In a season of shows of middling quality, Neto-juu no Susume is one of the few that is keeping me highly entertained, even if runs more like a Korean/TVB/J-drama rather an anime with its plethora of ‘Ooh! Guuzen!’ kind of moments. After a first interview featuring some of the main cast, this 2nd feature brings in a new face – convenience store employee Fujimoto (Terashima Takuma) and his Fruits de Mer alter ego Kanbe (Nakamura Yūichi), adding to Morioka Moriko (Noto Mamiko) & her avatar Hayashi (Suzuki Ryota), and Sakurai Yūta (Sakurai Takahiro) & his avatar Lily (Ueda Reina).
Neto-juu no Susume is all about online games! Does the cast play ‘games’ or ‘online games’?
Q: First of all, please introduce your own characters.
Noto: I play the role of Morioka Moriko, a 30-year old NEET. She’s a hardworking and upright character who, before becoming a NEET, put her all into her job. However, as a result of working too hard, her job eventually became a chore…There were probably a lot of conflicts and one fine day, she just decided to put the brakes on reality and departed on a journey to her beloved online [gaming] world. She’s such a pure girl at heart.
Sakurai: The blonde, bespectacled Sakurai Yūta is a character that possesses visual impact, and is a refreshingly good young man. Like all the residents of this series, he has an interest in online gaming. The show hasn’t gone on air yet so there are many things I’m not allowed to say, but he’s a character…whose connection to Moriko will be visible, going forward.
Suzuki: Hayashi is a character that Moriko’s created in the game world. She chose the coolest visuals for the character but unfortunately, gave him a common name (laughs). In the game, [Moriko] declares herself as a ‘college student’. In other words, she’s a ‘nenabe’.*
*nenabe – a portmanteau of ‘net’ and ‘onabe’, someone who pretends to be the opposite of their gender. Onabe (lit. ‘pot’) is slang for i) lesbians, ii) females with gender identity disorders, iii) the female counterpart to ‘okama’ aka male transvestite
Ueda: She has a very soft demeanour and an incredibly cute outward appearance. Lily is a character whose role is to lend Hayashi-kun a helping hand whenever he feels troubled. She may look weak, but as the story progresses, you’ll see how she’s always spirited whether the going is good or bad, how she’s diligent, how she messes up…. She shows you various sides of her? How’s that? (laughs) She’s a character who’ll definitely surprise everyone who watches the show.
Terashima: Fujimoto is a college student who works part-time at a convenience store! I can’t say any more ‘cos they’d be spoilers (laughs). If you really had to force it out of me, then I’ll say that he works at a convenience store located in Morioka-san’s neighbourhood, one of the few places that she goes to outside her home.
Nakamura: I can’t say too much about Kanbe until the broadcast begins either. It’s been established that Hayashi is the character Moriko-san chooses in-game, but will that be the case for Kanbe too? When you’re watching the show, you’ll find it a lot more fun if you consider ‘just whose avatar is Kanbe?’. He has quite the sharp tongue, but he’s a character who cares about his allies.
Q: Neto-juu no Susume is a series about online gaming – do any of you normally play games?
Noto: When I was a child I used to play the Super Famicom quite often. The games that came out after seemed to have a bit more depth to them, didn’t they? Like, they looked more solid?
Nakamura: You mean as in the use of polygons, like in 3D?
Noto: Yes! Games became like that, so you couldn’t get the characters to walk straight any more.
Nakamura: You could go sideways, but you couldn’t go backwards (laughs)
Noto: Yes! You couldn’t go backwards (laughs). The games being put out were all like that, so I left the gaming world for a while. But thanks to social games on smartphones, I’ve been getting back into the world of gaming bit by bit.
Sakurai: When I was young, I couldn’t believe in anything at all asides from games (laughs). Until my early 20s, I was ravenously playing a lot of different games.
Sakurai: But since my mid-20s I haven’t played as much as I used to. I mostly play games on portable consoles like the PS Vita.
