the problems: it's not a realistic portrayal of what a relationship over the internet would be like. Depending on what you expect from the show this may be a huge downside. As an example: all of the major players in the show live in the same town and can meet whenever they want, often times this is exactly the opposite of the situation that two people dating online have where they usually have an insurmountable distance separating them.
Where Net-juu shines, I think is in its characters. Yes they're not realistic and yes they aren't very deep as characters, but taking them at more or less face value you will be able to enjoy a very adorable main couple that perfectly fits the shows overall tone. The show is worth watching if only to see Moriko stumble through life as she tries her best to live her life the way she wants to (which just means playing MMOs all day).
Net-juu no Susume is a rather short anime with quite a few flaws and only really one trick up its sleeve. It tries to present the cutest most fluffiest romance story you have ever seen and it manages to do it really well. Some people might find the lack of depth to be a detriment and I can't blame them, but if you're looking for an anime to help you unwind or relax then I think it's great for that.
Sometimes I just need an anime like this to help me look on the bright side of life and it came at just the right time which is why I gave it such a high score.