Okaa-san Online – 01 (First Impressions) – ZOMRPG, MOM!!!

One night, Oosuki is filling out a survey heavy on questions about his relationship to his mother, and the next morning a government official informs him that he’s been selected to enter a video game world. But he doesn’t go alone. His mom follows him in, and will be joining him on his full-dive fantasy adventure!

That’s the high concept, broad-strokes premise to an episode that then proceeds to take its sweet old time immersing Masato and his mom into this new world, an as-yet-unnamed MMO that’s still in beta. Their role is to play the game so that the producers can gather data.

Masato already has reservations about his mom following him along for this once-in-a-lifetime experience, but they turn to downright frustration when she demonstrates she can dual-wield legendary weapons and decimate multiple targets at once. His basic attack is pathetic by comparison.

So, of course, he lashes out, threatening to “disown” his mom in a moment of unguarded rage. That’s when his mom (named Mamako) starts to cry, telling him no one has ever said anything so mean and sad to her. He quickly backtracks, apologizing profusely, and his mom, being a very nice mom, easily forgives him.

They teleport into a town to gather a party at the Adventurer’s Guild, but after pulling the game guide out of her bust, Mamako decides to make a strong first impression by smashing a giant hole into the guild hall, much to Masato’s dismay.

Shirase, the woman who sent them into the game, is there to greet them, bleeding from the head (turns out she’s a game object and the blood is just an effect). And naturally, as they look over party members, Mamako is thinking about finding a nice young woman to team up with him.

Okaa-san Online takes the opposite approach of Arifureta and starts us off at the very beginning of Masato and Mamako’s story, but I still felt an inescapable impatience with the slow pace and the episode’s need to explain terms like “PK”, as if this was someone’s first isekai rodeo.

There’s also the little matter of the show looking pretty atrocious. Like the game in which mother and son find themselves (though I don’t mind their white pupils, like Moriko’s in MMO Junkie), the show just feels sparse and incomplete, both visually and conceptually, what with its lazy, unimaginative hand-waving.

The music has its epic moments, but can be too assertive during quieter scenes. And while the underlying premise is pretty funny at first blush, the comedic dialogue and pacing is iffy at best. With execution lacking in effort and attention to detail, I can’t see myself sticking with this for long. After all, Mama didn’t raise no fool.

Sword Art Online – 02

After a month, over a fifth of SAO players are dead, many of them beginners. Diabel, a self-proclaimed knight, calls for a meeting to deal with Illfang, the boss of the first level. The players form teams, with Kirito pairing up with a mysterious hooded girl named Asuna. A beginner named Kibaou demands all Beta testers apologize and offer reparations for allowing the 2,000 newbies to die, but another player, Egil, tells him the Betas provided help in the form of a guidebook, which includes info on Illfang.

The next day, Diabel leads the force to the boss room and they battle Illfang and his sentinals. Diabel is killed trying to take out the boss on his own, and Asuna and Kirito finish what he starts. Kirito gets a rare item – a cloak, and other players accuse him of being a cheating Beta, or ‘Beater’. He releases Asuna from his party and moves on to the second level.

With players dropping left and right and no progress being made, they decide to join forces and coordinate their efforts, and it nets them results. Kirito seems content to stay on the periphery – both of the original meeting held by Diabel and the battle – but in the heat of said battle, he becomes the focal point, and ultimately the slayer of the first boss. He had help from his new…well, not quite friend, yet, but his temporary partner Asuna, who walks quietly and carries a quick sword.

We liked Kirito and Asuna’s very subtle interacitons, starting with his sidling up to her at the meeting and ending with her unexpected airheaded comment about Kirito’s name being right in front of her nose the whole time. We also didn’t mind Diabel, someone who tried to be a real hero and ended up inspiring Kirito to rise to the occasion; or Egil, who tells the hot-headed Kibaou to cool his jets when it comes to dividing the players. Finally, Kirito makes a conscious choice to embrace the reputation he’s earned, and to stop hiding in the background. Now it’s not just about surviving, but winning…and getting butter for his dry bread.

Rating: 7 (Very Good)