Suzuki: The first game machine I played on was the Nintendo DS, with games like New Super Mario Brothers and More Brain Training – Adults’ DS Training. As for online gaming, I only tried a bit of FPS during the entrance examination period in my third year of junior high.
Terashima: Why were you playing FPSes during your entrance exam period?
Suzuki: Erm..well..that is..FPS gaming while studying (laughs). I think I might have put more effort into the FPS though.
Q: We’re going through the evolution of game consoles here (laughs). How about Ueda-san?
Ueda: I enjoyed gaming as well during my elementary school to junior high years with my family at home. I remember plugging in a lot of controllers in to the Nintendo 64 to play a golf game with my mum and younger brother. That’s why I’ve never really done any handheld gaming. But recently, we can play social games on our smartphones, right? There are times though, when I start a game, log in once every 6 months or so and casually play a bit. I’m not a heavy gamer.
Nakamura: If your last login was half a year ago…yeah, you’re really quite the casual gamer.
Q: How about you, Terashima-san?
Terashima: I’m a bit narrower and shallower [when it comes to gaming]; sometimes I do go a bit deeper. Of course, I’m still gaming now. My fans tend to think that ‘Terashima is a gamer’ but I don’t really play enough to be called a ‘gamer’.
Q: But Terashima-san, you’re wearing a Mega Drive cap today.
Terashima: It’s pure coincidence (laughs).
Nakamura: To actually own a Mega Drive cap – you’re surely a gamer (laughs)
Terashima: Back in the days when the Super Famicom was all the rage, my buddy bought a Mega Drive. When I saw it I thought, ‘That’s cool! I wanna play Sonic the Hedgehog!’ and I ended up buying my first game console with my New Year’s pocket money. I’ve loved the Mega Drive ever since. I did buy a couple of consoles after that but I only played them casually. So, there may be popular masterpieces in the world but there exist many who never played them.
Q: Now I’ll ask Nakamura-san. Do you play games?
Nakamura: I do a moderate amount of gaming…
Terashima: His standard of ‘moderate’ is completely different from ours (laughs)
Nakamura: It’s embarrassing for me to say ‘I’m still playing games’ when I’m amongst this group. I’ve been playing games for a long time and never stopped, yeah.
Q: How old were you when you touched games for the first time ever?
Nakamura: I think it was around 2nd or 3rd grade. I’ve been playing ever since. I heard the rumour that ‘you’ll stop playing games when you grow up’ but that hasn’t happened. There were some of my agency seniors who played games as well but they all stopped when they turned 30 or so. At the time I thought, ‘I’ve been left behind’. Even when I passed 30 years of age I kept on playing games. I don’t think I’ll ever graduate from it either, while everyone else quits at some point in time…it’s lonely.
Asking everyone – so, what are online games?
Q: Alright, let’s get to the main topic! Neto-juu no Susume is about online games – do any of you know anything about online gaming? In other words, what is online gaming?
Noto: Final Fantasy is an online game, right?
Nakamura: You mean Final Fantasy XI? The Dragon Quest series has online games too.
Noto: Eh~, really?
Ueda: I don’t know about them in detail, but I have this image of online games being ‘games that you play and chat at the same time with complete strangers’.
Terashima: I’ve never played them so I don’t know anything either, but my image of them is that they ‘mess up human relationships’.
Terashima: I mean, isn’t it scary to play something with someone whose face you can’t see? However, now that I’ve had this chance to be involved with this series that allows me to come into contact with the subject matter of online games, [I learned that] people do have dreams within games, and that dramatic things can happen as well….
Nakamura: ‘cos it only touches on the good points! (laughs)
Terashima: I think I learned about online gaming from a show that Sakurai-san was in – .hack. Because of this series, I got to know about the interactions found within online gaming. There aren’t many people around me who play [online games] though, so I still have this impression that ‘human relationships are difficult [to handle]’ when it comes to online games.
Noto: Those [characters] you play with online aren’t machines, but there are humans behind them – that is what online games are.
Nakamura: An online game you could play at home but without a PC would be something like Phantasy Star Online.
Noto: A world where you can play games with someone even when you’re away from home! I never played them myself, but I did wonder what kind of worlds they were~ – I fantasized a lot.
Terashima: I did have friends who played PSO back in the day…and I used to fantasize as well. Like, maybe celebrities are playing online games as well so ‘maybe I can meet a celebrity in-game?’ but when I think about it rationally, I’ll go ‘what’s the point of meeting them…’
Noto: Yeah yeah (laughs)
Terashima: But there are players who do get married after meeting on online games, right? That kind of thing would make it a dream game.
Q: Suzuki-san – what are online games to you? Do you have any experiences with them?
Suzuki: I played FPSes. I wanted to play games where I faced off against other people. There are [games] geared towards solo players with scenarios you can play from start to finish [alone], but if there’s an online component you can play it forever as long as there are other players. I played AVA (Alliance of Valiant Arms).
Q: Lastly, Nakamura-san. What’s the first online game you played?
Nakamura: Ragnarok Online. I had friends who played every day and I started it after getting an invite to play, but I stopped when my wrist started hurting.
Sakurai: Why was your wrist painful?
Nakamura: It was like an ‘endless clicker’ kind of game; you’d just use your mouse to click on the skill icon endlessly. I ended up with something like tendinitis, so I stopped. After a while, I started playing PSO, around the time I started working in the seiyuu industry. It was quite popular back then, wasn’t it?
Sakurai: Yeah I remember everyone playing it. There were many seiyuu players.
Q: Did you play too, Sakurai-san?
Sakurai: I did it for a bit back then. It was an era when you could play casually as long as you adjusted the settings. My impressions upon playing PSO at the time were that there are two types of players – ‘people who want to play the game’ and ‘people who want to gather as a group’.
Nakamura: It’s true of the Monster Hunter series as well.
Sakurai: Oh yea. That’s why I thought that ‘online games have become that kind of tool’.
Nakamura: That comment’s pretty good, isn’t it?
Sakurai: Online games are a communication tool—
All: Oh~, that’s a great summary!
What is the appeal that keeps you playing on & on? This is what’s fun about online gaming!
Q: Sakurai-san, do tell us about your memories of online gaming.
Sakurai: There was one time I logged into the game and entered the lobby to find that people were playing ‘shiritori’ there. I saw the chat going ‘Gorilla –> rapper’*
* (the original text is Gorira – rappa [trumpet])
Sakurai: I was there to play games. Well, I can’t deny that ‘shiritori’ is a game…but that’s not my kind of game. I quickly quit after that.
Suzuki: In that respect, since I was playing FPSes there wasn’t much in the way of in-game chat with other players. It’d be great if I could beat up lots of people and go I AM STRONKKKK, that’d be fun. The other players are humans so…
Terashima: They’re not programmes so you get a sense of superiority when you beat down a real human?
Suzuki: That’s right. But I’m not that good though (laughs)
Q: Nakamura-san, what do you feel is the attraction of online gaming?
Nakamura: Obviously, the contents of the games themselves are interesting; so is the ability for players to ‘play’ them in whatever style they like. For example, if you’re playing a solo RPG, there is no point in hanging around areas where there is nothing to do. But in online games, you could go to remote areas where there’s nobody around and that could be a form of ‘play’ by itself.
Q: What kind of ‘play’ do you mean by that?
Nakamura: A friend of mine found it strange that there were isolated areas you could wander around in, & he would take screenshots as commemoration. You could also try to battle ridiculously powerful enemies that you didn’t necessarily have to take on (but end up getting annihilated) – there are things you don’t have to, but can do in a game.
Q: You’d deliberately get annihilated? (laughs)
Nakamura: Yes. Even though you know that the system is designed for that opponent to be absolutely unconquerable, you’d still take on the challenge of fighting valiantly ‘til you get annihilated. We’d go ‘ah, there’s really not much you can do after all~’, and just wait to collect the corpses. I wouldn’t bother with that kind of thing if I was playing alone but if I had friends, I would.
Q: It does sound fun when you put it that way!
Nakamura: In Neto-juu no Susume, they use text chatting instead of voice chat to communicate. I think typing the text out is also one of the ways you can enjoy the game. It’s difficult to convey your feelings through on-screen words alone, but that inconvenience can actually turn out to be pretty fun.
When I play online games and I type a question out to someone but they don’t respond right away, I wonder to myself ‘what time is it over there?’. They might’ve intended to reply but fallen asleep instead. It’s interesting that you can read between the lines that way when you’re playing networked games.
The cast explains! An online slang course brings up a succession of unusual answers
Q: In the series, a lot of peculiar language, deemed ‘online slang’ is used. I will ask you a few questions about them, so please answer. If you don’t know the answer, just try and guess.
Nakamura: Oh, this is like ogiri isn’t it? Noto-san and Ueda-san will give you amusing answers (laughs)
Noto/Ueda: We’ll do our best!
Q: First up. What is a ‘saba’ (鯖, mackerel)?
Ueda: Actually…I looked that up before. When I searched ‘saba’, a lot of things came up!
Nakamura: I see… there are a lot of people in this industry who’d be like that (laughs)
Terashima: When you eat mackerel, you’d better make sure you chew it properly! (laughs)
Ueda: That’s why I think ‘saba’ is used to mean ‘danger’.
Nakamura: So when a strong enemy appears you’d say ‘It’s a mackerel!’?
Ueda: That’s right.
Nakamura: You’ll be made fun of (laughs)
Ueda: Is that not it? Another possibility I thought of was that the mackerel ‘loses its freshness easily’, so perhaps that meant that they are ‘limited-time [items]’.
Nakamura: It doesn’t have to be a mackerel specifically in such a case…
Sakurai: You could say that it’s true of all fish in general (laughs)
Nakamura: Okay, we’re getting nowhere nearer to the goal so I’ll just put out the answer here (laughs). It’s simple enough – it just means ‘server’ [saba = sa-ba-, the word for server]!
Ueda: Ah! I see! It’s easy to type ‘saba’ as well!
Nakamura: ‘S’ and ‘A’ are right next to each other on the keyboard.
Q: It definitely wasn’t referring to the fish (laughs). Next up, ‘aka’ (垢, filth). Noto-san, please answer.
Noto: I’d never been familiar with online slang before but I’ve been learning them for Neto-juu. But ‘aka’?…. I have no idea (laughs)
Nakamura: How bout Ueda-san, do you know?
Ueda: I didn’t look this one up. Does it mean ‘account’, by any chance….?
Nakamura: That’s correct. Amazing!
Terashima: It’s used for SNS accounts like Twitter and so on as well!
Q: Congratulations Ueda-san, you got it correct the 2nd time around! 3rd question is ‘kakin’ (課金, billing). Sakurai-san?
Sakurai: Surely everyone knows this one? It’s using real money to buy in-game items. I don’t play those kinds of games at all so I’ve never kakin-ed but I do hear many heroic stories from people around me, saying ‘I’ve kakin-ed this much!’. These guys really love their games that much though, plus they’re helping the economy along. I think that’s a very good thing. But the phrase ‘imposing charges’ doesn’t generate a positive image at all (laughs)
Q: That’s the perfect answer, Sakurai-san! Now, the last question! We shall hear the answer to Question #4 from Suzuki-san. What is ‘suka (スカ)’?
Suzuki: It’s only from being involved with Neto-juu that I learned out this online slang called ‘suka’*. It means ‘failure’ doesn’t it? It’s not a phrase you’d use too often in FPSes though.
Nakamura: In FPSes you often hear them using ‘imo’ (芋, potato) though?
Suzuki: Yes they do. That refers to ‘someone who doesn’t come out to the frontlines’.
Nakamura: Someone who waits for a long time. You often hear ‘we lost ‘cos we had too many imo (potatoes)’.
Sakurai: Not ‘we had too many imōto (妹, younger sisters)’?
*etymology of suka (スカ) unknown. generally used to signify that one failed at something they tried, ie the lottery
Q: That’s all for the quiz. Are there other online slang words you often use?
Nakamura: From the time online gaming began, there is tern ‘ui (うい)’ that you’d use. It only means ‘yes’ though.
Noto: It makes you look like a Frenchman (laughs)
Sakurai: Why don’t you just use ‘yes’?
Terashima: What’s wrong with ‘yes’?
Nakamura: ‘cos when you use a Roman input keyboard you’d have to press three keys ‘y-e-s’. But with ‘ui’ it’s just 2 keys, ‘u-i’. Plus they’re right next to each other on the keyboard so you could type it with one hand. That’s why online gamers who use keyboards would naturally reply ‘ui’ instead of ‘yes’.
Noto: Neto-juu is a place where we can learn♪
Ueda: I feel like I could make my online gaming debut any time now♪
Q: A lot of online slang is used in the anime, so please watch out for them!
We asked everyone for ideas about online games they’d love to play!
Q: Do any of you have ideas about the kind of online game you’d love to play?
Sakurai: I like the Animal Crossing series so a similar kind of online game would be nice. Villagers with weird habits…I like that kind of cute ‘miniature garden’ kind of thing. It’s a girly kind of game though, isn’t it? I think kids playing such games would be able to learn about social rules and mechanisms. Things like paying off debts and unexpected time constraints. I’d probably like an online game that had that kind of atmosphere to it, provided they made it a bit more fantasy-like.
Ueda: I’m not fond of ‘battles’ etc so I’d like an easygoing kind of game world. In the middle of a forest, everyone farming together, planting big trees.
Terashima: Is that even fun?
Sakurai: Yeah, I kind of get that~.
Nakamura: Please think about this calmly. Grow trees? You go home, log in to the game, water the trees, then you log out!
Ueda: OK maybe a bit more… Starting from the BC period, you’ll grow trees to 200 million years of age. Ah, how about this! Cultivating planets!
Nakamura: That already exists. It’s called Sim Earth.
Ueda: Then I’ll make auroras!
Nakamura: You might as well be God. ‘Universe Creation Online’?
Sakurai: Sorry. This is somewhat different from what I’d imagined (laughs).
Ueda: I want to play a peaceful game, creating nature with everyone else.
Sakurai: Then I’ll create a peaceful village amongst the starts that Ueda made (laughs).
Q: How about you, Noto-san. Do you have any ideas for online games you’d like to play?
Noto: Actually, I played Ghosts ‘n Goblins a long time ago…
Noto: I couldn’t clear the game at all though (laughs). It’d be fun if the games I used to play on the Famicom would have online versions.
Terashima: I see. Titles like Dragon Quest & Final Fantasy originated from the Famicom too, if I recall correctly.
Nakamura: That might be interesting. I wonder what kind of game it’d turn out to be?
Noto: The enemies that we couldn’t defeat long ago – we’d all get together to beat them up!
nb: Makaimura (Ghosts ‘n Goblins) Online went into beta testing in South Korea in 2013 for about 2 & ½ years. The service has already been terminated.
Q: Let’s hope that someone high-up at Capcom reads this (laughs). Suzuki-san, would you have any other game plans apart from a FPS?
Suzuki: I’d like to play an online sports game like baseball or football, where each player would take up a position on the team.
Terashima: ‘I’m playing right (fielder) today so the balls surely aren’t gonna fly my way’ but once you look at the TV, they’d be flying your way* (laughs).
*right fielder is supposedly the position where the least fly balls go
The appeal of Neto-juu no Susume lies in the human drama featuring a unique cast of characters
Q: Neto-juu’s appeal lies not only in the world of online gaming, but also in the real world, with its human drama. Tell us about the show’s highlights, without spoiling too much.
Sakurai: It’s pretty rare to see the kind of encounter that Moriko and Sakurai had. In future they might have…a romantic encounter…maybe? I wonder how I should answer that.
Noto: Yes, how should I put it…it was a sensational first encounter..? (laughs) It’d be pretty unusual nowadays… when you watch the anime, you’ll think ‘Eh!?’ when you see how they first meet. In the real world, relationships like the one between Sakurai and Koiwai (CV: Maeno Tomoaki) are more common after all.
Sakurai: I agree. You see more of Sakurai interacting with his senior Koiwai rather than with Moriko. Sakurai has quite the backbone; despite his daily life he’s immersed deeply in his games so he has these 2 distinct personalities, in reality and on the internet. And he meets Moriko there….sort of. The story starts off with them briefly passing by each other…
Noto: It’s really hard to explain.
Sakurai: One of the anime’s charms is in how the story shows human relationships being intertwined in complicated ways. I can’t say too much without spoiling it so please do pay attention to the ‘human drama’.
What is the ‘Recommendation of the Wonderful Net Life’ that the cast can come up with?
Q: Part of the title is ‘Neto-juu’ (net life) – what would be an ideal ‘net life’ for you?
Noto: There are many aspects to the internet world; personally, I’d hope that would it be more of a ‘gentle world’. Rather than a place for one to vent their negativity, I would like it to be a warm place that people can return to, one that is without evil things.
Q: Suzuki-san, what would be your ideal ‘net-life’?
Suzuki: As long as I am strong, it would be an ideal world!
Nakamura: That’s why you’re all about FPSes. That’s the kind of answer you’d come up with (laughs)
Q: How about you Nakamura-san, what would be your ideal ‘net life’?
Nakamura: Rather than thinking ‘I have to play [the game]’ every time you get home, you’d go home & naturally log in & play – that would be an ideal ‘net life’. That was what it was like for me when I was playing FFXI. I’d get home, go into my room & while waiting for my PC to turn on, I’d go gargle. After logging into the game I’d eat my meals.
Noto: You’d turn on your PC before you gargled? (laughs)
Nakamura: Yes. You’d think ‘why not do it after you eat?’, wouldn’t’ you?
Terashima: If you want to start playing, why not after you’ve settled down completely?
Nakamura: You’re right. Even after you’d logged in, it’d take a while before your character starts to move and sometimes I’d be watching TV for a while even after I’d finished eating. For me, it only feels like ‘home’ when I’ve logged my character in online. On the other hand, I sometimes fall asleep without even playing a single minute. I logged in, didn’t move an inch and next thing I knew, it was morning.
Sakurai: If you weren’t moving at all, wouldn’t the other players get worried?
Nakamura: Hardcore players would all be like that though so we’d be more worried about people who didn’t log in. Like ‘is that guy okay today?’. So even if I wasn’t going to play at all I’d just login.
Q: Ueda-san – what kind of situation would be an ideal ‘net’ life for you?
Ueda: I’d be glad if, during work etc, you could come to think ‘I’ll do my best today, for the sake of my online games!’. Is a ‘net life’ that kind of life?
Q: Lastly, Sakurai-san – what’s your ideal ‘net life’?
Sakurai: I do believe that each individual has his or her own ‘reason’ for playing online games. There are people who love games and people who love communication – if one could come to love the human behaviour that is born [from games], would that not be ‘fulfilment’?
You could also build relationships that are more beautiful than in the real world. That could be a type of playing style by itself, and it might even change one’s impressions of other players. Amidst that, you could find another ‘you’, one that you were not previously aware of. In some ways, it’s still you but as long as you love that alternate life that you’re living in the online game – wouldn’t it be safe to say that that is the ideal ‘net life’?
Q: Thanks to all the cast members!
PS. Do check out the Tokyo Encounter show that Nakamura Yuichi does with Sugita Tomokazu, all about playing games!